RICE, George (?1724-79), of Newton Castle, Carm.
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Family and Education
b. ?1724, o.s. of Edward Rice, M.P., by Lucy, da. of John Morley Trevor of Glynde, Suss. (cos. once removed of the Duke of Newcastle). educ. Ch. Ch. Oxf. 26 Jan. 1742, aged 17. m. 16 Aug. 1756, Cecil, da. and h. of William Talbot, Earl Talbot and Baron Dinevor (she suc. as Baroness Dinevor 27 Apr. 1782), 3s. 3da. suc. gd.-fa. Griffith Rice, M.P., 1728.
Ld. lt. Carm. 1755- d.; ld. of Trade Mar. 1761-70; P.C. 4 May 1770; treasurer of the chamber 1770- d.
The Rices of Newton were one of the leading Whig families in Carmarthenshire. George Rice’s grandfather represented the county 1701-10, and his father was returned in 1722 but unseated. In June 1747 it was reported that Rice, though absent in Vienna, would be nominated for Carmarthen borough as an Administration candidate, in opposition to the Tory, Sir John Philipps of Picton, but the suggestion came to nothing.1
In 1754 Rice, returned for Carmarthenshire after an expensive contest, was listed by Dupplin among ‘country gentlemen, pro’. The following year he was active on Newcastle’s behalf in the Radnorshire by-election, and in April 1755 appears in the secret service list as having received £173 ‘for Radnorshire’.2 At the general election of 1761 Rice, re-elected for Carmarthenshire without opposition, appears to have again acted as one of Newcastle’s managers in Radnorshire. But next, through his father-in-law Lord Talbot, he became connected with Bute. Shortly before Easter 17613 Talbot wrote to George Bubb Dodington that he had, on behalf of Rice then in Wales, accepted a commissionership of the Board of Trade—
the offer springs spontaneously from Lord Bute, entirely unsolicited by me or unhinted by the Duke of Newcastle who will be much hurt that a man should be placed in office without his assistance that he has known from an infant, and for whom he has constantly professed the affection of a parent.
And Newcastle did complain to Bute that Rice, ‘though a very good friend and relation’ of his, had been appointed without his knowledge.4 Rice’s attendance at the Board, at first slightly below average, became increasingly diligent.5 On 16 Nov. 1763, in his first reported speech in the House, he answered an attack on the system of granting lands in North America;6 during the next two years his attendance at the Board was assiduous, and he spoke several times in the House on its affairs.
When in June 1765 negotiations for a new ministry were in progress, Rockingham, commenting on a list of suggested changes, noted against Rice’s name:7 ‘A young man of abilities—is son-in-law to Lord Talbot. Query whether he should be removed.’ In the end Rice was continued at the Board of Trade, but his attendance became less frequent; and though in office, he voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766. He remained in office under Chatham, but voted against the Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, and was absent on nullum tempus, 17 Feb. 1768.
Returned unopposed for Carmarthenshire in 1768 and 1774, Rice steadily supported the Grafton and North Administrations, though he paired in favour of Grenville’s Election Act, 25 Feb. 1774. He took a considerable interest in American affairs, and strongly opposed concessions to the colonies. He told the House, 26 Jan. 1769: ‘America does not come in aid to this country. She is a burden to her so long as faction prevails at Boston.’8 And on 7 Mar. 1774:9 ‘The claims and pretensions of the Americans have gone beyond all example.’ The question now was
whether the colonies were any longer to belong to Great Britain; that the best blood of this country had been sacrificed in their defence, and yet that the expected advantages were not to be maintained without exerting our sovereignty.
And on Rose Fuller’s motion for a committee to consider the tea duty, 19 Apr. 1774, Rice said he could not10
submit to anything which tends to an appearance of a doubt of the supremacy of this country. This cannot be a proper moment for our entering on this consideration. The Americans have ever advanced in demands as we have yielded to their complaints. Taxation and supremacy must go together. I must say the Americans do not rest their complaints merely on taxation; they like no control at all ... I wish for no new tax, but that which remains must not be given up.
Rice spoke several times in defence of North and his Administration. On 16 April 1777 he ‘affirmed from his own knowledge and by everything he could learn from others that all possible frugality had been practised in every branch of expenditure on the civil list revenue’. But when on 26 Nov. 1778 Thomas Townshend moved an amendment to the Address ‘to inquire by what fatal councils and unhappy systems of policy this country has been reduced ... to such a dangerous state’, Rice ‘did not object to an inquiry; he thought it necessary’.11
Rice died 2 Aug. 1779.12
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Mary M. Drummond
- 1. Carm. Antiq. Soc. 24, p. 3.
- 2. Namier, Structure, 436.
- 3. HMC Var. vi. 48-49.
- 4. Add. 32919, ff. 285-9.
- 5. Basye, Board of Trade, 1748-82, vi. pp. 224-6.
- 6. Harris’s ‘Debates’.
- 7. Rockingham mss.
- 8. Cavendish’s ‘Debates’, Egerton 216, ff. 126-7.
- 9. Walpole, Last Jnls. i. 312.
- 10. Brickdale’s ‘Debates’.
- 11. Almon, vii. 85; xi. 4.
- 12. Gent. Mag. 1779, p. 423, gives his d. as 2 Aug.; Burke has 3 Aug.