UPTON, George (1553-1609), of Warminster, Wilts.; later of Wells, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 1553, s. of Geoffrey Upton, dep. receiver to bp. of Bath and Wells, of Trelaske, Cornw. and Warminster, Wilts. by Mary, da. and coh. of Thomas Horne of Ottery St. Mary, Devon. m. (1) Frances, da. and h. of John Newton of Harptree, Som.; (2) Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Bampfield of Hardington, Som.2
Freeman, Wells 1584.
In 1584, when he became a freeman of Wells prior to his first return to Parliament, Upton was described as a stranger. However, he soon acquired property in the city and took up residence. He held no office himself, and was a hanger-on of Thomas Godwyn the bishop’s son, through whom he presumably gained his seat in 1584, at the first election after Bishop Godwyn became bishop, and through whom he certainly gained favourable leases of several tenements and rectories in Wells, including the rectories of St. Cuthbert and Wells. By October 1590 Thomas Godwyn was indebted to Upton to the amount of £210, in part payment of which he surrendered lands valued at £139 13s.4d., which the bishop had assigned to him, probably for that purpose. Upton’s last grant came only five days before Bishop Godwyn’s death in November 1590. Naturally the climate soon changed, and in 1594 he was excommunicated for assaulting one of the canons of Wells. In 1600 he was involved in a lawsuit with Bishop Godwyn’s successor over the tithes of the rectory of Wells.3
It is not clear how Upton came to be returned to Parliament for Wells in 1601. Perhaps his sister’s marriage to James Bisse had something to do with it, perhaps it was just his now established local standing. He sat in James’s first Parliament for a Cornish borough until his death, apparently without issue, early in 1609. His heirs were the sons of his sister Elizabeth Bisse, already mentioned, and he made bequests to several nephews and nieces. His nephew Philip Marvyn received £20 ‘if he shall affect and be obedient to the protestant religion preferred now in England, and if he shall bring a certificate from the bishop of the diocese of his earnest protestation before him, that he abhorreth and detesteth the popish religion’. There were bequests for the fabric of St. Cuthbert’s church and of Wells cathedral. Upton also left money to the poor of various parishes where he had property, and five marks and a gown for a funeral sermon. Anyone who challenged the terms of the will was to lose his legacy. Upton’s possession of grazing land in the Mendips, which also appears in his will, suggests that he was involved in wool production for the Somerset cloth industry. His commercial activities were varied, however, as he also had an interest in the Mendip lead mines.4