AUSTEN, George (c.1548-1621), of Guildford and Shalford, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Family and Education

b. c.1548, s. of John Austen by Joan, da. of William Snelling of East Horsley. m. (1) Anne, da. and coh. of Thomas Mellersh of Nore, 1s. 2da.; (2) Jane, da. of Robert Harrison of London, wid. of Thomas James, haberdasher, of London, 5s. 1da.; (3) Jane, da. of Thomas Ware, fishmonger, of London, 1s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Book-keeper to (Sir) William More I in the 1570s; clerk, Guildford merchant guild 1575; clerk of peace, Surr. 1576-85, 1604-d.; dep. (to More) chamberlain of receipt in the Exchequer 1591; treasurer of musters, W. Surr.; mayor, Guildford 1579, 1590, 1600.

Biography

Austen inherited a house in Guildford and lands in Stoke from his father in 1572, and acquired the manor of Nower in Bramley by his first marriage. The clerkship of the peace for Surrey falling vacant in 1576, Austen was supported by (Sir) William More I and John Wolley, the Queen’s Latin secretary, who promised ‘to deal with all the persons I may until I have obtained it of her Majesty’. Having obtained the post, pressure from More’s Surrey rivals, the Howards of Effingham, caused him to lose it to one of their servants, Rowland Maylard. When Maylard died in 1594 it was again filled by a servant of the Howards despite strenuous efforts on Austen’s behalf by More and Wolley, and he had to be satisfied with the treasurership of musters in West Surrey.2

Austen was returned by More for Haslemere in 1597, his only recorded activity being membership of a committee on the maltsters bill (12 Jan.). In 1599 he was a trustee for Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William More, in respect of the manor of Witley, on the occasion of her marriage to Sir Thomas Egerton. The same year he and his brother purchased Shalford rectory from Sir George More. A year later he was an overseer of Sir William’s will, together with Francis Aungier, his fellow-Member for Haslemere in 1597, and Lawrence Stoughton; each received a nag for his pains.3

In April 1600 he was mayor of Guildford for the third time. When in 1604 the borough received a new charter allowing it to elect its own justices, he declined election, fearing it would be ‘very prejudicial’ to his holding the office of clerk of the peace in Surrey, to which he had at last been appointed, by letters patent, for life. In a codicil to his will dated 18 Dec. 1620, he asked that £60 6s. left over from money used by the clerk of the peace, should be given to the Surrey justices of the peace for ‘the common good of the county’ as ‘it doth not of right belong to me, which moved my conscience’. Austen died 1 Apr. 1621, his will being proved 16 June.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.

Notes

  • 1. PCC 51 Dal