EDEN, Sir John, 4th Bt. (1740-1812), of Windleston and West Auckland, co. Dur.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1774 - 1790

Family and Education

b. 16 Sept. 1740, 1st s. of Sir Robert Eden, 3rd Bt., by Mary, da. of William Davison of Beamish, co. Dur., and bro. of William Eden. educ. Eton 1755-8; Trinity, Camb. 1759. m. (1) 26 June 1764, Catherine (d. 12 Mar. 1766), da. of John Thompson of Kirby Hall, Yorks., s.p.; (2) 9 Apr. 1767, Dorothea, da. and h. of Peter Johnson, recorder of York, 2s. 6da. suc. fa. 25 June 1755.

Offices Held


Eden was returned unopposed for co. Durham in 1774, and supported North’s Administration. On 29 Aug. 1776 he wrote to his brother William:1

I am confident our cause is good, and trust that by God’s assistance we shall overcome all our enemies. I heartily wish we could begin by hanging a score or two of patriots as they are called ... out of the Houses of Parliament and the city of London, for to them we are indebted for this horrid rebellion.

In division lists between 1779 and 1780 Eden appears regularly as a Government supporter, and was classed ‘pro’ by Robinson. He did not vote on Lowther’s motion against the war, 12 Dec. 1781, and paired for the important divisions of February and March 1782. In 1780 or 1781 the English Chronicle commented: ‘He holds the business of the House in great contempt, generally comes down after dinner, and is always the first to call for the question.’ He voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; did not vote on Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783, but in Stockdale’s list of 19 Mar. 1784 appears among those who had voted against Pitt, and continued in opposition even after his brother had crossed over to Pitt’s side. He seems to have found parliamentary attendance a tiresome interruption of his hunting, and on 4 Dec. 1788, at the time of the Regency crisis, wrote to his brother William: ‘Came down yesterday to attend the call of the House this day ... There were not I apprehend less than five hundred Members yesterday, many of whom like myself much displeased to be brought to town too soon.’ He voted against Pitt’s proposals in the first debate, and on 15 Dec. wrote to his brother: ‘I have paired off for three weeks and go northward tomorrow morning. Before the expiration of that time the business will be somehow settled, but I much doubt whether it will be well settled.’2 There is no record of his having spoken in the House.

In 1789 Eden became anxious about his seat and on 20 Apr. asked Lord Lisburne for his support against ‘an alien banker [who], upon the idea of supporting Mr. Pitt has offered himself for the county’.3 On 30 Dec. Dr. John Carr4 wrote: ‘Lord Auckland, I am told, is endeavouring to kick out his brother ... Sir John’s political sin, you know, was an adherence to Lord North.’ Eden was defeated at Durham at the general election of 1790—it is not clear whether Auckland was responsible for his defeat.

He died 23 Aug. 1812.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Add. 34413, f. 76.
  • 2. Ibid. ff. 318, 349.
  • 3. Egerton 2137, f. 37.
  • 4. Nichols, Lit. Anecs. viii. 311.