ANNESLEY, John (1676-1710)

ANNESLEY, John (1676–1710)

suc. bro. 21 Jan. 1702 as 5th Visct. Valentia [I], and 4th earl of ANGLESEY.

First sat 3 Feb. 1702; last sat 18 July 1710

bap. 18 Jan. 1676, 2nd s. of James Annesley, 2nd earl of Anglesey, and Lady Elizabeth (d. 7 Dec. 1700), da. of John Manners, 8th earl of Rutland; bro. of James Annesley, later 3rd earl of Anglesey, and Arthur Annesley, later 5th earl of Anglesey. educ. ?Mr. Dyer’s sch. in Chelsea c.1681.1 m. 21 May 1706, Henrietta Maria (d. 26 June 1718), suo jure Baroness Strange, da. of William George Richard Stanley, 9th earl of Derby, and Lady Elizabeth Butler, 1da. d.s.p.m. 18 Sept. 1710; will 14 June 1708, pr. Sept. 1710.2

PC 10 July 1710-d.3

V.-treas. [I], 1710; recvr. gen. and paymaster of HM forces [I], 1710.

Associated with: Farnborough, Hants; Bletchingdon, Oxon. and Dover St., London.4

Annesley was baptized at the family seat of Farnborough. Little is known of his early life and education, although his grandfather, Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey, recorded in October 1681 that he and his elder brother, James ‘went to school’, presumably to Mr. Dyer’s establishment in Chelsea.5

When Annesley became 4th earl of Anglesey in January 1702 he did not inherit all of his late brother’s estate. His brother had left all the estate he could to his younger brother, Arthur Annesley, later 5th earl of Anglesey, who had married Mary, the daughter of his friend John Thompson, Baron Haversham. As one newsletter put it the new earl had lost the family’s Irish estates worth about £6,000 p.a. but had retained the English estates worth about £1,200 p.a.6 This resulted in a legal dispute in which the 4th earl claimed the bequest was illegal.7 Interestingly, there is no record that the 3rd earl ever took his seat in the Irish house of lords.

Anglesey first took his seat in the Westminster House of Lords on 3 Feb. 1702. He was an active member from the outset, being present at 63 sittings in the session of 1701-2, 63 per cent of the total, and 83 per cent of those for which he was eligible to sit. Anglesey brought two cases of breach of privilege before the House on 25 Feb. 1702. One concerned the illegal possession of his house in Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire, for five days from 29 Jan. 1702 by Charles Barret ‘for Mr. Annesley, after the said earl was in quiet possession’, the second concerned Henry Cole’s demand for the payment of rent from Anglesey’s Irish tenants, after the earl had discharged them from so doing. Both these issues were related to Anglesey’s dispute with his brother Arthur.8

In the session of 1702-3, Anglesey was present at 60 sittings of the House, an attendance rate of 90 per cent. Anglesey was appointed on 17 Dec. to manage a conference with the Commons on the bill to prevent occasional conformity. Following some discussion of the amendments to this bill, on 18 Dec. he was named to the committee to search for precedents of bills with penalties begun in the Lords and also of bills whose penalties had been altered by the Lords; William Nicolson, bishop of Carlisle, recorded him attending the committee on 23 December.9 In about January 1703, Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, predicted that Anglesey would support the bill to prevent occasional conformity, and on 16 Jan. 1703 he voted against adhering to the Lords’ amendment to the penalty clause in the bill, a Whig wrecking amendment. On 12 Feb. 1703 Anglesey acted as a teller against reversing the judgment in the case of Thomas Wharton, 5th baron Wharton, v. Robert Squire.

In March 1703 the dowager countess was in litigation in chancery in order to secure her jointure of £2,000, during which she claimed that Anglesey, Haversham and Arthur Annesley had taken possession of her husband’s real or personal estate, the latter amounting to £30,000 made up of plate, cash debts and £14,000 of her own. She also claimed they had taken all the writings with intent to defraud her and that although the earl and Arthur Annesley were in dispute, they had both assured her that her jointure was safe.10 This matter was accommodated in April 1703 following a hearing in Chancery.11 Haversham claimed in a deposition that both Anglesey and his brother had gone to Ireland in 1702 to take possession of the Irish lands.12 The dispute between Anglesey and his younger brother appears to have been settled in or before 1705.13

