POLLEXFEN, John (c.1638-1715), of Walbrook House, London and Wembury, Devon.

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



Oct. 1679
26 Apr. 1690

Family and Education

b. c.1638, 2nd s. of Andrew Pollexfen of Sherford, Devon, and bro. of Henry Pollexfen. m. lic. 10 May 1670, aged 32, Mary, da. of Sir John Lawrence, Haberdasher, of Great St. Helens, London, 2s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Gent. of privy chamber 1678-85, 1690-1702; commr. for preventing export of wool 1689-92; ld. of trade 1696-1707.2

Freeman, Plympton by 1689; j.p. Devon 1689-d., commr. for assessment 1689-90.3


Pollexfen ‘never had but £200 from his father’, but rose to great wealth as a merchant in the peninsular trade. By 1677 he had acquired one of the finest mansions in the City, and in 1679 he became the first of his family to enter Parliament. He was returned for Plympton to the second Exclusion Parliament as a country candidate, with the assistance of George Treby and one of his cousins of the Kitley branch of the family. A moderately active Member, he was appointed to the committees to bring in a bill to regulate the Post Office, to continue the Tobacco Plantation Act, and to inspect the disbandment accounts. In his only recorded speech he attacked not only the monopoly exercised by the East India Company but the effects of the trade on home production, employment, and the supply of bullion. He concluded:

That you may better apprehend how unreasonable it is that this great trade should be thus confined to the advantage of so few persons, exclusive to all others, under the penalty of mulcts, fines, seizures, and other extraordinary proceedings, I beseech you, sir, to cast your thoughts on this great body here by you, and the rest of the corporations of this nation, who must live by trade, and consider how many thousands, if not millions, there are, whose lot Providence have cast on trade for their livelihood; and then, I am apt to believe, it will appear very strange that so great a trade should be so limited.4

Pollexfen was re-elected in 1681, and in the Oxford Parliament he was again appointed to three committees, the committee of elections and privileges and those instructed to recommend a more convenient place of meeting and to confer with the Lords about the disappearance in the previous Parliament of a bill for the relief of dissenters. He is not known to have stood in 1685, but in the following year he improved his interest at Plympton by the purchase of Wembury, a ‘noble house’ some eight miles away, and half the manor of Plympton itself. He regained his seat in 1689, but he was not an active Member of the Convention, in which he was named to ten committees, mostly on trade. He was among those appointed to consider the balance of trade with France, a petition against the governor of Virginia, and the bill to prohibit imports from France. But his chief concern was with the East India trade; he was on the committee to examine the company’s charters, and on 7 June he delivered a report on all the affairs of the company. However, the report was only a narrative of evidence without stating the case or any resolution, and the House ordered its recommittal. After the recess another committee was set up to consider the East India trade, to which he was named, but no report was made. Though doubtless a Whig, he did not support the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations.5

Pollexfen sat in only one more Parliament, but he became a member of the board of trade in 1696, and published two attacks on the privileges of the East India Company, in which he showed himself opposed both to monopoly and to laissez-faire. He was buried in St. Stephen, Walbrook on 15 Feb.1715. None of his descendants entered Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: J. S. Crossette


  • 1. Lady Eliott-Drake, Fam. and Heirs of Drake, ii. 57; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1071; PCC 30 Fagg.
  • 2. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 193, 205.
  • 3. J. B. Rowe, Hist. Plympton Erle, 183.
  • 4. Eliott-Drake, ii. 59; PC2/58/404; HMC Dartmouth, iii. 26; J. G. White, Hist. Walbrook Ward, 74; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 19; Coll. Debates 1680 Parl. 62-67.
  • 5. Lysons, Devon, 550; PCC 30 Fagg; CJ, x. 167.
  • 6. DNB; St Stephen’s Walbrook (Harl. Soc. Reg. xlix), 124.