CAREY, Sir George (1547-1603), of Blackfriars, London, Hunsdon, Herts. and Carisbrooke, I.o.W.

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



Family and Education

b. 1547, 1st s. of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon of Hunsdon by Anne, da. of Sir Thomas Morgan of Arkestone, Herefs.; bro. of Edmund, Henry, John, Robert and William. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1560. m. 1574, Elizabeth (d.1618), da. of Sir John Spencer of Althorp, Northants., 1da. Kntd. 1570; suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Hunsdon 1596; KG 1597.2

Offices Held

Knight marshal of the Household 1578; constable, Bamburgh castle, Northumb. 1583; capt. I.o.W. for life 1583; j.p.q. Herts. from c.1580, Mdx. and Hants from c.1584; v.-adm. Southampton 2 Feb. 1586; capt. of gent. pens. 23 July 1596; PC, ld. chamberlain 17 Apr. 1597-4 May 1603; custos rot. Hants c.1593, ld. lt. by 1599.3


Through the marriage of William Carey and Mary Boleyn, the Careys were related to Queen Elizabeth, who showed affection for her cousin, this Member’s father, creating him Baron Hunsdon and granting him estates in Hertfordshire, Kent, Yorkshire and Derbyshire. In December 1566 Carey accompanied the 2nd Earl of Bedford on his embassy to Scotland for the baptism of the future James VI. Three years later, when his father was governor of Berwick, Carey was sent to the Earl of Moray, the regent of Scotland, to confer on the contemplated marriage of the Duke of Norfolk with Mary Queen of Scots. He afterwards served under his father in the expedition against the northern rebels and, when they had been subdued, went again to the Earl of Moray in Scotland, returning a few days later with the news that two of the rebels were in the regent’s custody. In May 1570 he served under Sir William Drury in another expedition, during which he showed courage in the field and was knighted by the Earl of Sussex. He went on a mission to the Netherlands in 1578, and in 1582 to see James VI after the Ruthven raid. He had another interview with him in 1589 shortly before James’s marriage.4

After his appointment as captain of the Isle of Wight, Carey spent much time on the island, writing pamphlets and memoranda on its defence. Renowned for his hospitality at Carisbrooke castle, he was unpopular with the local gentry, who complained of his arbitrary conduct and use of the title ‘governor’. Led by Robert Dillington they drew up a list of complaints, but the Armada scare was at its height, and Carey used the crisis to justify himself to the Privy Council. The following November, Dillington was called before the Council and later committed to the Fleet. Carey also had a dispute with the Earl of Sussex about their respective rights to raise troops for the defence of the island, which again led to the intervention of the Council.5

Carey first sat in Parliament as knight of the shire for a county where his father had influence. Next he came in for Canterbury at a by-election in January 1581. Thereafter, his office as captain of the Isle of Wight gave him a sufficiently strong claim in Hampshire to secure one of the county seats in every Parliament until his succession to the peerage in 1596. He was an active MP whose committee work began in 1581, when he was named to committees concerning the subsidy (25 Jan.), a legal matter (26 Jan.) and slanderous words and practices (1 Feb.). He was also appointed to the following committees in his capacity as knight marshal of the Household: to consider slanderous words and practices (3 Feb.), the examination of Arthur Hall (6 Feb.), the preservation of game (18 Feb.), the fortifying of the frontier with Scotland (25 Feb.), the city of Carlisle (27 Feb.) and the Queen’s safety (14 Mar.). During the 1584 Parliament he served on committees dealing with church attendance (27 Nov.), the government of Westminster (15 Dec.), the liberty of some ministers (16 Dec.) and the subsidy (24 Feb. 1585). He was also appointed to the conference with the Lords to discuss the progress of the bill against fraudulent conveyances (15 Feb.). In 1586 he was twice appointed to committees discussing the fate of Mary Queen of Scots (4 Nov., 18 Nov.), and in 1589 he served on committees concerned with Tonbridge school (22 Feb.), and Hartlepool pier (28 Feb.). On 6 Mar. 1589 he was one of those appointed to attend the Queen to deliver a petition about the purveyors bill. Carey spoke only once in Parliament, on 2 Mar. 1593, when he supported the subsidy bill. He was appointed to committees on the subsidy on 26 Feb., 28 Feb. and 1 Mar., and also committees considering recusancy, 28 Feb., 4 Apr., the relief of the poor (12 Mar.), and armour and weapons (8 Nov.). As knight of the shire he was twice appointed to a subsidy committee (22 Feb. 1587, 11 Feb. 1589), and once to a legal committee (9 Mar. 1593). He used his influence at court to enfranchise three boroughs on the Isle of Wight—Newport, Newtown and Yarmouth. He generally nominated one Member, and sometimes two, in all three boroughs.6