Anglesey was absent from the beginning of the 1703-4 session on 9 Nov. 1703, attending first on 7 December. Nevertheless, he was present on 69 days, an attendance rate of 71 per cent. In or about November 1703 Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, forecast that Anglesey would favour the renewed attempt to pass the bill against occasional conformity, an assessment Sunderland reinforced in late November or early December. Anglesey duly voted for the bill on 14 Dec. 1703. On 18 Dec. he reported from the committee appointed to count the ballot for selecting peers to examine Bouchier and Ogleby over the ‘Scotch plot’. His name was included on a list of members of both Houses drawn up by Nottingham in 1704, which may indicate support for him over the plot. On 16 Feb. 1704 Anglesey acted as a teller on the question of whether to reverse the judgment in the case of Hassell v. Knatchbull and again on 25 Feb. on the question of whether to reverse the decree in the case of Rowe v. Cockayne. On 21 Mar. he acted as a teller on the question of whether to adjourn the proceedings on the recruiting bill, following which the bill was passed and Anglesey joined in signing the protest against it. On 24 Mar. he acted as a teller on a division on the motion that part of Sir John Maclean’s narrative relating to his examination on the ‘Scotch plot’ by Nottingham was imperfect.

Anglesey was absent from the beginning of the 1704-5 session on 24 Oct. 1704, attending first on 4 November. He attended 75 days of the session, which was 75 per cent of the sittings. Anglesey was listed as a likely supporter of the Tack in about November 1704.14 On 15 Dec. he argued for giving the bill against occasional conformity a second reading, replying to a point made by Charles Montagu, Baron Halifax, that Queen Elizabeth had discountenanced being hard on the Puritans, with the hope that ‘care would be taken that our religion might be transmitted to posterity semper eadem.’15 He duly acted as a teller in favour of the bill’s second reading and on 27 Feb. 1705 was named to the committee to prepare heads for a conference with the Commons on the Aylesbury case. On the question of the succession in April 1705 he was thought to be ‘Jacobite’ in his views.

In the general election campaign of 1705, Anglesey wrote to James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S], in support of the successful candidate for Preston, his cousin, Francis Annesley.16 During the 1705-6 Parliament Anglesey attended on 70 days, over 95 per cent of sittings and was named to many committees, including the committee on 12 Nov. 1705 to draw up an address to the queen regarding progress towards an Act of Union with Scotland (which Nicolson recorded him attending on the following day).17 On 15 Nov. he supported Haversham’s ‘Hanover motion’ for the heir presumptive to be invited to England.18 He protested against the Lords’ decision on 30 Nov. not to give further instructions to the committee on the regency bill. On 3 Dec. he protested against the rejection of a rider to prevent the lords justices from giving the royal assent to bills for repealing laws against papists or a bill repealing the act for settling the succession to the throne. He spoke on 6 Dec. in the debate on the Queen’s speech to support the motion of John Sharp, archbishop of York, that instructions be issued to the judges to enquire into the laws governing dissenting seminaries and duly protested against the resolution of the House that ‘the Church of England was not in danger’.19 On 31 Jan. 1706 Anglesey acted as a teller on the regency bill, probably over whether to insert the word ‘repeal’ instead of ‘regulated and altered’ in the Commons’ amendment.

Anglesey attended on 53 days of the 1706-7 session, 62 per cent of total. He protested on 3 Feb. 1707 against the Lords’ decision to reject a motion for a bill to prevent dangers that could arise from popish recusants. On 15 Feb. he argued for the postponement of the first article of the Union because he felt he needed to know what the Union was to consist of before he agreed to it in principle and duly acted as a teller for that motion.20 Also on the Union, on 4 Mar., Anglesey entered his dissent against the rejection of a rider that acceptance of the bill should not in any way be taken as an acknowledgment that the established Presbyterian Church of Scotland was the ‘true protestant religion’. He also entered his dissent against the passage of the bill. On 11 Mar. he acted as a teller on the second reading of the game bill.

Anglesey was also involved in legal proceedings in the House in this session, as a consequence of his marriage the previous year to Lady Henrietta Maria Stanley. This marriage involved Anglesey in litigation with her uncle, James Stanley, 10th earl of Derby. On 7 Feb. 1707 Anglesey’s mother-in-law, the dowager countess of Derby, petitioned the Lords relating to a legal dispute over her jointure and the current earl of Derby waiving his privilege. Bishop Nicolson commented on 10 Feb. 1707 that the ‘waiving of privilege was adjusted ‘twixt the earls of Derby and Anglesey’.21 On 5 Mar. Anglesey, his wife and his sister-in-law petitioned that Derby not be allowed to resume his privilege, which Derby agreed on 8 March. The suit between the daughters and coheirs of the 9th earl and the current earl was heard in Lancaster in April 1707, with both Anglesey and Derby present.22 In July Anglesey complained to the privy council about the use by Derby, as the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, of the duchy seal in the dispute between them.23

In the short session of April 1707 Anglesey attended four of the nine sittings of the House, 44 per cent of the total. In the 1707-8 session Anglesey’s attendance in the Lords dropped to 31 days, 28 per cent of the total, and he was named to seven committees of the House. On a printed list of the members of the first Parliament of Great Britain in May 1708 Anglesey was noted as a Tory.

