AMYAND, George (1720-66), of Laurence Pountney Hill, London, and Carshalton, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 26 Sept. 1720, 2nd s. of Claudius Amyand, and bro. of Claudius Amyand. educ. Westminster 1729-35. m. 9 Apr. 1746, Anna Maria, da. of John Abraham Corteen, a Hamburg merchant, 2s. 2da. cr. Bt. 9 Aug. 1764.
Asst. to Russia Co. 1756; director, E.I. Co. 1760, 1763-4. Partner in Amyand and Rucker, merchants, of Laurence Pountney Hill, and in Amyand, Staples and Mercer, bankers, of Cornhill.
Apprenticed to a London merchant in 1736, Amyand soon set up on his own, and rapidly acquired large interests in the German trade. In 1750 the appointment of his brother Claudius as undersecretary gave him a link with Administration, and in 1754 he was nominated at Barnstaple, where he received £2,000 from secret service funds through his brother’s friend John Clevland ‘to defray all expenses exceeding £1,500’.1 Amyand seems by this time to have been connected with several companies, including the Emden East India Company,2 and ‘in partnership with Uhthoff, son-in-law of Sir Joshua Vanneck’.3 He subscribed, £40,000 to the loan of 1757;4 in April 1759 was included among ‘the most known people in the City’ whom Newcastle consulted on ‘the present state of credit’;5 and in December was the third largest subscriber to the £8,000,000 loan which he with other ‘principal and most responsible men in the City’ had agreed to underwrite, his own firm and its customers taking £660,000 of the sum of £924,000 allotted to him.6 In 1761 he subscribed £480,000 to the Government loan. But no very considerable amounts of Government stock were ever held by him for any length of time; nor any Bank stock after April 1760.7 During the seven years’ war Amyand obtained important Government contracts in Germany and by 1760 was remitting a large part of the money for the allied army there, and supplying it with grain.8 His banking firm Amyand, Staples and Mercer acted as bankers for the diplomatic service in the supply of money abroad and the handling of individual accounts.
In 1761, after a ‘slight opposition’,9 Amyand was again returned for Barnstaple. He continued to support Administration after Newcastle’s resignation; retained his contracts in Germany; in April 1762 obtained new ones in Portugal; secured a subscription of £200,000 in the very profitable loan of 1763;10and in June 1763 was remitting money to Minorca, together with Nicholas Linwood.11 In May 1763 Amyand unsuccessfully solicited his fellow-merchants for an address of thanks to the King on the peace.
In March 1764 Amyand, who had been a director of the East India Company since 1763, and had ‘quarrelled with Sulivan the leader of the faction to oppose Lord Clive, suddenly proposed to give the government of Bengal with powers over their affairs to that lord’.12 An attempt was then made to put Amyand at the head of the direction in opposition to Sulivan, but on 6 Mar. Joseph Salvador wrote to Charles Jenkinson: ‘my hopes are suspended by Mr. Amyand’s informing me he has definitely agreed with Mr. Grenville not to stand [for the direction]’,13 an agreement to which Amyand adhered in spite of Salvador’s pleas.
Amyand’s connexion with Grenville became increasingly close: on 17 Mar. 1765 George Onslow wrote to Newcastle that Grenville was thought by the City to be ‘governed’ by Amyand and Peregrine Cust; and a week later sarcastically described Amyand, Cust, and Touchet as Grenville’s ‘wise counsellors’.14 Yet in July 1765 Amyand was classed by Rockingham as ‘doubtful, pro’ with the note ‘has made applications’; nor did he vote against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766. Amyand’s speeches in the House were invariably on commercial matters.
He died 16 Aug. 1766. His friend Sir James Porter wrote:15
Sir George is no more. He has left clear £160,000 sterling and perhaps more, this pursuit, keen and arduous, worked the capillaries of the brain, wore them to a filament, distorted their whole construction and dissolved the whole frame at 46.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. Namier, Structure, 243. It is therefore astonishing to find Amyand in a list of Members who voted against the Address, 13 Nov. 1755 (Add. 33034, f. 206), which must be a mistake. James West, reporting that day to Newcastle (Add. 32860, f. 471), enumerates some noteworthy votes on the Opposition side, but does not mention Amyand. Perhaps ‘George Amyand’ should read ‘George Colebrooke’, who spoke that day against the Address.
- 2. Add. 35635, f. 97.
- 3. Thus marked in a list of Members, mainly merchants, in the Lowther mss, undated but compiled between Apr. 1754 and Mar. 1755.
- 4. Devonshire mss.
- 5. Add. 32890, f. 125.
- 6. Namier, Structure, 54, 55. The rest went to people billeted on him by Newcastle.
- 7. Bank of England recs.
- 8. See H. B. Legge to Newcastle, 15 July 1758, Add. 32881, ff. 327-8; Amyand to Newcastle, 27 Jan. 1762, Add. 32834, f. 37; T52/51/2, 52/53/286, 29/34/244.
- 9. Add. 32921, f. 111.
- 10. Hist. Late Minority, 94.
- 11. Add. 38338, ff. 109-11.
- 12. Walpole, Mems. Geo. III, i. 310.
- 13. Jucker, Jenkinson Pprs. 270.
- 14. Add. 32966, ff. 55-57, 96.
- 15. HMC 9th Rep. pt. 1, 401.