DALBY, John (c.1651-1720), of the Inner Temple and Reading, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1698 - 1700
1710 - 1713

Family and Education

b. c.1651, 1st s. of Edward Dalby of the Inner Temple and Reading by Frances (d. 1717), da. of Charles Holloway, serjeant-at-law.  educ. I. Temple 1669, called 1676, bencher 1699, treasurer 1709. unmsuc. fa. 1672.1

Offices Held

Recorder, Reading July 1686–7, Oct. 1688–d.2


Dalby’s father was described in 1686 by the Earl of Clarendon (Henry Hyde†) as a person ‘of eminent loyalty and as wise a man as I have known of his rank’. Having been called to the bar in 1641, Edward Dalby married into the Holloway family, becoming recorder of Reading after the Restoration. By his death in 1672, he had set his eldest son on the path towards a legal career, which resulted in his being called to the bar. Upon Dalby’s election in turn to the recordership of Reading in 1686, Clarendon wrote to Lord Rochester (Laurence Hyde†) describing Dalby as ‘a very honest and ingenious young man, and fit for the situation’. He was dismissed in 1687 when James II attempted to remodel the corporation, but returned as an assistant and as recorder in October 1688. Throughout the period 1690–1715 he appears to have been active both in the corporation and as a member of the Inner Temple, where he kept chambers.3

Dalby was elected to Parliament at the 1698 election, although his opponent petitioned against his return, claiming that Dalby had used ‘promises and threats’ during the campaign. On a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments in 1698 he was classed as a Country supporter, and he was also forecast as likely to oppose the standing army. He was given a week’s leave of absence on 22 Feb. 1699. Marks in the Reading corporation diary indicate that he was present at a council meeting on 27 Feb., suggesting that he continued to play an active role when necessary as the borough’s recorder. In the following session, Dalby managed through all stages in the Commons a private estate bill in favour of the Harrison family of Hurst, Berkshire. In 1719 the manorial courts at Hurst were being held by John Dalby (probably the Member’s nephew) who bought the estate three years later. It would seem probable that either Dalby or his brother Edward, an attorney, was steward to the Harrisons by the time the Act passed.4

Dalby did not stand at the election of January 1701 and returned to the Commons only in 1710. The ‘Hanover list’ of the new Parliament classed him as ‘doubtful’, but this can only have been through unfamiliarity, as he was undoubtedly a Tory, being included on a list of ‘worthy patriots’ who during the 1710–11 session detected the mismanagements of the previous Whig administration. He was also a member of the October Club, one of only 15 October men with a legal background. Final proof of his party affiliations was his vote, on 18 June 1713, for the French commerce bill.5

Dalby did not stand in 1713. His declining years seem to have been spent serving the Inner Temple and making plans for the future. His will of 1717 made generous provision for his brothers Thomas, the vicar of Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, and Edward, the latter’s in trust, possibly because of mental illness (Hearne reported him ‘crazed’ some time before he died). The major beneficiary, however, was his nephew John, already admitted to the Inner Temple at his uncle’s request in 1711, who received lands in Caversham, Oxfordshire, and in Berkshire, as well as the reversion to Sunningwell (Berkshire) and Stanton St. John (Oxfordshire) after the death of Dalby’s brother, Thomas. The exact date of Dalby’s death in 1720 is unknown, but it must have occurred before 20 Oct. when Reading elected a new recorder.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 189; C. Kerry, Hist. St. Lawrence, Reading, 129.
  • 2. HMC 11th Rep. VII, 200; Berks. RO, Reading corp. diary, 30 Oct. 1688.
  • 3. Clarendon Corresp. ed. Singer, i. 555; Cal. I. Temple Recs. ii. 262; HMC 11th Rep. VII, 194.
  • 4. Reading corp. diary, 27 Feb. 1698[–9]; VCH Berks. iii. 252
  • 5. Huntington Lib. Q. xxxiii. 158.
  • 6. PCC 229 Shaller; Hearne Colls. xi. 299; info. from Dr D. F. Lemmings; Reading corp. diary, 20 Oct. 1720.