WARREN, George (1735-1801), of Stockport and Poynton, Cheshire
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Family and Education
b. 7 Feb. 1735, o.s. of Edward Warren of Poynton, by Elizabeth, da. of George Cholmondeley, 2nd Earl of Cholmondeley. m. (1) May 1758 at Edinburgh (after elopement) Jane (d. Dec. 1761), da. and h. of Thomas Revel, M.P., of Fetcham, Surr., 1da. who m. 1777 Thomas James, 7th Visct. Bulkeley [I]; (2) 4 Feb. 1764, Frances, da. of Sir Cecil Bisshopp, 6th Bt., s.p.1 suc. fa. 1737; cr. K.B. 26 Mar. 1761.
Ensign 3 Ft. Gds. 1755; lt. and capt. 1756; ret. 1758.
When Warren came of age the annual value of his estates in Cheshire and Lancashire (some in the immediate neighbourhood of Lancaster) was estimated at £6,500 p.a., but they were heavily encumbered; and c.1750 he rebuilt Poynton Lodge on a grand scale. His marriage cleared the encumbrances—Jane Revel’s reputed fortune was £200,000, and her real estate, in a proposed settlement, was put at £4,000 p.a.2 In December 1758, Warren was returned unopposed for Lancaster, on an agreement with Francis Reynolds, the other Member: if ‘returned to serve ... in the present Parliament’ in the room of the late Edward Marton, he would at the next general election ‘at his own sole expense’ procure a seat for Reynolds’s son Thomas, or pay £2,000 toward his election expenses.3
Some time in 1759 Warren wrote to Newcastle:4
Mr. Warren, Member for Lancaster, who has always been zealously attached to the King, and has in his own and his wife’s right, the heiress of Mr. Revel, near £16,000 p.a., is very desirous of having the honour of being a Knight of the Bath.
The favour shewn by his Majesty to Mr. Warren will be very agreeable to Sir Richard Grosvenor and Mr. Egerton.
But when on 16 Sept. 1759 Newcastle placed the application before the King, George II
flew into a passion, said he was the other day a lieutenant in the Guards, and then said these words: What! do you think I dote? Pray don’t come to me with such proposals as these.5
In the new reign Warren attached himself to Bute; secured his K.B.; supported the peace preliminaries; and raised fancy claims to the ancient earldom of Warren and Surrey (in a letter to Bute, probably of 25 Feb. 1768,6 he wrote that since Bute had resigned he had no friend from whom to solicit the peerage). But then under the Grenvilles, Warren went with the Opposition; voted with them over Wilkes and general warrants; joined Wildman’s Club; was listed by Newcastle, 10 May 1764, as a ‘sure friend’; as ‘pro’ by Rockingham, July 1765; and on 2 June 1766 was named by Newcastle among those ‘proposed to be made peers’.7 But under the Chatham Administration he was classed in every list as an adherent; he voted with them on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, and the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768.
There is no record of his having ever spoken in the House; according to the Manchester Mercury of 29 Dec. 1767, he ‘never distinguished himself ... either by attending the general business of Parliament, or particular committees’. Still, two he must have attended diligently. On 15 Jan. 1766, a petition came before the House, promoted by Warren and Charles Roe, a Macclesfield industrialist, for a canal to run from the River Weaver near Northwich, by Knutsford and Macclesfield, skirting a rich but little developed coalfield on Warren’s Poynton estate, and reaching the Mersey at his manor of Stockport.8 The same day a rival scheme was submitted by another coal magnate, the Duke of Bridgwater, for extending his canal to meet the Grand Trunk Canal, with a branch added from Sale Moor to Stockport. The Duke won, and Warren had to be content with an income of under £3,000 p.a. from his mines, which, when properly developed, about 1845 yielded nearly £20,000.
Warren sought to levy feudal dues on the modern industrial development of Stockport: he tried to establish a manorial monopoly for his corn mills and bakehouses, to exact tolls on imported flour, malt, meal, and cheese, to enforce his authority over the Stockport market, etc. He tried to enclose parts of the commons or wastelands for industrial development, and engaged in cotton manufactures. By lawsuits he gained some points and a great deal of unpopularity, which spread beyond Stockport: in 1769, Lord and Lady Molyneux, very popular in Lancashire, had ‘some ground to recover that they have lost by coming with Sir George and Lady Warren to Manchester’. Sir Edward Blackett, writing to his son William in May 1785, describes Warren as ‘a strange, shabby fellow’.9
Similarly at Lancaster he rendered himself unpopular. ‘The Lancaster people are very angry with Mr. Reynolds’, wrote Mary Kenyon on 5 Dec. 1767,10 ‘for selling the borough to Sir George, which they say he certainly did, when they offered to bring in anybody he would recommend, thinking he would bring in his own son.’ And Lord Frederick Cavendish, on 17 Nov. 1767, to his nephew, William, 5th Duke of Devonshire, then on his Grand Tour: Warren had grown so unpopular that a meeting of merchants declared Lord John Cavendish a candidate—‘so poor John is drawn into a contested election’. But a week before the poll he gave up the contest, and Warren was returned unopposed.
Between 1768 and 1779 Warren voted with the Government, and when absent from the division on the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779, was still classed by Robinson as a Government supporter. But on 3 Mar. 1779 over Keppel he voted with the Opposition, and did so in every single division from 21 Feb. to 24 Apr. 1780. In a ‘State of Representation’ drawn up in August 1782, Robinson wrote about Lord Bulkeley: ‘He goes with his father-in-law, Sir George Warren, and was by him carried against the old Administration on his disappointment.’ Disappointment over the peerage, for years past Warren’s principal concern,11 probably played a part in the change; and between 1779 and 1782 he and Bulkeley voted the same way; but it is uncertain which of the two ‘carried’ the other into opposition.
In 1774 Warren was chosen unopposed, but did not stand for Lancaster in 1780. He was returned by Bulkeley for Beaumaris, but whereas Bulkeley supported Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, Warren voted against them. ‘I have no hold upon him, although I bring him into Parliament’, wrote Bulkeley to Shelburne, 21 Feb. 1783.12 Still, although listed among Fox’s friends, Warren was absent from the divisions on the East India bill, and from those of January-March 1784. He did not stand at the general election; was returned for Lancaster by a narrow majority at a by-election in 1786; and in the Regency crisis voted against the Government.
Warren died 31 Aug. 1801. ‘His remains were interred in the family vault ... with great funeral pomp. Except those of the royal family, the procession was one of the most costly and attractive that has been seen for several years.’13
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. Gent. Mag. 1801, p. 861; Dear Miss Heber, ed. Bamford.
- 2. Ex inf. Miss P. M. Giles.
- 3. Glos. RO, Ducie mss.
- 4. Add. 33055, f. 281.
- 5. Newcastle to Hardwicke, Add. 32897, f. 148.
- 6. Bute mss.
- 7. Add. 33001, f. 264.
- 8. W. H. Chaloner, ‘Charles Roe of Macclesfield’, Trans. Lancs. Cheshire Antiq. Soc. lxii. 145-56.
- 9. Sir Wm. Meredith to Duke of Portland, 29 Oct. 1769, Portland mss; Blackett mss, Matfen.
- 10. HMC Kenyon, 516 (misdated).
- 11. Gent. Mag. 1801, p. 862.
- 12. Lansdowne mss.
- 13. Gent. Mag. loc. cit.