WODEHOUSE, Sir John, 4th Bt. (1669-1754), of Kimberley Lodge, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 23 Mar. 1669, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Sir Thomas Wodehouse† (d.v.p. s. of Sir Philip Wodehouse, 3rd Bt.†) by Anne, da. of Sir William Armine, 2nd Bt.†, of Osgodby, Lincs. educ. Lincoln, Oxf. 1688. m. (1) lic. 17 June 1700 (with £12,000), Elizabeth (d. 1701), da. of Robert Benson of Wrenthorpe, Yorks., sis. of Robert Benson*, s.p.; (2) 1705, Mary, da. of Sir William Fermor, 2nd Bt.†, 3s. 1da. suc. fa. 1671; gdfa. as 4th Bt. 6 May 1681.1
Cornet, R. Regt. Horse Gds. 1680–by 1684.
Recorder, Thetford 1701–d.2
A country gentleman with about £5,000 a year, Wodehouse was descended from one of Norfolk’s principal parliamentary families. His father and maternal grandfather had both sat in the Rump, while his paternal grandfather, though a Parliamentarian in the Civil War, had eventually become a Tory. Returned in 1695 for the venal borough of Thetford, where he had a house and some other property, Wodehouse was forecast as a probable opponent of the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade. He refused the Association, and voted in March against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. On 25 Nov. he voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. He was granted ten days’ leave of absence on 6 Jan. 1697. During 1697 he financed the building of a bridge at Thetford. He did not stand in the 1698 election. In September he was classed as a member of the Country party ‘out’ of the new Parliament.3
Appointed recorder of Thetford for life in 1701, Wodehouse was returned for the borough with another Tory in November. He was thought a possible candidate for knight of the shire in 1702 but did not put up. In August 1702 he was included in the county lieutenancy. When he married for the second time, in 1705, he did not attempt to delude his wife with promises of much London society but ‘managed his matters well, told her at first if she liked retirement and a country life he would make her happy as he could, otherwise he could not be so. She complied, and lives there very contentedly.’ Successful again at Thetford in 1705, he was described in a list of the new Parliament as a ‘Churchman’. He was listed as absent for the division on the Speakership on 25 Oct. and was absent again from the House in February 1706, answering by proxy even when ordered to attend to say whether he would waive privilege in a legal case relating to the mayoral election at Thetford. Classed as a Tory in two lists of 1708, he found himself outbid for the support of the mercenary Thetford voters at the general election, and considered his interest there to be much weakened afterwards. Eventually he sold some at least of his property in town.4
In 1710 Wodehouse stood for the county with his uncle, Sir Jacob Astley, 1st Bt.* Having campaigned on the issue of Dr Sacheverell’s impeachment, the Tories won both seats, Wodehouse heading the poll. He was classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’ and was one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the first session exposed the mismanagements of the previous ministry. He voted on 18 June 1713 for the French commerce bill. Wodehouse gave up his seat to another Tory at the next election and did not stand again, though two of his sons represented the county under George II. He appeared in the forefront of the Jacobite Christopher Layer’s list of the ‘loyal gentlemen of Norfolk’, and was one of those thought likely in 1721 to assist a Jacobite rising. Wodehouse died on 9 Oct. 1754.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. J. Wodehouse, Wodehouses of Kimberley, 52–53, ped.; NRA Rep. 15 (Lane-Fox mss), 99.
- 2. HMC Portland, ii. 271.
- 3. P. S. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, p. 143; Wentworth Pprs. 471; Norf. Arch. xvi. 23.
- 4. HMC Var. vii. 148; Add. 9092, ff. 2–3; CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 392; L. Inn Lib. MP 100/204, Case of John Sharpe [c.1706]; Norf. RO, Ketton-Cremer mss, Katherine to Ashe Windham*, 5 May 1708; LJ, xv. 124–5, 142; Prideaux Letters (Cam. Soc. n.s. xv), 200; Camb. Univ. Lib. Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss, Horatio I* to Robert Walpole*, 27 July 1710; PCC 155 Paul.
- 5. Fritz, 143.