In 1596 Carey, now Lord Hunsdon, wrote to Robert Cecil seeking certain of the offices formerly held by his father, on the grounds that as he had been left lands worth only £366 a year he had an insufficient income to support the estate of a near kinsman of the Queen. Previously he had relied on the income from a number of minor appointments and leases, and a concession from the Crown to purchase Cornish tin before other buyers. His dealings with recusants had also enabled him to obtain control of the estates of at least one wealthy Catholic, Francis Tregian. He was involved in several privateering and seafaring ventures.7

After being made captain of the gentlemen pensioners and, a year later, lord chamberlain, Hunsdon lived as a courtier. In his will, made 10 May 1599, he asked to be buried near his parents in Westminster abbey, giving instructions for a tomb costing £1,000. He left his house at Blackfriars and lands in Suffolk, Hampshire and Cornwall to his wife, with remainder to his only daughter, who was in the meantime to have £200 a year. Minor bequests were made to a number of people, including his brother Robert Carey, Lord Scrope (Thomas Scrope), Edward Hoby and William Cotton. His wife was residuary legatee and sole executrix. His ‘loving friends’ Sir John Scudamore, William Spencer and Robert Wroth I were made overseers.8

In March 1600 Hunsdon fell ill and went to Bath. He resigned as lord chamberlain on 4 May 1603, dying 8 Sept. following, to be succeeded by his brother John Carey. The widow, a learned lady to whom Edmund Spenser dedicated a poem, married Ralph Eure, 3rd Lord Eure, and died in 1618.9

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament. Cant. Cath. chapter lib., Thomas Scott mss f. 2.
  • 2. CP, vi. 629-30; C142/246/111; Bell thesis.
  • 3. Pat. roll 19 Eliz. f. 50; 24 Eliz. f. 13; Lansd. 737; SP 12/145; APC, xxi. 6; xxvii. 50; xxix. 681; Hatfield ms 278.
  • 4. Camden, Eliz. 130, 142; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, pp. 160, 164; CSP Scot. iii. 31-6, 173; Lodge, ii. 526; Lansd. 103, f. 95; Nichols, Progresses Eliz. iii. 27; CSP Scot. ed. Thorpe, i. 425-7, 557.
  • 5. Lansd. 40, f. 13; 47, f. 41; 51, f. 116; Hist. I.o.W. ed. Worsley, 96-107; APC, xvi. 152; xix. passim; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 394, 398, 488; Oglander Mems. ed. Long, 4-5.
  • 6. D’Ewes, 288, 289, 292, 299, 301, 306, 333, 339, 340, 343, 349, 356, 394, 403, 409, 431, 437, 443, 474, 477, 478, 481, 484, 486, 494, 496, 499, 517, 553; CJ, i. 119, 121.
  • 7. HMC Hatfield, v. 160; vi. 286, 304, 393, 488; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 323; 1591-4, p. 129; 1595-7, pp. 100, 152, 206; Lansd. 24, ff. 108, 127; 85, f. 91; 115, f. 196; 123, f. 74; 140, ff. 26, 34; 143, ff. 287, 397; 145, f. 190; 148, ff. 51, 122, 188; 150, f. 132; APC, xi. 231; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 291.
  • 8. C142/286/170; PCC 68 Bolein.
  • 9. HMC Hatfield, x. 156; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 415; E. K. Chambers, Eliz. Stage, i. 40; CP, v. 182.