DARCY, Hon. John (1659-89), of Hornby Castle, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

bap. 5 Nov. 1659, 1st s. of Hon. Conyers Darcy, later 2nd Earl of Holdernesse, by 2nd w.; bro. of Philip Darcy educ. G. Inn 1675. m. 5 Feb. 1674, Bridget, da. of Robert Sutton, 1st Baron Lexinton of Aram, 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 2da.1

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) 1680-Sept. 1688, Nov. 1688-d.; dep. lt. (W. Riding) 1680-Feb. 1688, (N. Riding) 1685-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d.; col. of militia ft. (W. Riding) 1681-7.2

Major, Queen’s Life Gds. 1681-5; lt.-col. Earl of Shrewsbury’s Horse (later 5 Dgn. Gds.) July-Dec. 1685.


At the age of 15, Darcy with the help of his father abducted and married Lord Lexinton’s only daughter, ‘not eleven years old and having a great portion left her by her father’. Her guardian petitioned the House of Lords on 23 Feb. 1674 but the hearing of the case was prevented by the prorogation the following day. An opponent of exclusion, Darcy was appointed to county office in 1680 and commissioned in the guards. He was returned for Richmond, seven miles from his father’s residence at Hornby, in 1681, but left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament. Re-elected to James II’s Parliament, he may have been appointed to the committee of elections and privileges. He voted against the Court in the second session, together with Charles Fox. Both offenders were reported to have been suspended the King’s presence at the prorogation and dismissed from their employment, though on their ‘humble submission’ they were permitted to kiss the King’s hand.3

To the lord lieutenant’s questions in 1688 Darcy replied:

If I am chosen a Member of Parliament, I will give my opinion according to the debate of the House; but my present opinion is not to repeal the Penal Laws and the Test. If I do give my interest to any to serve in Parliament, it shall be to such as I think knowing men and well-affected to the King and government as established.

Though he was removed from local office, the King’s electoral agents, who expected him to be returned for Richmond, described him in September as ‘right’. It was probably about this time, however, that he succeeded in reconciling Lord Danby (Sir Thomas Osborne) and the Earl of Devonshire (William Cavendish), thereby laying the foundations for the bi-partisan rising in the north. Still unsuspected, he was restored to the lieutenancy by the Duke of Newcastle (Henry Cavendish), and ordered to arrest Lord Lumley, one of the signatories to the invitation to William of Orange. Darcy pretended that he was unable to find his fellow-conspirator, though, according to Sir John Reresby, ‘it appeared afterwards that he was not far off, and [Darcy] might have seized him if he pleased’. Another account claims that Lumley escaped across the border into county Durham. Darcy played a direct part in Danby’s seizure of York on 22 Nov., and was expected to swell the number of Danby’s Tory followers in the Convention; but although he was returned for Richmond on 10 Jan. 1689 he had died of quinsy four days earlier. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: P. A. Bolton / Paula Watson


  • 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 84; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, p. 46.
  • 2. Reresby Mems. 345; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 456; HMC Astley, 49; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxix. 266.
  • 3. HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, p. 46; LJ, xii. 648; Reresby Mems. 401-2, 502; PRO 31/3, bdle. 162, f. 189v.
  • 4. Browning, Danby, i. 389; HMC 7th Rep. 420; Reresby Mems. 524; Add. 41805, f. 213.