CHOLMONDELEY, Hon. George (1666-1733), of Cholmondeley, Cheshire
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Family and Education
b. 1666, 3rd s. of Robert Cholmondeley (d. 1681) of Cholmondeley, 1st Visct. Cholmondeley of Kells [I], by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of George Cradock of Caverswall Castle, Staffs. educ. Westminster; Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 1680, DCL 1695; I. Temple 1680. m. Apr. 1698, Elizabeth (d. 1722), da. of Col. Albert van Ruytenburg van Vlaardingen, gov. of Sas van Ghent 1685–9, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3 da. cr. Baron Newborough of Newborough [I] 12 Apr. 1715, Baron Newburgh [GB] 10 July 1716; suc. er. bro. Hugh as 2nd Earl of Cholmondeley 18 Jan. 1725.1
Cornet, indep. tp. of horse June 1685; capt. of horse, Ld. Dover’s regt. Sept. 1685, Queen Consort’s regt. 1686; lt.-col. 1 tp. Life Gds. 1689; col. tp. of horse, Gren. Gds. 1693–Feb. 1715, 1 tp. horse Gren. Gds. (3 tp. Life Gds.) Feb. 1715–d.; brig.-gen. 1697, maj.-gen. 1702, lt.-gen. 1704, gen. of horse 1727; gov. of Tilbury and Gravesend 1702–Feb. 1725, Chester ?1705, by 1710–?16, 1725–d, Hull Feb. 1725–Oct. 1732, Guernsey Oct. 1732–d.2
Groom of bedchamber to William III 1691–1702; PC 21 May 1706.3
Steward of Richmond, Surr. 1702; ld. lt. and custos rot. Cheshire 1725–d.; ld. lt. and vice-adm. N. Wales 1725–d.; freeman, Chester 1725.4
Established in Cheshire by the 12th century, the Cholmondeleys of Cholmondeley had become one of the county’s leading families, owning extensive lands thought in the 1670s to be worth £5,000 p.a. The family’s rise was acknowledged with the award of an Irish peerage in 1628, and Cholmondeley’s elder brother had succeeded to the title and estates in 1681. During James II’s reign Cholmondeley began to make his career in the army, and in 1688 he took up arms for the Prince of Orange, joining the Earl of Devonshire (William Cavendish†) at Nottingham. The Cholmondeleys’ political loyalties were, however, anything but straightforward. Cholmondeley’s brother combined support for the Revolution, a moderate court Whiggery and a courtier’s instincts when active in central politics, but with an inclination towards the Tories in Cheshire. Cholmondeley’s own loyalties were similarly complex, allowing him to accumulate offices and grants under both William and Anne and to continue his rise under the first two Hanoverians.5
Cholmondeley’s loyalty to Cheshire’s Tories was evident in his attempts to enter Parliament. This was first mooted in January 1690 when his cousin Francis Cholmondeley, Member for Newton, was expelled from the Convention for refusing to take the oaths, but the Convention was dissolved before a writ could be issued for a by-election. The general election saw Cholmondeley enter the lists in Cheshire in alliance with the non-juror Sir Philip Egerton†, but he withdrew before the county meeting in March and was instead returned for Newton on the interest of his non-juring cousin Peter Legh† of Lyme, being classed by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) in March 1690 as a probable Court supporter. Cholmondeley’s responsibilities as a soldier restricted his parliamentary activity, and his only significant act in the 1690 session came in the debate of 24 Apr. on the Abjuration when he intervened in defence of Sir Thomas Grosvenor, 3rd Bt., who had been accused of using seditious words at the Chester election of 1690. Cholmondeley informed the Commons that Secretary Shrewsbury had told him that Grosvenor ‘need not trouble himself, for this was some quarrel only about elections’. Cholmondeley served in Ireland in the summer of 1690, leading his regiment at the Boyne, and in September rumours circulated that he had been killed in action. These reports proved to be false. In December he was listed by Carmarthen as a likely supporter in the event of an attack on the lord president in the Commons, and the following April Robert Harley* classed him as a Court supporter. Cholmondeley received a Household post worth £500 p.a. at the end of 1691, and the following year again distinguished himself on the field of battle, at the cost of personal injury, at Steenkerk. He continued to serve in Flanders until the Treaty of Ryswick. Cholmondeley’s contribution to parliamentary business was slight, though he regularly appears in lists of placemen compiled in the last three years of the Parliament, and in 1693 Grascome had classed him as a Court supporter with a place. Despite this inactivity Cholmondeley was keen to remain in the Commons, but his brother’s failure to aid Peter Legh when accused of Jacobite conspiracy in 1694 led to Cholmondeley being dropped from Newton in 1695, despite his own willingness to assist Legh. An attempt was made by the Junto Whigs the Earl of Macclesfield (Charles Gerard*) and Earl Rivers (Richard Savage*) to have Cholmondeley stand for Cheshire in order to keep out the Country Whig Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Bt.*, but these suggestions received little support in the county and Cholmondeley was unable to take the shire to a poll.6
