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John Aislabie

In office
20 March 1718 – 23 January 1721
Monarch George I
Preceded by The Viscount Stanhope
Succeeded by Sir John Pratt (interim)

Born 4 December 1670 (1670-12-04)
Died 18 June 1742 (1742-06-19)
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Alma mater St John's College, Cambridge
Trinity Hall, Cambridge

John Aislabie or Aslabie (pronounced /'eɪzləbɪ/) (4 December 1670 – 18 June 1742) was a British politician, notable for his involvement in the South Sea Bubble and for creating the water garden at Studley Royal.


Background and education

Aislabie's family were originally Baltic merchants who settled in York. His father George married into the highly influential Mallory family. He attended St. John's College and Trinity Hall at Cambridge.[1] He inherited the Studley estate from his mother's family in 1693, and started serious development of the garden around 1716, becoming the first in England to introduce natural landscaping. (His son William Aislabie added the ruins of Fountains Abbey to the estate.)

Political career

Aislabie was elected as a Member of Parliament for Ripon in 1695, apparently on the assumption he was a Tory, though his political views were somewhat fluid. He became more active in politics from 1704, especially on the economy. He eventually became associated with the Country Whigs. Under the patronage of Robert Harley he was appointed a Lord of the Admiralty from 1710 in the Tory administration. This proved a precarious appointment as Aislabie's Whig sympathies manifested in votes against the government.

When the Whigs returned to office in 1714, Aislabie was made Treasurer of the Navy. He became an ally of the Earl of Sunderland who became, in effect, Prime Minister in 1718. Sunderland appointed Aislablie as Chancellor of the Exchequer. When in 1719 the South Sea Company proposed a deal whereby it would take over the national debt in exchange for government bonds, Aislabie was a very strong supporter of the scheme and negotiated the contract; he piloted the Bill through the House of Commons. The South Sea Company had been built on high expectations which it could never fulfil, and it collapsed in August 1720. An investigation by Parliament found that Aislabie had been given £20,000 of company stock in exchange for his promotion of the scheme. He resigned the Exchequer in January 1721, and in March was found guilty by the Commons of the "most notorious, dangerous and infamous corruption". He was expelled from the House, removed from the Privy Council, and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Later life

After his release from prison, he retired to his estate and continued the development of the gardens. The obelisk in Ripon's Market Square, the first in England, was provided by John Aislabie in 1702.

John's son William Aislabie would also serve in Parlament.


  1. ^ Aslabie, John in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.

Further reading

available from Project Gutenberg

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Caesar
Treasurer of the Navy
Succeeded by
Richard Hampden
Preceded by
James Stanhope
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
Sir John Pratt
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir Jonathan Jennings
Jonathan Jennings (MP)
Member of Parliament for Ripon
with Jonathan Jennings (MP) 1695–1701
John Sharp 1701–1702

Succeeded by
John Sharp
Sir William Hustler
Preceded by
Sir William Hustler
Daniel Lascelles
Member of Parliament for Northallerton
with Sir William Hustler 1702
Robert Dormer 1702–1705

Succeeded by
Robert Dormer
Sir William Hustler
Preceded by
John Sharp
Sir William Hustler
Member of Parliament for Ripon
with John Sharp

Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Ripon
with John Sharp 1707–1715
The Viscount Castlecomer 1715–1719
William Aislabie the elder 1719–1721

Succeeded by
William Aislabie the elder
William Aislabie the younger

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JOHN AISLABIE (1670-1742), English politician, was born at Goodramgate, York, on the 7th of December 1670. He was the fourth son of George Aislabie, principal registrar of the archiepiscopal court of York. In 1695 he was elected member of parliament for Ripon. In 1712 he was appointed one of the commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral, and in 1714 became treasurer of the navy, being sworn in two years later as a member of the privy council. In March 1718 he became chancellor of the exchequer. The proposal of the South Sea Company to pay off the national debt was strenuously supported by Aislabie, and finally accepted in an amended form by the House of Commons. After the collapse of that company a secret committee of inquiry was appointed by the Commons, and Aislabie, who had in the meantime resigned the seals of his office, was declared guilty of having encouraged and promoted the South Sea scheme with a view to his own exorbitant profit, and was expelled the House. Though committed to the Tower he was soon released, and was allowed to retain the property he possessed before 1718, including his country estate, to which he retired to pass the rest of his days. He died in 1742.

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