EVELYN, Sir John I (1591-1664), of Lee Place, Godstone, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 20 Oct. 1591, 2nd s. of John Evelyn (d.1627) of Godstone by Elizabeth, da. and h. of William Stevens of Kingston-upon-Thames. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1606; M. Temple 1610. m. 24 Nov. 1618, Thomasine, da. of William Heynes of Chessington, and coh. to her bro. Matthew, 4s. 3da. Kntd. 25 June 1641.2
Member, Virginia Co. 1612, E.I. Co. 1624; j.p. Surr. 1627-48, 1659-d.; commr. for assessment 1643-8, Sept. 1660-3, sequestrations 1643, levying of money 1643, new model ordinance 1645, defence 1645, militia 1648, Mar. 1660, sewers, Kent and Surr. Aug. 1660.3
Commr. for bishops’ lands 1646-8.
Evelyn’s family had held the manor of Walkhampstead in Godstone since 1588. His grandfather established the family fortune by a grant of the monopoly of making gunpowder under the Tudors. On his marriage Evelyn built a large house at Godstone, two miles from Bletchingley, at the alleged cost of £9,000. He succeeded to the family business in 1627, but after a protracted dispute with the Government he lost the contract in 1636. A Presbyterian like his more radical nephew, Sir John Evelyn II, he reluctantly supported Parliament in the Civil War; but he regarded Charles I as ‘the best of men’, and was secluded at Pride’s Purge. He was returned for Bletchingley at the top of the poll in 1660, but he was not active in the Convention. He was probably appointed to six committees, including those to bring in a bill to abolish the court of wards and to investigate unauthorized Anglican publications. On 6 July ‘Sir John Evelyn of Surrey’ urged that the bill for a religious settlement should be committed and a national synod called. Ten days later he seconded the proposal of Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper to adjourn the committee for three months. He did not stand again, and was buried at Godstone on 18 Jan. 1664, leaving an estate of over £1,400 p.a. to his eldest son, who had been created a baronet at the Restoration.4