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A portrait of Mordaunt

John Mordaunt, 1st Viscount Mordaunt (18 June 1627 – 5 June 1675) was an English military officer and peer.

He was born in Lowick, Northamptonshire, the second son of John Mordaunt, 1st Earl of Peterborough and Elizabeth Howard (d. 1671), daughter of William Howard, 3rd Baron Howard of Effingham.[1]

In June 1648, he joined his brother, Henry Mordaunt, 2nd Earl of Peterborough in leading a Royalist uprising, and fled with him to the Continent when it failed. He had returned to England by 1652, and married Elizabeth Carey on 7 May 1657.

He again engaged in Royalist conspiracy, and met the Marquess of Ormonde on his secret trip to England in 1658. Mordaunt was betrayed and arrested on 1 April 1658. Released and re-arrested on 15 April 1658, he was charged with treason. Thomas Pride, one of the commissioners to try him, fell ill, and a key witness escaped (possibly due to the efforts of his wife), and Mordaunt was acquitted by a vote of 20 to 19 by the commissioners.

This narrow escape did not deter his secret efforts on behalf of Charles II. However, although trusted by the King, Ormonde, and Hyde, many royalists (including the members of the Sealed Knot) disliked and mistrusted him. He was created Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon and Baron Mordaunt of Reigate on 10 July 1659 by Charles, who considered him the leader of his cause in England. However, the new rising he planned in June was several times delayed, partly because of friction with other royalists, and the Council of State ordered his arrest. The rising, in Surrey, drew only thirty followers, and Mordaunt narrowly escaped to France in September.

He returned to England again in October after the expulsion of the Rump Parliament, and was planning another rising, but his connections with Hyde occasioned suspicion and he received little favour from any party. He returned to France again in November, then to England again in January. His attempts to discredit Monck and promote French intervention were fruitless: he and Monck were both knighted by Charles at Dover on 25 May 1660.

He was appointed Constable of Windsor Castle, keeper of Windsor Great Park and Lord Lieutenant of Surrey upon the Restoration, but played little role at court. In 1666, he was charged in the House of Commons with having imprisoned William Taylor, surveyor of Windsor Castle, and raped Taylor's daughter.[2] He was impeached by the Commons in December, but Parliament was prorogued in February, and the King pardoned him in July. He resigned his offices at Windsor in September 1668, and went abroad to Montpellier that year.

Fulham, All Saints Church, monument

He did not return to England until 1669, and thenceforth lived in retirement in his house at Parson's Green, Middlesex. He died there of a fever in 1675, and is buried at All Saints Church, Fulham, London.


Mordaunt married Elizabeth, the daughter of Thomas Carey of Sunninghill Park in Berkshire (a younger son of Robert Carey, 1st Earl of Monmouth), by whom he had eleven surviving children, among whom were:[1]


  1. ^ a b Stater, Victor, Mordaunt, John, first Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon (1626–1675), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press (2004)|
  2. ^ John Mordaunt, 1626–75 Archived 22 November 2019 at the Wayback Machine. (24 August 2008). Retrieved 2012-07-15.

2 Annotations

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

This nobleman, who was father of the great Earl of Peterborough, was the most active and enterprising of the royalists during the usurpation. He possessed much of that vigour of body and mind, which was afterward so conspicuous in his son. He made several attempts to restore Charles II. for one of which he was brought to a public trial. He behaved himself, upon this occasion, with his usual,intrepidity; evaded the evidence with remarkable address; and was, after long debate, pronounced "Not Guilty." The moment he was set at liberty, he began to be more active than before: but his great merit created him many enemies, who traduced and vilified him to the king. He was numbered with the neglected royalists. Ob. 5 June, 1675.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1775.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Early in 1658, Mordaunt collaborated with the Marquis of Ormonde on a secret visit to London to coordinate Royalist conspirators in England. However, Cromwell's agents learned of Ormonde's presence and he was forced to escape to the Continent in February 1658.

Mordaunt was arrested in April, betrayed by John Stapley.
After being questioned by Cromwell, Mordaunt was released, only to be re-arrested 2 weeks later and charged with treason.
He was tried with Dr John Hewitt and Sir Henry Slingsby before a specially reconvened High Court of Justice in June 1658. Hewitt and Slingsby were condemned to death, but the Court was equally divided over Mordaunt; he was acquitted by the casting vote of the lord-president John Lisle.

At Hyde's recommendation, Charles II appointed John Mordaunt to the Great Trust and Commission, a secret organisation charged with fomenting a Royalist-Presbyterian uprising to bring about the Restoration after the death of Cromwell in September 1658.
As a mark of favour, Charles made him 1st Viscount Mordaunt of Avalon in March 1659, but the bitter lack of cooperation between Mordaunt and members of the Sealed Knot delayed plans for the uprising.
The general insurrection planned for August 1659 was sporadic, and only Booth's Uprising in Cheshire achieved even partial success.
Mordaunt declared for the King at Barnstead Down in Surrey, but only 30 men supported him.
He narrowly avoided capture and escaped to the Continent in September 1659.

He continued to work tirelessly for the Royalist cause, but his prestige was damaged by the failure of the 1659 uprising and he lost favor with Charles II.
He urged an alliance with France and warned against Gen. Monck, being unaware of Sir John Grenville's secret negotiations with Monck on the King's behalf early in 1660.

John Mordaunt's services were rewarded at the Restoration: he was knighted in May 1660 and appointed lord-lieutenant of Surrey and governor of Windsor Castle.

Mordaunt's abrasive personality hindered his advancement at the Restoration court and gained him many enemies.

In 1666, he was impeached by Parliament over an accusation that he had unlawfully imprisoned the surveyor of Windsor Castle and raped his daughter.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.