BOTELER, John (1684-1774), of Watton Woodhall, nr. Hertford.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



24 May 1715 - 1722
1734 - 17 Apr. 1735

Family and Education

b. 1684, o.s. of Capt. John Boteler by Frances, da. of Sir Edward Atkyns, ld. chief baron of the Exchequer. m. Anne Goodwin, 1s. suc. cos. Philip Boteler 1712.

Offices Held

Commr. of the equivalent July 1717-Apr. 1719.


In 1712 John Boteler inherited a life interest in Watton Woodhall, where his family had been settled since the reign of Edward III. The property was charged with the payment out of income of a considerable debt, pending the repayment of which he was awarded an allowance of £400 a year by a Chancery decree of 22 Feb. 1713.1

In 1715 Boteler was encouraged to stand as a Whig for the neighbouring borough of Hertford by his friends, Lord Chancellor Cowper and Spencer Cowper.2 Defeated at the poll but returned on petition, he voted for the septennial bill in 1716. On the split in the Whig party and the quarrel in the royal family in 1717, in his own words,

well-wishers to both sides stood divided, the chancellor left the seals, and my uncle, Lord Torrington, kept in the Treasury. The chancellor sent for me into the House of Lords, and under the clock, told me he had orders from the then Prince of Wales to tell me he would have me about his person, and make me a groom of his bedchamber. Lord Torrington consented, and the offer was accepted; but oh! Madam, the next day I was forced to undo all, commanded by my uncle to retract what I had done, and so refuse this royal favour. My uncle died soon after; and though he left me a legacy of £4,000, besides frequent present helps in his lifetime, yet my refusal was no ways balanced but fell vastly short of my hopes and expectations. Lord Stanhope did, indeed, do me a short-lived favour; he made me a commissioner of the equivalent3 - a commission of short duration. The South Sea succeeded, undid me and many others, and from then I made my retreat into foreign parts, stayed abroad ten years, and returned home in 1732.4

At the general election of 1734 Boteler was returned for Wendover but on petition the question of his property qualification was raised by his opponent, Lord Limerick. In evidence it emerged that the income of his estate was only about £100 a year more than the interest on the debt, and that since 1723 the court of Chancery had discontinued his allowance of £400 p.a. as ‘the estate could not bear it’.5 Though the Government supported him, the House of Commons decided by a majority of 50 that his election was void on the ground that he ‘was not duly qualified’. A new election was ordered, at which he stood again with government assistance but Lord Limerick was returned. Believing that he had been ‘shamefully and neglectfully given up by those I judged in interest bound to support me, and so of course the door of grace and favour shut against me by the grand keeper of it’, i.e. by Walpole, he printed a statement of his case, which he sent to Lady Sundon, Queen Caroline’s mistress of the robes, asking her to bring his story to the notice of the King and Queen.6 Later, he carried his resentment to the length of giving evidence to the secret committee on Walpole in 1742 as to the sum of £500 supplied to him from the secret service money at the Wendover by-election in 1735.7

He died 17 July 1774, aged 90, never having again stood for Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: A. N. Newman


  • 1. CJ, xxii. 466-8.
  • 2. Lady Sundon, Mems. ii. 362-4.
  • 3. The commissioners were appointed at salaries of £500 p.a., to determine the amount due to Scotland under the Act of Union as compensation for her liability to contribute to the pre-Union English national debt.
  • 4. Sundon, loc. cit.
  • 5. CJ, loc. cit.
  • 6. Sundon, loc. cit.
  • 7. Parl. Hist. xii. 629.