Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mytton, John

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MYTTON, JOHN (1796–1834), sportsman and eccentric, born on 30 Sept. 1796, was the only son of John Mytton of Halston, Shropshire, by his wife Harriet, third daughter of William Mostyn Owen of Woodhouse in the same county. Before he was two years old his father died, and he became the heir to a fortune which by the time he came of age amounted to an income of more than 10,000l. a year, and 60,000l. in ready money. On 5 June 1807 he was admitted to Westminster School, where he remained until 1811. It is said that he was also educated at Harrow, that he was expelled from both schools, and that he knocked down the private tutor to whom he was subsequently sent. He became a cornet in the 7th hussars on 30 May 1816, and served with them in France for a short time, but left the army in the following year. From 1817 to 1821 he was master of foxhounds, hunting what was afterwards known as the Albrighton country. He was on the turf from 1817 to 1830, but though he kept a large racing stable he never once bred a good horse. At a by-election in May 1819 he was returned in the tory interest for Shrewsbury, but resigned his seat at the dissolution in February 1820. He served the office of high sheriff for Shropshire and Merionethshire respectively, and in May 1831 unsuccessfully contested Shropshire as a reformer. ‘Jack Mytton,’ as he was popularly called, was a man of great physical strength and foolhardy courage, with an inordinate love of conviviality and a strongly developed taste for practical joking. He was a daring horseman and a splendid shot. Of his foolhardiness there are numberless stories. On one occasion he is said to have actually galloped at full speed over a rabbit warren just to try whether or not his horse would fall, which of course it did, and moreover rolled over him. On another occasion he drove a tandem at night across country for a wager, and successfully surmounted a sunk fence three yards wide, a broad deep drain, and two stiff quickset hedges. He would sometimes strip to the shirt to follow wild fowl in hard weather; and once he is said to have followed some ducks in puris naturalibus. One night he even set fire to his night-shirt in order to frighten away the hiccoughs. His average allowance was from four to six bottles of port daily, which he commenced in the morning while shaving. Owing to his reckless way of living Mytton lost his entire fortune, and his effects at Halston were sold up. In the autumn of 1831 he was obliged to take refuge from his creditors at Calais. He died of delirium tremens in the King's Bench prison on 29 March 1834, aged 37, and was buried on 9 April following in the private chapel at Halston.

Mytton married first, on 21 May 1818, Harriet Emma, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt Jones, bart., of Stanley Hall, Shropshire, by whom he had an only daughter, Harriet Emma Charlotte, who married, on 26 June 1841, Clement Delves Hill, a brother of Rowland, second viscount Hill. Mytton's first wife died on 2 July 1820, and on 29 Oct. 1821 he married secondly Caroline Mallett, sixth daughter of Thomas Giffard of Chillington, Staffordshire, by whom he had with other issue a son, John Fox Mytton, who died in 1875. There is an engraved portrait of Mytton on horseback, by W. Giller, after W. Webb.

[Nimrod's Memoirs of the Life of John Mytton, 1837; Rice's History of the British Turf, 1879, i. 179–81; Cecil's Records of the Chase, 1877, pp. 218–21; Thormanby's Men of the Turf, pp. 55–63; Burke's Vicissitudes of Families, 1869, i. 330–44; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1879, ii. 1590; Gent. Mag. 1834, pt. i. p. 657; Shrewsbury Chronicle, 4 and 11 April 1834; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. vii. 108, 197, 236; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. p. 276; Army List for 1817.]

G. F. R. B.