TANNER, John I (1628-84), of Courte, Brannel, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



29 Oct. 1660
4 Apr. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

bap. 13 July 1628, 1st s. of Bernard Tanner of Courte by Julian, da. of Sir Richard Buller of Shillingham. educ. travelled abroad (France) c.1655. m. c.1656, Catherine, da. of John Wyndham of Orchard Wyndham, Som., wid. of Charles Speccot of Thornbury, Devon, 1s. 3da. suc. fa 1641.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Devon 1657, Devon and Cornw. 1661-80, militia, Cornw. Mar. 1660; j.p. Cornw. Mar. 1660-80, Devon 1677-80; commr. for recusants, Cornw. 1675.


Tanner’s ancestor, of Devonshire origin, acquired the Courte estate in Tudor times. None of the family was of age to take part in the Civil War. As a young man Tanner paid his addresses to the sister of William Wyndham, but she preferred a wealthier suitor, and he went abroad. He was recalled from his travels by the news of his rival’s early death and married the widow.2

Tanner became the first of the family to enter Parliament when he was returned for Grampound, three miles from his home, at a by-election in 1660 occasioned by the decision of Hugh Boscawen to sit for the county. Like Boscawen and his cousins, the Bullers, he probably voted with the Presbyterian Opposition, but he left no trace on the records of the Convention. Re-elected in 1661, he was little more active in the Cavalier Parliament. He was named to the committee of elections and privileges in eight sessions, but to only 24 others. Most of his important committee work took place in the first session, when he was among those appointed to consider the shortfall in the revenue, the corporations and uniformity bills, and the bill against tumultuous petitioning. He may have been reluctant to conform, since on 3 July he was named as one of the Members who had not received the sacrament at the corporate communion. On 14 May 1664 he was teller against a proviso to the conventicles bill concerning the privilege of peers. He was spokesman for the Cornish mine-owners in the negotiations for a renewal of the tin farm in 1667, though like Boscawen he favoured free trade and the abolition of the crown’s right of pre-emption. He was absent from a call of the House in 1668, but he must have gone over to the Court under the Cabal, for Sir Thomas Osborne included him among the independent Members who usually voted for supply, and in 1670 he acted as teller with no less a court stalwart than Jonathan Trelawny I on the Yarmouth pier bill. In the same session he was named to the committee on the bill for duchy of Cornwall leases, and reported a bill to enable Lord Strangford (Philip Smythe) to sever the entail on his estate. He then relapsed into inactivity, and was excused another default in attendance on 31 Jan. 1671. When he attended under the Danby administration, he probably voted with the Opposition again, for in 1676 Sir Richard Wiseman wrote: ‘I know not what to say of him’, and in 1677 Shaftesbury classed him as ‘doubly worthy’. He probably introduced the Fal navigation bill in 1678, since on both committees his name headed the list, and he was also named to the committee for the tin leases bill.3

Tanner lost his seat at the first general election of 1679 to the court supporter (Sir) Joseph Tredenham. But Boscawen again found him a seat in the first Exclusion Parliament, this time at a by-election for his pocket borough of Tregony. The elections committee reported ‘miscarriages and undue practices’ in this election, and it is unlikely that Tanner took his seat, though he is said to have voted for the exclusion bill. He returned to his own borough for the autumn election, exchanging seats with Charles Trevanion, and was removed from the commission of the peace as an exclusionist. He was not active in the second Exclusion Parliament, being named only to a committee to investigate a report that a peer had drunk confusion to those who voted for exclusion, and one other for a Wiltshire estate bill. He was re-elected in 1681, but there is no evidence that he attended the Oxford Parliament, though he was one of the fifteen Cornish Members, drawn from both sides of the House, who offered to take over the Tangier victualling contract in May (see Francis Robartes). His will was proved on 30 Dec. 1684.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 447-8; Vis. Devon, 706.
  • 2. Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iv. 159; Boase and Courtney, Bibl. Cornub. ii. 704.
  • 3. SP29/81/8; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 144; Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 142; CJ, ix. 145, 146, 461, 489.
  • 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 148-9; PCC 167 Hare.