RAMSDEN, John (c.1657-1718), of Norton, Yorks.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1657, o. s. of William Ramsden†, of Hull by Anne, da. of Thomas Boynton of Rawcliffe, Yorks.  educ. Chesterfield g.s.; Sidney Suss. Camb. 1674, BA 1677.  m. 18 Oct. 1681, Catherine (d. 1737), da. of John Dawnay†, 1st Visct. Downe [I], sis of Hon. Henry Dawnay*, 1s. d.v.p. 3da.  suc. fa. 1680.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Hull 1685, dep.-sheriff 1700; commr. Aire and Calder navigation 1699.2


Although he did not follow his father’s trade as a Hull merchant, Ramsden appears to have been financially secure, having been able to purchase an estate in the West Riding. Having sat for Hull in 1685–7 and in the Convention, he was re-elected in March 1690. At this time he was classed by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a Whig and probable Court supporter. Although an inactive Member, Ramsden, like all other MPs for Hull in this period, was obliged to communicate on a regular basis with Hull’s corporation, to whom he ultimately owed his election. Such correspondence covered parliamentary news, the concerns of the corporation, and, on occasion, Ramsden’s excuses for his inactivity in London. On 1 Nov. 1690 he wrote to the mayor explaining his failure to attend the House or pursue several affairs relating to the borough, on the grounds that he was ‘seized with a goutish distemper’ which confined him to his chamber. His ‘lameness’ had also prevented him from attending the commissioners of the Ordnance about the Hull garrison, but he hoped that the agreement reached with the commissioners by his fellow Member, Charles Osborne, would be to the corporation’s ‘liking’. Despite his illness, he also managed to include some parliamentary news, writing that so far only the impositions for foreign commodities had been voted, and that he would send details when they were settled in a bill. The letter was endorsed ‘to communicate to the bench’.3

In April 1691 Ramsden was classed as a Country supporter by Robert Harley*. In the following session, in a debate on the mutiny bill on 15 Jan. 1692, he offered a clause on behalf of the town of Hull that ‘they might not be hindered from quartering any part of the garrison of the town if they would’. The motion was defeated, and on the 22nd he was granted leave of absence. Although he appears to have taken little part in parliamentary proceedings after January 1692, the corporation still endeavoured to use him for their own interest. Before the 1694–5 session the mayor wrote to Ramsden, requesting that he attend their service in Parliament, and meet with the corporation before going to London, so that they could ‘impart what may be proper for your cognisance, and wherein we may by your assistance hope for some redress’. However, Ramsden was as inactive as ever in the 1694–5 session, though the Treasury secretary Henry Guy* included him on a list of ‘friends’ likely to support Guy in the event of a Commons attack. Although Ramsden continued to take an interest in Yorkshire politics, he did not stand for election again. He remained a significant figure in the locality, however, being appointed as one of the deputy-lieutenants for the East Riding in December 1699, at which time he also served as deputy to William Maister*, sheriff of Hull. He died on 26 Mar. 1718, aged 61, and was buried at Campsall, Yorkshire.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. T. Gent, Hull, 40; Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, ii. 335.
  • 2. W. J. Davies, ‘A description of the trade and shipping of Hull in the 17th Cent.’ (Wales Univ. M.A. thesis, 1937), App. D; HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 204.
  • 3. R. C. Ward, ‘Political corresp. relating to Kingston-upon-Hull, 1678–1835’ (Leeds Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1989), 110; Cal. Hull Corp. Recs. 282–3; Hull City Archs. Hull corp. recs. L.1121–2.
  • 4. Luttrell Diary, 131; Ward, 238; W. Yorks. Archs. (Leeds), Temple Newsam mss TN/C9/48, 224, Ramsden to Ld. Irwin (Arthur Ingram*), 30 Aug. 1701, George Hastings to [John Reades?], 21 Mar. 1701–2; CSP Dom. 1699–1700, p. 310.