MILNER, John (c.1657-1712), of Thames Ditton, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1657, 1st s. of Tempest Milner, Merchant Taylor, of Islington, Mdx. by 2nd w. Anne, da. of James Houblon, merchant, of Winchester Street, London, wid. of Jacob Jurin, merchant, of St. Dunstan’s Hill, London; bro. of James Milner. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1671; G. Inn, entered 1671; M. Temple 1674. m. lic. 2 Aug. 1687, aged 29, Elizabeth (d. 30 Dec. 1719), da. and h. of one Covell of Lines., 1s. 4da. suc. fa. 1673.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Mdx., Westminster, and Yorks. (E. Riding) 1689, Surr. and Wilts. 1689-90; consul-gen. Lisbon 1705-d.2


Milner came from a minor West Riding family which advanced in status during the Interregnum. His father served on the London militia commission from 1643 to 1659, and became master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in 1655, but he was removed from the bench of aldermen by the commissioners for corporations, and retired from business. He was able to give Milner a gentleman’s education, but his estate was small and his personalty only £6,000. On his marriage, Milner settled his lands in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire on his wife to cover her dowry of £200 p.a. His younger brothers became prominent members of the English factory at Lisbon. Milner was returned to the Convention for Hindon on the interest of his kinsman and neighbour, Sir Matthew Andrews. His political and religious affiliations at this date are hard to assess; he came of dissenting stock on both sides of the family, but he died an earnest Anglican, and his uncle Sir James Houblon, MP for London 1700-2, though a Whig, was considered ‘tolerable’ by the Government in 1682. It is probable that Milner’s chief interest in Parliament was religious comprehension; he was responsible for the estimate, repeated by his son-in-law to Lord Egmont many years later, of 170 dissenters in the Convention. But he was not active, being appointed to only five committees and making no recorded speeches. In the first session, his only committee was on abuses in the sale of offices. In the second session he was named to those for compensating the family of Sir Thomas Armstrong, the mutiny bill, the preservation of captured bay salt and the security of Irish Protestants. At the general election he was replaced by the Tory Thomas Chafin and is not known to have stood again. He seems to have owed his appointment as consul-general in Portugal to the desire of the Tory secretary of state Sir Charles Hedges for reports on the local situation independent of the Whig ambassador John Methuen. During the war of the Spanish Succession he performed important military and diplomatic duties over and above those normally attached to the consulate, especially during the five months between the death of Methuen in 1706 and the arrival of his successor. Milner died at his post on 26 June 1712 aged 55. His will bequeathed portions totalling £4,750 to his daughters, left his land to his widow for life, and provided for £300 p.a. to be paid to his brother-in-law and sister for their houses and land at East Sheen and their Bank of England stock. He declared:

I die in the true faith and profession of the Protestant Church of England and in communion with it, which I am fully persuaded to be the purest and best established Christian church according to the word of God, praying Almighty God ... to inspire the bishops and clergy thereof with the true spirit of love and charity ... and all those who dissent and differ from her in circumstantials with the spirit of submission, union and love.

In accordance with his will, his body was brought back to England and buried near his mother’s grave at Kingston-on-Thames. Nothing further is known of his son, but his daughter Jane married the English chaplain at Lisbon, Joseph Wilcocks, subsequently bishop of Gloucester and Rochester. His brother James sat in Parliament for Minehead from 1717 to 1721 as an associate of Sir Robert Walpole.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Top and Gen. iii. 38; Thoresby, Ducatus Leodensis, 176; A. Houblon, Houblon Fam. i. 358; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 116; Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxxi), 8; Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 374.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxi. 193.
  • 3. Woodhead, 93, 116; CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 37; PCC 48 Young, 16 Leeds; HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 226; SP89/18/333; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxi. 193-4; Manning and Bray, i. 374.