Hippisley, John Coxe (DNB00)

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HIPPISLEY, Sir JOHN COXE (1748–1825), political writer, born in 1748, was the only surviving son of William Hippisley of Yatton, Somerset (great-great-grandson of John Hippisley of the same place, who was recorder of Bristol in the reign of Edward VI), by Anne, eldest daughter of Robert Webb of Cromhall, Gloucestershire. He matriculated at Hertford College, Oxford, 3 Feb. 1764, aged 16, and was created D.C.L. 3 July 1776 (Foster, Alumni Oxon. ii. 666). He was admitted a student of the Inner Temple in 1766, was called to the bar in 1771, and became a bencher in 1803 (Benchers of Inner Temple, 1883, p. 90). During a residence in Italy in 1779 and 1780 he was engaged in confidential communication with the English government. Early in the latter year he married his first wife at Rome. Returning home in 1781 he was recommended by Lord North, first lord of the treasury, to the directors of the East India Company, from whom he received an appointment in India as paymaster at Tanjore in 1786, with the advanced rank of four years' service (Prinsep, Madras Civil Servants, p. 74). In 1789, having held offices of trust and importance during the war with Hyder Ali and his son Tippoo, he resigned and returned to England.

From 1792 to 1796 he resided in Italy, and was there again engaged in negotiations with the Vatican, the effects of which were acknowledged in flattering terms by the English government. In 1796 he successfully negotiated the marriage of the reigning Duke of Würtemberg with the Princess Royal of England. For this service he was created a baronet 30 April 1796. The duke granted him the privilege of bearing the ducal arms, with the motto of the order of Würtemberg, ‘Amicitiæ virtutisque fœdus,’ and the grant was confirmed by royal sign-manual 7 July 1797. Hippisley was appointed a commissioner and trustee of the royal marriage settlement. The pecuniary distresses of the last survivor of the Stuarts, Henry Benedict, cardinal York [q. v.], were first brought under George III's notice through letters addressed to Hippisley by Cardinal Borgia. Hippisley successfully pressed the cardinal's claims for relief. The cardinal bequeathed him several mementoes, now owned by a descendant.

He became recorder of Sudbury and M.P. for the borough in 1790. At the general elections of 1796 and 1801 he was not returned to parliament, but he was successful in 1802. He continued to represent Sudbury until 1819, when he finally retired from the House of Commons.

Hippisley served in 1800 as sheriff of Berkshire (in which county Warfield Grove, then his country seat, is situate), and in the same year he became one of the first managers of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. In 1811, when the Duke of Gloucester was installed chancellor at Cambridge, Hippisley received the honorary degree of M.A. as of Trinity College (Cat. Grad. Cantabr. p. 257). In 1816 he was appointed treasurer of the Inner Temple. He was also a vice-president and steady supporter of the Literary Fund Society, one of the principal promoters of the literary institutions of Bath and Bristol, a member of the government committee of the Turkey Company, and a vice-president of the West of England Agricultural Society. For many years he was an active magistrate for Somerset. He died in Grosvenor Street, London, 3 May 1825, and was buried in the Temple Church. Hippisley married (1) in 1780, Margaret, second daughter of Sir John Stuart, bart., of Allonbank, Berwickshire; she died in 1799; by her he had three daughters and one son, John, his successor; (2) on 16 Feb. 1801, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Horner of Mells Park, and widow of Henry Hippisley Coxe, M.P. for Somerset; by her he became owner of Ston Easton House, but had no issue. There is a monument with a long inscription to his memory in the parish church of Ston Easton.

While a member of the House of Commons Hippisley strenuously supported Roman catholic emancipation, and wrote in favour of the policy: 1. ‘Observations on the Roman Catholics of Ireland,’ 1806. 2. ‘Substance of Additional Observations, intended to have been delivered in the House of Commons, on the Petition of the Roman Catholics of Ireland,’ 1806. 3. ‘Substance of his Speech on seconding the motion of the Right Hon. Henry Grattan, to refer the Petition of the Roman Catholics of Ireland to a Committee of the House of Commons,’ 1810; second edition same year. 4. ‘Correspondence respecting the Catholic Question.’ 5. ‘Letters to the Earl of Fingal on the Catholic Claims,’ 1813. He was also deeply interested in the treadmill question, and published an octavo volume in 1823, recommending as a substitute the hand crank mill.

[Authorities quoted; Gent. Mag. 1825, pt. i. p. 643; Diary and Corresp. of Lord Colchester, passim; Annual Register, 1825, Chron. p. 246; Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. Appendix, pt. vi. pp. 242–51.]

B. H. B.