GRANVILLE, Hon. John (1665-1707), of Stowe, Cornw.

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



1685 - 1687
10 July 1689 - 1698
1698 - 1700
Feb. - Nov. 1701
Dec. 1701 - 13 Mar. 1703

Family and Education

b. 12 Apr. 1665, 2nd s. of John Granville, 1st Earl of Bath, by Jane, da. of Sir Peter Wych, London merchant, comptroller of the Household; bro. of Charles Granville†, Viscount Lansdown.  educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1680; DCL 1706.  m. 15 Apr. 1703, Rebecca (d. 1712), da. of Sir Josiah Child, 1st Bt.†, of Wanstead, Essex, wid. of Charles Somerset*, Mq. of Worcester, sis. of Sir Josiah Child, 2nd Bt.* and Sir Richard Child, 3rd Bt.*, s.psuc. fa. at Potheridge, Devon 1701; cr. Baron Granville of Potheridge 13 Mar. 1703.

Offices Held

Freeman, Plympton Erle 1685, Portsmouth 1703; chief commr. rebuilding Plymouth dock 1692–?96; recorder, Launceston 1701–d.; jt. warden of the Stannaries 1701–5, warden and high steward of duchy of Cornw. 1702–5; ld. lt. and custos rot. Cornw. 1702–5.1

Capt. 10 Ft. by 1687–Dec. 1688; capt. and brevet col. 1 Ft. Gds. ?1689–Dec. 1690; capt. RN 1689–Dec. 1690; gov. Deal Feb.–Dec. 1690.2

Commr. of public accts. 1696–7; ld. proprietor of Carolina 1701–d.; PC 18 June 1702–22, May 1707; lt.-gen. of the Ordnance June 1702–May 1705; ranger of St. James’s Park Mar. 1703–d.3

Chairman, cttee. of elections and privileges Jan.–Nov. 1696.

Gov. Q. Anne’s Bounty 1704.4


Somewhat in keeping with tradition (as the second son of a peer), Granville chose a military career. In this he seems to have been inspired by the example of his elder brother, receiving a pass in June 1683 to join the Imperial army fighting the Turks. However, illness prevented him from campaigning that summer. In 1685 he became a captain in his father’s regiment, but by 1687 he had switched to the navy, serving as a volunteer under the Duke of Grafton in the Mediterranean. He passed his lieutenant’s examination and served as a second lieutenant. By July 1688 he was anxiously awaiting his own ship. The Revolution did not impede his progress as his father and brother threw in their lot with William of Orange. He inherited Admiral Torrington’s (Arthur Herbert†) seat at Plymouth (where his father was governor) in a by-election in 1689, securing the seat again in 1690. Although his uncle Bernard Granville I also sat in the Commons, the Journals refer to John Granville by the military rank of ‘Colonel’, so the two Members may be distinguished.5

In the 1690 Parliament Granville was classed as a Court supporter by the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), and was an active speaker in the short first session. On the crucial issue of finance, he spoke in committee of the whole on 1 Apr. for a supply so ‘that we may further supply the King with credit’. On 17 Apr. a ‘Mr Greenville’ was named to the drafting committee of the bill vesting the £500 forfeitures in the crown, but ‘Colonel’ Granville presented the bill on the 30th. Subsequently, ‘Mr Granville’ acted as a teller on 15 May for a proviso exempting from the provisions of this bill those who took office between 8 Oct. 1688 and 13 Feb. 1689, while ‘Colonel’ Granville carried up the bill the same day. Meanwhile, Granville was adopting a harder line towards the problem of securing the regime. Separating himself from other Court Tories, he supported Hon. Thomas Wharton’s* abjuration bill on 26 Apr.:

really I cannot understand the reason of those that oppose it. This only obliges us to what we all have done. In that oath, I did heartily renounce all allegiance and kindness to King James. The duty to religion obliged us to displace a popish prince: a Protestant title is the best title to the crown of England.

He then acted as teller to commit the bill. Following its failure, Granville spoke in the debate on the 28th on how best to secure the government: he believed that ‘if men will not renounce King James, there ought to be a power to secure us from known enemies’, and that having ‘found the name and effect of King James . . . we shall defend ourselves from the return of it’. On the following day he still thought ‘that there is no test great enough, but wherein King James is named: and those that will not declare against him, I shall always think enemies’. Thus, he moved for a test against the exiled king and was first-named to the drafting committee of the bill to secure the government. On 5 May he presented a bill securing the public peace against the designs of papists and others. On 6 May he spoke for the regency bill and supported the King’s decision to go to Ireland to take command in person. He took the side of his brother Lord Lansdown in the family quarrel with Carmarthen, which had arisen out of disagreements between Lansdown and his wife, who was Carmarthen’s daughter. It was therefore private rather than political reasons which motivated his attack on Carmarthen, when Granville supported the motion put forward by Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., on 13 May for a committee of the whole on the preservation of the peace of the nation during William’s absence. On the following day he went further:

When we reflect upon the arbitrary actions and counsels by the Marquess of Carmarthen in King William’s time, it reminds us of the same actions in King Charles II’s time. I have heard of his merit in the Revolution – a private life would have better become him, and been more for his interest. I cannot wonder if people be cautious in sending money to those that have so often miscarried. At one leap, from being prisoner in the Tower to the president of the Council sticks with me. He has been impeached by the Commons of England, and now to grasp at power to satisfy his revenge upon those who have impeached him for betraying the liberties of England – I would pass some censure upon him, and pull him down, though he were greater than he is.6