Out of Parliament, Cholmondeley concentrated on his military career. Marriage in 1698 to a Dutch connexion of the King’s brought him favour at court, and Cholmondeley later claimed that at this time King William promised him a gift of £10,000 ‘or the value thereof in some grant’. Though the money was never forthcoming, Cholmondeley did subsequently obtain various grants, and his standing at court may explain his appointment to oversee the breaking up of regiments while his own troop was specifically excepted under the terms of the Disbanding Act of 1699. His soldiers were not perhaps so fortunate as their officers, for Cholmondeley did not pass his accounts promptly and foreign Protestants who had served under him in the Flanders campaigns complained to the Commons that they had been paid neither arrears nor subsistence. Cholmondeley showed no interest in returning to the Commons but appears to have continued to support the Tory interest in Cheshire: in the county election of December 1701 he advocated the return of Sir George Warburton, 3rd Bt.*, and Sir Roger Mostyn, 3rd Bt.* Marks of official favour continued to be bestowed upon him following the accession of Queen Anne. In 1702 he was granted a lease of lands in, and the stewardship of the manor of, Richmond, and in May the same year was named, through the influence of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), governor of Tilbury. The commander-in-chief hoped in vain that the appointment would persuade Cholmondeley not to press his claims for promotion to major-general, but in June Marlborough acquiesced in Cholmondeley’s promotion. Narcissus Luttrell* reported in 1705 that Cholmondeley had succeeded Peter Shakerley* as governor of Chester, following the latter’s support for the Tack, and the following year Cholmondeley was granted forfeited estates at Catterick in Yorkshire, worth £818 p.a., belonging to the Jacobite exile Sir Roger Strickland†. In 1707 Cholmondeley petitioned for a 50-year lease of Old Palace Yard in Richmond, and the following year this request was granted.7
The fall of the Marlborough–Godolphin ministry in 1710 led Cholmondeley, at least initially, to emphasize the Tory sympathies that had been evident in his activities in Cheshire politics. In January 1711 he lobbied Earl Rivers for a place for Peter Legh’s impecunious brother Thomas II*. Cholmondeley’s identification with the Tories at this time was reflected in a report of the Commons’ proceedings he sent to Peter Legh the same month. He wrote that when the Commons considered the ‘scandalous proceedings’ of the previous ministry ‘we carried our point’, and expressed the fear that the place bill ‘will be thrown out by the Lords’. That summer Cholmondeley petitioned Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley) for a grant of the whole of the manor of Richmond, pointing out that he had had ‘the honour to serve the crown these 30 years’ and had been passed over for military advancement despite being one of the oldest lieutenant-generals, as Marlborough had preferred ‘to make room for his own creatures’. He also claimed to have spent great sums on this manor and that he was owed large arrears by the crown, but Oxford did nothing for him. In 1713 the ministers of the Elector of Hanover were informed that Cholmondeley was ‘attached to the Protestant succession’ and was one of the officers who ‘might be depended upon’, and following the Hanoverian succession he found great favour, being the first to obtain a coronation peerage from George I and rising steadily in honours. He died at Whitehall on 7 May 1733, having succeeded his elder brother to the earldom of Cholmondeley in 1725, and was buried at Malpas, Cheshire, ten days later. He was succeeded by his elder son George, who had sat for East Looe and Windsor since 1724 as a Court Whig.8
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. IGI, Cheshire; F. J. G. ten Raa, Het Staatsche Leger, vi. 257, 299; vii. 404.
- 2. Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 255–6.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 19; xvii. 953.
- 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 237; xxix. 619; Chester Freeman Rolls (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. lv), 272.
- 5. Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 682; VCH Cheshire, ii. 103, 107; Bull. John Rylands Lib. lxiv. 376; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, p. 460; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 226–8.
- 6. Chester RO, Earwaker mss CR/63/2/691/71, 73, Sir Willoughby Aston, 2nd Bt., to Sir John Crewe, 18, 26 Feb. 1689[–90]; John Rylands Univ. Lib. Manchester, Legh of Lyme mss, Francis Cholmondeley to Peter Legh, 11 Jan. 1689[–90], 12 Oct. 1695, George to Ld. Cholmondeley, c.1690, Thomas† to Peter Legh, 6 Sept. 1690, Legh Bowden to same, 28 Sept. 1690, Thomas Bankes to same, 8 June 1695, c.1695, Legh to [?], c.1695; Grey, x. 79; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 19; Challinor thesis, 182–7.
- 7. BL, Trumbull Add. mss 107, newsletter 7–17 June 1697; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 493; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 202, 205, 237, 440; xx. 276, 450; xxi. 156; xxii. 373; CJ, xii. 627; Cheshire RO, Arderne mss DAR/F/33, acct. of Cheshire co. meeting, 1 Dec. 1701, list of new justices for Cheshire, July 1702; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 72, 76, 84; Luttrell, 532; HMC Portland, v. 255–6.
- 8. Lyme Letters ed. Lady Newton, 233–4; HMC Portland, v. 18; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 478; HMC Stuart, iv. 40–41.