EVELYN, Sir John II (1601-85), of West Dean, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 11 Aug. 1601, 1st s. of George Evelyn, clerk in Chancery, of West Dean by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir John Rivers of Chafford, Kent. educ. Merchant Taylors’ 1613; Emmanuel, Camb. 1615, BA 1619. m. 2 Apr. 1622, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Robert Coxe, Grocer, of London, 1s. d.v.p. 4da. Kntd. 8 Aug. 1623; suc. fa. 1636.2
J.p. Wilts. 1637-d., Hants 1641-July 1660; commr. for assessment, Wilts. 1643-4, 1649-52, Jan. 1660-80, Hants and Wilts. 1647-8, sequestrations, Wilts. 1643, levying of money, 1643; execution of ordinances, Hants 1645, gov. Covent Garden precinct 1646; commr. for militia, Wilts. 1648, Hants and Wilts. Mar. 1660, scandalous ministers, Wilts. 1654, oyer and terminer, Western circuit 1655, recusants, Hants 1675.3
Commr. for Westminster Assembly 1643, for provision for New Model Army 1645, Admiralty 1645-8, propositions for relief of Ireland 1645, abuses in heraldry 1646, exclusion from sacrament 1646, bishops’ lands 1646, managing assessment 1647; member, committee of both kingdoms 1648; Councillor of State 25 Feb.-29 May 1660.
Evelyn was the nephew of Sir John Evelyn I and cousin of the diarist. His grandfather bought the West Dean estate, nine miles from Stockbridge, in 1618. Evelyn succeeded to a property of £2,000 p.a., encumbered with at least £7,000 debt, and was disappointed in the expectation that his younger brother would be granted the Chancery post held by their father. A Presbyterian, he opposed Charles I before and during the Civil War and was explicitly excluded from pardon in 1642. Although he abstained from the House after Pride’s Purge, he continued to hold local office during the Interregnum, and bought the manor of Bishop’s Sutton at the sale of church lands.4
Evelyn was appointed to the Council of State on the return of the secluded Members. At the general election of 1660 he was involved in a double return at Ludgershall. After taking his seat on the merits of the return, he was unseated in favour of the Anglican William Thomas on the merits of the election, but remained in the Convention as Member for Stockbridge. An inactive Member, he probably voted with the Opposition. He made no recorded speeches, but as ‘Sir John Evelyn of Wiltshire’ was appointed to five committees, including those to bring in a bill for the abolition of the court of wards, to prepare instructions for the messengers to the King, to confer with the Lords about his reception, and to inquire into the state of the queen mother’s jointure. He was given leave to go into the country on 27 June, and probably did not return. Although he took no further active part in politics, he conformed to the Church of England and probably opposed exclusion, since he remained a j.p. after 1680. ‘A long-lived, happy man’, he died on 26 June 1685. He cut off one of his surviving daughters with 5s. because of her marriage to the Tory Lord Castleton (George Saunderson), and left the whole of his estate, reduced in value by a quarter, to his other daughter Elizabeth, mother of Evelyn Pierrepont. The grateful legatee erected a sumptuous memorial at West Dean describing him as devoting his life to making new friends and reconciling enemies.