CHURCHILL, John I (1622-82), of Colliton House, Dorchester, Dorset.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 1622, 1st s. of William Churchill of Muston Manor, Piddlehinton by Mary, da. of George Yarde of Churston Ferrers, Devon, educ. M. Temple 1647. m. (1) 30 Jan. 1650, Bridget, da. of Charles Vaughan of Ottery St. Mary, Devon, 1da.; (2) July 1664, Frances, da. of John Hooke of Bramshot, Hants, s.p. suc. fa. 1681.1
J.p. Dorset July 1660-d., commr. for assessment 1661-80; freeman, Poole and Lyme Regis 1662; commr. for corporations, Dorset 1662-3, recusants 1675.2
The Churchills were prominent merchants in Dorchester in Tudor times, and built their town house on ex-chantry land acquired under Edward VI. In 1609 they bought a country seat some three miles out of town. They owned much property in Dorchester and had a special interest in brewing. Whether their own residence, a stone’s throw from the High Street, lay within the borough became the subject of controversy between Churchill and the corporation.3
Churchill was the first of his family to enter Parliament. His father, having unwillingly served as high constable in 1634, sheriff in 1640, and, at the entreaty of the townsmen, deputy governor of Dorchester during the royalist occupation, is unlikely to have coveted further public office. Churchill was elected to the Cavalier Parliament for the borough, on the elevation of Denzil Holles to the peerage. There is some possibility of confusion with Winston Churchill in the early sessions, but he was clearly inactive. Only 41 committees can be positively assigned to him, and none of these was of much political or religious importance. He helped to prepare an estate bill for (Sir) Ralph Bankes and the bill to naturalize Lady Holles, his predecessor’s third wife.4
Through the Hunton family Churchill was related to Sir Edward Nicholas, the secretary of state, and was probably a court supporter at first. He was noted in 1675 as to be influenced by Sir John Churchill; but his position on Wiseman’s list in 1676 suggests that he was believed to be inclining to the country party, and in the following year Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’. Churchill was buried at Piddlehinton on 22 Dec. 1682; his will shows him to have been in financial difficulties, but most of his property seems to have gone eventually to his brother, William Churchill.5