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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

Born at Ossingtonmarker, Nottinghamshiremarker, Denison was the eldest son of John Denison (d. 1820), and the brother of George Anthony Denison, a conservative churchman. He was educated at Etonmarker and Christ Church, Oxfordmarker.

Political career

Sir Evelyn Denison, Speaker, in a Vanity Fair cartoon of 1870.
A Whig, he became Member of Parliament (MP) for Newcastle-under-Lymemarker in 1823, being returned for Hastings three years later, and holding for a short time a subordinate position in 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; and after the Great Reform Act he represented the southern division of Nottinghamshire from 1832 until the general election of 1837.

He represented Malton from 1841 to 1857, and North Nottinghamshire from 1857 to 1872. In April 1857 Denison was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons. Re-elected at the beginning of three successive parliaments he retained this position until February 1872, when he resigned and was created Viscount Ossington. He refused, however, to accept the pension usually given to retiring Speakers. Denison gave a justification—referred to as Speaker Denison's rule—as to why the Speaker casts his or her vote in most cases in favour of, rather than against, a government, where they have the casting vote.


In 1827 he had married Lady Charlotte (d. 1889), daughter of William Bentinck, 4th Duke of Portland, but he left no children. He died on 7 March 1873, and his title became extinct. However, a street in Londonmarker was named in his honour.


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