Fountaine, John (DNB00)

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FOUNTAINE, JOHN (1600–1671), judge, son of Arthur Fountaine of Dalling, Norfolk, by Anne, daughter of John Stanhow, was admitted a member of Lincoln's Inn on 30 Oct. 1622, and called to the bar on 21 June 1629. Wood is certainly wrong in identifying him with the John Fountaine who graduated B.A. at Oxford in 1634, and proceeded M.A. in 1637, who is much more likely to be the John Fountaine, M.A., who was rector of Woolston in Buckinghamshire in 1649 (Blomefield, Norfolk, iii. 522; Wood, Fasti Oxon. i. 473; Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, iv. 425). Fountaine distinguished himself in 1642 by refusing to pay the war tax levied by the parliament, and accordingly, pursuant to a resolution of the House of Commons, he was ‘secured and disarmed,’ and on 12 Oct. lodged in the Gatehouse. The death of his wife, which occurred about the same time, procured him four days' liberty. He was also on his own petition granted liberty (2 Nov.) to attend service in St. Margaret's Church, from which it is probable that he was a member of parliament. His name, however, is given neither by Browne Willis nor in the official list. He was still at the Gatehouse on 20 Dec. 1642, when his petition to be allowed bail was refused. He emerges into history again at Oxford in 1645. Here he was associated with Sir John Stawel in a scheme for uniting the freeholders of the western counties on the side of the king. The Prince of Wales was appointed general of the association, and went to Bristol to take command of the forces which the association were to raise. The scheme, however, came to nothing. Fountaine seems shortly afterwards to have perceived that the royalist cause was lost. On 11 April 1646 Colonel Rainsford, in command at Woodstock, reported to the parliament that ‘Mr. Fountaine, the lawyer, was come in to him,’ and was then at Aylesbury. The letter was read to the house on 25 April, and the house then resolved that Fountaine should be sent prisoner to Bristol. While at Aylesbury Fountaine had written to Dr. Samuel Turner a letter on the situation. It is a document of considerable interest, being marked by much sagacity. He begins by pointing out that the moderates were then in the ascendant while the king's cause was desperate, and advises the acceptance of ‘such conditions of peace as may be had;’ he then proceeds to argue at some length that episcopacy is not jure divino, and that the alienation of church lands by parliament is legally within the powers of parliament. The letter elicited a reply by Dr. Richard Stewart, entitled ‘An Answer to a Letter written at Oxford [sic], and superscribed to Dr. Samuel Turner concerning the church and the revenue thereof’ (for both letter and answer see Brit. Mus. Cat., ‘Turner, Samuel’). On 17 Jan. 1651–2 he was elected, though not without opposition, into the parliamentary committee for ‘considering of the inconveniencies’ of the law and how to remove them. On 17 March following he was formally pardoned his delinquency and restored to full status as a citizen (Whitelocke, Mem. 63, 202, 520; Commons' Journal, ii. 804, 832, 896, iv. 523, vii. 74, 268; Clarendon, Rebellion, v. 85–7, 141). He paid a composition of 480l. for his estates (Dring, Catalogue). He was placed on a commission appointed by the council of state on 29 April 1653 to investigate the condition of the prison of the upper bench, and suggest regulations for its better management, and on a similar commission of 13 June following to ‘consider about the inspecting and improving of the public offices.’ On 27 Nov. 1658 he was called to the degree of serjeant-at-law, and on 3 June 1659 he was made joint commissioner with Bradshaw and Tyrell of the ‘broad seal’ for the term of five months. On 1 Nov. following the lord president, Bradshaw, delivered the seal to Whitelocke by order of the committee of public safety. It was, however, again put in commission, Fountaine being one of the commissioners on 17 Jan. 1659–60, and so continued until the Restoration. On that event Fountaine was confirmed in his status of serjeant-at-law (27 June 1660), but he never again held judicial office (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1652–3, pp. 300, 405; ib. 1653–4, p. 61; Noble, Cromwell, i. 438; Whitelocke, Mem. pp. 680, 686, 693; Ludlow, Mem. p. 282; Siderfin, Rep. i. 3). Fountaine survived until 1671, when he died on 14 June, after a year's illness. His chambers are said to have been at Boswell Court, Carey Street. He was buried in the parish church of Salle, Norfolk, the original seat of his family. Fountaine is called a turncoat by Anthony à Wood, and Foss follows suit; perhaps, however, it would be nearer the truth to describe him as a moderate and practical royalist. Burnet states that he was in favour of Cromwell's assuming the royal dignity on the ground that ‘no government could be settled legally but by a king’ (Own Time, fol. i. 68). After the death of his first wife Fountaine married Theodosia, daughter of Sir Edward Harrington of Ridlington, Norfolk, by whom he had issue John Fountayne of Lincoln's Inn, and Melton, Yorkshire (d. 1680), and Thomas Fountayne, who succeeded his brother at Melton, and died in 1709. John Fountayne, the elder son, had two daughters, of whom the second, Theodosia, married Robert Monckton, and was the mother of the first Viscount Galway. The grandson of the younger son, Thomas, was the Rev. John Fountayne, D.D. [q. v.], dean of York. The family is now represented in the direct line by Andrew Montagu of Melton Park, Yorkshire, and Papplewick, Nottinghamshire.

[Foss's Lives of the Judges; Hunter's South Yorkshire, i. 367; Burke's Landed Gentry.]

J. M. R.