In June 1690 Granville commanded the Lennox at Beachy Head. He was still with the fleet in the Downs on 21 Aug. when he wrote a letter paying his respects to ‘our old Admiral’, Lord Torrington, ‘though treachery and malice should find rewards’, and ‘heartily wishing to be a partaker in your lordship’s revenge against Tourville’, the French commander at Beachy Head. Granville then went over to Ireland and distinguished himself at the siege of Cork. When Torrington was threatened with a court martial for his conduct at Beachy Head, Granville leapt to his defence. On 7 Nov., when the Commons gave a second reading to the bill clarifying the powers of the Admiralty commissioners to court-martial Torrington, Granville was reported to have passed on Torrington’s request to be heard by the House. Granville received leave of absence for six days on 5 Dec., presumably because he was to sit on the court martial due to start on the 8th, but which was postponed until the 10th. His championship of Torrington was to cost him his commands in the army and navy and his governorship of Deal, for he was turned out of these in late December ‘for something he said to the Dutch Admiral [Schey] who was an evidence against Lord Torrington at his trial’. No doubt because of this change in his fortunes, in April 1691 Robert Harley* classed him as doubtful.7

By the start of the 1691–2 session Granville was in violent opposition to the ministry, and in company with Seymour, Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., and John Grobham Howe he was soon to live up to his later reputation as one of the most ‘able if destructive spoilers – political in-fighters’ in the Commons. Nor could his lifestyle be depicted as anything other than colourful as in the popular ballads of the time he was portrayed as a ‘street colonel’, who frequented public fairs, prize-fights and bear-baiting and as the ‘patron to all the whores’. None of these perceived failings seemed to detract from his effectiveness as an opponent of the Court. Granville’s first major involvement in the 1691–2 session concerned the papers intercepted by Sir Ralph Delaval*. Granville acted as a teller against the motion that Lord Danby (Peregrine Osborne†) be summoned to tell the Commons what he knew on the subject, and was appointed to the resultant conference at which the matter was laid before the Lords. On the 19th he was named to the inquiry committee on the papers, reporting on the 24th and carrying the papers to the Upper House. When the House examined Delaval on the 23rd Granville castigated the Admiralty’s management: ‘a squadron ordered for the merchants, and they order one ship! I know not whether the lords of Admiralty take that for a squadron or no.’ On 15 Dec. he reported from a further conference. His first recorded speech had been delivered on 19 Nov. 1691 in the debate on the army, when he supported the motion that the House take the estimates item by item rather than vote an army of 65,000 men. Similarly, when the committee of the whole considered the estimates for the following year on 30 Nov. he supported the referral of the various estimates to a select committee rather than approving the lists en bloc. On 8 Dec. he was teller in two divisions upon reports from the committee of elections in favour of Whigs. During the Commons’ consideration on 12 Dec. of the observations of the commissioners of accounts, Granville moved that salaries exceeding £500 should be applied to the war effort. When the committee of the whole on supply considered the report of the select committee on the estimates on 15 Dec. Granville opposed the resolution that Dutch troops in English service be paid at the English rate. On the 17th he acted as teller for a motion to resume the committee of the whole examining the East India trade the following day, a motion supported by at least some of the Company men. On 30 Dec. he acted as a teller in the committee of the whole against continuing the pay of general officers in the estimates for 1692 and spoke against the employment of so many foreign officers. On the following day Granville supported the lords’ amendment to the treason trials bill which sought to set up trials under the lord steward: ‘A lord knows not how to speak his mind freely in Parliament, when 12 of the King’s servants shall hang him, when he is out of these doors.’8

On 2 Jan. 1692 Granville acted as a teller to agree with a resolution concerning the cost of the Irish establishment. On the 4th he opposed a vote of thanks for General Ginkel, saying it was a ‘colour’ in order to advance Ginkel to the post of lieutenant-general of the Ordnance, and that he was ‘against putting the forts and garrisons into a foreigner’s hands’. On 8 Jan. he told against committing the bill for lessening the rate of interest. In election matters, on 22 Jan. he moved that the vote declaring the Tory merchant, Sir Basil Firebrace, guilty of bribery at Chippenham should not be printed so as to preserve his reputation. On the 25th, following the report of a conference with the Lords on the treason trials bill, he acted as a teller (on the previous question) against insisting on the Commons’ amendments. On 9 Feb. he supported an amendment to the Irish forfeitures bill allowing the King power to dispose of one-third or one-quarter of the forfeitures because their value was as yet unknown, rather than, as the Court desired, a fixed sum. At the third reading on the 12th Granville acted as a teller for a rider that the King’s share should be distributed among veterans of the Irish war. At the report of the poll tax bill on 15 Feb. Granville presented a clause continuing the commission of accounts, duly telling for reading his clause a second time. The next day, on the same bill, he told against giving a second reading to a clause to tax at £4 p.a. anyone keeping hounds or a fowling piece who was not taxed as a gentleman, although Luttrell records Thomas Freke as the teller. After the end of the session Granville was slightly wounded in the arm following a duel on 2 Mar. with Lord Berkeley of Stratton, a naval officer and gentleman of the bedchamber to Prince George. Since Berkeley married only six days later, the duel may have been a matter of the heart.9

