DAWNAY, John (1625-95), of Cowick, Yorks.
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Family and Education
bap. 25 Jan. 1625, 2nd s. of John Dawnay of Cowick by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Richard Hutton, j.c.p. 1617-39, of Goldsborough. educ. G. Inn, entered 1641; Jesus, Camb. 1641. m. (1) 4 Aug. 1645, Elizabeth (bur. 21 Feb. 1663), da. of Sir John Melton of York, sec. to council of the north, 5s. d.v.p. 3da.; (2) lic. 14 May 1663, Dorothy (bur. 28 May 1709), da. of William Johnson of Wickham, Lincs., 2s. 1da. suc. nephew 1644; kntd. 2 June 1660; cr. Visct. Downe [I] 19 Feb. 1681.1
J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) 1647-Mar. 1657, Aug. 1657-Sept. 1688, Nov. 1689-d.; commr. for militia, northern counties 1648, Yorks. Mar. 1660, assessment (W. Riding) 1657, Jan. 1660-80, 1690, (N. Riding) Aug. 1660-1, 1664-80, 1689-90; dep. lt. (W. Riding) c. Aug. 1660-77; commr. for sewers, Hatfield chase Aug. 1660, (E. Riding) Sept. 1660, oyer and terminer, Northern circuit 1661, corporations, Yorks. 1662-3; steward, honour of Cowick and Snaith 1669-d.; commr. for recusants (W. Riding) 1675.2
Dawnay’s ancestors settled at Cowick, 12 miles from Pontefract, in the reign of Henry VII. His great-grandfather represented Thirsk under Elizabeth. No member of the family appears to have fought in the Civil War, but after succeeding an infant nephew in the estate Dawnay was appointed to the county committee and held local office throughout the Interregnum. But on 17 Feb. 1660 he and Sir Thomas Wharton presented George Monck with the declaration of the Yorkshire gentlemen for a free Parliament, and he was returned unopposed for the county a few weeks later. Wharton’s brother classed him as a friend, but he doubtless earned his knighthood by steady support of the Court in the Convention. He was not active, however, though his eight committees included the committee of elections and privileges and the drafting committee. On 30 June he acted as teller against a proviso to the bill of indemnity annulling releases and discharges extorted from Cavaliers. He was also appointed to the committee to state the debts of the army and navy.3
Dawnay stepped down to Pontefract, where he owned a large number of burgages, for the general election of 1661, and continued to represent this borough for the remainder of the period. Wharton again listed him as a friend in the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was moderately active. His 69 committees included the committee of elections and privileges in 11 sessions; but he took no part in the Clarendon Code. He was principally responsible for the defeat of the Lords bill for settling the Hatfield level in 1662. Sir Thomas Osborne listed him in 1669 among the Members to be engaged for the Court by the Duke of Buckingham, and his uncle Sir Philip Musgrave suggested that he should be given an Irish peerage. In 1670 he was appointed to the committees for preventing illegal imprisonment and nominating commissioners for union with Scotland, and in the spring session of 1675 to those for hindering Papists from sitting in P