ENGLAND, George (1643-1702), of South Quay, Great Yarmouth, Norf.
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Family and Education
bap. 22 Sept. 1643, 1st s. of Sir George England of Yarmouth by Sarah, da. of Thomas Smith of Runton. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1660; G. Inn 1661, called 1668. unm. suc. fa. 1677.1
Freeman, Yarmouth 1663; commr. for assessment, Yarmouth 1677-80, Norf. and Yarmouth 1689-90; j.p. Norf. 1678-80, 1689-d.; sub-steward, Yarmouth Oct. 1688-91, recorder 1691-d.2
England’s grandfather was an obscure Yarmouth craftsman, but his father became one of the leading herring merchants in the town. A strong Parliamentarian in the Civil War, he resigned from the corporation after the execution of Charles I but resumed office under the Protectorate. After the Restoration he was said to be worth thirty or forty thousand pounds, and he was knighted on Charles II’s visit to Yarmouth in 1671 at the instance of the lord lieutenant, Lord Townshend. England himself, a lawyer, was the first of the family to enter Parliament. A dissenter at heart though an occasional conformist, he was first returned for the borough as an exclusionist at the second general election of 1679, after the retirement of (Sir) William Coventry, and removed from the Norfolk commission of the peace. A moderately active Member of the second Exclusion Parliament, he chaired the committee of inquiry into the misconduct of the under-sheriff at the Norfolk election of February 1679. He was also among those appointed to consider the bills to rectify the marriage settlement of Sir Charles Hoghton and to facilitate collection of hearth-tax. Re-elected in 1681, he was named only to the committee of elections and privileges in the Oxford Parliament. Despite the restriction on the franchise in the new charter of 1684 he was elected with Richard Huntington by the freemen in the following year; but they did not petition against the return of Sir William Cook and (Sir) John Friend by the corporation.3
England became sub-steward of Yarmouth at the Revolution. With one of his brothers prime bailiff and another captain in the borough militia he was returned unopposed to the abortive Parliament of 1688, and again in 1689. Though he made no recorded speeches he was very active in the Convention. His 59 committees included those to recommend alterations to the coronation oath (25 Feb.), to examine prisoners of state (20 Mar.), to consider new oaths of allegiance and supremacy (28 Mar.), and to prepare a bill for religious comprehension (1 Apr.). He probably introduced the bill to confirm and explain the Yarmouth Harbour Act of 1685, which on 20 Apr. he carried to the Lords. In May he was named to the committees for restoring corporations and the toleration bill. He chaired the bill to enable the Duke of Norfolk to build over the grounds of Arundell House, and carried it up. On 13 June England and his colleague Samuel Fuller wrote to the corporation to recommend the appointment of the refugee dean of Ross as lecturer at Yarmouth, and six days later they were named to the committee for the relief of the Irish clergy. He was added to the committee to consider the Lords’ proviso on the succession to the bill of rights (1 July), and two days later he helped to draft the address for leave to inspect the Privy Council records relating to Ireland. But he returned to his constituency a few days later.4
England and Fuller left Yarmouth for Westminster on 21 Oct., sharing a coach with Dean Davies and the mayor and picking up Cook, now serving as Tory knight of the shire, on the way. This was perhaps a mistake, for the coach ‘stuck fast in a slough’ in Epping Forest, and they did not reach London till the evening of 23 Oct. Although England thus missed the first day of the new session, he was appointed to the committees of inquiry into the miscarriages and expenses of the war and the state of the revenue. He took the chair for the bill to establish a ‘court of conscience’ for small claims for Norwich, which he carried to the Lords. He was added to the elections committee on 9 Dec., and reckoned as a supporter of the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. He was named to the committees to discharge the Duke of Norfolk’s estate and to impose a general oath of allegiance.5
Although England remained a Whig under William III, he was liable to take an independent line, especially over trade. He died on 30 June 1702 and was buried at St. Nicholas, Yarmouth. His memorial records that he was several times Member of Parliament, and a true friend both to the town and to the liberty of his country. On the other hand a political opponent described him as ‘insolent, shameless and perfidious’, apt to boast of his own honour and equity, and very angry when they were questioned. His heir was his brother Benjamin, who sat for Yarmouth as a Tory from 1702 to 1706.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. East Anglian Peds. (Harl. Soc. xci), 67-68, D. Turner, Sepulchral Reminiscences, 30, 110, 113.
- 2. Cal. Yarmouth Freemen, 95; C. J. Palmer, Hist. Yarmouth, 345, 351.
- 3. Palmer, Perlustration of Yarmouth, ii. 223-6; Hist. 214; Norf. Arch. xxx. 156; CSP Dom. 1668-9, p. 75; 1679-80, p. 66; CJ, ix. 678.
- 4. Palmer, Hist. 215; CJ, x. 151, 154; Diary of Dean Davies (Cam. Soc. lxviii), 24, 31.
- 5. Diary of Dean Davies, 56-57; CJ, x. 306, 313.
- 6. H. Swinden, Hist. Yarmouth, 882; E. Bohun, Autobiog. 26