Granville was present at the opening of the 1692–3 session, moving a new writ for Saltash on 4 Nov. When on 11 Nov. there were calls for Admiral Russell (Edward*) to attend the committee of the whole on the state of the nation, Granville intervened to criticize the Admiralty lords, suggesting that they were responsible for the naval miscarriages under investigation. Thus, he was quite willing to pass a motion exonerating Russell, but felt that ‘you will find some above who are the occasion of all, who give orders in matters they understand not to control others that do’. On the 15th he opted for alliances and accounts to be laid before the House, rather than considering the King’s Speech, and later moved for the book of accounts presented by Paul Foley I to be read. He then supported going into a committee of the whole on supply in a week’s time. On the 19th Granville reported from the committee considering the petition of the London merchants complaining of loss of trade and following that joined in the questioning of Sir John Ashby about the summer’s abortive naval campaign. On 21 Nov., in the committee of the whole on advice to the King, Granville renewed his attack on the Admiralty commissioners, ‘spoke very largely against them’, questioning not so much their loyalty to the government as their competence. Lord Falkland (Anthony Carey) then questioned Granville’s competence as chairman of the previous committee, leading to ‘some contest’ between them. When the committee, on advice, resumed on the 23rd in relation to foreign officers, Granville offered the analogy that ‘till the French king had German troops and Italian ministers, he never could enslave his country. All commands in the army for these four years have been in foreign hands.’ He spoke on 28 Nov. in favour of the treason trials bill, arguing that the false charges made against the bishop of Rochester made such a bill the more essential. Also on the 28th he supported those in favour of this measure coming into effect on 10 Jan. 1693 rather than at the end of the war. At the bill’s report stage three days later he moved the motion against the Act coming into force at the end of the war and was a teller in the ensuing division. On 29 Nov., in committee of supply on the naval estimates, he rather ingeniously argued that if the size of the Mediterranean squadron were to be increased, the main fleet could be reduced because the French would have to decrease their main fleet in order to send ships to the Mediterranean. On 1 Dec. he opposed the resolution emanating from the same committee for £68,400 for eight new fourth-rate ships because it was higher pro rata than the £28,864 granted for four such ships the previous year. In committee of the whole on the army estimates on 3 Dec. Granville took advantage of a message from the King indicating that 20,000 men should be kept at home for defence of the realm to support Harley’s motion that the Commons consider this first, rather than the Court’s proposal to consider the total number required. Later in the debate he purported to believe ‘foreign councils reign too much among us’, and in a third intervention opposed Charles Montagu’s amendment to add 34,000 to the question for 20,000 men, as ‘it was never seen where the addition to a question was more than the question itself’. He opposed a second reading for the abjuration bill on 14 Dec. because ‘it tends so much to the prejudice of the subject that it cannot be for the service of the government. I have often wondered why criminals have been no better prosecuted; I am afraid it was to bring in this bill.’ When the House again went into a committee of the whole on the ‘advice’ on 16 Dec. he repeated his views against foreigners, asserting this time that none should be employed in the Tower, garrisons or Ordnance. On 20 and 21 Dec. he was involved in conference proceedings with the Lords concerning the summer’s unsuccessful naval expedition and the Commons’ vote absolving Admiral Russell from blame.10

Granville’s first important act in the new year, on 2 Jan. 1693, was to remind the House of the Lords’ desire for a conference on the papers relating to the naval miscarriages of the previous summer. On the same day he told against putting off a call of the House. Having attended the conference with the Lords, he reported from it on the 4th. He acted as a teller again on 7 Jan. in favour of adjourning the consideration of the land tax bill. When the House resumed the report stage of this bill on the 9th Granville tendered a clause extending the life of the commission of accounts to 24 Apr. 1693, acting as a teller for it. Following its defeat, he moved for a separate bill to continue the commission, managing it through all its stages in the Commons and carrying it to the Lords on 22 Feb. He renewed his attack on the Admiralty Board on 11 Jan. 1693 when the House took into consideration the report from the committee of the whole on advice to the King: ‘I must lay before the House the great loss of ships on the coast of Cornwall last year. Forty sail were lost on that coast, and not one cruiser for us. Our ships were taken in sight of the shores, and no colours seen on the coast, but those of the enemies.’ He then acted as teller for a motion ‘that his Majesty be humbly advised to constitute a commission of the Admiralty of such persons as are of known experience in maritime affairs’. On 20 Jan. Granville complained to the House ‘of a most dangerous pamphlet . . . King William and Queen Mary Conquerors, which undermines all your laws and liberties and renders you all slaves’. With the printer, Edmund Bohun, summoned to attend the following day, Granville also took notice of Bishop Burnet’s Pastoral Letter. On the following day he moved that Bohun be sent to the Gatehouse, and on the 25th, when there was found to be no time for the Commons to concur with the Lords’ resolution condemning Bohun’s work, he supported moves for a declaratory vote and communication of it to the Lords at another conference. On the 27th he was probably the ‘Mr Granville’ who offered a rider to the royal mines bill voiding all grants and contracts of Sir Carbery Pryse, 4th Bt.* The next day he supported the motion for the Lords’ triennial bill as ‘the only good thing the Lords have done this session’. His claim that it would settle the government on a firm foundation was no doubt reinforced by his belief that ‘when Parliaments sit long many will spend money to come in’. He chaired the committee of the whole on this bill on 7 Feb., reporting it and telling for its third reading two days later. On 24 Feb., when the Commons discussed the state of Ireland, he moved for an address to the King ‘to put a stop to the further granting away any of the forfeited Irish estates’ so that they could be let to the best advantage and thereby ‘yield you a good sum of money the next year for carrying on the war’. He then supported the resolution that upon information received it appeared that there had been ‘great abuses and miscarriages’ in Ireland. With the House short of business on 10 Mar. he attempted to revive the committee on advice to the King, ‘for that part of the money which you have even given this session, I hear is granted away (meaning to the Lord Carmarthen)’.11

