GREGORY, George (1670-1746), of Nottingham and Lenton, Notts.
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Family and Education
bap. 2 Feb. 1670, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of George Gregory of Nottingham and Lenton by Susanna, da. of Sir Martin Lister of Thorpe Arnold, Leics. educ. Nottingham (Mr Cudworth); St. John’s, Camb. 1688. m. 26 Dec. 1693, Susanna, da. and coh. of William Williams of Rempstone Hall, Notts. and London, 6s. (3 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. July 1688.1
Sheriff, Notts. 1694; freeman, Nottingham 1699.
Commr. forfeited estates 1716–25; storekeeper of Ordnance 1722–d.2
Gregory’s family had been established for several generations in Nottingham, where in the 1630s his great-grandfather had twice served as mayor. His father had been a cornet in Viscount Mansfield’s (Henry Cavendish†) volunteer troop of horse in 1660 and been pricked as sheriff of the county in 1666. In the 1680s, George snr. joined the opposition to the Court. The family house was searched for arms in the aftermath of the Rye House Plot, and his espousal of the Whig side in the dispute over Nottingham’s charter led to the imposition of a fine of 300 marks in 1684 for allegedly riotous conduct at the mayoral election two years previously. Subsequently, however, he became a Whig ‘collaborator’, being brought into the commission of the peace in February 1688: an appointment which might suggest Dissenting sympathies.3
Little is known of Gregory’s early life until his service as sheriff in 1693–4. He was much involved in local administration, being appointed a deputy-lieutenant in September 1694, soon after the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) began his lieutenancy. However, he showed his party allegiance by voting for both Whig candidates for the county in 1695. It was presumably with Newcastle’s backing that Gregory first contested Nottingham in a by-election in 1699. Undeterred by defeat, he petitioned the House on 20 Dec. 1699, alleging illegal practices by his opponent, Robert Sacheverell*. Although no report was made, Gregory found himself in turn the subject of a petition on 9 Mar. 1700 from Nottingham’s overseers of the poor, who complained that, despite their attending the committee of elections at Gregory’s request, he had refused to pay their ‘reasonable charges’. The upshot was that Gregory was ordered to pay their expenses, as assessed by the chairman of the committee, a decision he accepted while justifying his conduct on the grounds that the overseers had refused his agent a sight of the town’s poor books. Gregory renewed his challenge at Nottingham in January 1701, this time securing victory by a narrow margin. His only important committee appointment was on 27 Mar. 1701, when he was named to draft the Nottingham workhouse bill, before being granted leave of absence for a fortnight on 9 Apr., possibly in order to assemble his witnesses against an election petition. If that was the reason it did him little good, as he was unseated on 10 June. In the election of December 1701 he worked hard on behalf of the ducal nominees for the county, but failed to gain election himself for Nottingham. His chief problem, as he put it, was ‘the want of a proper person to join with me’ and thus avoid the disadvantages of being a single candidate. However, persistence was rewarded in the 1702 election when he was returned unopposed.4
Upon re-entering the Commons Gregory was quick to assert his privilege on 11 Nov. 1702 when, after he had distrained a tenant for non-payment of rent, an attorney recovered the goods. The matter was referred to the committee of privileges, and on the 26th Gregory was able to report to the House that the persons concerned had admitted their fault and that he did not wish to proceed further. On 9 Dec. he acted as a teller for leave for a motion to discharge the agents who had acted for the Whig Sir Isaac Rebow* in the Colchester election. On 13 Feb. 1703 he voted with the Whigs to agree with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the abjuration oath. In the following session he was a teller on 7 Mar. 1704 at the report of the recruitment bill against an extra clause relating to the coal trade. On 17 Mar. he again acted as a teller, this time following a report from the public accounts commissioners, against a question criticizing the Treasury’s mismanagement of public money in 1697. In the last session of this Parliament he was noted by Robert Harley* as likely to oppose the Tack and he did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704. On 23 Jan. 1705 he was granted leave of absence for a fortnight.
Despite having the backing of Newcastle and several other Whig lords, Gregory was defeated at the election of 1705. He did not contest the by-election in Nottingham in December 1706, a surprising decision considering that at the time a private estate bill affecting him was passing through the House. Indeed, for the next few years he seems to have abandoned parliamentary ambitions, although he remained active in local affairs, both as a deputy-lieutenant and j.p. He was active in the recruitment of troops for the war, zealously searched for arms during the invasion scare of 1708 and regularly held petty sessions in Rushcliffe hundred. In 1710 he kept Newcastle informed of the state of the Whig campaign in the county and voted for Whig candidates in the county and borough elections of that year. After the Duke’s death in 1711, Gregory supported the Whig Pelhams in their dispute with the widowed Duchess over Newcastle’s political inheritance. He stood in inauspicious circumstances at Nottingham in 1713, finishing bottom of the poll. But by 1715 his electoral prospects had been transformed, and not merely as a result of the improvement in Whig fortunes nationally, for locally Thomas Pelham-Holles, shortly to be created Duke of Newcastle, had gained control of the estates and electoral interest. Faced by a disheartened Tory opposition, Gregory and his partner solicited subscriptions from their supporters and spent heavily to secure their election. Gregory was classed as a Whig in an analysis of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments and continued to sit for Nottingham until 1727, when he transferred to another Newcastle seat at Boroughbridge, which he represented until his death. He was buried in St. Mary’s church, Nottingham, on 10 Apr. 1746, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. J. T. Godfrey, Hist. Lenton, 34; Godfrey, Notes on St. Mary’s Reg. 51; Pollbks. of Nottingham and Notts. 1710 (Thoroton Soc. Rec. Ser. xviii.) 129.
- 2. Pollbks. of Nottingham and Notts. 129.
- 3. Bailey, Annals Notts. ii. 626, 643; Vis. Notts. 1662–4 (Harl. Soc. n.s. v), 31; CSP Dom. July–Sept. 1683, pp. 61–62, 96; 1684–5, p. 54; D. Hosford, Nottingham, Nobles and North, 71–72.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1694–5, pp. 14, 299; Harl. 6846, f. 340; HMC Portland, ii. 182.
- 5. HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 23–24; Notts. Co. Recs. 18th Cent. ed. Meaby, 41, 46, 261; HMC Portland, 202; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Holles) mss Pw2 74, Gregory to Newcastle, 20 Aug. 1710; Pw2 138, William Jessop* to same, 4 July 1710; Pollbks. of Nottingham and Notts. 22, 69; Add. 70388, William Levinz* to Ld. Harley (Edward*), 11 Sept. 1714; W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 60; Godfrey, Hist. Lenton, 34.