COKE, John II (c.1653-92), of Melbourne, Derbys. and Melton Mowbray, Leics.
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Family and Education
b. c.1653, o.s. of Thomas Coke of Gray’s Inn and Melbourne by Mary, da. of Richard Pope of Woolstaston, Salop. educ. Christ Church Oxf. 1669; G. Inn 1669. m. 15 June 1672, Mary (d.1680), da. and h. of Sir Thomas Leventhorpe, 4th Bt., of Shingehall, Sawbridgeworth, Herts., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. fa. 1656.1
Commr. for assessment, Derbys. 1673-80, Derbys. Herts. and Leics. 1689-90; dep. lt. Derbys. and Leics. 1680-?86, Leics. 1689-?d., Derbys. 1690-?d., capt. of militia ft. Derbys. aft. 1680-?86, j.p. 1682-7, ?1689-d.2
Gent. usher to Queen Catherine of Braganza 1685-?89.3
Coke’s ancestors, who were not related to Chief Justice Coke and the Longford family, were established in Derbyshire by the reign of Edward III. His grandfather, Sir John Coke, first entered Parliament in 1621 and served as secretary of state from 1625 to 1640. His father, a younger son, was returned for Leicester at both elections of 1640; a Royalist, he sat at Oxford in 1644 and was fined £500 for his delinquency. He was arrested as a conspirator in 1651, and saved his life by a voluminous and detailed confession of his activities and associates. On succeeding to the Melbourne estate, valued at £850 p.a., he paid a further £2,200 as composition. During Coke’s long minority the manor of Melton Mowbray was purchased, and the Hertfordshire property which his wife inherited in 1679 brought his annual income up to £3,000. An opponent of exclusion, he was defeated by Sir William Hartopp in the Leicestershire by-election of April 1679, and again at Derby, eight miles from Melbourne, in 1681. After the Rye House Plot he forwarded to the Government charges of dangerous words said to have been uttered by George Vernon, one of his opponents.5
On the accession of James II Coke’s loyalty was recognized with a place at Court. He prepared to contest Leicestershire again, but probably withdrew before the poll. He was successful at Derby, but he did not become an active Member of James II’s Parliament. He was appointed only to the committees to report on expiring laws and to estimate the yield of a tax on new buildings. On the Duke of Monmouth’s invasion he was commissioned in the regiment of Lord Ferrers; but when he returned to Westminster he went into opposition. When James insisted on retaining the Roman Catholic officers in the army, Coke seconded the motion of the Hon. Thomas Wharton for a debate, saying: ‘We are all Englishmen, and we ought not to be frighted out of our duty by a few high words’. None ventured to excuse this remark, though he asked pardon of the King and the House, and his loyalty was attested by Sir Hugh Cholmley and other Members. On the motion of Lord Preston (Sir Richard Grahme), he was sent to the Tower, but released on the prorogation of Parliament a few days later.6
Coke was of course deprived of his commission, but his name still appears in the court list of 1687, and when he was recommended by the royal electoral agents, rather desperately, as a candidate for the abortive election of 1688, they declared that he was ‘under the influence of the queen dowager, as holding another place or pension from her’. At the Revolution he raised a troop of horse for the Protestant cause, and was made second-in-command of Lord Cavendish’s regiment. He was re-elected for Derby at the modest cost of some £25, and voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. No committee work in the Convention can be certainly assigned to him, though he was still in London as late as May 1689; but the possibility of confusion with William Cooke cannot be ruled out. William III gave him a regiment, but he resigned his commission in the summer, either through ill health or inability to accept the change in regime. He went abroad soon afterwards and died in Geneva in 1692. His son represented the county in five Parliaments under William and Anne.7
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: E. R. Edwards
- 1. J. T. Coke, Coke of Trusley, 69-70; Clutterbuck, Herts. iii. 209.
- 2. HMC 7th Rep. 409; HMC Cowper, ii. 358.
- 3. Wood’s Life and Times (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xxvi), 170.
- 4. HMC Devonshire, i. 54; HMC Cowper, ii. 350.
- 5. Keeler, Long Parl. 137; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1844-9; D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy , 20, 47; Nichols, Leics. iii. 784*; Reresby Mems. 398; Coke (Melbourne) mss 111b/1; Add. 6705, f. 101; CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 182.
- 6. HMC Rutland , ii. 85; Reresby Mems. 398, 403; Grey, vii. 369-70; CJ , ix. 760; Wood’s Life and Times , 170; HMC Downshire , i. 54.
- 7. Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxiii), 120; HMC Cowper , ii. 350-7; Coke, 70.