Granville, together with his father and brother, were targets of the Earl of Sunderland in his attempt to consolidate the Court party in the spring of 1693. Grascome’s analysis of this period possibly denotes contemporary uncertainty as to Granville’s allegiance by marking his name with a query. As a means of applying pressure Sunderland hoped to delay the passage of Lord Bath’s lieutenancy commission for Devon and Cornwall and opined in April, ‘I hope he and his family will do their duty. I shall soon know on what terms Jack Granville is to be had.’ By mid-June Sunderland thought that the King should ‘make amends to J. Greenville [sic] for what was taken from him’ in 1690. By August Sunderland thought that Bath ‘would be very glad to be of one side and have his sons of another, for men grow more politic every day’. Having rebuffed the approaches of the Court, in the new session Granville continued to be active in the Commons. He was particularly concerned in the discussions following the loss of the Smyrna fleet. On 17 Nov. 1693 he told in favour of omitting the words ‘and treacherous’ from the resolution that there had been a ‘notorious and treacherous mismanagement of the fleet’ during the summer. On the 27th he told against the question that the main fleet had sufficient supplies to have conveyed the convoy out of danger of the Brest fleet, and two days later told against the motion that the three admirals in command of the fleet had timely warning that the French had set out to sea. On 6 Dec. he told against a motion that the admirals were in ‘high breach of the trust’ placed in them. When the Lords desired a conference on the naval miscarriages on 3 Jan. 1694, Granville was among those appointed, subsequently reporting from further conferences. He was also heavily involved in the management of two measures of Country reform. On 24 Nov. he had chaired the committee of the whole on the triennial bill, reporting it on the 25th, although it was defeated three days later. Also on the 28th he chaired the committee of the whole on the place bill, which he carried up to the Lords on 4 Dec. He was thus an obvious member of the conference committee on the bill when the Lords sent it back with their own amendments. When the Lords’ triennial bill was sent down to the Commons Granville chaired the committee of the whole on the bill on 18 Dec. and he acted as a teller on the 22nd to omit the last clause, which offered a minimalist interpretation of what constituted holding a parliamentary session. With the failure of this vote the bill was defeated. Following the King’s veto of the place bill, on 26 Jan. Granville chaired the committee of the whole on the state of the nation, being first-named to the resultant committee to draw up a representation to the King complaining about his action. He duly reported the address on the 27th. Granville acted as a teller on 1 Feb. in favour of requesting a further answer from the King to the House’s representation on the matter, having declared that the royal answer ‘is no answer at all’. However, he failed to carry the motion. Granville continued to participate in the debates on supply. Two tellerships in January 1694 concerned the clauses appointing cruisers for the protection of trade: on the 17th he told for the number of four third-rate cruisers to protect trade, and on the 22nd he told in favour of keeping the clause relating to cruising. On 23 Feb. he told against the first resolution reported from ways and means, which was for a leather duty, and on 22 Mar. he told against a resolution for a further duty on wine. On 14 Mar. he told against taking into custody Hugh Fortescue, a fellow Cornish MP, following a call of the House. Finally, on 31 Mar. he was the sole Member appointed to draft a bill for a commission of public accounts, presenting it on 4 Apr., but not managing it through the House.12

In the new session Granville chaired the committee of the whole on the triennial bill on 3 Dec. 1694, and acted as a teller on the 13th against an amendment which allowed the existing Parliament to continue into 1696. He acted as a teller on 19 Jan. 1695 against hearing a petition against the Bank of England on the following Monday. On the 26th he told in favour of retaining the word ‘heirs’ in the place bill, a matter of some delicacy given the recent demise of Queen Mary. On 2 Feb., when there was an amendment to the land tax bill, Granville was again a teller on the losing side. On 28 Feb. he told in favour of taking the report from the committee of ways and means immediately, rather than the following week, which was decided upon. On 14 Mar. 1695 he acted as a teller against the election of Sir Thomas Littleton, 3rd Bt., as Speaker, and then helped to conduct the successful candidate, Paul Foley I, to the Chair.13

In the 1695 election Granville was re-elected for Plymouth. The first session of the new Parliament proved to be an extremely busy one for Granville, particularly through his chairmanship of the committee of the whole on the state of the nation. On 29 Nov. 1695 he took the chair of this committee, which dealt with a series of issues during the session, beginning with the coinage. Having chaired this committee on seven occasions, and also a conference with the Lords on the issue, he reported its resolutions on the coinage on 10 Dec. On the 12th he was named to draft both an address to the King and the resultant bill to regulate the coinage. That same day the committee on the state of the nation was revived to consider the Company of Scotland, and following his report on the 17th, Granville was named to the committee of inquiry into the establishment of that company. He reported from this inquiry on 21 Jan. 1696 and was named to the committee to impeach the company’s directors. The state of the nation committee next sat on 19 Dec., to consider ways and means for raising a supply to meet the deficiencies of clipped money. He reported from this committee on 31 Dec., but was not named to draft the resultant supply legislation. On 1 Jan. the committee sat to discuss how to avoid the disruption of trade during the recoinage, Granville reporting from it on 9 Jan., although, again, he was not named to turn the resultant resolutions into bills. On 20 Jan. he chaired the committee on the state of the nation in relation to trade, his report on the 28th leading to his nomination as the sole drafter of the bill to create a council of trade. Not surprisingly, he was forecast as likely to oppose the Court on 31 Jan. over their plans for the council, and on that day voted against the proposal that its members be obliged to take an oath of abjuration. He duly presented the bill for a council of trade on 12 Feb. On 7 Feb. the state of the nation committee considered the East India trade, leading to reports on 11 and 20 Feb. and Granville’s appointment to draft legislation, which he presented on the 29th. After chairing two committees of the whole on this bill in March, proceedings petered out and it was never reported. Finally, the committee considered the state of the nation on the Africa trade on 5 Mar., leading to a report and legislation on the 7th, but Granville was not named to the drafting committee.14

Other legislative activities undertaken by Granville in this session included chairing the committee of the whole on the treason trials bill, which he reported on 14 Dec. 1695. When the bill was returned by the Lords with amendments, he told on 17 Jan. 1696 for accepting a clause relating to the trial of peers. On 28 Dec. 1695 he was the sole appointee to draft the naturalization bill for the children of the Dutch field marshal Henry de Nassau, whose daughter had married Granville’s elder brother, and which he managed through most of its stages in the Commons. In January he replaced Solicitor-General Hawles as chairman of the committee of privileges and elections, making his first report on the 28th. Subsequently, he reported on 18 election cases and one case of privilege. In connexion with one election petition he was described as ‘an ingenious, honest, bold gentleman and values never a courtier of them all’, and Sir Joseph Williamson* thought it worthwhile to record the precedent that a chairman, having made his report and the House debating it, had as much right as any other Member to join in that debate, as Granville had done on 18 Feb. over the Bletchingley election. On 5 Feb. Granville was declared elected to the commission of accounts in third place. On 20 Feb. he told in favour of committing a bill confirming a grant of land to his old commander, Torrington. On the 24th he was nominated to the address committee following the King’s Speech revealing the Assassination Plot. However, he refused to sign the Association. Indeed, he bore out his description as one of the ‘ringleaders’ of the non-Associators in the Commons when he revealed that he would only sign the Association if the words ‘rightful King’ were deleted. He was reported later (4 Apr.) to be the only Member to oppose a motion that those who refused were promoting ‘the interest of the late King James’. He also voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s.15

