Friend, John (DNB00)

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FRIEND, Sir JOHN (d. 1696), conspirator, was the eldest son of John Friend, a brewer, who resided in the precinct of St. Katharine's, near the Tower of London (Le Neve, Pedigrees of the Knights, Harl. Soc. pp. 398–9; will of John Friend, the elder, P. C. C. 141, Mico). He followed his father's business. He built the ‘stately brewhouse’ called the Phœnix in the Minories, and amassed considerable wealth. For a while he maintained a fine country residence at Hackney. In 1683 he was appointed a commissioner of excise (Haydn, Book of Dignities, p. 502). As colonel of the Artillery Company Friend, on occasion of their feast, 26 June 1684, had the honour of entertaining the Duke of York and Prince George of Denmark ‘at a banquett in a fair large tent’ in the Artillery Ground (Luttrell, Relation of State Affairs, 1857, i. 312). Though avowedly a protestant he remained a faithful adherent of James II, by whom he was knighted 3 Aug. 1685. After the revolution he was expelled from the artillery company at a meeting held in February 1689–90 (ib. ii. 13), and lost his seat at the board of excise. However, by a treasury order dated 18 Dec. 1690, he was relieved from the payment of excise duties (Cal. State Papers, Treas. 1556–1696, p. 148). James sent him a colonel's commission to raise a regiment of horse against the day when the French should appear in Kent; but, observes Burnet, ‘his purse was more considered than his head, and was open on all occasions as the party applied to him’ (Own Time, Oxford edit. iv. 304). He refused, however, to take any share in the infamous plot against the life of William III, although he kept the secret. On the discovery of the conspiracy he was arraigned for high treason at the Old Bailey, 23 March 1696, and was denied the assistance of counsel by Chief-justice Holt. The act which allowed counsel in cases of treason came into operation two days later (25 March). Friend was convicted and sentenced to death. He could only helplessly protest that the witnesses against him ‘were papists, and not to be believed against protestants.’ His life might yet have been spared had he not manfully refused to betray his confederates to a committee of the House of Commons (Luttrell, iv. 38–9). Together with Sir William Parkyns he was executed at Tyburn 3 April 1696. They received absolution at the scaffold from three nonjuring clergymen [see under Jeremy Collier]. Friend's remains were barbarously set up at Temple Bar, ‘a dismal sight,’ says Evelyn, ‘which many pitied’ (Diary, ed. Wheatley, iii. 128). Aylmer, the bookseller, for printing Friend's trial, ‘wherein his lordship (i.e. Holt) is misrepresented,’ was arrested by order of Holt in May (Luttrell, iv. 55). Friend was twice married. According to Le Neve (l. c.), ‘Mr. Gibbon, John, write a little pamphlet called the whole life & conversation of Sr Jo. friend.’ The name is spelt indifferently ‘Freind’ or ‘Friend.’

[Will of William Freind (P. C. C. 140, Hyde); Howell's State Trials, xiii. 1–64, 133–8, 406; Burnet's Own Time (Oxford edit. 1823), iv. 304–307; Cal. State Papers, Treas. 1690–1700; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. i. 25.]

G. G.