GEORGE, John (1594-1678), of Baunton, Glos. and the Middle Temple.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Apr. 1640
Nov. 1640 - 3 Nov. 1646
1661 - Dec. 1678

Family and Education

bap. 15 Sept. 1594, and but 1st surv. s. of Robert George of Baunton by Margaret, da. of Edward Oldisworth of Glos. educ. Magdalen Hall, Oxf. ?1611, BA 1614; M. Temple 1615, called 1623. m. lic. 18 July 1627, Elizabeth (bur. 4 June 1677), da. of John Tirrell of St. Ives, Hunts., 5s. 1da. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1623.2

Offices Held

Clerk of the wardrobe 1637-d.3

J.p. Glos. by 1639-?44, 1656-bef. Mar. 1660, July 1660-d., commr. for assessment 1643, Jan. 1660-d., sequestrations, Glos. and Gloucester 1643, execution of ordinances, Glos. 1643; bencher, M. Temple 1651, treas. 1658-9; commr. for militia, Glos. 1659, recusants 1675.4

Biography

George’s family had resided in Baunton, two miles from Cirencester, since the 14th century, and became lords of the manor after the dissolution of Cirencester abbey. A cousin represented the borough in 1601. George, who inherited a modest estate, became a lawyer. For two years before the Civil War he held a minor government office in succession to a younger brother, and he acted as agent to the Thames conservancy, set up by patent in 1628. For this he narrowly escaped expulsion from the Long Parliament as a monopolist. Nevertheless he originally took the parliamentary side in the Civil War and helped to garrison Cirencester in August 1642, but he was taken prisoner by Rupert in the following February and carried to Oxford where he changed sides and sat in the Parliament there. It is not clear why he was not treated as a delinquent, especially as he seems to have been a staunch Anglican. In 1654 his only daughter was married according to the rites of the Church of England. He was restored to the bench in 1656, but was named to no local commissions during the Interregnum until the return of the Rump.5

In 1660 George was defeated by Henry Powle at Cirencester. While his petition was under consideration he was listed by Lord Wharton as a friend. He was returned in 1661 apparently unopposed, and was moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament, being named to 81 committees in nine sessions. Many of these concerned legal matters, and in the first session he chaired two private bills; but he was also a strict sabbatarian. He took the chair for the bill for better observation of the Lord’s day in 1663, and twice reported amendments, most of which were rejected; and on 7 Apr. he was one of five Members ordered to bring in a fresh bill. In the same session he complained to the House that his signature had been forged on ten bonds, each of £1,000, as surety for a certain William George, a partner in the Bristol excise farm. At the request of the Commons, Lord Treasurer Southampton ordered a certificate to this effect to be entered on the pipe roll.6

In the spring of 1664 George was again appointed to the committee for the Lord’s day observance bill. He was ordered to take care of the bill to enable his unfortunate neighbour, Henry Poole, to sell the remainder of the Sapperton estate, but it was never reported. He was very active in the Oxford session, in which he was named to ten committees; but subsequently his years and the distance to Westminster began to tell on him, and he defaulted in attendance in 1666 and 1668. He probably presented the petition against hearth-tax from the blacksmiths of his constituency on 6 Nov. 1667, since he was the first Member appointed to consider it. His only recorded speech was in the debate on the misdemeanours of Sir George Carteret when, drawing on his memories of the punishment of his fellow monopolists by the Long Parliament, he denied that the House had any power of suspension, though this seems to have been merely a quibble over a word. His last committee appointment was to a canal bill on 10 Nov. 1670.7

Ever since the Cavalier Parliament met, George had been engaged in a running battle with the benchers of the Middle Temple to avoid the duty, and still more the expense, of reading. On 24 May 1661 he was granted a dispensation on the grounds of age and infirmity, but presumably he was told that neither was a sufficient excuse for not giving a feast, for in the following year he declared that he would read when Parliament was dissolved. On 28 Oct. 1664 it was resolved to ask him to vacate his chamber if he would not read. In 1669 it was assigned to (Sir) Henry Peckham, who was almost immediately advanced to the degree of the coif. George had already given up his practice, but ‘the persons who use his chamber’ remained undisturbed for another four