John Clevland (1706–1763)

Arms of Clevland of Tapeley: Azure, a hare salient or collared gules pendent therefrom a bugle horn stringed sable. Detail from memorial stained glass window to Archibald Clevland (1833–1854), Westleigh Church

John Clevland, (c.1707 – 19 June 1763), of Tapeley in the parish of Westleigh, North Devon, was Secretary to the Admiralty 1751–1763 (First Secretary from 1759)[1] and was twice MP for Saltash, Devon (1741–1747 and 1754–1761) and for Sandwich in Kent (1747–1754).


John Clevland was the eldest son and heir of Commander William Clevland (1664–1734), Royal Navy, of Tapeley, born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, who obtained the office of Controller of the Storekeepers' Accounts for the Navy Board (1718–1732). His mother was Ann Davie, a daughter of the prominent merchant John Davie (d.1710) of Orleigh Court near Bideford.[2] His brother, William Clevland, who after having been shipwrecked, became King of the Banana Islands, Sierra Leone.[3][4]


His father used his position to advance his son, first as a Clerk (Storekeepers' Accounts) and then Chief Clerk (1726–1731) at the Navy Board. In 1731 John was appointed Clerk to the Cheque and Master Muster at Plymouth. He then became Clerk of the Acts in 1744 and Joint Secretary to the Lords Commissioners of Admiralty in 1748. In 1751 he succeeded Thomas Corbett as Secretary to the Admiralty.[5]

Clevland was MP first for Saltash (1741–1747), then Sandwich (1747–1754) and then Saltash again (1754–1761).

Land & estates

In about 1750 he purchased the lordship of the nearby Manor of Bideford, then a nationally prominent port.[6]

Marriages & progeny

"Mrs John Clevland of Tapley", portrait by Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) of one of the three wives (unidentified) of John I Clevland. Collection of Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Bideford

He married three times and had six sons and five daughters:[7]

Death & burial

He died at Tapeley on 18 June 1763, as is recorded on his monument in Westleigh Church, as a result of having "contracted a complication of disorders" due to his "constant application to the discharge" of his office of Secretary of the Admiralty.


Mural monument in Westleigh Church to John I Clevland (1706–1763) of Tapeley

His mural monument survives in Westleigh Church, inscribed as follows:

"Sacred to the memory of John Clevland Esqr. of Tapley in the county of Devon who for the space of forty years served his king and country with the greatest honor and fidelity the last seventeen years of which he was joint and sole secretary of the Admiralty in which office through a multiplicity of business and his constant application to the discharge of it he contracted a complication of disorders which occasioned his death at Tapley 18th June 1763. Near him here lie also enterred Elizabeth the daughter of Sr. Caesar Child, Baronet, of Gwin in Essex, with whom he intermarried in the year 1729 who dying left issue three sons and three daughters; Penelope the daughter of Joseph Davie Esqr. of Orleigh in Devon, with whom he intermarried in the year 1743 who dying left issue one son; Sarah the daughter of Chas. Shuckburgh Esqr. of Longborough in Gloucestershire with whom he intermarried in the year 1747 who dying his widow the 5th Decr. 1764 left issue two sons & two daughters"


  1. James 1938
  2. Persons after whom Cook named geographical features accessed 15 January 2011
    • Lang, George (1999). Entwisted tongues: comparative creole literatures. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi Bv Editions. ISBN 978-90-420-0737-6.
  3. Caulker-Burnett, Imodale (2001). The Caulkers of Sierra Leone: The Story of a Ruling Family and Their Times. Xlibris. ISBN 9781456802417.
  4. James 1938
  5. Magna Britannia: volume 6: Devonshire accessed 15 January 2011
  6. Wives listed on his mural monument in Westleigh Church
  7. Green, Georgina, Woodford Times (Woodford Historical Society Newsletter), Spring 2014
  8. "Woodford" Per Burke's Landed Gentry, p.408
  9. Extract from Woodford Parish Church register:"Sr Caesar Child, Bart, and Madam Hester Evans, both of Claybury, married Dec. 1, 1698; Hester, their daughter, baptized Apl 14, 1700; Caesar, their son, born Feb. 8, 1701–2; John, buried Feb. 8, 1702–3; Lady Child, buried Mar. 14, 1732–3."(Lysons, Daniel, The Environs of London: volume 4: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent, 1796, pp.273–287 )
  10. Green
  11. Victoria County History, Essex, Vol.6, 1973, Woodford: Manors
  12. "Will of William Saltren Willett, Captain of His Majesty's Ship Warspight" dated 15 March 1762, proved 12 March 1770, National Archives, PROB 11/956/87
  13. Per inscription on mural monument (erected by William Saltren Willett) of John Willett (d.1736) in Abbotsham Church
  14. Both were grandchildren of the Bideford merchant John Davie (d.1710) of Orleigh
  15. See his mural monument in Buckland Brewer Church
  16. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 15th Edition, ed. Pirie-Gordon, H., London, 1937, p.408, pedigree of Clevland, appended to pedigree of Christie of Tapeley Park and Glyndebourne, pp.407–8; List of father's wives per inscription on his mural monument in Westleigh Church, Devon
  17. Christie of Tapeley Park accessed 15 January 2011


Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Lord Glenorchy
Thomas Corbett
Member of Parliament for Saltash
With: Thomas Corbett
Succeeded by
Thomas Corbett
Stamp Brooksbank
Preceded by
John Pratt
Sir George Oxenden, Bt
Member of Parliament for Sandwich
With: Sir George Oxenden, Bt to 1754
Claudius Amyand 1754–56
The Viscount Conyngham from 1756
Succeeded by
The Viscount Conyngham
George Hay
Preceded by
Charles Townshend
George Clinton
Member of Parliament for Saltash
With: George Clinton
Succeeded by
George Adams
Hon. Augustus Hervey
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