AUSTEN, Sir John, 2nd Bt. (c.1640-99), of Hall Place, Bexley, Kent.; Stagenhoe, Herts. and Bloomsbury Square, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1640, 1st s. of Sir Robert Austen, 1st Bt., of Bexley by 2nd w. Anne, da. of Thomas Mun, merchant, of London and Bearsted, Kent; bro. of Robert Austen. educ. G. Inn 1657; Padua 1660. m. lic. 6 Dec. 1661, aged 21, Rose, da. and h. of Sir John Hale of Stagenhoe, 2s. 3da. suc. fa. 30 Oct. 1666.
Commr. for assessment, Kent 1661-3, 1665-80, Herts. 1673-80, Kent and Herts. 1689-90, Rye and Surr. 1690; j.p. Kent 1665-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., Herts. 1692-d.; dep. lt. Kent 1668-?85, 1689-?93, Herts. 1689-?d.; commr. for recusants, Kent 1675.1
Commr. for customs 1697-d.
The Austens were a family of minor gentry settled since Tudor times in Kent and Sussex. Austen’s father, a London merchant, played no known part in the Civil Wars, but was given a baronetcy at the Restoration. Austen had property in the neighbourhood of Rye, and was returned at a by-election in 1667, defeating the courtier Henry Savile. He was not an active Member, being named to only 11 committees in the Cavalier Parliament, including that for the estate bill of Thomas Harlackenden in 1671. On the working lists he was included with his brother Robert among those Members to be influenced by Edward Seymour, but in 1676 Sir Richard Wiseman regarded his support as doubtful, and in the following year Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’. In 1678 he was appointed to the committee for preventing the export of wool, an illegal activity in which many of his constituents were believed to indulge. More cautious than his brother, he did not stand during the exclusion crisis.2
Austen’s younger son Edward entered the Prince of Orange’s service in 1688, and he himself stood for Rye again at the general election of 1689. He was defeated by the Tory Thomas Frewen on the vote of the non-resident freemen, but chosen to represent the port at the coronation, and seated in the Convention on petition. Again inactive, he was appointed to only five committees, including that for prohibiting trade with France, and did not support the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. He remained a court Whig under William III, becoming a commissioner of customs in 1697, and died on 5 Jan. 1699. His son, the 3rd baronet, succeeded him as Member for Rye.3