THOMLINSON, John (1731-67), of East Barnet, Herts.

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



1761 - 1 Feb. 1767

Family and Education

b. 1731, o.s. of John Thomlinson, London merchant, by Mary, da. of Thomas Grainger of Hammersmith.  educ. sch. in Essex; Christ’s, Camb. 2 July 1750, aged 19; L. Inn 1752.  m. (1) 1757, Elizabeth Mary (d. 1758), da. of Rev. Arthur Young and sis. of Arthur Young the agriculturist and traveller; (2) 24 Aug. 1759, Mary (d. 22 Nov. 1762), da. of Thomas Sergison, s.p.; (3) 16 June 1763, Margaret, da. of Maj. Martin Blake, 2nd cos. of Sir Patrick Blake, wid. of Robert Mandeville, 1 da.  suc. fa. 28 Jan. 1767.

Offices Held


John Thomlinson sen. started as owner of ‘vessels which traded with the West Indies and New Hampshire’. In January 1734 he was appointed agent for the assembly of New Hampshire in Great Britain; ‘faithful and vigilant’ he acted for them till his death. From 1745 onwards he held very considerable Government contracts for victualling troops in North America and for money remittances, usually in partnership with John and Osgood Hanbury, and often with George Colebrooke and Arnold Nesbitt; he was also a partner of Barlow Trecothick. In 1754 he was elected director of the London Assurance Co.1

John Thomlinson jun. ‘was, it seems, a rather costly young man’: the letters from his Cambridge tutor ‘show that he incurred the displeasure of the master of his college as well as of his father, apparently on account of extravagance’.2 When he left the University in July 1753, his tutor praised him for his ‘good nature, good sense, and good manners’. He joined his father’s business and continued a partner of Trecothick after his father had retired in 1762. He became a director of the London Assurance Co. in 1763.

John Butler wrote to Thomas Hurdis, Newcastle’s secretary, 24 July 1760, that Thomlinson was being considered as candidate for Steyning:

I am satisfied Mr. Honywood does not pretend to offer, or even hint, a second person, nor had this gentleman been thought of, had he not married Mr. Sergison’s daughter, and supposed to be agreeable to his Grace ... I verily believe there can be no doubt of the election for a second, as well as Mr. Honywood, as it will depend wholly on the same voters.

On 25 Aug. Thomas Sergison informed the Duke that he had put up Thomlinson at Steyning—‘and the affair I believe will soon be brought to a conclusion unless your Grace disapproves of it’. And the next day Thomlinson senior wrote to Newcastle: ‘I beg to know your Grace’s sentiments in this matter as they will govern me in the answer I make to the proposal.’ Newcastle replied on the 28th: ‘I shall desire my friend, Mr. Butler, who is our knight of the shire and has a considerable interest at Steyning, to acquaint all my friends there that I am most zealously for your son and Mr. Honywood’; and to Sergison he wrote on the same day: ‘His near relation to you, his own merit, and his being son of a very considerable, honest man, and a very good friend of mine, engage all my good wishes for him.’3 Honywood and Thomlinson were returned unopposed.

In Bute’s list Thomlinson was marked ‘Newcastle, Government’, and the note was added: ‘Son to Mr. Thomlinson who has contract for remitting money to North America’. But, faithful to Newcastle rather than to the contract, Thomlinson voted with the Opposition, joined Wildman’s Club, and was listed as a ‘sure friend’ by Newcastle on 10 May 1764. There is no record of his having spoken in Parliament. A minute of the Treasury Board of 17 May 1764 reads:4

Write to Messrs. Thomlinson, Colebrooke, Nesbitt and Hanbury informing them that My Lords hereby give notice that the contract for remitting money for the subsistence of the troops in North America is to cease in twelvemonths from this day.

But, as George Colebrooke wrote to Newcastle on the formation of the Rockingham Government,5 owing to the reduction of the troops to a peace establishment, the sums ‘on the service will be little’.

By a vote of the New Hampshire assembly, 28 Jan. 1763, Thomlinson became their agent jointly with his father ‘whose age and bodily infirmities often prevented his necessary attendance at court.’6 On 26 Mar. 1764 he wrote to his father:7 ‘I have been a good deal engaged this week in attending upon the House and in meetings with the North American agents upon the present duty to be raised in the provinces [on molasses and Madeira wine] ... We met yesterday in order to have a private audience of Mr. Grenville, but were disappointed, being too late as he was gone to his levee ... We agents have adjourned our further meeting till to-morrow when we shall after this day’s proceeding be better able to draw up our joint memorial to the Treasury.’ On 1 July 1766 the New Hampshire assembly joined Trecothick and John Wentworth to the two Thomlinsons as agents for the province, young Thomlinson’s health, ‘having been ... greatly impaired often occasions his being in the country’.8

John Thomlinson died 1 Feb. 1767, aged 35, four days after his father.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. See Namier, England in Age of American Rev. 246-50 and references there given.
  • 2. R. M. Howard, Longs of Jamaica, i. 222.
  • 3. Add. 32909, ff. 34, 288, 344, 389, 391.
  • 4. T29/35/394.
  • 5. Add. 32976, ff. 434 436.
  • 6. Prov. Pprs. New Hampshire, vii. 865, 868.
  • 7. R. M. Howard, 226.
  • 8. Prov. Pprs. New Hampshire, vii. 105.