In the 1696–7 session Granville was an early partisan for Sir John Fenwick†, telling on 6 Nov. against bringing in a bill of attainder to punish him. On the 13th he argued that the mace should lie on the table when Fenwick was questioned, otherwise MPs would be ‘muzzled’, when as judges in the case they should be able to ask questions. He also pointed out that the bill set an ill precedent if the crown was at liberty to prove things not contained in the indictment. However, his attempt to have Hugh Boscawen I called to account ‘for reflecting on them [the House] as if they were for eluding justice and saving a notorious criminal’, was thwarted by a call for candles. On the 16th, following the reading of Goodman’s information, Granville acted as a teller for adjourning proceedings. After this failure, he objected to recitation in court of Cook’s conviction, claiming that allowing such evidence ‘was never allowed in any court’. When, on the 17th, Fenwick implicated Lord Bath (among others), Granville rose to his father’s defence, saying, ‘I desire he may be asked what proof he can give that my Lord Bath was to betray Plymouth into the hands of King James, or the king of France, and what else my father is accused of in that paper?’ Later that day he spoke against the committal of the bill, stating that, as ‘this House is above any rules . . . the rule I shall take is that I would deal with Sir John Fenwick as I would have mankind to deal with me’. He finished by denouncing the bill as ‘unjust in itself, and dangerous in its consequence’. As a final act of parliamentary opposition he told against the bill’s passing on 25 Nov. However, he continued his efforts on Fenwick’s behalf. On 23 Jan. 1697 James Vernon I* reported that Granville had a petition ready to present to the Commons, praying their intercession for a reprieve of a few days as Fenwick had not had the assistance of a priest until the day before, but ‘found it would not have been received’. He accompanied Fenwick to the scaffold on the 28th and received a mourning ring with the inscription ‘always loyal’, a reference to the Granvilles’ past loyalty to the Stuart cause.16

The Fenwick affair seems to have left Granville with less time for other parliamentary matters. On 17 Feb. he told against a resolution from the committee on ways and means to lay a duty on leather in order to make up the shortfall in revenue granted in the previous session. In the committee of the whole on 20 Feb., in a debate on a proposed increase in the civil list, John Smith I inadvertently stated that the King was ‘in a starving condition’, whereupon ‘Mr Granville took a fancy to repeat the word very often; and if the King were starving, why then were such grants made of crown lands, and why such grants and great pensions, and why foreigners enriched and made lords?’ This prompted Charles Montagu to retort that ‘he could tell them of a family that had cost the crown in King Charles’s time £300,000’, alluding to the grants made to the Granvilles after the Restoration.17

In the final session of the Parliament, Granville seconded Harley’s motion on 7 Dec. 1697 that the House go into the King’s Speech before supply, thereby attempting to put redress of grievances at the top of the agenda. Three days later, in the committee of the whole, he was one of the chief speakers for disbanding the army. On 17 Dec. his name appeared among those nominated to draft a militia bill. He intervened forcefully on 8 Jan. 1698 to rebuff ministerial attempts to circumvent the disbanding vote of 11 Dec. by getting extra money for guards and garrisons and acted as a teller to ensure that the instruction to the committee of supply should explicitly reaffirm that vote. In the debate on crown grants on 16 Feb. 1698 Granville queried whether some of the grants were not held in trust for other persons, thereby flushing out Montagu as the real recipient of the grant to Thomas Railton. When Granville continued to inveigh against this grant, William Norris ‘answered him, saying he wondered very much to see a gentleman so angry with those that had grants, when his own family had had so many, and was thereby raised from a mean estate to what they are’. The House interposed to prevent a duel, and Norris apologized in case it had been thought that he had reflected on Granville’s family. At the end of the debate Granville acted as teller for a motion that Montagu withdraw, following the defeat of which a resolution was passed vindicating Montagu. Significantly, Granville’s opposition to crown grants was somewhat less enthusiastic when the inquiries were pushed back to 1660, thereby including the period in which his own family had benefited. Granville’s performance as an opponent of the Court was sufficiently noteworthy to be included in Tallard’s dispatch to Louis XIV in April. Later that month Granville assisted in the management through the House of an estate bill in favour of the young Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Bt.* Granville maintained his opposition to the Court until the end of the session, declaring on 25 June at the third-reading stage of the bill to raise £2 million through a system of perpetual annuities that he felt obliged to seek the repeal of the legislation in a future Parliament.18

At the 1698 election Granville was forced to take a seat at Newport in Cornwall, his father having been deprived of the governorship of Plymouth in the aftermath of the Assassination Plot. On a comparative analysis of the new Parliament he was classed as a Country supporter, and forecast as likely to oppose the standing army. In the second week of October, Granville’s friends began to canvass support for a bid for the Speakership, which seemed to have the approbation of important Tory peers, such as Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) and Halifax (William Savile*). However, by early November others were entering the field, particularly Seymour, in a bid to defeat the Court’s candidate, Sir Thomas Littleton, 3rd Bt. This potential split was felt to favour Littleton and led to frantic activity to unite the Tories behind one candidate. By the 19th Nottingham was writing that if ‘Lord Rochester [Laurence Hyde†] can’t prevail with Colonel Granville to desist, I despair of persuading the other [Seymour]’. By early December, ‘Granville and his friends persisting in an opposition to all but themselves’ was widely seen as playing into the hands of the Court, and on 6 Dec. Littleton was chosen without opposition.19

