DAWNAY, Hon. John (1686-1740), of Cowick Hall, Yorks.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 8 Dec. 1686, 1st s. of Henry Dawnay*, 2nd Visct. Downe [I]. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 1703, MA 1706; travelled abroad (Netherlands and Italy) 1709–11. m. 10 Aug. 1724, Charlotte Louisa, da. and h. of Robert Pleydell of Ampney Crucis, Glos., 2s. 2da.1
Dawnay, according to the 1st Lord Egmont (John Perceval†), ‘was bred at Oxford, from whence he brought away a zeal, without knowledge, for the Church and Pretender’. Following his time at university Dawnay travelled abroad, returning to England in 1711. In November of the following year Lord Downe asked the dowager Duchess of Newcastle to choose Dawnay at Aldborough at the next general election. He was duly recommended by the Duchess against a Whig candidate fielded by Lord Pelham, the late Duke’s heir. As a precaution, Dawnay also stood at Pontefract, where his family had an interest, and where he had the support of Lord Strafford. He was successful at both boroughs in contested elections. Although a petition was presented to Parliament against the Aldborough return, and it was reported elsewhere that Dawnay intended to opt for Pontefract, he was not required to make a choice between the two seats as no action had been taken on the petition by the time of the dissolution of Parliament in 1715. Dawnay was not an active Member during this time, though he told on 23 June 1714 against an amendment to the schism bill, which would have extended the Toleration Act to Ireland. Noted as a Tory in the Worsley list, Dawnay was returned for Pontefract in 1715, on which occasion he was classed as a Tory in a comparison of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments. However, another comparative list recorded him as a Whig, though this would appear to be an error. He was unseated on petition in March 1716, and did not sit in Parliament again.2
Considered in later life to be a Jacobite, Dawnay was noted by Egmont in 1731 as a dutiful Anglican who considered the ‘church of Rome to be full of errors, in doctrine and practice’. Egmont also recorded that Dawnay took communion in a neighbouring church almost every Sunday due to his belief that
hearing sermons, though fitting, is the least of a Christian’s duty, when they meet for public worship, but that the essential part is communicating; that the ancient Christians never assembled without doing it, and thought their service otherwise imperfect. He added that commemorating the death of our Lord is not the principal business when we communicate, but the offering up the elements to God, a doctrine he said our Church should have retained, and that when we reformed we went too far.
Dawnay was also reputed to be ‘charitable, though careful enough of his money’. He died v.p. on 31 July, and was buried on 12 Aug. 1740. His father, Lord Downe, died the following year, at which time Dawnay’s eldest son, Henry Pleydell Dawnay†, succeeded as 3rd Viscount Downe.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath
- 1. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, ii. 335–6; HMC Hastings, iii. 1; Grosvenor mss at Eaton Hall, Andrew Forrester to Sir Richard Grosvenor, 4th Bt.†, 10 May 1709; Add. 22229, f. 103; HMC Portland, v. 100.
- 2. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 191; Add. 22229, f. 103; 22238, f. 126; HMC Portland, 100, 245, 328, 344; T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. of a Yorks. Manor, 258–61, 263, 265–6.
- 3. P. K. Monod, Jacobitism and Eng. People, 273; HMC Egmont Diary, 191–2; Clay, 335–6.