Michael Robinson • Link
Per L&M Companion:
Banks, Sir John (1627 - 99). Merchant and friend. 'Of small beginnings ', he rose to become one of the greatest merchants of the day. MP in 11 parliaments (1654-99), baronet (1661), F.R.S. (1668) and Governor of the East India Company (1673-4). During the diary period he lived in Leadenhall Street and had a country house at Aylesford, Kent, bought in 1657; later, in 1672, he acquired a fashionable town house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Pepys first met him in 1664 and greatly admired him. At that time he was better known to Gauden, to whom he supplied hops and grain from his estate. But after the diary period Pepys became a close friend of Banks and his family, and often visited them in London and Kent. He was godfather to Caleb, the eldest son, for whom in 1677 he arranged a Grand Tour of the continent in the charge of John Locke. He was also consulted about a daughter's marriage. Banks came to Pepys rescue in 1674 when his enemies tried to deprive him of his parliamentary seat by accusing him of Popery, and several times Pepys was the means of lending the Admiralty's support to Banks in his own electoral campaigns. In 1677 they joined with others to finance an attempt to find the North - East passage.
Coleman, Donald Cuthbert. 'Sir John Banks, baronet and businessman : a study of business, politics and society in later Stuart England.' Oxford, 1963.
Sir John Banks’ grandfather was a prosperous woolen draper of London who married into a well-connected Kentish gentry family and was granted arms.
His father, who was in trouble with the High Commission in 1636, was three times mayor of Maidstone, Kent and a member of the county committee during the Civil War, when his annual income was estimated at £800.
John Banks joined a syndicate which obtained an extremely profitable naval victualling contract in 1652, and served for Maidstone in all three Protectorate Parliaments.
In 1657 he purchased the former Carmelite priory at Aylesford, between Maidstone and Rochester.
At the Restoration Sir John Banks MP was created a baronet, apparently as a reward for handling one of Charles II's old debts, a transaction which earned him royal gratitude and a handsome profit.
Banks continued trading, began a long and profitable career of lending money to the Government, and added substantially to his Kentish estate.
He was removed from the commission of the peace for four months in 1662, probably because of his unpopularity with the local gentry, and in 1668 he was defeated at Maidstone by Thomas Harlackenden.
Sir John Banks MP did not stand again for 10 years, when he became court candidate for Winchelsea. At the Duke of York’s command, John Strode II and Bank's old friend, Samuel Pepys, lent him their official support, a dubious asset at this time.
April 4. 1668l
Sir John Banks to Sam. Pepys.
Cannot wait on the Board, but desires that they will sign [Wm.] Chambers’ and [Hen.] Higford’s bills upon the Exchequer, or the parties concerned will wait on them to request fair proceeding, being assured by their friends in Parliament and Council that their Honours should not have thus long forborne to pass those assignments which are their due.
Has no interest further than to assist neighbours, knowing what mischiefs they are exposed to for want of their money.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 237, No. 206.]
'Charles II: April 1668', in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1667-8, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1893), pp. 320-369. British History Online
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.