FRIEND (FREIND), John (c.1641-96), of Hackney, Mdx.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1641, 1st s. of John Friend, Brewer, of The Minories, London by Elizabeth Cole. m. (1) by 1660, Joan Butcher, 2s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) lic. 8 Oct. 1679, aged 38, Anne, da. of Robert Huntington of Hackney, commr. for excise 1668-84, s.p. suc. fa. 1665; kntd. 3 Aug. 1685.1

Offices Held

Member, Brewers’ Co. 1662, asst. 1687; member, Hon. Artillery Co. 1667-90; dep. lt. Tower Hamlets by 1680-9, London 1687-Oct. 1688; lt.-col. of militia ft. Tower Hamlets by 1680-9; freeman, Yarmouth 1685; j.p. Mdx. 1685-Feb. 1688, Sept. 1688-9, commr. for assessment 1689.2

Jt. farmer of excise 1677-83, commr. 1683-9; commr. for hearth-tax 1684-9.3


Friend’s family can be traced back in the parish registers of St. Katharine by the Tower for several generations, but little is known of his father apart from his occupation, and he himself is said to have risen ‘from mean beginnings to great credit and much wealth’. He built the Phoenix brewhouse in the Minories and joined the syndicate formed by Sir Samuel Dashwood and his uncle in 1677 to farm the excise. Two years later he married a commissioner’s daughter, and when his proposals for the renewal of the lease were rejected in favour of direct administration in 1683 he was himself compensated with a seat on the board. But it was his enthusiasm for part-time soldiering that won him royal favour. He was returned to James II’s Parliament for Great Yarmouth, where his wife’s uncle Richard Huntington was an influential citizen. A moderately active Member, he was appointed to five committees, including those to take the disbandment accounts and to consider a bill for the repair and maintenance of Yarmouth pier and harbour. He was knighted during the recess, and doubtless continued to support the Government in the second session, despite his high Anglican views. In April 1688 the King was informed that his constituency would re-elect him only ‘if your Majesty shall require it’, but Sunderland ignored the hostile attitude of the Yarmouth dissenters and recommended him as court candidate. On the landing of William of Orange, he was ordered to call out the Tower Hamlets militia.4

After the Revolution Friend became a non-juror and lost all his offices. In 1694 a Jacobite conspirator reported:

Sir John Freind answers for a regiment of cavalry and two regiments of militia in the neighbourhood of the Tower of London, and he gives room to hope that ... he may be able to take possession of the Tower of London for the King.

According to Burnet ‘his purse was more considered than his head, and was open on all occasions, as the party applied to him’. In March 1696 he was arrested on a charge of high treason, having kept in his possession ‘the most imprudent papers ... that were ever known upon such occasions’. At his trial he asked for a copy of the indictment against him and for counsel under the provisions of the statute that was about to come into force to regulate treason trials, but the attorney-general would not consent to a postponement. ‘He knew of the assassination plot, though he was not to be an actor in it’, and he could not deny that he had invited and planned to assist a foreign invasion. Refusing to turn King’s evidence to save his life, he was executed at Tyburn on 3 Apr. 1696. In his dying speech he affirmed his belief

that, as no foreign power, so neither any domestic power can alienate our allegiance. For it is altogether new and unintelligible to me that the King’s subjects can depose or dethrone him on any account.

Attended on the scaffold by three eminent non-juring divines, he died a true member of the Church of England, ‘which suffers so much at present for a strict adherence to loyalty, the laws and Christian principles’. His share in the Phoenix brewhouse was sold for £5,500. No other member of the family entered Parliament.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. St. Katharine by the Tower (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxxvi), 77, 79, 100, 182; (lxxx), 6, 82; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 399; Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxx), 8.
  • 2. Guildhall RO, 5448, 5875; Ancient Vellum Bk. of Hon. Artillery Co. ed. Raikes, 91, 126, Cal. Yarmouth Freemen, 120.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 532, 862; vii. 782, 1074; ix. 190.
  • 4. Burnet ed. Routh, iv. 311; Le Neve’s Knights, 399; Foxcroft, Halifax, i. 385; D. C. Chandaman, Eng. Pub. Revenue, 73; G. Goold Walker, Hon. Artillery Co. 98-99; CSP Dom. 1687-9, pp. 271, 349.
  • 5. DNB; Macpherson, Orig. Pprs. i. 473; HMC Var. viii. 82; Burnet, iv. 311; Macaulay, 2610-12; True Copy of Pprs. Delivered by Sir John Friend (1696); Cal. Treas. Bks. xiii. 112.