John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse
John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse PC
Privy Council of England
The Privy Council of England, also known as His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, was a body of advisers to the sovereign of the Kingdom of England...

 (24 June 1614 – 10 September 1689) was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 nobleman, soldier and Member of Parliament, notable for his role during and after the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...


Early life

Balasyse was the second son of Thomas Belasyse, 1st Baron Fauconberg
Thomas Belasyse, 1st Viscount Fauconberg
Thomas Belasyse, 1st Viscount Fauconberg , was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons and was raised to the peerage in 1627...

 (1577–1652), and Barbara, daughter of Sir Henry Cholmondeley of Roxby
Roxby, North Yorkshire
Roxby is a village and civil parish in the Scarborough district of North Yorkshire, England. It is located near to Danby in North Yorkshire.According to the 2001 UK census, Roxby parish had a population of 119....

, Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

. He was born at Newburgh Grange and baptised (24 July 1614) at Coxwold
Coxwold is a village and civil parish in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England. It is situated 18 miles north of York and is where the Rev. Laurence Sterne wrote A Sentimental Journey....

, both in Yorkshire. He was MP for Thirsk
Thirsk (UK Parliament constituency)
Thirsk was a parliamentary borough in Yorkshire, represented in the English and later British House of Commons in 1295, and again from 1547. It was represented by two Members of Parliament until 1832, and by one member from 1832 to 1885, when the constituency was abolished and absorbed into the new...

 in the Short
Short Parliament
The Short Parliament was a Parliament of England that sat from 13 April to 5 May 1640 during the reign of King Charles I of England, so called because it lasted only three weeks....

 and Long
Long Parliament
The Long Parliament was made on 3 November 1640, following the Bishops' Wars. It received its name from the fact that through an Act of Parliament, it could only be dissolved with the agreement of the members, and those members did not agree to its dissolution until after the English Civil War and...


Civil War

Shortly after the start of the Civil War he "disabled" from sitting in the Long Parliament because he joined the Royalist
Cavalier was the name used by Parliamentarians for a Royalist supporter of King Charles I and son Charles II during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration...

 cause, he raised six regiments of horse and foot soldiers at his own expense, and took part in the battles of Edgehill
Battle of Edgehill
The Battle of Edgehill was the first pitched battle of the First English Civil War. It was fought near Edge Hill and Kineton in southern Warwickshire on Sunday, 23 October 1642....

 and Brentford (both in 1642), Newbury
First Battle of Newbury
The First Battle of Newbury was a battle of the First English Civil War that was fought on 20 September 1643 between a Royalist army, under the personal command of King Charles, and a Parliamentarian force led by the Earl of Essex...

 (1643), Selby
Battle of Selby
The Battle of Selby occurred in April 1644 during the English Civil War. It was a Parliamentarian victory over the Royalists.-Prelude:The war had advanced to the stage where the Parliamentary forces were seeking to control far larger swathes of territory, and were defeating Royalist pockets of...

 (1644) and Naseby
Battle of Naseby
The Battle of Naseby was the key battle of the first English Civil War. On 14 June 1645, the main army of King Charles I was destroyed by the Parliamentarian New Model Army commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.-The Campaign:...

 (1645), as well as the sieges of Reading
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

 (1643), Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 and Newark
Newark-on-Trent is a market town in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands region of England. It stands on the River Trent, the A1 , and the East Coast Main Line railway. The origins of the town are possibly Roman as it lies on an important Roman road, the Fosse Way...

 — being wounded several times. He later became Lieutenant-General of the King's forces in the North of England, and Governor of York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

 and of Newark. In Oxford on 27 January 1645 he was raised to the peerage under the title of Baron Belasyse
Baron Belasyse
The title Baron Belasyse has been created twice in the Peerage of England.The first, Baron Belasyse of Worlaby in the County of Lincoln, was created in 27 January 1645 for John Belasyse, second son of the first Baron Fauconberg...

 of Worlaby
Worlaby is a village and civil parish in North Lincolnshire, England, south-west from Barton-Upon-Humber and north-east from Brigg. It lies on the B1204, and to the east of the River Ancholme...

, Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...


On 4 February 1665 Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys FRS, MP, JP, was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man...

 recorded an anecdote about Belasyse's civil war activities in a diary entry:


Belasyse is considered one of the first members of the Royalist underground organisation The Sealed Knot, (as is his predecessor as Governor of Newark: Sir Richard Willis
Richard Willis (spy)
Sir Richard Willis, 1st Baronet was a Royalist officer during the English Civil War, and a double agent working for the Parliamentarians during the Interregnum.-Biography:...

). During the Interregnum, Belasyse was in frequent communication with King Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 and his supporters in Holland.

Charles II

After the Restoration Belasyse was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire
East Riding of Yorkshire
The East Riding of Yorkshire, or simply East Yorkshire, is a local government district with unitary authority status, and a ceremonial county of England. For ceremonial purposes the county also includes the city of Kingston upon Hull, which is a separate unitary authority...

 (1661–1673) and Governor of Hull
Kingston upon Hull
Kingston upon Hull , usually referred to as Hull, is a city and unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Hull at its junction with the Humber estuary, 25 miles inland from the North Sea. Hull has a resident population of...

, while from 1664 to 1666 he held the posts of Governor of Tangier and Captain-General of the forces in Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. According to Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys FRS, MP, JP, was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man...

, he accepted the post only for the profit it brought.

In 1667 Belasyse was appointed Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms
Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms
The Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms is a UK government post since 1945 held by the Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords. Prior to 17 March 1834, the Gentlemen-at-Arms were known as the Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners....

  This office he resigned in consequence of a private quarrel; he was then made governor of Tangier. He subsequently resigned this appointment as he was unwilling to take the Oath of Conformity introduced under the Test Act
Test Act
The Test Acts were a series of English penal laws that served as a religious test for public office and imposed various civil disabilities on Roman Catholics and Nonconformists...

. At the time of the Oates Plot, Belasyse, along with four other Catholic peers, the Lords Arundell of Wardour, Stafford, Powys, and Petre, was denounced as a conspirator and formally impeached in Parliament. Belasyse in particular was said to have been designated Commander-in-Chief of the Popish army, but Charles II, according to Von Ranke, ridiculed the idea on the ground that the man could then hardly stand on his feet with gout. Nevertheless, Lord Belasyse lived on for another ten years. The impeached Catholic peers, though they endured a long imprisonment in the Tower, were never brought to trial.

James II

Following the accession of James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

, Belasyse returned to favour and was appointed a Privy Counsellor in July 1686 and in 1687 was appointed as First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
Lord High Treasurer
The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Act of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third highest ranked Great Officer of State, below the Lord High Chancellor and above the Lord President...

 which, on account of his Catholicism, caused political problems for James II.

Private life

From 1671 until his death in 1689, he lived in Whitton
Whitton, London
Whitton is a town in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, situated 10.7 miles west south-west of Charing Cross in Central London...

, near Twickenham
Twickenham is a large suburban town southwest of central London. It is the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and one of the locally important district centres identified in the London Plan...

 in Middlesex
Middlesex is one of the historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time...

. He was buried on 14 September 1689 at the church of St Giles in the Fields
St Giles in the Fields
St Giles in the Fields, Holborn, is a church in the London Borough of Camden, in the West End. It is close to the Centre Point office tower and the Tottenham Court Road tube station. The church is part of the Diocese of London within the Church of England...

, London. He was married three times and left five children, but the title became extinct upon the death of his grandson Henry Belasyse, 2nd Baron Belasyse.

Further reading

  • Latham, Robert & Matthews, William. The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Vol. 10: Companion, University of California Press, 2001, ISBN 0-520-22715-8, 9780520227156. p. 25
  • Newman, Christine M. Bellasis family 1500-1653, Oxford University Press 2004–8, page 8. Website of Ingilby History, Retrieved 5 March 2010

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