EVELYN, George II (1678-1724), of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London, and Rooksnest, Tandridge, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 26 Oct. 1678, 2nd s. of George Evelyn I* by 2nd w., and bro. of John Evelyn I* and half-bro. of William Glanville† (formerly Evelyn). m. (1) 4 Aug. 1701, Rebecca Rollinson (d. 1703), of Covent Garden, Mdx., s.p.; (2) 26 Feb. 1707, Anne (d. 1716), da. of Hon. Robert Paston, bro. of Ld. Paston (Charles*), s.p.; (3) settlement 22 Aug. 1720, Mary (d. 1738), da. of Thomas Garth of Morden, Surr., 3 da. suc. bro. 8 Nov. 1702.
Clerk of Bd. of Green Cloth to Prince of Wales 1716–d.1
Evelyn’s entrance into public life was aided by the premature death of his childless elder brother John I* in November 1702, which saw him inherit the family’s Godstone estate at the age of 24. His first major task was to resolve the ambiguities surrounding his father’s will, the terms of which did not give Evelyn’s siblings any power to raise the substantial sums which their father had bequeathed to them. A petition requesting Parliament’s aid in this matter was read in the House on 14 Jan. 1704, and within a few months a private Act to settle the estate had been secured, guided through the House by Thomas Onslow*, Evelyn’s eventual electoral partner. Evelyn was then able to follow up this success by gaining a seat at nearby Bletchingley at the election of 1705, a victory facilitated by his ownership of several burgages in the town.
Although he voted for the Whig candidates at the subsequent county poll, in the House itself Evelyn initially betrayed rather different political sympathies. One analyst described him as a ‘Churchman’ at the outset of the Parliament, and he subsequently voted on 25 Oct. against the Court in the division on the Speakership. However, he established himself within Whig ranks in the course of that Parliament, acting as teller on 10 Feb. 1707 to block a High Tory instruction to the committee reviewing a bill for the security of the Church of England. He was accordingly identified as a Whig by two parliamentary lists of early 1708, and in the succeeding Parliament proved his party loyalty by voting in early 1709 in favour of naturalizing the poor Palatines, and by supporting the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell a year later. The entrance of John Evelyn II* into Parliament in December 1708 obscures George’s activity, although as the more experienced Member he is more likely to have acted as a teller on 24 Feb. 1709 to defeat a motion to adjourn the House, thereby ensuring that a bill to naturalize foreign Protestants was heard. His only certain appearances in the Journals during the 1708 Parliament concerned a predictable nomination to the drafting committee on the Surrey land registry bill, and the grant of a leave of absence on 1 Feb. 1710.2
Evelyn’s first experience of a contested election came in October 1710, but the strength of his local interest, when combined with the influence of his running-mate Thomas Onslow*, ensured that he did not suffer the disappointment experienced by other Whig candidates in Surrey and elsewhere. Having been cited as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’ of the 1710 Parliament, he voted against the French commerce bill in June 1713. Two months later he had to fight off another Tory challenge at Bletchingley, and in the ensuing session rallied to the Whig cause by voting on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele. His Whig allegiance, confirmed by three parliamentary lists at the outset of the George I’s reign, was subsequently rewarded by a post in the Prince of Wales’s household. He was prepared to follow Prince George into opposition in 1717, a loyalty which his royal master acknowledged in October 1724 after news of Evelyn’s death had reached Leicester House. Dying ‘of a spotted fever after many days’ illness’, he left no will and only three young daughters to succeed him. The entailed Godstone estate thus passed to his younger brother Edward, who, in 1734, sold it for £24,000 to Charles Boone†, an East Indiaman who had married Evelyn’s widow.3