ELIOT, Hon. John (1761-1823), of Port Eliot, Cornw.
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Family and Education
b. 30 Sept. 1761, 3rd s. but event. h. of Edward Eliot†, 1st Baron Eliot; bro. of Hon. Edward James Eliot* and Hon. William Eliot*. educ. Liskeard sch.; Pembroke, Camb. 1780; I. Temple 1780, called 1786. m. (1) 9 Sept. 1790, Caroline (d. 26 July 1818), da. of Charles Yorke†, s.p.; (2) 19 Aug. 1819, Harriet, da. of Reginald Pole Carew*, s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Eliot 17 Feb. 1804; cr. Earl of St. Germans 26 Nov. 1815.
Lt. Cornw. yeomanry 1797, capt. 1803; lt.-col. commdt. E. Cornw. vols. 1803, militia 1808.
Eliot, like his elder brother Edward James, sat on the family interest and supported Pitt. He was for a while a barrister on the western circuit (on 28 Feb. 1793 he was given leave of absence to practise there).1 On 15 Apr. 1791 he made his first important speech, seconding the previous question against opposition on the subject of the Russian armament,2 but he was never prominent in debate. The same session he was listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. On 15 Mar. 1796 he voted for the abolition of the slave trade.
On the death of his elder brother in 1797, Eliot became heir to the title. On 31 Dec. 1798 he defended Pitt’s income tax proposals, having voted on 4 Jan. of that year for the assessed taxes. He intervened briefly on behalf of administration, 28 Feb. 1800, to thwart Tierney’s resolution hostile to the restoration of the French monarchy.3 On this, as on a few previous occasions, he acted as government teller. On 4 Apr. 1800 he denied there was a monopoly in the copper trade. He followed Pitt’s line with regard to Addington’s administration, voting with him on 3 June 1803. He succeeded to the title before Pitt resolutely opposed Addington. In May 1804 when Pitt was about to return to power, Charles Abbot quoted Eliot as saying:4
he highly approved of the good sense and moderation with which ministers were quitting office, before Mr Pitt (as he hoped) was pledged, but he strongly deprecated any coalition between Mr Pitt and Mr Fox, and made no scruple of declaring his aversion to Lord Grenville as a minister.
On 15 Jan. 1805 he moved the address in the Lords. He displayed his aversion to Grenville in 1806 after Pitt’s death and was in return harassed in his Cornish boroughs.5 On the fall of Grenville, however, he resumed terms with administration and returned friends of theirs. For this Eliot, described by Lord Minto in 1805 as ‘a fattish, fairish, silent gentleman’, was rewarded in 1815 with an earldom, with remainder to his brother William. Lord Liverpool, offering it unsolicited on 8 Aug. 1815, wrote that he would be glad to recommend Eliot ‘as well on account of the personal regard I feel towards you, as on the ground of your near connexion with our common friend Mr Pitt’. In accepting, Eliot admitted that he had ‘long had a desire for some mark of royal and public favour and approbation’, adding ‘I am indeed proud of my connexion with Mr Pitt, but still more proud of having made him my guide in public’.6 He died 17 Nov. 1823.