TEMPEST, John (c.1623-97), of Old Durham, co. Dur. and Forcett, Yorks.

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



21 June 1675
Mar. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1623, o.s. of Sir Thomas Tempest of The Isle, co. Dur. by Eleanor, da. of William Tempest of Haddon, Oxon. educ. L. Inn, entered 1637; Queen’s, Oxf. matric. 17 Nov. 1637, aged 14. m. 27 Oct. 1642, Elizabeth (bur. 20 Oct. 1684), da. and h. of John Heath of Old Durham, 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. fa. aft. 1653.1

Offices Held

J.p. co. Dur. July 1660-6, ?1674-96; commr. for oyer and terminer, Northern circuit July 1660, assessment, co. Dur. Aug. 1689-90, co. Dur. and Yorks. (N. Riding) 1689-90; col. of militia ft. co. Dur. Nov. 16606, v.-adm. 1662-6, commr. for loyal and indigent officers 1662, receiver of taxes 1662-3; freeman, Durham 1663; dep. lt. co. Dur. by 1664-6, July-Oct. 1688, commr. for recusants 1675, carriage of coals, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1679.2


Tempest came from a north-country family which was already holding land in Yorkshire in 1100, first represented the county in 1403, and acquired wealth from the Durham coalfield in early Tudor times. The senior branches were recusant; but Tempest’s father, a lawyer, was appointed attorney-general of Ireland under Strafford. A passive Royalist, he was fined £134 in 1649. Tempest himself married an heiress, and compounded for a more active delinquency in the second Civil War on a fine of £305 9s. A royalist conspirator, he was described by Sir Edward Hyde as one of those ‘upon whose interest and discretion we may most depend’.3

At the Restoration Tempest was proposed for the order of the Royal Oak with an income of £1,000 p.a. He was soon at odds with the dean of Durham, who accused him and William Blakiston of insufficient zeal in proceeding against a conspirator involved in the Derwentdale Plot. Described by one of the prebendaries as ‘the factotum here, both in town and country’, he was dismissed from local office for his ardent advocacy of parliamentary representation for the palatinate against the wishes of Bishop Cosin, and in 1675 he was returned at the head of the poll in the first county election. An inactive Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to only nine committees, including that on the bill for preventing rapine on the northern borders (20 Nov. 1675) and the committee of elections and privileges in two sessions. His name appeared on the working lists, and in 1676 Sir Richard Wiseman wrote: ‘Mr Daniel Collingwood can give your lordship very good assurances of this gentleman, and I can do the same’. Danby may later have felt some doubt of his reliability, but in 1677 Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly vile’, and A Seasonable Argument commented that he was ‘a Papist, a pensioner and a court-dinner man, [who] has got a customer’s place at Hull for his son’. On the marriage of his eldest son in 1677, he probably moved to Yorkshire. On 3 June 1678 Tempest acted as teller for the Government on a motion for the adjournment, and he was included in both lists of the court party that year.4

Tempest was re-elected for the county after a contest in which the clergy ‘had laboured hard for him’. Shaftesbury marked him ‘vile’. As ‘Col. Tempest’, he was appointed to only one committee on a private bill in the first Exclusion Parliament and made no speeches; but he voted against exclusion. Blacklisted among the ‘unanimous club’, he apparently did not stand again. His reappointment to the lieutenancy in 1688 suggests that he was expected to support James II’s religious policy. He seems to have been a non-juror after the Revolution, and may like his son have come under suspicion as a Jacobite plotter in 1696. He was buried at Forcett on 26 July 1697.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Gillian Hampson / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Surtees, Dur. iv. pt. 2, p. 93; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 109; Luttrell, ii. 49.
  • 2. HMC Var. ii. 116; J. Spearman, Inquiry into Ancient and Present State of Durham (1729), 33; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 380; v. 1205; Surtees, 23; CSP Dom. 1664-5, p. 40; 1687-9, p. 233; Dur. Univ. Jnl. xlvii. 114.
  • 3. Durham Cathedral Lib. Allan mss 7/240; C. Daykin, Parl. Rep. Dur. 1675-1832 (Dur. Univ. M. Litt. thesis 1961), 56; Surtees, ii. 327-8; iv. pt. 2, p. 93; Cal. Comm. Comp. 204, 1999; Royalist Comps. (Surtees Soc. cxi), 354; CSP Dom. 1655, p. 215; HMC Var. ii. 353.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1664-5, p. 40; 1667-8, pp. 64, 73; 1675-6, pp. 179, 184, 340; C. Sharp, Parl. Rep. Dur. (1831), pp. ix-xi; Hutchinson, Dur. i. 546-7; Surtees, ii. 327-8.
  • 5. HMC Astley, 42; Luttrell, iv. 47; Surtees, iv. pt. 2, pp. 92, 93.