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Conduitt was the son of Leonard and Sarah Conduitt, and was baptized at St Paul's, Covent Garden, London, on 8 March 1688. He was admitted to St Peter's College Westminster School as a King's scholar in June 1701. In 1705, while at Westminster, he was elected a Queen's scholar to Trinity College, Cambridge with three others. He was admitted there in June of that year and matriculated to the University, but did not graduate, staying only two years.
By 1707, based on his own account he was "travelling" in Holland and Germany. In September 1710 he became judge advocate with the British forces in Portugal. He was a "very pretty gentleman" according to James Brydges. From Oct 1710 he acted as the Earl of Portmore's secretary when the latter arrived in Portugal (N&Q). During this time he kept the Earl of Dartmouth informed as to the Portuguese court. He returned to London by October 1711 with Lord Portmore. During the following year he was made a captain in a regiment of the dragoons serving in Portugal, but by September 1713 he was appointed Deputy Paymaster General to the British forces in Gibraltar. The posts appear to have been remunerative and in May 1717 he returned home to England a richer man.
Parliament and Mint
In June 1721 Conduitt was elected, on petition, a whig member for Whitchurch, Hampshire, which he represented during the 1720s as a loyal supporter of Walpole's government. He took an active interest in the running of Isaac's Newton office of Master of the Mint in the latter years of Isaac's life, and he was appointed in his stead in March 1727 after Isaac's death. He attempted to collect materials for a Life of Newton, but after starting, he quickly stopped. In 1728 he was somewhat unhelpful to John Newton the heir to Isaac's real estate, and Newton resorted to the Chancery courts to get satisfaction. (PRO, Chancery depositions)
By the early 1730s Conduitt had become a relatively prominent parliamentary speaker, defending the government on a number of issues, including Walpole's maintenance of the Septennial Act. In 1734 he was re-elected to his seat but chose to represent Southampton. Two years later (12 January 1736) he introduced a successful bill repealing an early 17th-century act against conjuration and witchcraft.
Shortly after his arrival back in England, he became acquainted with Sir Isaac Newton and his niece Catherine Barton. After what must have been a whirlwind romance they applied to the Faculty Office for a licence to marry which was granted 23 Aug 1717 to marry at St Paul's, Covent Garden. Catherine, then aged 38 years, described herself as 32 years old, Conduitt more correctly as about 30. Despite the licence to marry in Covent Garden they instead married three days later on 26 August in her uncle's parish in the Russell Court Chapel, in the church of St Martin in the Fields. Perhaps in an effort to dignify himself for his impending marriage to one of London's famous daughters, Conduitt obtained for himself a grant of arms from the College of Heralds on 16 August.
The couple had one daughter, named after her mother, born 23 May 1721 and baptized in the same parish of St Martin's on 8 June. Partly as a result of his antiquarian interests Conduitt was elected to be Fellow of the Royal Society on 1 December 1718, proposed by the president, and his uncle by marriage, Sir Isaac Newton.
In 1720, Conduitt acquired the estate and house at Cranbury Park, near Winchester; towards the end of his life, Sir Isaac Newton took up residence at Cranbury with his niece and her husband until his death in 1727.
Death and descendants
Conduitt died on 23 May 1737 and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 29 May to the right of Sir Isaac Newton. His wife, Catherine, who died in 1739, was buried with him. In his will dated 1732 he left his estate to his wife and made her guardian of their daughter Catherine, underage. On his death, Catherine's trustees sold the estate at Cranbury Park as well as estates at Weston and Netley, near Southampton to Thomas Lee Dummer, who succeeded him as MP for Southampton
His daughter Catherine later married John Wallop, Viscount Lymington (d. 1749) in 1740. He was the eldest son of John Wallop, 1st Earl of Portsmouth, and their son, John Wallop, succeeded as second earl of Portsmouth.
- "Conduitt, John (CNDT705J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Letter to Capt Leigh 3 Oct 1710, Huntingdon Library, California, ms 57, vol 4, fo 169
- Yonge, Charlotte M. (1898). "Cranbury and Brambridge". John Keble's Parishes – Chapter 6. www.online-literature.com. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- Page, William (1908). "Parishes – Hursley: Cranbury". A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. www.british-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
Sir Isaac Newton
|Master of the Mint
|Parliament of Great Britain|
|Member of Parliament for Whitchurch
With: George Carpenter 1721–1722
Thomas Vernon 1722–1727
Thomas Farrington 172
John Selwyn 1727–1734
John Selwyn, Jr 1734–1735
John Selwyn, Jr
|Member of Parliament for Southampton
With: Sir William Heathcote
Thomas Lee Dummer