John Dolben (politician)

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John Dolben (1 July 1662 – 29 May 1710) was an English barrister and politician.


Dolben was the younger son of John Dolben, Archbishop of York, and Catherine Sheldon, and was baptised in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, on 1 July 1662; Sir Gilbert Dolben, 1st Baronet, was his elder brother. He was the nephew of the eminent High Court judge Sir William Dolben, who encouraged him to practice law. He later studied at Christ Church, Oxford, but is not recorded as a graduate. He was a barrister of the Temple, London, but squandered his inheritance on gambling, and moved to the East Indies, where he became Advocate General for Bengal.

He had married a wealthy heiress, Elizabeth Mulso, but squandered her inheritance as well as his own: in 1691 his brother Sir Gilbert wrote that John's wife and children were reduced to living on the charity of friends. His uncle Sir William, who had intended to leave his estate to John, was so outraged by his profligacy that he cut him out of his will, and settled his estate in trust for John's children.[1]

He returned to England, with his fortune somewhat improved, and became the member of Parliament for Liskeard from 1707, when he was elected in a by-election. He proved to be a conscientious MP, and was active on several committees. He became the manager of Henry Sacheverell's impeachment in 1709. He showed great energy in this role, but overworked himself to the point where his health gave way, and he retired to the country.[1]

Literature of the Sacheverell trial[edit]

Among the pamphlets relating to Dolben are:

  • A Letter written by Mr. J. Dolbin to Dr. Henry Sacheverell, and left by him with a friend at Epsom, 1710, p. 16; composed as a letter of repentance.
  • A true Defence of Henry Sacheverell, D.D., in a Letter to Mr. D——n [Dolben]. By S. M. N. O., 1710.
  • An Elegy on the lamented Death of John Dolben.
  • The Life and Adventures of John Dolben, 1710, pp. 16.[1]


His wife was Elizabeth, second daughter and co-heiress of Tanfield Mulso of Finedon Hall, Northamptonshire and his wife Mary Luther; her elder sister, Anne, married his elder brother, Sir Gilbert Dolben, to whom John sold his moiety of the family estates. Elizabeth's portrait was once attributed to Sir Peter Lely, but is now thought to be the work of John Riley, completed after his death by John Closterman. Dolben's two sons died abroad in his lifetime (William, the elder, whose portrait was painted by Godfrey Kneller in 1709 and engraved by Smith in 1710, dying in 1709, aged 20), and Mary, one of his three daughters, died on 24 June 1710, aged 8. He was buried in Finedon Church under a large grey-marble tombstone; his widow survived until 4 March 1736. Their two surviving daughters, Anne and Catherine, were married in Westminster Abbey: Anne married Gilbert Affleck, and Catherine married Samuel Whitelocke, grandson of Bulstrode Whitelocke.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d  "Dolben, John (1662-1710)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

External links[edit]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Dolben, John (1662-1710)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Liskeard
With: William Bridges
Succeeded by
William Bridges
Philip Rashleigh