WHITE, John (1699-1769), of Wallingwells, Notts.
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Family and Education
b. 2 Dec. 1699, 1st s. of Thomas White. unm. suc. fa. 1732.
In 1733 White succeeded his father unopposed at Retford, which he represented for 35 years, travelling to London each session in a coach and six, attended by a concourse of servants and outriders.1 Elected a trustee and a common councillor of the Georgia Society (see Oglethorpe, James Edward), he offended some of his colleagues by leaving the House in 1734 to avoid being put on a committee appointed to consider a petition from the Society on the ground that it might lead to a private bill costing £1,400, though told by another trustee that he had never known one to cost more than £100. ‘A professed Dissenter’, ‘no friend to church establishment’, he resigned from the council, though remaining a trustee, in 1736, along with Robert More, owing to disagreement with the Society’s policy of appropriating land in Georgia to the endowment of the Church of England. In the same year he spoke and voted against a proposal that Parliament should contribute £4,000 towards the repair of Henry VII’s chapel. In the debates on the mortmain bill that session (see Jekyll, Sir Joseph), he is described by a Tory as one of the ‘Georgians’, i.e. of the Georgia trustees, ‘the spawn of the gaols committee’, who were foremost in invectives against the universities, charity schools, Queen’s Anne’s bounty, and the clergy generally. In 1739 he introduced a motion for the repeal of the Test Act.2 He voted with the Government on the Spanish convention that year but was absent from the division on the place bill in 1740.
Re-elected in 1741, after a costly contest, leading to a petition against the other sitting Member, William Mellish, White wrote to Newcastle that unless the petition were ‘attended with success ... the best and last bidder must always have success in that corporation. The sums given for votes have been monstrous ... and every step taken that can unhinge the borough’.3 Soon after Parliament met, his absence from the important division on the chairman of the elections committee produced a friendly remonstrance from Newcastle, pointing out that ‘my declining, out of regard to you, so late as yesterday morning, to promise to support Mr. Mellish in his petition was the single reason for his voting against us; and I am afraid as the division was so near, my conduct in that respect may be blamed’.4 White explained that his absence had been due to illness, continuing:
The loss of your question I am heartily sorry for, but it would give me much greater concern should any of the gentlemen in the Opposition think I meant it as a court to them ... I never was guilty of such a conduct nor never will be; and desire to be in the situation I am in for no other reason than to be able to give a hearty assistance to those persons and those measures which I have always to my utmost espoused. I ... beg to assure your Grace that you will on every occasion find me honestly, steadily, and affectionately attached to your Grace. I ... beg you will assure Sir Robert Walpole he may depend upon me and I beg you will add that he knows me much less than he does the rest of mankind if he ever once doubted it.5
He voted with the Government in all other recorded divisions of this Parliament. Described by Horace Walpole as an ‘old Republican’,6 he died 7 Sept. 1769.