RUSHOUT, Sir John, 4th Bt. (1685-1775), of Northwick Park, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. 6 Feb. 1685, 4th s. of Sir James Rushout, 1st Bt., M.P., by Alice, da. of Edmund Pitt of Harrow, wid. of Edward Palmer. educ. poss. Eton 1698. m. 16 Oct. 1729, Lady Anne Compton, da. of George, 4th Earl of Northampton, 1s. 2da. suc. nephew as 4th Bt. 21 Sept. 1711.
Cornet 2 Horse Gds. 1705, lt. 1706, capt. 1710, ret. 1712.
Ld. of Treasury Feb. 1742-Aug. 1743; treasurer of the navy 1743-4; P.C. 19 Jan. 1744.
The Rushouts (originally Rushaut) were Flemish Confessors who settled in England in the early 17th century. A Rushout first sat for Evesham in 1670, and from 1722 to 1796 Sir John and his son represented the borough without a break. An active politician in the days of Walpole and Henry Pelham, by 1754 Rushout’s sole ambition was a peerage.1
James West, who had himself an interest at Evesham and knew the borough well, wrote to Pelham, 25 July 1752:2 ‘Sir John Rushout ... grows obnoxious to every gentleman in this country’; and Lord Chief Justice Ryder in his diary, 15 Sept. 1753:3 ‘Sir John Rushout is much concerned about his election at Evesham, and he believes it cannot cost him less than £4,000.’ He was returned head of the poll after a contest. In 1761 he stood together with his son, and after another hard contest they were both returned.
In Bute’s list Rushout was marked ‘Newcastle’, and he does not appear in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries. Newcastle counted him as a friend, but West wrote, 12 Oct. 1762: ‘Sir J. Rushout has been so harassed with prosecutions against himself and friends [on account of the Evesham election of 1761] that I scarce think he will be in town on the opening of the session.’ In Newcastle’s ‘list of Members for and against’ in the division to postpone consideration of the peace preliminaries (1 Dec. 1762), a ‘Rushout’ appears as voting with Opposition—which seems to refer to Sir John rather than his son, but cannot be accepted as proof that he did so vote (he is not included in the division list drawn up by Lord John Cavendish).4
In the debates of 23 and 24 Nov. 1763 on Wilkes’s privilege Rushout spoke against Grenville’s Administration; and voted against them in the division on general warrants, 15 Feb. 1764. He was absent from the division of 18 Feb., but classed by Jenkinson as a friend to Government. Though from a cider producing county, he opposed the repeal of the cider duty.5 In March 1764 he opened negotiations with Grenville through Lord Hyde.6 He told Hyde,
that he was too old to think of any employment for himself, though he could yet attend in Parliament on capital points, but that he meant to give his son as a hostage of his attachment to Government and disapprobation of Opposition.
It was arranged that young John Rushout should be given a seat at the Board of Trade—but not the next which became vacant. ‘Sir John’, wrote Hyde to Grenville, 23 Mar 1764, ‘... feels his birth and fortune, and is punctilious on all points of honour: he would be more pleased in having his son come into office with Lord F. Campbell than at a time with or after Mr. Dyson.’ Dyson was given a seat at the Board of Trade in April 1764, and there was no further vacancy before the Grenville Administration was dismissed. As a compliment Sir John was invited to attend the eve-of-session meeting of the ‘men of business’, 8 Jan. 1765, to hear the Speech and Address—the only person present not in office.
In July 1765 Rockingham classed Rushout as ‘doubtful’; yet he did not vote against the repeal of the Stamp Act. In Rockingham’s list of November 1766 and Newcastle’s of March 1767, he was marked ‘absent’, and no vote or speech by him is known for the period of the Chatham Administration. West wrote to Newcastle, 11 Oct. 1767, about the forthcoming general election:7 ‘As to Evesham ... Sir John Rushout has declined on account of age.’ He later became a candidate, apparently in order to fend off a possible opposition to his son; and declined on the day of election.
He died 2 Feb. 1775.