Evelyn Denison, 1st Viscount Ossington

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The Right Honourable
The Viscount Ossington
Speaker of the House of Commons
In office
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Sir Charles Shaw-Lefevre
Succeeded by Hon. Sir Henry Brand
Personal details
Born 27 January 1800 (2022-08-11UTC14:36:48)
Ossington, Nottinghamshire
Died 7 March 1873(1873-03-07) (aged 73)
Nationality British
Political party Whig, Liberal
Spouse(s) Lady Charlotte Bentinck
(d. 1889)
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

John Evelyn Denison, 1st Viscount Ossington PC (27 January 1800 – 7 March 1873) was a British statesman. He served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1857 to 1872.

Background and education

Denison was born at Ossington, Nottinghamshire, the eldest son of John Denison (d. 1820), and the older brother of Edward Denison, bishop of Salisbury, Sir William Denison, colonial governor in Australia and India and George Denison, a conservative churchman. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.

Political career

Sir Evelyn Denison, speaker, in a Vanity Fair cartoon of 1870.

A Whig, he became Member of Parliament (MP) for Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1823,[1] being returned for Hastings three years later,[2] and holding for a short time a subordinate position in George Canning's ministry. Defeated in 1830 both at Newcastle-under-Lyme and then at Liverpool, Denison secured a seat as one of the members for Nottinghamshire in 1831. After the Great Reform Act he represented the southern division of Nottinghamshire from 1832 until the general election of 1837.[3] He was appointed High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire for 1839–40.[4]

Denison then represented Malton from 1841 to 1857,[5] and North Nottinghamshire from 1857 to 1872.[3] In April 1857 Denison was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons. He was sworn of the Privy Council at the same time.[6] Re-elected at the beginning of three successive parliaments he retained this position until February 1872, when he resigned and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Ossington, of Ossington in the County of Nottingham.[7] He refused, however, to accept the pension usually given to retiring Speakers. Denison gave an explanation – referred to as Speaker Denison's rule – as to how the Speaker should exercise his or her casting vote in the event of a tie.

The Speaker's Commentary

While in office, Denison formed the view that the public needed a plain, but complete and accurate, explanatory commentary on the Bible, and consulted some of the bishops as to the best way of supplying the work. Eventually the Archbishop of York undertook to organise the production of the commentary, under the editorship of Frederic Charles Cook, Canon of Exeter. A panel was appointed to advise the general Editor, comprising the Archbishop and the Regius Professors of Divinity of Oxford and Cambridge. Formally entitled The Bible Commentary, it became popularly known as "The Speaker's Commentary". It was first published in England, and subsequently in the United States by Charles Scribner's Sons.


Lord Ossington married Lady Charlotte, daughter of William Bentinck, 4th Duke of Portland, in 1827, but he left no children. He died on 7 March 1873, and his title became extinct. His Ossington Hall estate passed to his nephew William Evelyn Denison, son of his brother Sir William Thomas Denison.[8]

Ossington Street in London was named in his honour. Lady Ossington died in 1889.


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Kinnersley
Sir Robert Wilmot, Bt
Member of Parliament for Newcastle-under-Lyme
With: Sir Robert Wilmot, Bt
Succeeded by
Richardson Borradaile
Sir Robert Wilmot, Bt
Preceded by
Sir William Curtis, Bt
Sir Charles Wetherell
Member of Parliament for Hastings
With: James Lushington, to 1831;
Joseph Planta, from 1831
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Fane
Joseph Planta
Preceded by
Frank Sotheron
John Lumley
Member of Parliament for Nottinghamshire
With: John Lumley
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for South Nottinghamshire
with The Earl of Lincoln

Succeeded by
The Earl of Lincoln
Lancelot Rolleston
Preceded by
Viscount Milton
John Childers
Member of Parliament for Malton
With: John Childers, to 1846;
Viscount Milton, 1846–1847;
John Childers, 1847–52;
Hon. Charles Wentworth-FitzWilliam, from 1852
Succeeded by
James Brown
Hon. Charles Wentworth-FitzWilliam
Preceded by
Lord Henry Bentinck
Lord Robert Clinton
Member of Parliament for North Nottinghamshire
With: Lord Robert Pelham-Clinton, to 1865;
Lord Edward Pelham-Clinton, 1865–1868;
Frederick Chatfield Smith, from 1868
Succeeded by
Hon. George Monckton-Arundell
Frederick Chatfield Smith
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Charles Shaw-Lefevre
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Hon. Sir Henry Brand
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Ossington