WITTEWRONGE, Sir John, 3rd Bt. (1673-1722), of Stantonbury, Bucks.
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Family and Education
bap. 11 July 1673, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Sir John Wittewronge, 2nd Bt., being 2nd by 2nd w. Martha Seabrook of Mark Lane, London. m. 4 Mar. 1695, Mary (d. 1716), da. of Samuel White, London merchant, 6s. (3 d.v.p.) 5da. (1 d.v.p.), 2s. illegit. by Margaret Beaumont. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 30 Jan. 1697.1
Col. of ft. [I] 1709–12, 1716–18.
Freeman, Chipping Wycombe 1712.2
Descended from a Flemish immigrant, Wittewronge’s grandfather left Stantonbury to his eldest son, the 2nd baronet, and Rothampstead, Hertfordshire, to his second son, James. Wittewronge’s grandfather died in 1693 after a career which included support for Parliament in the Civil Wars, a spell as an MP in the 1650s and the award of a baronetcy in 1662. Wittewronge’s father had little time to make an impact before his death in 1697, although he did subscribe to the land bank and contested the Buckinghamshire by-election of December 1696.3
Little is known about Wittewronge before 1703 when he was in Flanders soliciting appointment to a new regiment, the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) having promised him the colonelcy of the first one to be raised. His active involvement in politics seems to date from late in 1704 when at the behest of Lord Wharton (Hon. Thomas*) he promoted the candidature of Sir Richard Temple, 4th Bt.*, in the county by-election. By late December 1704 he had himself resolved to stand as a candidate at the next election, even if he was unsure as to which borough he should contest. It was no doubt Wharton who was instrumental in bringing him in for Aylesbury in 1705. He was classed as ‘Low Church’ on one analysis of the new Parliament and as a gain by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*). He voted for the Court candidate for the Speakership on 25 Oct., and supported the Court in the proceedings on the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill on 18 Feb. 1706. In the summer he presented an address on Marlborough’s success at Ramillies. It was reported (falsely) in February 1707 that he had received the regiment promised some years previously. That month in the Commons he managed a bill for repairing the highway between Fornhill, Bedfordshire, and Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire. The 1707–8 session saw him concerned in a second road bill, this time between Old Stratford, Northamptonshire, and Dunchurch, Warwickshire, but after presenting it on 27 Feb. his involvement lapsed.4
Wittewronge may have considered transferring his interest to Chipping Wycombe, for in January 1708 he was elected a burgess for the borough (although not sworn). However, he persevered at Aylesbury and was successful after a contest. On two lists of 1708 he was classed as a Whig. He was appointed on 23 Dec. to draft a recruitment bill for the army and marines. On 14 Jan. 1709 he was named to draft a bill to oblige Edward Whitaker to account for public money when he was solicitor to the navy. He acted as a teller on 1 Feb. 1709 on the Whig side against a motion to adjourn consideration of the Newcastle-under-Lyme election. In May 1709 Wittewronge finally received his regiment, a new one to be raised in Ireland, courtesy of Lord Lieutenant Wharton, despite Lord Treasurer Godolphin’s (Sidney†) prediction that ‘it would be disbanded before it could be complete’. His appointment obliged him to seek re-election for Aylesbury in December 1709, which he secured after a contest. In the next session Wittewronge supported the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, before departing for Ireland. In August 1710 Joseph Addison* reported that a dissolution would see Wittewronge leave for England ‘on the first fair wind’ to attend the Aylesbury election, but his efforts ended in defeat.5
Meanwhile, complaints against several officers in Wittewronge’s regiment were perceived as a likely pretext for breaking the regiment, and, ‘considering what the colonel [Wittewronge] is and how far befriended by Lord W[harton]’, would thereby score a party point. This was made more certain by the perception that the regiment was ‘composed chiefly of my Lord Wharton’s Buckinghamshire Whigs’. Wittewronge was still in England in January 1711 and his regiment was not disbanded until the autumn of 1712, when he was placed on half-pay. Returned for Chipping Wycombe in 1713, he voted against the expulsion of Richard Steele on 18 Mar. 1714. He was classed as a Whig in the Worsley list and on a list of those re-elected in 1715. He signed the electoral agreement dividing the Buckinghamshire county seats between Whig and Tory in December 1714 and became a steady government supporter under George I. He died 26 or 30 Jan. 1722. In his will he vested Stantonbury and the building leases on land in the City in trustees in order to pay his debts and to provide for his children, including two illegitimate sons by Margaret Beaumont, ‘who now resides and cohabits with me’. Writing to the Duchess of Marlborough in 1727, Alexander Denton II* described Stantonbury as very good land worth about £700 p.a., but with a house not fit for a gentleman to live in without an additional estate. Nevertheless the Duchess purchased the estate for £20,714 in July 1728, its net rental in 1744 being £685 p.a.6