LEWKNOR, John (1658-1707), of West Dean, nr. Midhurst, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. 24 Apr. 1658, o. s. of Sir John Lewknor† of West Dean by Anne, da. and coh. of George Mynne, clerk of the hanaper, of Woodcote, Epsom, Surr. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1673; M. Temple 1676; m. lic. 27 Aug. 1679, Jane, da. of Charles Mariscoe, merchant, of London, s.p. suc. fa. 1669.1
Common councilman, Chichester 1685–Oct. 1688.2
Lewknor had a strong interest at Midhurst, and was returned at every election for the borough in this period until he stood down in 1705. At the start of William III’s reign Lewknor’s political career seems to have been dictated by his unfortunate marital affairs. His wife had deserted him to elope with William Montagu II* in December 1685, and although he had been a Tory in the Exclusion Parliaments, in the 1689 Convention he had supported the Sacheverell clause and the vacancy of the throne, presumably to secure Whig support for the bill to illegitimatize his wife’s children by Montagu. The bill, however, got no further than the committee stage, although he had managed to secure a divorce in the consistory court of London. In the first session of the 1690 Parliament, he devoted his time successfully to securing the passage of his bill which was introduced on 28 Mar. 1690 and received the Royal Assent on 23 Apr. Meanwhile he had successfully sued Montagu in the court of King’s bench, securing damages of £6,500. At the beginning of the 1690 Parliament Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) noted Lewknor as a Whig, and as a Court supporter. In December 1690 Carmarthen classed him as a probable supporter in connexion with a projected attack in the Commons on his ministerial position. However, his bill having passed, he reverted to opposition and was listed as such by Robert Harley* in April 1691. For the rest of his parliamentary career he seems usually to have followed Harley’s lead, although contemporaries were sometimes confused about his political allegiance. Re-elected for Midhurst in 1695, he was forecast in January 1696 as a probable supporter of the Court on the proposed council of trade, but was then listed as having refused the Association at first (although he had signed by 4 Apr.), and in March voted against the government on fixing the price of guineas at 22s. On 4 Apr. he was given leave of absence for health reasons. He had returned by 16 Apr. when he was first-named to a select committee, but was given leave of absence again on 10 May for three weeks.
Elected again for Midhurst in 1698, Lewknor was forecast in August as likely to oppose the standing army, and was classed as a member of the Country party in a comparison of the old and new House of Commons of about September 1698. Confirming the earlier forecast, he did not appear on the list of those who voted against the disbanding bill on 18 Jan. 1699. He was granted leave of absence for 14 days on 31 Mar. 1699, and again on 4 June 1701, this time for the funeral of his father-in-law. Classed as a Tory by Harley in December 1701, he voted on 26 Feb. 1702 for the motion vindicating the proceedings of the Commons over the impeachment of the Whig ministers.3
Successful for Midhurst in 1702, Lewknor was listed as a probable opponent of the Tack on 30 Oct. 1704. Harley included him in his lobbying list in favour of the measure, but Lewknor duly voted against it (or was absent) in the division on 28 Nov. Otherwise he was inactive in Parliament. He did not stand in 1705, but continued to give his support to Lawrence Alcock at Midhurst. Lewknor died on 19 Feb. 1707 and was buried at West Dean. His estates were left to his kinsman, William Knight*, who sat for Midhurst from 1713 until his death.4