In the new Parliament Granville took a keen interest in the campaign to reduce the army, being nominated on 17 Dec. to the committee to draft the disbanding bill, and telling for its passage on 18 Jan. 1699. Following the King’s plea to keep his Dutch guards he was named to the committee of 18 Mar. to draw up the address in response, and attended a meeting at the house of Sir Richard Onslow, 3rd Bt., on the following day. On the 20th he told for the retention of a reference to the King’s declaration in 1688 that ‘all those foreign forces which came over with you should be sent back’. On 10 Feb. he told against adjourning the House, which allowed the Commons to proceed with the expulsion of James Isaacson*. On 27 Mar. he told against retaining a relatively weak form of words in a resolution emanating from the committee on the state of the navy, preferring to address the King to place the Admiralty Board in such hands as would prevent future mismanagement. An indication of his stature within the opposition can be seen in Sir George Rooke’s* comment in May that he had himself been accused of caballing with Musgrave, Harley, Granville and Howe.20

In the 1699–1700 session Granville took the chair of the committee of the whole on the state of trade, reporting to the House twice in January 1700. He seems to have played some role on 6 Dec. in the attack on Captain Kidd’s grant, which implicated Lord Chancellor Somers (Sir John*). He acted as a teller on two election cases: against James Sloane at Thetford (26 Jan.) and Sir Thomas Felton at Orford (10 Feb.). He then chaired the committee of the whole on the place bill on 17 Feb., and that considering the state of the royal revenue later in the month. At the report stage of the Irish forfeitures bill on 18 Mar. Granville told in favour of a place clause excluding excise commissioners (including Christopher Montagu). When the Commons came to compose an address to the King on 26 Mar. on the composition of the bench and lieutenancy he acted as a teller twice to make the points that some justices (Tories) should be restored and to exclude a requirement that they be well-affected to the government. Finally, on 5 Apr. he told in favour of hearing the report on the privilege complaint of Christopher Lister on the following day.21

Granville transferred to Fowey for the election of January 1701. He was seen by some as a potential Speaker, Lord Digby (William*) asserting ‘I did not know a better chairman in the last Parliament than J. G.’. Early in February it was believed that he was still making a party for the Chair, but that he would not succeed in defeating Robert Harley. Granville was soon in action in partisan matters, joining the opposition to a vote on 14 Feb. to stand by the King and support the government for the safety of England, the Protestant religion and the peace of Europe. He told on 19 Feb. that Sir Henry Furnese* was guilty of breaching the Place Act. On the 20th he chaired the committee of the whole considering the King’s answer to the Address and reported the resolution asking the King to form an alliance with the States General. The Dutch envoy noted with astonishment that Granville’s report was so fair and impartial that the House voted a further address without opposition, and he was among those fêted by the King following its presentation on the 21st. He was also listed in February as likely to support the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’. However, early in March, during the preliminary discussions on the bill of settlement, Granville’s was the sole voice opposing the succession in the house of Hanover. After being named to several inquiry committees investigating the misdeeds of the former ministry, he showed his continued opposition by telling on 21 Mar. against adding a reference to the peace of Europe to an address on the current negotiations with France and the States General. Not surprisingly, he was subsequently blacklisted as having opposed preparations for war. On 28 Mar. he maintained his attack on the Whig leaders, telling in favour of a motion declaring that the grant of Kidd’s captures was illegal. Granville took a major role in the impeachments following on from the revelation of the two Partition Treaties. Having chaired the committee of the whole on 29 Mar. which considered the matter, he duly reported on 1 Apr. and was named to the committee drawing up the articles of impeachment against the Earl of Portland, the committee which subsequently dealt with the impeachments of the other Whig lords as well. Later in April he reported from two conferences on the matter and told on three occasions: on the 14th that Lord Orford (Edward Russell) was guilty of a ‘high crime and misdemeanour’; on the 16th against an amendment on the peace of Europe being added to an address that the four impeached lords be removed from the Privy Council; and on 13 May that the King answer the Commons’ address for the removal of the four lords. On 5 May Granville was a teller again, for a motion to apply £100,000 from the civil list to pay the public debts and on the 28th against the election of the Whig Sir Walter Yonge, 3rd Bt.*, for Honiton. Finally, on 20 June he told for a motion that the delays in granting supplies were the responsibility of those seeking indemnity for their ‘enormous’ crimes, that is, the impeached lords.22

Just as Granville was pondering possible changes in the political landscape, writing to Thomas Coke* in July 1701 that ‘the King going away without any alteration leaves all things in suspense’, his father died (22 Aug.). Reports indicated that the Earl had ‘made a good provision for him’ in his will, and it seems that in addition to the estates Granville already held in Ireland, £670 p.a. in Wexford and a ‘small concern’ in co. Meath, he received £900 p.a. and Potheridge in Devon by his father’s will, together with other Irish lands and the Carolina proprietorship. Then on 4 Sept. his brother killed himself, leaving Granville as the titular head of the family, his nephew, the 3rd Earl, being only nine. Granville did not acquire control of the family’s main estates, nor, consequently, the political interest still reckoned in 1710 ‘in those western boroughs . . . one of the most considerable in England’. Instead the young Earl was placed under the guardianship of his Dutch maternal grandparents, Field Marshal Henry de Nassau, Lord of Auverquerque (d. 1708) and his wife Frances (d. 1720). Granville certainly tried to ensure some political benefit from his brother’s early demise. Rochester and Sir John Leveson Gower, 5th Bt.* (Granville’s nephew), in particular sought the wardenship of the Stannaries ‘for the young Earl, and in trust for him, to his uncle John’. Rochester recognized that ‘Colonel John is not very acceptable’, and his conduit to the King, Vernon, agreed, but felt that ‘if the colonel would break of[f] his silence for your Majesty’s service I know he has a very good talent and I should be very glad to see it rightly employed’. Significantly, even with the King’s turn to the Tories, Granville received no such encouragement.23

