Boyd, John (1789–1862), politician, was born in Belleisle, near Dervock village, Co. Antrim, son of John Boyd, probably a farmer, and Elizabeth Boyd (née McCormick or McCormack). He was apprenticed to a doctor in Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, graduated in medicine from Glasgow University (he may also have studied in Edinburgh), and practised in Coleraine for two years. He was so well thought of in the area that he was appointed land agent to several estates, and for a period was simultaneously mayor and postmaster of Coleraine, stamp distributor, coroner, commissioner for tithe valuation and for affidavits, sealmaster for brown linen, and director of the Provincial Bank. He leased large estates from the Irish Society, and on 18 February 1843 was elected MP for the town, supported by the Presbyterian Church Defence Association because of his views on a controversial topic of the day, the validity of marriages solemnised by presbyterian ministers. He proved to be a rather idiosyncratic tory and was elected again in 1847, but became involved in debt, and resigned the seat in 1852, securing the election of Richard Southwell Bourke (qv) in his place. Critics hinted at corrupt financial transactions, but Boyd – maintaining that the new MP was well placed to further Coleraine's trading interests – retained his own popularity, and was reelected unopposed in 1857 and 1859. He voted for the repeal of the corn laws, and for Lord Derby's reform bill in 1859, though he is said to have had ‘high conservative principles’ (Stenton). He claimed to have lost £4,000 in efforts to improve Portrush harbour, and backed the extension of the railway to Coleraine; houses in both Portrush and Coleraine were built on his land, and he owned a hotel in the developing resort of Portrush. Opponents felt that he used his position to further his own interests, but after thirty years as chamberlain to Coleraine corporation he received a vote of thanks for his meticulous accounting, and after his death (2 January 1862) in Dundooan House, Co. Londonderry, the huge funeral showed that he had been well liked. His wife Anna Arabella, whose father Robert Hezlett was rector of Killowen, survived him; they had three sons and four daughters.
Michael Stenton, Who's who of British members of parliament, 1832–1885 (1976); Walker; T. H. Mullin, Coleraine in modern times (1979), 14, 132–5; K. T. Hoppen, Elections, politics and society in Ireland 1832–1885 (1984), 448; Anne Hopkins, ‘A genealogical legacy’, North Irish Roots, v, no. 2 (1994), 18–20