HOLLES, John, Lord Houghton (1662-1711), of Haughton, Notts. and Warwick House, Holborn, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 9 Jan. 1662, 1st s. of Gilbert Holles, 3rd Earl of Clare. educ. travelled abroad 1674. m. 1 Mar. 1690, Lady Margaret Cavendish, da. and coh. of Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle, 1da. suc. fa. as 4th Earl of Clare 16 Jan. 1689; cr. Duke of Newcastle 14 May 1694; KG 30 May 1698.1
J.p. custos rot. and ld. lt. Mdx. and Westminster 1689-92, 1711-d., Notts. 1694-d., Yorks (E. Riding) 1699-d.; high steward, East Retford 1689-d., Dorchester 1701-d.; col. of militia ft. Notts. by 1697-d.; steward of Sherwood Forest 1699-d.; gov. Kingston-upon-Hull 1699-d.; ld. lt. Yorks. (N. Riding) 1705-d.2
Gent. of the bedchamber 1689-9 1; commr. for Greenwich hospital 1695-d.; ld. privy seal 1705-d.; PC 29 Mar. 1705-d.; commr. for union with Scotland 1706; c.j. in eyre (north) 1711-d.
In 1681 Dryden dedicated The Spanish Friar to Lord Houghton with the words ‘a Protestant play to a Protestant patron’. The patron’s protestantism proved less fragile than the playwright’s; he was in touch with Dykveld during the latter’s mission to England in 1687, and was reckoned among the opponents of James II by Danby, whom he joined at York during the Revolution. He was returned for Nottinghamshire at the general election of 1689, but succeeded to the peerage before Parliament met. On the death of his father-in-law in 1691 he inherited the bulk of the Newcastle estates, but resigned all his posts on being refused the dukedom. When he acquired the estates of his cousin the 3rd Baron Holles in 1694, his income was reckoned at £40,000 p.a., and he was granted the coveted honour. ‘A vapouring and wealthy Whig’, he had no pretensions to administrative ability or statesmanship, but wielded enormous influence, controlling as many as ten Members in the Parliament of 1705. His accession to the Government and his continued loyalty to Harley in 1710 were thus of more importance than his ‘modest talents’ would otherwise justify. But he died after a hunting accident on 15 July 1711, leaving the Cavendish estates to his son-in-law, Edward Harley† (later 2nd Earl of Oxford) and the remainder of his property to his nephew Thomas Pelham, subsequently Duke of Newcastle and prime minister.3