Granville’s improved status within Cornwall was recognized by his return as knight of the shire in December 1701. On 2 Jan. 1702 he was named to the committee to draw up the address pledging support against the claims of the ‘pretended Prince of Wales’ and to reduce the ‘exorbitant power of France’. On the 6th he was named to draft a bill for a new commission of accounts. His Tory instincts came to the fore on the 20th when he told against making the Abjuration voluntary, and on the 26th when he voted in favour of the motion vindicating the Commons’ proceedings on the impeachments in the previous session. Similarly, on the 27th he told in favour of John Comyns’ election at Maldon (his opponent being one of Montagu’s brothers). However, his tellership on 12 Feb. against leave to bring in a bill to allow Somerset elections to be adjourned to Wells was probably more to do with his alliance with Seymour. Granville also took the chair of a committee of the whole on the 17th concerned with the rights and liberties of the Commons, which discussed the Kentish Petition. Granville was accused by some of leaving the chair irregularly, and it seems that, fearing a Tory defeat on the question of censuring some of the addresses from grand juries, he took advantage of the collapse of Sir William Strickland to vacate the chair and allow Speaker Harley to adjourn the House. Following the King’s death on 8 Mar., he may have been the Member whom Arthur Onslow† recorded as saying, ‘Sir, we have lost a great King, we have got a most gracious Queen; it was a sort of Tory-gratulation.’ He was certainly named to the committee to draft the address of condolence to Queen Anne and reported it to the House. On 10 Mar. he told in favour of an Irish forfeitures relief bill, and was named to bring it in. He presented it on 18 Mar. and told for its committal on 8 Apr. On 13 Mar. he was named to draft a bill to repeal a clause in the Act settling the Africa trade concerning the export of copper, presenting the bill on the 17th. Both Granville and Hon. Henry Boyle* espoused the Queen’s cause over her civil list, and consequently vied for the chairmanship of the committee of the whole on supply considering it. Granville took the chair after a division, Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt.*, noting that Granville ‘stayed in and voted for himself which was pretty extraordinary’. He reported from this committee on the 17th and was named to draft the resultant legislation, which he managed through the House. Also emanating from the committee on this bill were two resolutions, which he reported on the 24th, asking for addresses for the revenue raised in Barbados and the Leeward Islands to be used for fortifications there, and for a new governor of Barbados (a post soon to be filled by his cousin Sir Bevill Granville*). Also on 17 Mar. he told in favour of the Tory side in the East Retford election case. Granville’s motion on the 20th for a call of the House in a fortnight was sufficient for Thomas Johnson* to report ‘our managers have some great matter in hand or are apprehensive of something’, although on 2 Apr. the call was postponed again. On 26 Mar. he was responsible for dividing the House in favour of a bill for the relief of the Jacobite banker, Daniel Arthur, which was lost by 148 votes to 16.24

The accession of Anne saw Granville restored to royal favour, much to the chagrin of Burnet, who declaimed against those brought in who had ‘expressed the most violent and unremitting aversion to the whole administration during William’s reign’. In June Granville was nominated lord lieutenant of Cornwall and lord warden of the Stannaries during Bath’s minority, and raised to the Privy Council. Probably at this time he wrote to the Earl of Marlborough (John Churchill†) of his desire to ‘be placed in some station where I may give proofs of my duty and fidelity to the Queen’, mentioning specifically the treasurership of the navy, which ‘would restore me to the service . . . where I had the fortune to be first educated’. In fact Granville was made lieutenant of the Ordnance at the end of the month. The summer of 1702 saw him busy in Cornish elections, in which he achieved some degree of success. By August there were rumours that he would be proposed as Speaker, but ‘Jack’ Howe dismissed this as ‘too foolish a project to be attempted’.25

In October, when the Queen wished to make Marlborough a duke and settle a suitable income on him, Lord Godolphin (Sidney†) hoped that Granville would be able to stage-manage the vote in the Commons as part of an address thanking Marlborough for his services. The scheme failed and instead Granville found himself named to the committee to draw up an address against alienating to Marlborough any part of the revenues of the crown. Granville was one of the chief promoters of the occasional conformity bill in the Commons. Godolphin wrote to Harley on 10 Nov.:

I beg you would let me take this occasion of desiring to be informed by you if the bill about occasional conformity is to extend to any persons that are not her Majesty’s natural born subjects. My question arises from Colonel Granville’s having been with the Queen last night to ask if the Prince would have any clause offered to exempt him from the force of the intended Act. Now though the Prince has no scruple of receiving the sacrament in our church, yet I thought the Queen seemed almost equally unwilling either that he should be forced to do it or that it should need any clause to exempt him from doing it.

