HICKS, John (1658/9-1734), of Trevithick, nr. Fowey, Cornw.
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Family and Education
b. 26 Feb. 1658[?-9], 1st s. of Thomas Hicks, attorney-at-law, of Trevithick, by Elizabeth. educ. St. Ewe sch.; Exeter, Oxf. 1675; M. Temple 1678, called 1685. m. ?2 Jan. 1695, Elizabeth, s.p. suc. fa. bef.1678.1
Mayor, St. Ives 1689–90, 1701–2.2
Hicks’s first involvement with the Commons was in April 1690 when the petition of John Hawles* alleged that Hicks had made a false return, based on an incorrect interpretation of the franchise, when acting as returning officer for St. Ives at the 1690 election. In 1698 Hicks’s own parliamentary ambitions came to light when he contested Lostwithiel, and, having been unsuccessful, he petitioned the Commons on 12 Dec. 1698. Hicks withdrew this petition on 4 May 1699, and though he was again unsuccessful at Lostwithiel in April 1701 he finally entered the Commons for Fowey at the second 1701 election.
Hicks was classed as a Tory by Robert Harley*, and also included upon the list of those who favoured the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the Commons’ proceedings against the impeachments of the Whig lords during the previous Parliament. On 7 Mar. he told for the committal of a bill to prevent frauds in woollen manufacture. Re-elected after a contest in 1702, Hicks was the first-named Member appointed on 3 Dec. to draft a bill for the ease of sheriffs. Five days later he was ordered into custody for having made a false return, in his capacity as mayor of St. Ives, at the 1702 election. The Journal records that he presented the sheriffs bill on 14 Dec., but it was not until the 16th that he petitioned to be released from the custody of the serjeant-at-arms and he was discharged the following day. In the new year he was appointed to draft bills to augment poor Anglican vicarages (18 Jan. 1703) and to make Exeter a free port for the import of Irish wool (22 Jan.), and he managed the sheriffs bill through its remaining stages in the Commons. He also assisted the passage of a bill concerned with an Irish estate. In November 1703 Hicks wrote to Harley that ill-health would prevent his attendance of the House, and it is likely that he attended little of the 1703–4 session. At the end of this session he applied to Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†) for a revival of the office of surveyor of the duchy of Cornwall, which had lain vacant for 20 years, claiming that tenants of the duchy were inconvenienced since all the records were taken to London and that thereby ‘a very considerable interest among the freeholders of the county and in several boroughs [was] entirely lost to the government’. Perhaps in the hope that it would further his claims for office, Hicks did not vote for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704. His only notable activity in the 1704–5 session was to report and carry to the Lords another bill for the ease of sheriffs. Hicks retained his seat at the 1705 election and an analysis of the new Parliament classed him as ‘Low Church’. He was absent from the division of 25 Oct. on the choice of Speaker and little is known of his contribution to this Parliament, though in early 1708 he was classed as a Tory. At the 1708 election Hicks initially made interest to stand at Lostwithiel but, by pre-arrangement with Lord Sunderland (Charles Lord Spencer*), he stood down in favour of Joseph Addison. That this did not indicate an abandonment of his Tory sympathies became clear at the 1710 Cornwall election when Hicks supported the return of the two Tory candidates. Nothing more is known of Hicks’s life except that his death was caused ‘by a fall this June 1734, being fat and corpulent, in the 75th or 76th year of his age’.3