In the 21st century it may seem that the presence of second- or third-generation immigrants in Parliament is a relatively new occurrence. But although the simultaneous presence in the current cabinet of a prime minister, chancellor of the exchequer and home secretary from such a background may be unprecedented, the existence of MPs with overseas origins is not. For instance, the ancient parliamentary borough of Southwark (made up of the parishes of St Saviour, St Olave, St Thomas and St George), which today has a diverse population, had a significant immigrant presence from the middle ages and in 1656 elected an MP of immigrant stock, Peter de Lannoy.
The surname De Lannoy – spellings varying from de Lannois, through de la Noye to Delaney – can be found in London, Canterbury, Southampton and East Anglia from the mid-sixteenth century. One John Delannoy – possibly the MP’s grandfather – was an alien resident in St Olave’s, Southwark, in 1552; a second, a merchant originating from Lille in the Southern or Spanish Netherlands, was living in Aldgate in 1568; and a third, who arrived that year, came over from Flanders ‘for religion’. A definitive connection to any of them is yet to be made, but when they married at the French-speaking Walloon church, Canterbury in November 1604, the future MP’s parents were recorded as ‘Jan de la Noy, filz de feu Jan natif de Londres et Susane Maroys fille de Pierre natifve de Canterbery’. That despite their English birth Jan/Jean/John and his wife continued to identify with the immigrant community is indicated not just by their choice of partner and place of marriage but by their subsequent involvement in the French church, Threadneedle Street, where the former was a deacon in the 1620s and where the latter was several times a godmother. Their own children, from Jean the younger in 1605 and Pierre/Peter in 1607 to Susanne/Suzanna in 1621, were also presented for baptism in Threadneedle Street. However, by the 1610s, like others straddling two communities, the family was establishing a presence in their parish church of St Olave’s. The baptisms of Elias and Suzanna, son and daughter of John Delenoye, dyer, were entered in its registers in 1616 and in 1621 without comment, but that of Benjamin in 1619 provided explanatory comment:
‘Beniamin the sone of John Delanoy dyer being a parishioner of this parish and hee being born in this parish was baptized in the ffrench church in London the xxxi day of January as it did appeare in a certificate under the hand of Nathaniell Marie, one of the ministers of the ffrench church.’
The dual existence persisted during John’s lifetime. John Delanoy, dyer, still featured in the returns of strangers made in 1638/9, but his will, drawn up in September 1636 and proved in May 1639, revealed him as a member of the London commercial elite with property in Kent and Warwickshire and as part of the fabric of St Olave’s. He left legacies to the poor of the French congregation but also to the vestrymen of St Olave’s, to whom he gave £10 for a dinner.
It was his children who began to cut themselves loose from their roots. Benjamin, admitted to the East India Company in 1641, became from 1659 the long-serving consul in Aleppo usually known simply as Benjamin Lannoy. Peter, a dyer like his father, married Anne Moore at St Mary, Battersea in 1633 and had his children baptised in St Saviour’s, Southwark (and five of them buried in St Olave’s). With the advent of civil war (by which time he was a resident of Peper Alley, Bridge Street), he supported Parliament and held various local administrative offices; his Calvinist upbringing was expressed as an elder in the tenth London Presbyterian classis.
Peter de Lannoy first stood for one of the two Southwark seats at Westminster in elections for the first protectorate Parliament of 1654, but he and his partner were defeated in what was by some accounts a highly irregular contest. They represented the more conservative political outlook in what had always been a volatile borough prone to radicalism. The bailiff of Southwark took advantage of rainy weather to move the location of polling and allegedly used threats of violence to secure the election of his son, Robert Warcupp, and a local distiller and Baptist preacher, Samuel Hyland. But when de Lannoy stood again in 1656, he was successful. Once in Parliament he made a rather modest contribution to proceedings, but his expertise was harnessed through his nominations to the committee for trade and a committee to investigate those who held patents to search cargoes of captured ships (he himself was probably an importer of colourants).
De Lannoy never again sat in Parliament and when elected an alderman of the Vintry ward in 1668, he declined to serve, but he did act as treasurer of St Thomas’s hospital from 1669 to his death in 1675; he was buried at St Olave’s on 18 November. His will made no mention of his immigrant heritage and used the wealth with which (as he acknowledged) God had generously endowed him for the benefit of his family, the hospital and St Saviour’s parish. His son, Peter the younger, was sheriff of Surrey in 1687-8, while his nephew, Sir Peter Daniel, was a sheriff of London and MP for Southwark in 1685.
This blog draws on the draft biography of Peter de Lannoy and draft constituency article on Southwark prepared by the House of Commons 1640-1660 section at the History of Parliament http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/about/latest-research/1640-1660
A taste of mid-17th century Southwark is conveyed at https://thehistoryofparliament.wordpress.com/2020/06/11/southwark-men-who-are-but-traitors-merchants-rioters-radicals-and-the-good-old-cause-in-the-mid-seventeenth-century/
An article on Sir Peter Daniel is available at http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/daniel-sir-peter-1700
See also: Huguenot Society Quarto Series 5, Registers of the Walloon Church in Canterbury; Quarto Series 9, The Registers of the French Church, Threadneedle Street Part I; Quarto Series 57, Returns of Strangers in the Metropolis.