JOLLIFFE (JOLLEY), John (1613-80), of Thread-needle Street, London.

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



24 May 1661

Family and Education

bap. 29 Aug. 1613, 2nd s. of Thomas Jolliffe, mercer, of Leek, Staffs., being 1st s. by 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Edward Mainwaring of Whitmore, Staffs. m. (1) 27 June 1650, Rebecca (bur. 23 June 1674), da. of Walter Boothby, Haberdasher, of London and Tottenham, Mdx., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 5da.; (2) lic. 30 Apr. 1675, Anne, da. of John Gurdon of Assington, Suff., wid. of Samuel Brandling of Ipswich, Suff., 1s.1

Offices Held

Member, Skinners’ Co. 1642, asst. 1656, master 1661-2; asst. Levant Co. 1650-78, treas. 1659-61, dep. gov. 1662-71, gov. 1672-3; committee, E.I. Co. 1657-8, July 1660-d., dep. gov. 1665-7; alderman, London 23-28 Sept. 1658, councilman 1660, auditor 1662-4; commr. for assessment, London Aug. 1660-d., Mdx. 1673-d.; gov. Muscovy Co. by 1663-74; asst. R. Fishing Co. 1664; commr. for recusants, Wilts, 1675.2

Commr. for trade Nov. 1660-8, trade with Scotland 1668, marine treaty with the United Provinces 1674.3


Jolliffe was apprenticed first to a leading London Grocer, and then to his kinsman Matthew Cradock, MP for London and a leader of the puritan opposition in the early days of the Long Parliament. His half-brother, the head of the family, was an active member of the Staffordshire committee. But Jolliffe himself was of a timorous disposition and seems to have taken no part in the Civil War or in public affairs until the eve of the Restoration. He was already one of the leading merchants in the Mediterranean trade, but he preferred to fine off for alderman of London in 1658. When George Monck was ordered by the Rump to destroy the defences of London, Jolliffe spoke to him ‘to very good purpose, as became so prudent and discreet a citizen’. He owed his two returns for Heytesbury to his widowed niece, whose two sons William Ashe and Edward Ashe were too young to stand in 1660 and 1661. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was appointed to 25 committees. He was twice instructed in May 1660 to use his credit in the City for the benefit of the Government, and he was appointed to the committee preparing the indemnity bill. He was active throughout the Parliament over excise, having been one of the common councilmen of London appointed to prepare a petition against it. On 4 July he spoke against imposing double poll-tax on recusants. In the second session he was named to the committee on the attainder bill. On 21 Nov. he spoke against compensating the crown for the abolition of the court of wards with a grant of excise, but nevertheless was appointed to the committee for drafting a clause accordingly.4

Jolliffe and his kinsman Sir Joseph Ashe were involved in a double return with two Cavaliers at the general election of 1661, which was declared void; but he was successful at the by-election. He was again moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament; the majority of his 151 committees and all his half-dozen recorded speeches were concerned with trade. In spite of a strong laisser faire attitude, he probably had as much contact with Whitehall as any merchant of the Restoration period, chiefly through William Coventry who valued him as an ‘oracle’ in matters of commerce. Nevertheless, he appears on no list of government supporters in the House. Described as a ‘fair trader’, he was proposed as a commissioner for customs frauds, and named to a parliamentary committee in 1662. His only committee of political consequence during Clarendon’s administration was for the conventicles bill in 1664. He was among the first to leave London during the plague, gravely inconveniencing the East India Company, of which he was deputy governor at the time. He attended the Oxford session with Thomas Kendall, where he acted as teller against the second reading of the Irish cattle bill; nevertheless he was appointed to the committee. The Great Fire interrupted his communications with the Court, for he held it unsafe to venture into the ruins, but he wrote to express the high obligations of the East India Company towards Lord Arlington, and he was one of the merchants called in to advise on the paying off of the fleet in 1667, to which he apparently advanced £5,000. He was chosen to attend the negotiations at Breda on behalf of the company, but excused. He was appointed on 25 Nov. to the committee considering the petition from the merchants trading with France. On 12 Dec. he introduced the petition of Alexander Fitton, who had married a kinswoman of his, against Lord Gerard of Brandon, and was appointed to the committee. Four days later he acted as teller for the adjournment of the debate on controlling the price of coal. He was among the Members appointed to assist Sir Charles Harbord in his report on alienations of crown lands.5

