ALFORD, John (1645-91), of Offington, Broadwater, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. 1 Oct. 1645, 1st s. of Sir Edward Alford of Offington by 2nd w. Anne, da. of Clement Corbet, DCL, chancellor of Norwich dioc. 1625-46. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1664-6. m. lic. 4 Dec. 1667, Sarah (d.1734), da. of Joseph Jackson of Small Street, Bristol and Sneyd Park, Glos., 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 5da. suc. fa. 1653.1

Offices Held

Col. of militia ft. Suss. 1670-at least 1679, j.p. 1671-Apr. 1688, July 1688-d., commr. for assessment 1673-80, 1689-90; common councilman, Chichester 1685-Oct. 1688; dep. lt. Suss. June 1688-?d. 2


Alford’s great-grandfather, a Londoner, entered the service of William Cecil, later the great Lord Burghley, and sat for Bletchingley in 1558. His grandfather bought a Sussex estate in 1594. Both his uncle and his father sat in the Long Parliament; but while his uncle, the head of the family, was a lukewarm Parliamentarian, his father was an active Royalist who served in the King’s life guards and sat in the Oxford Parliament. Thanks largely to the adroitness of Richard Dowdeswell I, he succeeded in reducing his fine from the £2,908 at which it had originally been set to a mere £219.3

Although Alford had been a pupil of Locke, who wrote to him a celebrated letter of good advice on going down, he does not seem to have favoured toleration, at least of Quakers. In 1677 Penn complained to the Earl of Dorset (Charles Sackville) that Alford and Henry Goring I were making his life in Sussex ‘uneasy’. He was returned for Midhurst at both elections of 1679. It was no doubt Locke who recommended Shaftesbury to mark him ‘honest’, though it was many years since their correspondence had lapsed. Alford’s absence from the division on the first exclusion bill must have disappointed his old tutor, and he was otherwise totally inactive in both Parliaments. He was doubtless a churchman and a Tory at heart, and was nominated to the Chichester corporation under the new charter. To the questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws in 1688 he declared that ‘he must respite his determination till he hears the debates in Parliament, in case he be a Member thereof, looking upon Penal Laws as in force till they should come to be repealed’. With regard to the elections, he returned the same answer as Goring. But on the recommendation of Viscount Montagu, the lord lieutenant, he was at once restored to the commission of the peace and made a deputy lieutenant. He was returned to the Convention for Bramber, probably on the Goring interest, and according to Anthony Rowe voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. His only committee was for the militia bill on 24 Apr. 1689, and he was given leave of absence ten days later. He applied to Thomas Pelham in July for some preferment for his brother Charles, who had been in Barbados for five years. Alford is not known to have stood in 1690, and died on 16 May 1691, the last of his family to sit in Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: B. M. Crook


  • 1. Dallaway, W. Suss. iii. 30; B. P. Levack, Civil Lawyers, 220; Berry, Suss. Genealogies (annotated copy in Suss. Arch. Soc. Lib.); London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 16; PCC 75 Vere.
  • 2. Kent AO, U269/C36/4; A. Hay, Hist. Chichester, 589.
  • 3. J. G. Alford, Alford Fam. Notes, 24; VCH Suss. vii. 85; Keeler, Long Parl. 82-83; SP23/176/319, 327; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1009-10.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. lxvii. 97; C. J. Phillips, Hist. Sackville Fam. i. 459; Bodl. Locke mss C3, ff. 19-20; Add. 33084, f. 102.