PAGE, John (?1696-1779), of Watergate House, nr. Chichester, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. ?1696, s. of Edward Page of Chichester by his w. Mary. m. (1) Catherine (d.1736), da. of Robert Knight, cashier of the South Sea Co., sis. of Robert Knight, 1st Earl of Catherlough [I], 1da.; (2) 25 June 1741, Anne, da. and h. of Francis Soane of Stockbridge, nr. Chichester, 1da. who m. George White Thomas, M.P.
Director, E.I. Co. 1730-2; dep. paymaster gen. 1755-7; searcher of customs, Chester and Liverpool 1761-d.
Page came of an old Sussex family, resident at Donnington, near Chichester.1 He began life as an employee in the South Sea Company,2 marrying the daughter of its cashier, Robert Knight, who absconded in the 1720 crisis. About 1726 he retired and bought the manor of Donnington,3 settling down as a country gentleman.
At the 1727 general election Page was returned on the Knight interest for Great Grimsby, which he had contested unsuccessfully in 1722. In Parliament he took an independent line, voting with the Administration on the civil list arrears in 1729 but against them on the Hessians in 1730; abstaining on the army in 1730 and the excise bill in 1733; and voting with the Opposition for the repeal of the Septennial Act in 1734. He was one of ‘20 friends of the Court’ who did not vote on a place bill, which was warmly opposed by the Administration in 1734, leaving the House before the question was put ‘because he could not oppose so reasonable and popular a bill’.4 He became a member of the gaols committee and of the council of the Georgia Society, of which he was also an original trustee.5
In 1734 Page gave up his Grimsby seat to his brother-in-law, Robert Knight, to stand on his own interest for Chichester, where he came out bottom of the poll. By 1741 however, his interest was so strong that he was returned for Chichester against the wishes of the Duke of Richmond,6 who wrote to Newcastle, referring to Page’s protestations of loyalty to Walpole: ‘I am convinced Page must either deceive Sir Robert or be the vilest of men for it is notorious how publicly he abuses Sir Robert every day’, adding later, ‘I am sure we won’t have Page without buying him’.7 A few months later he married as his second wife the daughter of an influential Chichester alderman, after which he was invariably re-elected without opposition.
At the beginning of the new Parliament Page was regarded as a doubtful supporter of the Government. He did not vote on the chairman of the elections committee nor was he included in the Cockpit list of ministerial supporters in October 1742, but thereafter he voted with the Administration in all recorded divisions. Classed in the next Parliament as a government supporter, he remained faithful to Newcastle till the Duke’s death in 1768, when he himself retired from Parliament. He died 26 Jan. 1779.