Presumably Jolliffe followed Coventry into opposition in 1669. In the winter session of 1670 he spoke against the proposed ban on imports of brandy, for fear of depriving the planters. On 11 Apr. he was appointed to attend a conference with the Lords on the shipping bill. He made several speeches in the supply committee during the next session. He opposed any increase of taxes on Venetian exports, because the English woollen trade was beginning to thrive. All the spices brought into England every year, he claimed, were not worth £12,000. He dissented from the patriotic enthusiasm of William Love for the English silk industry: ‘knows not what we may prophesy in the business, but as yet we have not that trade so fully as to carry on the manufacture’. With regard to bankers, he ‘would charge these people, but in intelligible terms’. Jolliffe seems to have initially approved of the third Dutch war, forwarding naval intelligence from his factor at Leghorn; but on 1 Aug. 1673 Sir Nicholas Armorer wrote to (Sir) Joseph Williamson:

We expect the olive branch from you, and Mr Jolliffe wants it much. If you keep not things well with him, Lord George Berkeley will have him all to himself, for I observe them very dear together.

He was therefore an appropriate choice as one of the commissioners for the marine treaty with the Dutch in 1674. Although at East India House he attended 116 out of 117 committees in 1672-3, more than any other member, and as governor of the Muscovy Company he was planning the revival of the caviar trade, he may have begun to reduce his activities in other directions. After 28 years he retired from the court of assistants of the Levant Company, and the increasing political acrimony in Parliament may have been distasteful to him. Shaftesbury awarded him only a single ‘worthy’, and he served on no committees in the final session of the Cavalier Parliament. It is improbable that he stood again. He died ‘somewhat suddenly’ on 2 Jan. 1680, and was buried at St. Martin Outwich. He had not invested in land, and his personal estate (including £2,500 in the East India Company) was valued at £34,323. He left £200 to ‘poor ministers’ to be distributed on the advice of Dr Jacombe, his second wife’s kinsman, and he seems himself to have had nonconformist sympathies. His son, Sir William Jolliffe, sat for Petersfield as a Whig from 1734 to 1741.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. H. G. H. Jolliffe, Jolliffes of Staffs. 6-8; Vis. Mdx. ed. Foster, 20; Rylands Lib. Eng. mss 305, f. 91; Mdx. Par. Reg. ix. 40; Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxxiv), 140; Vis. England and Wales Notes ed. Crisp, ix. 111; St. Martin Outwich (Harl. Soc. Reg. xxxii), 3, 39, 41, 44, 100, 102, 104.
  • 2. J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 99; Sel. Charters (Selden Soc. xxviii), 183; PC2/56/453.
  • 3. Bulstrode Pprs. 63; CSP Dom. 1673-5, p. 287.
  • 4. Guildhall RO, 11593/1, f. 16; Cal. Ct. Mins. E. I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, v. 189; Keeler, Long Parl. 144-5; Vis. Staffs. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. v. (2), 100; Committee at Stafford (Staffs. Rec. Soc. ser. 4, i), 352; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 394; HMC Popham, 216; Guildhall RO, common council jnl. 2 Mar. 1660; Bowman diary, f. 52v; Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 21.
  • 5. Pepys Diary, 18 Oct. 1664; HMC Finch, i. 414; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 304, 735; ii. 101, 291; Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. vii. 168, 313, 332; CSP Dom. 1666-7, p. 174; 1667, p. 30; Milward, 164.
  • 6. Grey, 1. 219; 292-3, 311, 352; Dering, 3; CSP Dom. 1673, p. 475; 1675-6, p. 241; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 1, p. 245; Woodhead, 99; PCC 6 Bath; HMC Finch, i. 411.