HONYWOOD, John Lamotte (1647-94), of Marks Hall, Markshall, Essex

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



Oct. 1679 - Mar. 1681
10 Jan. 1693 - 16 Jan. 1694

Family and Education

bap. 21 May 1647, 5th but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Thomas Honywood† of Marks Hall by Hester, da. and h. of John La Motte, Weaver and alderman of London, wid. of John Manning, merchant, of Hackney, Mdx.  educ. ?Felsted sch.; Christ’s, Camb. 1665; I. Temple 1668.  m. Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir William Wiseman, 1st Bt.†, of Rivenhall, Essex, s.psuc. bro. 1672.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Maldon 1680; sheriff, Essex 1689–90.2

Gent. of privy chamber 1689–d.3


Honywood was described as ‘a chip off the old block’, his father having commanded Parliamentarian troops in the Civil War and sat in the 1650s both in the Commons and as a member of Cromwell’s Other House. His middle name of Lamotte, indicating an émigré ancestry, helps to explain his zealous Protestantism and links him genealogically to the first governor of the Bank of England, Sir John Houblon, who was his second cousin. In 1672 he inherited the ‘very considerable’ family estate, and was elected for Essex in 1679 and 1681 in partnership with Henry Mildmay*. An early sign of his overwrought character came after the Rye House Plot, when he emerged ‘weeping’ from an interview with the King, during which it was believed he had ‘made some discoveries’. It is possible that he was a Whig collaborator in the last year of James II’s reign, and he unsuccessfully contested the county in 1689. In November of that year he was appointed sheriff, and although the following month he was given leave to live out of the county during his shrievalty, he was certainly no absentee office-holder, using his position to manipulate the election of March 1690. Perhaps in revenge for what he considered to have been shrieval abuses at his own poll the year before, he was accused in a subsequent petition to the House on 24 Mar. of ‘combining and confederating with Henry Mildmay Esq. and Sir Francis Masham [3rd Bt.*]’, and of using ‘many indirect practices’ to secure their return. However, although the petition against his actions was again submitted in October, the case seems never to have been investigated.

In January 1693, no longer barred by office from standing as a candidate himself, Honywood again contested the county seat made vacant by the death of Mildmay. The latter’s supporters were reported to be generally for him, ‘with the same industry and indefatigable pains’, although at least one Nonconforming divine and his flock seem to have defected to the camp of his opponent, Sir Eliab Harvey*. Once more the influence of the sheriff on the election became a matter of dispute, Harvey alleging in a petition to the Commons that the sheriff had ‘closed the poll sooner than he ought to have done’. Honywood nevertheless took his place in the House on 17 Jan. 1693. Harvey’s petition was considered by the committee for elections, whose report on 14 Feb. detailed the allegations of misconduct. John Wroth†, who had narrowly defeated Honywood in 1689, was among those who supported Harvey’s case, but the under-sheriff, a Mr Sheffield, defended the management of the election. According to Luttrell, an impressive array of Whigs, including Charles Montagu*, ‘spoke at large on behalf of Mr Honywood’ against agreeing with the committee’s first resolution, that he had not been elected, and successfully overturned its recommendation by the slim majority of three. A procedural wrangle ensued, resolved only when it was decided that the division had confirmed Honywood’s election, and that it was therefore unnecessary to put the report’s second question, about the validity of Harvey’s election. This avoided any opportunity for Harvey to rally support to swing the finely balanced House his way, but, perhaps to prevent the matter acting as a precedent, the decision was not recorded in the Journals, leaving the confusing impression that the House had not positively endorsed Honywood’s victory. Indeed, Luttrell at one point records that the election had been declared void, the third of the committee’s resolutions, even though his own parliamentary diary shows this information to have been incorrect.4

Honywood was regarded as a placeman by Samuel Grascome in 1693. Increasingly, however, his mind became ‘afflicted with a deep melancholy’, and he attempted suicide on several occasions, once ‘by thrusting the rump of a turkey down his throat; another time he got tobacco pipe ends into his mouth; and once he attempted to throw himself down stairs’. Although ‘prevented’ in all these attempts at suicide, he finally succeeded on 16 Jan. 1694 when he ‘took an old brown garter, fastened it to the curtain rod of his bed, and hanged himself’, an act which Sir John Bramston† considered must have been done ‘by the assistance of the devil, for both the garter and curtain rod else would not have held a quarter of his weight’. The cause of his depression is generally thought to have been his ‘covetous wife, that coveted his estate from his own relations’, and who was ‘miserable to baseness’. Bramston claimed that she had ‘prevailed with him to settle his whole estate on her by a trick, that is by telling him King James was certainly returning, and then his estate would be confiscated’. His will, however, dated 1 Oct. 1693, refers to his ‘dear wife’, and stipulated that she was to enjoy his property only during her widowhood. Consequently, when she married Sir Isaac Rebow*, Marks Hall passed to Robert Honywood† of Charing, Kent.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Mark Knights


  • 1. Al. Cant. ii. 401, but not in Al. Felstedienses.
  • 2. Essex RO, D/B3/1/23, entry for 12 Jan. 1680.
  • 3. N. Carlisle, Gent. Privy Chamber, 202.
  • 4. W. Suss. RO, Shillinglee mss Ac.454/552, Sir John Marshall to Sir Edward Turnor*, 29 Dec. 1692; Luttrell Diary, 369, 422; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 31.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1695, p. 234; Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 377–8; W. Yorks. Archs. (Leeds), Temple Newsam mss TN/C6/441, A. Todd to J. Rodes, 25 Jan. 1694; Morant, Essex, ii. 169; PCC 152 Irby.