James Johnston in December 1708 referred to Tory leaders criticizing ministers: one of them was Anglesey, who when ‘speaking of augmentations and recruits said all was good for filling great men’s pockets’; however, it is not clear when he said this as he was not listed as attending the House until later in the session.24 Anglesey was present on only four occasions in the 1708-9 session, sitting on four consecutive days in March, an attendance rate of 4 per cent. He first attended on 15 Mar. when he protested against committing the bill for the naturalization of foreign protestants.

Anglesey was again missing from the opening of the 1709-10 session, attending first on 1 Feb. 1710. He was present at 35 sittings, 34 per cent of the total. He protested on 16 Mar. against the question that the Commons had proven the first article of their impeachment against Dr Sacheverell. On 20 Mar. he voted Sacheverell not guilty of high crimes and misdemeanours, duly protesting against the verdict. On 21 Mar. he protested against the sentence passed against Sacheverell. The Rev. Ralph Bridges listed Anglesey along with Henry Compton, bishop of London, Thomas Osborne, duke of Leeds, and John Sheffield, duke of Buckingham, as Tories who were critical of Sacheverell’s indiscretion, but believed that his actions did not merit an impeachment.25 On 1 Apr. he acted as a teller on a motion to adjourn the House when it was considering the amendments made by the Commons to the bill for making more effectual the act for rebuilding Eddistone lighthouse, the failure of which led to the Lords declining to insist on their amendment to the bill.

Anglesey was a key player in the schemes of Robert Harley, the future earl of Oxford, for a remodelled ministry, mainly as a means of satisfying the Tories. Arthur Maynwaring picked this up in May 1710, writing that ‘anyone that had seen the fulsome joy and greatness that appeared between Lady Hyde and Lord Anglesey would have been sick’, and that he expected Sunderland to be replaced as secretary by Anglesey.26 Ralph Bridges also picked up this hope among Tory sympathizers on 22 May.27 Several of Harley’s memoranda drawn up during this period mention Anglesey: one dated 20 May asked the question: ‘Lord Anglesey can you do less to please them’?28 John Poulett, Earl Poulett, on 7 June was still pressing Harley very strongly on Anglesey’s behalf, pointing out that Harley had named him as a possible alternative to Poulett.29 It was still being suggested on 18 June that Anglesey would succeed Sunderland, but this proved not to be the case, owing to opposition from the queen buoyed up by arguments from Charles Seymour, 6th duke of Somerset, Leeds and Buckingham.30 William Legge, 2nd Baron Dartmouth, thought that the Whigs were too averse to Anglesey for him to be appointed secretary at this time.31

Anglesey’s appointment to the ministry was described by Sidney Godolphin, earl of Godolphin, on 9 July 1710 as ‘another very disagreeable alteration.’32 He was appointed to the English Privy Council, replacing Thomas Coningsby, Baron Coningsby [I], as vice-treasurer of Ireland and receiver general and paymaster of her majesty’s forces in Ireland, posts said to be worth £6,000 per annum.33 As John Erskine, 22nd earl of Mar [S], wrote on 8 July, Anglesey’s appointment in place of Coningsby was ‘to make amends for his being baulked of being secretary, and a good equivalent it is.’34 On 27 July Anglesey wrote to Sir Thomas Hanmer to solicit his interest for Heneage Finch, the future 2nd earl of Aylesford, and Sir Francis Vincent in the Surrey county election.35

Anglesey, Harley and Poulett were summoned to the cabinet on 13 Aug. 1710, a crucial set of appointments which led to the cabinet being balanced owing to the absence of Wharton and John Holles, duke of Newcastle, until Anglesey fell ill in September. He attended his last cabinet on 7 Sept. 1710.36

