LAUGHARNE, John (c.1666-1715), of St. Brides, Pemb. and Golden Square, London
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Family and Education
b. c.1665, 1st and o. surv. s. of Rowland Laugharne of St. Brides by Theodosia, da. of Sir Christopher Wray† of Ashby, Lincs., sis. of Sir William Wray, 1st Bt.† educ. Jesus, Oxf. matric. 15 Feb. 1682, aged 16, BA 1685. m. 26 Dec. 1698, Anne (d. 1715), da. and h. of Lewis Wogan (d. 1702) of Boulston, Pemb., 2s. d.v.p. suc. fa. c.1698.1
Mayor, Pembroke 1701–2; sheriff, Haverfordwest 1704–5.2
Member, SPG 1703.3
Rowland Laugharne†, the Member’s grandfather, was a former Parliamentarian commander who had joined an unsuccessful Royalist rising in 1648 with catastrophic results for his estate. He never recovered the consequent losses, and although elected to the Cavalier Parliament for Pembroke Boroughs, ended his days in 1675 as an abject pensioner of the Court. His son Rowland seems to have steered clear of political involvement, apart from refusing the oaths after the Revolution. He probably succeeded to some degree in rebuilding the family fortunes, a process taken further by John Laugharne’s marriage to a local heiress. At any rate, Laugharne himself possessed sufficient interest at Haverfordwest to enable him to be returned unopposed to all Queen Anne’s Parliaments. The Toryism of his father and father-in-law no doubt helped to condition his political sympathies, and even before his own election he had supported the Tory Sir Thomas Powell, 1st Bt.*, in the contest for knight of the shire of Carmarthen in December 1701, but he was also a sincerely pious Churchman, an active ‘lay correspondent member’ of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and a member of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, into both of which his fellow Pembrokeshire MP (Sir) John Philipps inducted him. In March 1704 Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) included Laugharne upon a forecast of support over the Scotch Plot, but later that year he was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704, with the result that he was labelled ‘Low Church’ in a list of the Parliament of 1705. The probable explanation lies in his friendship with the Harleys: in 1710 Robert Harley* was said to have ‘a great influence over him’. He followed other Harleyites in voting on 25 Oct. 1705 for the Court candidate as Speaker. In a list from early 1708 he was still classified as a Tory, and in 1710 he voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.4
In 1710 the ‘Hanover list’ classed Laugharne as a Tory, and the following year he was included in the ‘white’ lists of the ‘Tory patriots’ who had opposed the continuation of the war, and the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the 1710–11 session exposed the mismanagements of the previous ministry. Laugharne supported Harley loyally, being one of those who in March 1711 helped to shield Bishop Nicolson from the Commons’ anger at episcopal intervention in the Carlisle election, and not long afterwards he was found dining in the company of Nicolson, (Sir) James Montagu*, (Sir) Simon Harcourt I* and other of the bishop’s parliamentary ‘friends’. Perhaps because of this closeness to the Harley ministry, he was rather more active in his last two Parliaments. He introduced on 20 May 1713 a private naturalization bill; and on 25 May 1714 was teller on the Court side against recommitting a resolution of the committee of supply concerning the sum to be voted for half-pay officers.5
Laugharne’s reaction to the events following the Hanoverian succession was defiant. Confident of his own re-election at Haverfordwest, where he was ‘sure of’ the vast majority of freemen and had the returning officer on his side, he could afford a grim jest, in condoling with those of his ‘good friends’ to whom had been administered, as he put it, ‘a strong purge’. What he could not foresee was his own sudden death the night after his election, 15 Feb. 1715. As he lacked male heirs, his estate devolved upon ‘three coheiresses’, probably his sisters. His will was remarkable for the number of charitable legacies: to the borough of Haverfordwest, where he was already renowned as one of the town’s ‘most bounteous benefactors’; and to local churches, including a sum of £20 p.a. to the parson of St. Mary’s, Haverfordwest, ‘for the reading of prayers every day and the instructing of children in the Church catechism’, with the odd proviso that the bequest should last only so long as ‘the established religion of this kingdom’ remained ‘that of the truly apostolical Church of England’ and not descend into ‘popery, presbytery, or any other persuasion’. His widow followed him to the grave within a few months. By her will, which was proved on 14 July 1715 and which named her ‘kinsman’ John Meyrick* as an executor, the Boulston property reverted to her own family.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Haverfordwest and Its Story, 163; PCC 103 Lort; Y Cymmrodor, xv. 135–6, 139; R. Fenton, Historical Tour of Pemb. (1903), 131.
- 2. W. Wales Hist. Recs. v. 123.
- 3. Bodl. Rawl. C.933, ff. 27, 29, 31.
- 4. Trans. Cymmro. Soc. (1946–7), 219–20; Carm. Antiquary, iv. 33; A Chapter in English Church Hist. ed. McClure, 91; SPCK Corresp. ed. Clement (Univ. of Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. x), 10; HMC Portland, iv. 542.
- 5. Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 560–1.
- 6. Northants. RO, Isham mss IC 4907, Laugharne to (Sir) Justinian Isham (5th Bt.†), 22 Dec. ; Fenton, 97, 371; PCC 201 Fagg.