<< Back to full list of biographies
(John) Evelyn Denison was the eldest son of John Denison M.P. (c.1758-1820) and was extremely well connected in his home county of Nottinghamshire. After being educated at Eton and Oxford he entered the political arena in 1823 as a moderate Whig.
He subsequently occupied elective office over a period of fifty years, as M.P. for the constituencies of Hastings, Newcastle under Lyme, Nottinghamshire, South Nottinghamshire, Malton, and North Nottinghamshire. In 1827-1828 he held government office as one of the council of the Duke of Clarence, Lord High Admiral in Canning's administration.
Denison's most substantial political contribution lay in his role as Speaker of the House of Commons - a role for which he was a surprise candidate in 1857. He was elected unanimously, however, and continued to serve in the position until his retirement in 1872. During this period he remained in touch with Nottinghamshire affairs from his home at Ossington Hall near Newark.
He was a staunch supporter of traditional landed interests and the Church of England, and was political ally and friend to numerous politicians and statesmen, including Lord Derby, the Duke of Argyll and Lord Egerton.
Denison kept a diary throughout the time of his speakership which was published posthumously as ‘Notes from my Journal when Speaker of the House of Commons’ in 1899, with a preface by his niece Louisa E. Denison. His papers are held at the University of Nottingham.