At the end of August 1710 John Wardexpected Anglesey to be travelling to Ireland soon, presumably as Wharton’s replacement as lord lieutenant. The duchess of Roxburghe told her father, Nottingham, that Harley was triumphant at having brought both Anglesey and Dartmouth into employment rather than the leaders of the high Tories, Nottingham and Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester.37 Anglesey had the advantage of being independent of these Tory chieftains, while retaining friendship with them. Indeed, White Kennet, the future bishop of Peterborough, later recorded being told by Thomas Gooch, the future bishop of Norwich, that Anglesey would have been the chief minister in ecclesiastical affairs had he lived.38 His death was undoubtedly a blow to Harley’s plans, as James Brydges, later duke of Chandos, acknowledged when he noted that ‘for quickness of parts, solidity of judgment and all the improvements reading could give him [he was], inferior to none in the nation.’39 Swift concurred, noting him ‘the great support of the Tories.’40 However, George Lockhart claimed that at the time of his death Anglesey was entirely in the interest of the Pretender.41

Anglesey died unexpectedly at noon on 18 Sept. 1710 ‘of a very high fever, this being the 11th day’, and was buried at Farnborough.42 He left only a daughter living, although as his wife was allegedly pregnant at the time of his death, his younger brother, Arthur, had to wait for confirmation of his succession to the earldom.43

In his will Anglesey left his estate in England and Ireland to his brother Arthur, now the 5th earl, subject to the payment of £1,000 to his wife, £200 to his cousin Francis Annesley, £100 to Vincent Oakley of the Middle Temple and an annuity of £500 to his sister Lady Elizabeth Gayer. His widow subsequently married John Ashburnham, earl of Ashburnham, in 1714, as his second wife.


  • 1 Add. 18730, f. 89.
  • 2 TNA, PROB 11/517.
  • 3 TNA, PC2/83, p. 19.
  • 4 London Top Rec. xxix. 55.
  • 5 Add. 18730, f. 89.
  • 6 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 22 Jan. 1701/2.
  • 7 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 132; CP, i. 135.
  • 8 LJ, xvii, 46-7, refers to 29 Feb. 1701, but must mean January 1702.
  • 9 Nicolson, London Diaries, 150.
  • 10 TNA, C6/336/15, bill of Katherine countess of Anglesey, 4 Mar. 1702.
  • 11 Luttrell, v. 288.
  • 12 TNA, C6/336/12.
  • 13 TNA, C9/179/19.
  • 14 Eg. 3359, ff. 45-46.
  • 15 Nicolson, London Diaries, 253-4.
  • 16 HMC 10th Rep. IV, 339.
  • 17 Nicolson, London Diaries, 302.
  • 18 Ibid. 304.
  • 19 Add. 75379, p. 22; HJ, xix. 768; Nicolson, London Diaries, 324.
  • 20 Timberland, ii. 169; Nicolson, London Diaries, 418; Cobbett, Parl. Hist. vi. 562.
  • 21 Nicolson, London Diaries, 417.
  • 22 Herts. ALS, DE/P/F150, Sir Littleton Powys to Cowper, 6 Apr. 1707.
  • 23 Add. 70024, ff. 151-2.
  • 24 Add. 72488, ff. 40-41.
  • 25 Add. 72494, ff. 171-2.
  • 26 Add. 61461, f. 45.
  • 27 Add. 72495, f. 8.
  • 28 Add. 70333, ‘them’ can be read as 7, but the import is clearly the Tories.
  • 29 HMC Portland, iv. 543.
  • 30 Add. 70219, T. Conyers, to R. Harley, 18 June 1710; Holmes, ‘Great Ministry’, 14.
  • 31 Burnet, vi. 9.
  • 32 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1563.
  • 33 Bath mss Thynne pprs. 47, ff. 3-4; Luttrell, vi. 604.
  • 34 HMC Mar and Kellie, 484.
  • 35 Corresp. of Sir Thomas Hanmer, 125-6.
  • 36 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. 1693; Add. 72499, f. 188; Luttrell, vi. 618; Holmes, 9, 60.
  • 37 Leics. RO, Finch mss DG 7, box 4950, bdle. 23, J Ward to Nottingham, 31 Aug. 1710; duchess of Roxburghe to Nottingham, 1 Aug. 1710; Holmes, 60.
  • 38 Lansd. 1024, f. 427.
  • 39 HLQ, iii. 240.
  • 40 Jnl. to Stella, 22.
  • 41 Lockhart Pprs. i. 481.
  • 42 Add. 72500, ff. 6-7.
  • 43 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 630.