SYDNEY, Hon. John (1680-1737), of Penshurst, Kent

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



12 May - 24 July 1705

Family and Education

b. 14 Feb. 1680, 2nd surv. s. of Robert Sydney, 4th Earl of Leicester (d. 1702), by Elizabeth, da. of John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgwater; bro. of Hon. Philip Sydney*. unmsuc. bro. as 6th Earl 24 July 1705; KB 27 May 1725.

Offices Held

Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1696, brevet lt.-col. Feb. 1702–Mar. 1705; ld. of the bedchamber 1717–27; warden of Cinque Ports 1717–28; capt. yeomen of the guard 1725–31; constable, Tower of London 1731–d.; PC 29 Nov. 1731.

Ld. lt. Kent 1724–d.; high steward, Otford 1731–d.


A younger son of an aristocratic house, Sydney took an army commission at the age of 16, and in February 1702 was promoted to captain with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He served in various theatres of war under the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), from which time dated his friendship with James Stanhope*, a near contemporary. He acquired a rakish reputation, and in April 1704 inherited almost the entire estate of his great-uncle the Earl of Romney (Henry Sydney†), valued at around £40,000, seeking permission from Marlborough the following month to remain in England ‘some time longer . . . to look a little into my concerns’. The Duke was later thanked profusely ‘for so great a favour’. In the election of 1705 Sydney was put up for Brackley by his cousin Scroop Egerton, 5th Earl of Bridgwater, and in February took an early opportunity to canvass the town, which he did in style, arriving ostentatiously in his coach and six. It was presumably in confident anticipation of being returned that he resigned his army commission the following month in favour of his younger brother Thomas. At the voting in May he took second place to his maternal uncle, Hon. Charles Egerton*, and was soon listed by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) as a ‘gain’ for the Whigs. However, Sydney was not to take his seat in the Commons, succeeding unexpectedly to the earldom of Leicester upon the sudden death of his childless brother at the end of July. Under the first two Hanoverian monarchs he held a string of mainly ceremonial offices, and died at Penshurst on 27 Sept. 1737.1

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. HMC Cowper, iii. 34; Centre Kentish Stud. De L’Isle mss U1475/C164/8, Sydney to his fa. [c.1702]; Stanhope mss U1590/C9/31, Sir John Cropley* to Stanhope, 28 July 1705; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 412; Add. 61295, ff. 50, 52; Verney Letters 18th Cent. ii. 223; HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 301.