FLETCHER, Sir George, 2nd Bt. (c.1633-1700), of Hutton Hall, Cumb.
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Family and Education
b. c.1633, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Sir Henry Fletcher, 1st Bt., of Hutton by Catherine, da. of Sir George Dalston† of Dalston, Cumb. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1651. m. (1) lic. 27 Feb. 1655, Alice, da. of Hugh Hare, 1st Baron Coleraine [I], 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da.; (2) c.1664, Lady Mary Johnston, da. of James, 1st Earl of Hartfell [S], wid. of Sir George Grahme, 2nd Bt., of Netherby, Cumb., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 24 Sept. 1645.1
Sheriff, Cumb. 1657–8, 1679–80; commr. for oyer and terminer, Northern circuit 1665, charitable uses, Westmld. 1670, recusants, Cumb. and Westmld. 1675; alderman, Carlisle 1662–87, by Nov. 1689–?d., mayor 1670–1, 1680–1; freeman, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1680.2
Asst. gov. Linen Corp. 1690–?d.3
The financial success of Fletcher’s grandfather, a Cockermouth merchant, had allowed the family to purchase numerous properties in the north and Fletcher succeeded his father to a considerable estate, primarily in Cumberland but including holdings in Westmorland, county Durham and Yorkshire. He assumed a role in county government during the Interregnum which continued after 1660, and his standing in Cumberland is clear: having gained a county seat in 1661, he retained it at all but two of the elections until his death. During the Restoration period Fletcher developed a close political alliance with the Musgraves of Edenhall and at the Revolution assisted the attempts of Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt.*, to effect the peaceful surrender of the Catholic troops garrisoned at Carlisle, and to frustrate the desire of Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. II*, to raise the county’s militia. Fletcher served for Cumberland in the Convention, and claimed in February 1690 that he had intended to retire from the House at the next election ‘but my friends since have overruled me, having thoughts that the Church and state may have more than ordinary concern in the new Parliament, there being a great party appeared in the last that were not thought friends to either’. Returned unopposed, Fletcher was classed as a Whig in Lord Carmarthen’s (Sir Thomas Osborne†) analysis of the new House. In December 1690 Carmarthen included Fletcher as a likely supporter in the event of an attack upon him in the Commons, and an analysis of the House in the papers of Robert Harley*, dating from April 1691, classed him as a Court supporter. During the 1694–5 session Fletcher was listed as one of the ‘friends’ of Henry Guy* in connexion with the attack upon Guy in the Commons at this time, but he otherwise made little impact upon the House. He appears to have been preoccupied in the early 1690s by the affairs of his stepson, Lord Preston (Sir Richard Grahme†). Following Preston’s arrest for treason, Fletcher and Charles Howard* acted as intermediaries in seeking mercy for him. Though initially unsuccessful in obtaining a full confession from him, Fletcher wrote to his own brother-in-law Sir Daniel Fleming† in January 1691 that ‘the business has been very bad, though now things have a better face, my lord being endeavouring to make his peace with the government which I hope he may effect, and deserve his life’. At length Preston confessed, though Lord Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce†) wrote of Preston that
his father-in-law and Dr Wake, his late chaplain and since archbishop of Canterbury, did far from well in conducting him, at late hours to Kensington, and being in drink he said whatever they desired, and the next morning being cool he knew scarce where he had been and denied all.
In 1694 Howard and Fletcher were granted a lease of Preston’s forfeited estates in Cumberland and Yorkshire for 99 years at a rent of £800 p.a., with the proviso that £500 p.a. be paid to Preston’s wife.4
Fletcher was returned unopposed at the 1695 election, and his only recorded involvement in a legislative matter came with his nomination on 5 Dec. to prepare a bill to regulate proceedings in the courts of equity. In the new year Fletcher clearly demonstrated his support for the Court. He was forecast as likely to vote with the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, signed the Association promptly in February and in March voted to support the Court in fixing the price of guineas at 22s. A month into the following session, on 24 Nov., Fletcher wrote of his hope that the proceedings upon the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† would ‘make people afraid to commit treason’, and the following day he voted for the third reading of the bill of attainder. In December Fletcher confided to Sir Daniel Fleming that he was ‘not fond of the capitation’, and in the new year appears to have concerned himself with the details of the new land tax assessment, being particularly aware of the attempts of ‘the southern men’ to alter the geographical distribution of the tax. A concern for the local consequences of land tax legislation was also evident in the final session of the Parliament, as on 11 Mar. 1698 he supported William Fleming’s* attempts to have the land tax assessments levied upon wards as well as counties, a proposal intended to benefit parts of Westmorland. Following his return at the 1698 election Fletcher was listed as a Court supporter, and on 18 Jan. 1699 he voted in favour of the standing army. Little more is known of his contribution to this Parliament, though in February 1700 the Commons was informed of the grant of Preston’s estates to Fletcher and Howard (now Earl of Carlisle), and that the two owed £1,006 5s. in rent arrears to the Treasury for this estate. Perhaps because of this parliamentary anonymity Fletcher was classed as doubtful in an analysis of the Commons dating from the early months of 1700. He nevertheless made it known in April 1700 that he intended to stand at the next general election, but died on 23 July, and was succeeded in his estates and title by his elder son Henry†, a Catholic.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. Hutchinson, Cumb. i. 507; Flemings in Oxford (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xliv), 358.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 697, 789; S. Jefferson, Hist. Carlisle, 447; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Carlisle bor. recs Ca/2/2, f. 4; Ca/4/139; Reg. of Freemen Newcastle-upon-Tyne, ed. Dodds 101.
- 3. Sel. Charters, 213.
- 4. Hist. Jnl. xxvii. 290–1; Cumbria RO (Kendal), Le Fleming mss WD/Ry 3733–4, Fletcher to Sir Daniel Fleming†, 13 Feb. ; HMC Finch, iii. 1, 313; CSP Dom. 1690–1, pp. 228, 272; HMC Le Fleming, 313; Ailesbury Mems. 278; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1569; x. 134, 485–6, 763.
- 5. HMC Le Fleming, 344–5, 347, 348, 350; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale D/Lons/W2/2/3, James* to Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*, 20 Apr. 1700; CJ, xiii. 239–40.