MORDAUNT, John (1697-1780), of Freefolk, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 1697, 1st s. of Hon. Harry Mordaunt, by his 1st w. unm. K.B. 26 June 1749.
Page of honour to Queen Anne 1711, to George I 1714; equerry to the Princesses 1720; entered army 1721; capt. 1724; capt. 3 Drags. 1726; capt. and lt.-col. 3 Ft. Gds. 1731; equerry to the King 1737-60; col. army 1741; col. 58 Ft. 1741-2, 18 Ft. 1742-7; brig.-gen. 1745; maj.-gen. 1747; col. 12 Drags. 1747-9, 7 Drag. Gds. July-Nov. 1749, 10 Drags. 1749-d.; gov. Sheerness 1752-78; lt.-gen. 1754; gen. 1770; gov. Berwick 1778-d.
Mordaunt, ‘an officer of gallantry, with some wit,’1 was returned in 1730 for Pontefract on the interest of Lord Galway; for Whitchurch in 1735 by John Wallop; and for Cockermouth in 1741 on the Lawson interest. His sister had married Sir Wilfred Lawson, on whose death in 1737, leaving two infant sons, she and Mordaunt took charge of the estate. Building up a strong personal interest, he repelled an attempt by Sir James Lowther to oust him in 1747,2 thereafter retaining the seat without opposition.
A Whig, Mordaunt consistently supported Walpole, speaking as well as voting for the Government, especially in army debates. In one of these, on 3 Feb. 1738, he embarrassed his leaders by declaring he was in favour of a standing army because it ‘was absolutely necessary for supporting the Whig interest’, and if it ‘should be disbanded, or very much reduced, the Tory interest would prevail.’ He also spoke on 6 Mar. 1739 for the Spanish convention and on 8 Mar. 1742 against the motion for an inquiry into Walpole’s Administration.
After Walpole’s fall Mordaunt, in the interval of campaigning in Flanders and Scotland, where he commanded a brigade at Culloden, continued to vote with the Government and was classed in 1746 as ‘Old Whig’. But on 4 Mar. 1752 he spoke and voted against a government bill for purchasing forfeited estates in Scotland with a view to settling foreign Protestants on them. He was supposed to be speaking on the orders of the Duke of Cumberland, who disapproved of the policy of appeasing the Highlands.3
In 1757 Mordaunt commanded the unsuccessful expedition against Rochefort, but was acquitted of all blame by a court martial. He declined to stand in 1768 and died 23 Oct. 1780.