Northcote, John (DNB00)

NORTHCOTE, Sir JOHN (1599–1676), politician, born in 1599, eldest surviving son of John Northcote of Hayne in Newton St. Cyres, Devonshire, who died in 1632, by his second wife, Susan, daughter of Sir Hugh Pollard of King's Nympton, was entered in the 'Visitation of Devonshire in 1620' as then aged twenty-one. He matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford, on 9 May 1617, was entered at the Middle Temple as a student in 1618, and served as sheriff of his county in 1626–7. In 1640 he accompanied the royal army to York, apparently as secretary or aide-de-camp to the Earl of Northumberland, and in July 1641 was created a baronet. When the privilege of sending members of parliament was restored to the borough of Ashburton, at the beginning of the Long parliament of 1640, Northcote was chosen as its member.

Northcote acted with the presbyterians, and aided the parliamentary cause by his influence and his wealth. In April 1642 he subscribed 450l. for the speedy reducing of the rebels in Ireland, and in the following June, when the members of parliament subscribed for the defence of the parliament, it was announced that he would `bring in two horses and men presentlye, and fower more soe soone as hee can have them out of the country, and a hundred pownds in money.' These acts caused the king to except him from the general pardon of November 1642. In the following year he served in Devonshire at the head of a regiment of twelve hundred men, and he was in Exeter at its capitulation in September 1643. From that time until the late autumn of 1644 Northcote was a prisoner with the king's forces, but he was at last exchanged. He resumed his seat in parliament on 7 May 1645, and on 21 May took the covenant. A communication addressed by him and others to the speaker on 16 July 1648, on the means of putting his native county in a state of defence, is printed in the 'Historical MSS. Commission' (13th Rep. App. pt. i. p. 484); but he was excluded from parliament by the army in that year, and in 1651 his name was omitted from the list of county justices. He was returned for the county of Devon in 1654, and again in 1656. From January 1658–9 to April 1659, and in the Convention parliament (April to December 1660), he again sat for that constituency, and in the latter parliament he was also chosen for the Cornish borough of Helston; but the return was declared void. In Richard Cromwell's parliament he was a frequent speaker, and at the Epiphany sessions of 1659–60 he signed, with about forty other gentlemen of Devon, an address to Speaker Lenthall for the summoning of a new house, to consist of those excluded in 1648, with new members for the seats which had become vacant. When the Convention was summoned his influence was thrown on the side of the moderates. At the general election of 1661 he had no place in parliament; but at a by-election in December 1667 he was returned for the borough of Barnstaple, and sat until death (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. App. pt. i. p. 216).

Northcote was buried at Newton St. Cyres on 24 June 1676. By his wife Grace, daughter and heiress of Hugh Halswell of Wells, Somerset (who died in 1675, and was buried at Newton St. Cyres on 19 July), he had issue five sons and three daughters, the eldest son being born in 1627. A portrait of him, with breastplate and gorget, and a painting of his wife are at the family seat of Pynes, near Exeter. An engraving by A. Wivell, 'from an original picture in the possession of James Northcote, R.A.,' was issued by Thomas Rodd on 1 Dec. 1817. It represents him as an old man with severe face, and the original picture has recently been bought by the Hon. H. O. Northcote.

In 1887 there was published the 'Note Book of Sir John Northcote, containing Memoranda of Proceedings in the House of Commons during the first Session of the Long Parliament, 1640.' It was edited by Mr. A. H. A. Hamilton, from the original manuscript in the possession of Sir Stafford H. Northcote, first Lord Iddesleigh [q. v.]; a memoir of the diarist was prefixed, and it contained some memoranda on the session of 1661. Some doubt was expressed by Mr. W. D. Pink in 'Notes and Queries' (7th ser. xii. 443-4) on the statement that the notes were taken by Northcote, on the ground that the journal runs from 24 Nov. to 28 Dec. 1640, when he had not a seat in parliament. He spoke on 15 June 1642 in favour of the appointment of Fuller as one of the lecturers at the Savoy Chapel.

[Worthy's Lord Iddesleigh, 2nd ed. p. 6; Hamilton's Memoir of Northcote; Hamilton's Quarter Sessions, Elizabeth to Anne, pp. 134, 170-1; Official Return of Members of Parliament; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Thomas Burton's Diary; Whitelocke's Memorials, pp. 107, 126, 651-3; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 338, 7th ser. xii. 444; information from Lord Iddesleigh.]

W. P. C.