HENNIKER, John (1752-1821), of Worlingworth Hall, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. 19 Apr. 1752, 1st s. of John Henniker and gd.-s. of John Major. educ. Eton 1764-8; St. John’s, Camb. 1769; L. Inn 1768, called 1777. m. 21 Apr. 1791, Emily, da. of Robert Jones of Duffryn, Glam., s.p. suc. on d. of his mother 1792, to estates of his maternal gd.-fa., and took name of Major after that of Henniker. suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Henniker [I], 18 Apr. 1803.
In 1780 Henniker unsuccessfully contested his father’s first constituency of Sudbury, but is not known to have stood anywhere in 1784. In 1785 he was returned at New Romney on the interest of Sir Edward Dering, and in the House he was an independent supporter of Pitt. In one of the divisions on Richmond’s fortifications plan he voted against Government: his name does not appear on either side in the only extant list, that of 27 Feb. 1786, but speaking on the army estimates, 10 Dec. 1787, he ‘boasted to have been one of those who gave a vote against the system of fortifications, which had been proposed ...’ In doing so he claimed to have done ‘essential service’ to Pitt, ‘and stood forward, with many other of his friends, to shield him from the consequence of a measure, that ... must have brought mischief on himself and the country’. He now supported the Government proposals, and spoke of Pitt as a minister who ‘had brought the country to an elevation of glory from a depressure of despondency’.1 In the Regency crisis of 1788-1789 Henniker went with Pitt. His contributions to debates were sometimes exotic: thus, on Wilberforce’s motion regarding the slave trade, 21 May 1789, Henniker, having declared that ‘proper regulations might answer every necessary end of humanity, and that the trade might still be maintained’, to illustrate the cruelties of native rulers he read out a letter of about 3,500 words written in 1726 by an African King to George I—‘if we did not take the slaves off their hands, the miserable wretches would suffer still more severely’.2 He concluded with a quotation from Cicero.
He left a few antiquarian studies, among them an ‘Account of the Families of Henniker and Major’. He died 4 Dec. 1821.