CHILD, John (c.1677-1703), of the Middle Temple, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



14 Nov. 1702 - 14 Feb. 1703

Family and Education

b. c.1677, at least 2nd surv. s. of Sir Francis Child*; bro. of Francis†, Samuel† and Robert Child*.  educ. sch. in Fulham; Trinity Coll. Camb. adm. 21 Apr. 1693, aged 15; M. Temple 1694, called 1700.  unm.1

Offices Held


Child, a younger son of the banker Sir Francis Child, inherited houses in Fleet Street, where he was born, and Blackfriars from his mother in 1686. After attending a school in Fulham he progressed to Cambridge in 1693, but left for the Middle Temple in the following year without taking a degree. He was called to the bar in 1700, and his subsequent success as a barrister is suggested by the purchase of several properties, including a manor in Buckinghamshire for which he paid 1,250 guineas. Although he had no property in Devizes, a borough which traditionally elected a member of the local gentry to sit with a townsman, his family had long been established at nearby Heddington, and he was thus a suitable candidate to replace his father at the Devizes by-election on 14 Nov. 1702, caused by the latter’s decision to sit for London. Child made little impression on the work of the House, although he may have acted as a teller on 14 Dec. for a motion reviving all committees. His stay at the House was short-lived, however, for on 14 Feb. following he hanged himself from a shutter in his Temple chambers. There was a rumour that his suicide was caused by sorrow for the loss of the occasional conformity bill, but Lady Pye, writing to Abigail Harley 27 Feb. 1703, dismissed this idea as a ‘good Derby ale notion, though . . . the opinion of some gentlemen’. Dyer’s report on the event admitted that ‘there is no reason can be given for his committing this violence on himself, being the darling of his father and mother and who amply supplied him with what ever he desired, but his natural temper being hypochondriacal led him to it, though it’s said he left two papers containing some reasons behind him’. No will has been found.2

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. J. Feret, Fulham, Old and New, 92–94.
  • 2. Wilts. RO, Devizes bor. recs. G20/1/19, min. bk.; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 269; HMC Portland, iv. 58; F. G. Hilton Price, Marygold by Temple Bar, 79–98; Add. 70234, newsletters 16 Feb., 4 Nov. 1703.