JOHNSON, George (1626-83), of Bowden Park, Lacock, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 6 Mar. 1626, 1st s. of William Johnson of Bowden Park by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Baynard of Wanstrow, Som. educ. M. Temple 1645, called 1654. m. c.1659, Mary, da. of James Oeils, merchant, of London, 9s. 3da. suc. fa. 1664.1
Commr. for assessment, Dorset 1665-9, Wilts. 1666-80; j.p. Wilts. 1668-d.; freeman, Devizes 1670; bencher, M. Temple 1670, reader 1675, treas. 1679-80; member, council in the marches of Wales 1674, second justice, Chester circuit 1674-81; commr. for recusants, Wilts. 1675.2
Johnson’s father migrated from Bedfordshire to Wiltshire early in the 17th century and took a lease of Bowden Park, ten miles from Devizes, from the Fane family. He was disclaimed by the heralds at their visitation of 1623. Johnson became a lawyer, but both he and his father appear to have remained neutral in the Civil War. The foundations of his political career were laid in 1655, when Vere Bertie, brother-in-law of Sir Thomas Osborne, entered his chambers. Johnson and his father bought the freehold of Bowden Park in 1662 from the 2nd Earl of Westmorland. The estate was estimated at £800 p.a., but, according to Aubrey, Johnson trebled its value by marling and skilful management. He was an active local magistrate, but he did not neglect his legal practice, either in London or Wiltshire. He was returned for Devizes at a by-election in 1669. For a lawyer he was surprisingly inactive in the House, with only 15 committees, none of them of political importance. On 13 Feb. 1673, immediately before Bertie’s petition against the Chippenham return, he was appointed to the committee for the prevention of abuses in elections. Apart from the committee of elections and privileges in the next session, this was his last appearance in the Journals of the Cavalier Parliament. But he continued to attend the House in the interests of Osborne, now Earl of Danby and lord treasurer. ‘I cannot possibly stir’, he wrote on 30 Apr. 1675, ‘till we have acquitted my lord treasurer of all tho