UPTON, George (c.1554-1609), of Wells, Som.
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Family and Education
b. c.1554,1 1st s. of Jeffrey Upton of Worminster, Som. and Mary, da. and coh. of Robert Hone of Ottery St. Mary, Devon.2 educ. M. Temple 1572.3 m. (1) Frances, da. and h. of John Newton of E. Harptree, Som., 1da. d.v.p.; (2) Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Bamfield of Hardington, Som., s.p.4 suc. fa. 1583. d. 25 Jan. 1609.5
Freeman, Wells 1584.6
Upton’s forebears took their name from a property at Lewannick, in eastern Cornwall. The senior, Cornish branch of the family died out in the male line in the mid-sixteenth century, its lands divided among heiresses. Upton’s grandfather, who represented a junior branch, had by then settled in Somerset, and Upton’s father Jeffrey, who became keeper of the bishop’s palace at Wells in 1546, based himself just outside the city at Worminster. At his death in 1583 the latter owned over 1,800 acres, including three manors, and most of which descended to Upton.7 Worminster remained Upton’s principal residence until 1585, when he leased a rectory in Wells itself. Accordingly he was described as a ‘stranger’ when he became a freeman of the borough in 1584, at the time of his first election to Parliament. He subsequently acquired further property in Wells, and represented the borough in the Commons again in 1601.8
In the first Jacobean Parliament, Upton found a seat at the Cornish borough of Bossiney. Both he and his partner there, Sir Jerome Horsey, seem to have relied on nominations from their cousin (Sir) William Peryam†, who was on close terms with Bossiney’s local patron, John Hender†.9 Upton left no mark on the records of the first session, but in the second he received nominations to five bill committees. These addressed the widely varied issues of poor relief (23 Jan. 1606), impositions on merchants (19 Mar.), Chepstow bridge (31 Mar.), the estates of the West Country Mompesson family (1 Apr.), and the naturalization of Sir David Foulis (18 April).10 Another ten nominations followed in the third session, and these too lack any obvious pattern in the subjects which they covered. Upton’s legislative appointments dealt with free trade, perpetuating the memory of the worthy dead (both 26 Nov. 1606), abuses in the Court of Marshalsea (10 Dec.), the endowment of a Devon school (25 Feb. 1607), Southampton’s charter (29 May), merchants’ debts (5 June), sewers commissions (12 June), and unlawful assemblies (1 July). On 11 Dec. he was added to the committee for the revived Mompesson estates bill, and on 6 May he was named to a committee to consider a petition from distressed armourers and gunsmiths.11
Upton died at Bristol on 25 Jan. 1609, before the Parliament reconvened for its fourth session. In his will, made two days earlier, he emphasized his religious convictions. The preamble revealed his expectation that he would be received into paradise at the very moment of death, while a bequest to one of his nephews was conditional on the latter publicly renouncing Catholicism. Upton left £37 to charitable causes, ranging from the poor of Wells to the fabric of his parish church, and made provision for a funeral sermon. His only child having predeceased him, his principal heir was his nephew Edward Bysse. However, he also bequeathed more than £900 to his other nephews and nieces. Upton was already providing maintenance of £24 a year to his second wife, from whom he was estranged, and while bemoaning her ‘neglect of duty’ he took steps to ensure that these payments would continue. His generosity also extended to his household servants, each of whom were to get £5 and a year-and-a-quarter’s wages. Upton’s interest in the Mendip lead industry was consigned to one of Wells’ proctors. To ensure that the various legacies were delivered, the profits from most of his properties were set aside for seven years for this purpose.12 Exactly how large Upton’s estate was at the time of his death is difficult to judge, as the details in his inquisition post mortem are incomplete, but he had by then apparently disposed of much of his patrimony. Nevertheless, the scale of his testamentary provisions suggests that he was still relatively wealthy. In accordance with Upton’s will, which allowed for his burial at the place of his death if this event occurred at any great distance from Wells, he was interred in the lord mayor’s chapel in Bristol. His funerary monument commemorates ‘one of the best and most cultivated of men’.13
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. C142/202/173.
- 2. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), iv. 22; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 603. HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 543-4 misinterprets Worminster as Warminster, Wilts.
- 3. M. Temple Admiss.
- 4. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), iv. 22.
- 5. C142/202/173; 142/662/113.
- 6. Wells City Charters ed. D.O. Shilton and R. Holworthy (Som. Rec. Soc. xlvi), 189.
- 7. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), iv. 21-2; HMC Wells, ii. 262; C142/202/173; PROB 11/65, f. 197.
- 8. Wells City Charters, 189; HMC Wells, ii. 308-9, 325, 334, 343, 345-6.
- 9. Vivian, 603; C142/519/94; SP14/48/116.
- 10. CJ, i. 258b, 287a, 291a-b, 300a.
- 11. Ibid. 325a-b, 329a-b, 340b, 369b, 376b, 379b, 382b, 389a.
- 12. PROB 11/113, ff. 157-60.
- 13. C142/662/113; W.H. Upton, Upton Fam. Recs. 122.