A fine type of country squire, Sir John is good-humored, generous, and hospitable. When Mrs. Dashwood is left a widow, he offers her Barton Cottage at a modest rental and does all he can to make the family comfortable there. He sends them fish and game, carries their letters "to and from the post," and gives them his daily newspaper.
He enjoys the society of young people, especially young ladies, whom he likes to tease about their lovers. He is a boon to "the juvenile part of the neighbourhood" because he is forever forming parties to picnic in summer and dance in winter.
Energetic, but with no mental interests, Sir John is a sportsman. He recommends Willoughby to the Dashwoods as a hunter, "a pleasant, good-humoured fellow" with an eye for a horse or a dog. But when Willoughby deserts Marianne, Sir John cuts him. He later tells Willoughby about Marianne's illness, and, as Willoughby told Elinor, "his heart was softened in seeing mine suffer; and much of his ill-will was done away with."