In December Granville was appointed to a committee to consider the Lords’ amendments to the bill. As the dispute between the two Houses continued, he even attempted, with Seymour and Musgrave, to delay sending to the Lords the malt duties bill until the Upper House gave way over occasional conformity. In February 1703 he was active in the attempted prosecution of Halifax (Montagu) for breach of trust as auditor of the Exchequer, and after this had been forestalled by the Lords, he reported from a conference on the subject.26

In March 1703 Granville was made a peer. A month later he married a wealthy widow and was given the rangership of St. James’s Park, an office his father had held. He had also wanted the governorship of Plymouth, but was refused. Then in September he went to Cornwall and held a convocation of tinners at Truro (the first since the Revolution), where the assembly received with enthusiasm an agreement he had made whereby the Queen for the next seven years would buy all their tin at a fixed price in recognition of the services given the crown by the duchy of Cornwall, particularly, in Granville’s words, ‘their loyalty in that horrid rebellion against her royal grandfather, King Charles I of ever blessed memory’. Next year, Granville broke with the administration, going into opposition with Nottingham. Before the 1705 election he was removed as lord lieutenant of Cornwall and lord warden of the Stannaries. On 28 July 1707 he had an attack of apoplexy, and was ill until 3 Dec. when he died.27

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 373.
  • 2. Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 15; CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 192; J. Laker, Hist. Deal, 234.
  • 3. CSP Col. 1702, pp. 15–16; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 788; HMC Hastings, ii. 344; H. Tomlinson, Guns and Govt. 224; R. O. Bucholz, Augustan Court, 260.
  • 4. A. Savidge, Q. Anne’s Bounty, 124.
  • 5. CSP Dom. Jan.–July 1683, p. 290; Add. 70423, Charles Granville to father, 7 Nov. 1683 (copy); J. Childs, Nobles, Gent. and Profession of Arms (Soc. for Army Hist. Res. Sp. Publn.), 78; J. D. Davies, Gent. and Tarpaulins, 41; HMC 5th Rep. 187; info. from Dr P. J. Le Fevre.
  • 6. Grey, x. 31, 76, 90, 96–97, 131, 136, 143–4; Bodl. Rawl. A.79, ff. 71, 80, 84; Browning, Danby, i. 350–1, 460, 474; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590, Vernon to Alexander Stanhope, 27 May 1690; Hatton Pprs. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxiii), 149; Luttrell, ii. 42.
  • 7. Add. 15857, f. 261; 17677 QQ, f. 258; HMC Popham, 277; Boyer, Wm. III, ii. 216; BL, Verney mss mic. 436/44, John Verney* (Ld. Fermanagh) to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 9 Nov. 1690; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 65; Mariner’s Mirror, lxxvi. 245–6; PRO NI, De Ros mss D638/13/1, John Pulteney* to Thomas Coningsby*, 23 Dec. 1690.
  • 8. J. P. Kenyon, Sunderland, 247; Poems on Affairs of State ed. Ellis, vi. 326, 351; Add. 30000 B, f. 364; Luttrell Diary, 33, 53, 82, 97, 99; Grey, 183, 216, 223.
  • 9. Luttrell Diary, 109, 149–50, 178, 186; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 374; De Ros mss D638/13/120, Pulteney to Coningsby, 3 Mar. 1691–2.
  • 10. Luttrell Diary, 214, 218–19, 228, 230, 240, 245–6, 265, 268, 279, 289–90, 291, 316, 325, 332; Grey, 263, 269, 289–90.
  • 11. Luttrell Diary, 346, 356–7, 363, 376–7, 379, 386, 389, 393, 447–8, 475; Grey, 295, 304.
  • 12. EHR, lxxi. 585; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 1211, 1217, 1230, Sunderland to Portland, 25 Apr., 20 June, 21 Aug. [1693]; Grey, 384.
  • 13. Horwitz, 144, 150.
  • 14. HMC Hastings, ii. 253.
  • 15. SP 9/18, f. 74; HMC Kenyon, 399, 405; Horwitz, 166; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 74; Add. 30000 A, f. 58; HMC Var. viii. 82.
  • 16. Cobbett, v. 1003, 1013–14, 1042, 1052, 1107–8; Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss 46/21, 67, Vernon to Duke of Shrewsbury, 13 Nov. 1696, 11 Feb. 1696[–7]; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 179, 193.
  • 17. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 215–16.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1697, pp. 502, 507; 1698, pp. 96–97, 323; Cam. Misc. xxix. 358; Add. 17677 SS, f. 163; Horwitz, 230; PRO 31/3/180, f. 50.
  • 19. NLW, Chirk Castle mss F6458, Leveson Gower to Edward Kynaston*, 11 Oct. 1698; BL, Althorp mss Halifax pprs. Francis Gwyn* to Halifax, 12 Oct. 1698, Nottingham to same, 12, 19 Nov. 1698; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 413; Add. 70019, f. 44.
  • 20. Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 26(1), James Brydges’ diary, 19 Mar. 1699; Althorp mss Halifax pprs. Rooke to Halifax, 13 May 1699.
  • 21. Cocks Diary, 40.
  • 22. Egerton 2540, f. 132; SRO, Hamilton mss GD406/1/4809, Gavin Mason to Hamilton, 8 Feb. 1700–1; Horwitz, 282–3, 289; Add. 30000 E, ff. 48, 63; 17677 WW, ff. 169, 172; Cocks Diary, pp. xlvii, 69; G. S. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 472.
  • 23. HMC Cowper, ii. 432; Add. 40775, ff. 85, 148, 152; Nat. Archs. Ire., Wyche mss 1/220, Granville to Sir Cyril Wych*, 9 May 1701; PCC 146 Dyer, 97 Young; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 1454.
  • 24. Cocks Diary, 218, 244, 257; Strathmore mss at Glamis Castle, folder 1, bdle 2, newsletter 19 Feb. 1701–2; Burnet, v. 3; Boyer, Anne Annals, i–ii. 19; Add. 17677 XX, f. 253; Liverpool RO, Norris mss 920NOR 2/222, Johnson to Richard Norris* et al., 21 Mar. 1701–2.
  • 25. Burnet, v. 10–11; Add. 61306, f. 8; 29588, ff. 113–14, 151; HMC Portland, iv. 43, 46; HMC Cowper, iii. 16.
  • 26. HMC Portland, iv. 50–51; Huntington Lib. Q. xxx. 251; Luttrell, v. 264; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 173; H. Horwitz, Revolution Politicks, 187.
  • 27. Add. 17677 WWW, ff. 132, 134; Luttrell, v. 288–9, 316, 336, 342, 536; vi. 83, 196; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 60, 171–2; Boyer, Anne Annals, i. 158–60.