BOWYER, Sir George, 2nd and 6th Bt. (1783-1860), of Radley, Berks. and Denham Court, Bucks.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 3 Mar. 1783, 1st s. of Sir George Bowyer, 1st and 5th Bt.†, of Radley by 2nd w. Henrietta, da. and h. of Adm. Sir Piercy Brett† of Beckenham, Kent; bro. of Henry Bowyer*. educ. Sunbury;1 Eton 1796-9; Christ Church, Oxf. 1801. m. 19 Nov. 1808, Anne Hamond, da. of Capt. Sir Andrew Snape Douglas, RN, 3s. 2da. suc. fa. as 2nd and 6th Bt. 9 Dec. 1800.2
Capt. Berks. militia 1803, lt.-col. 3 Berks. militia 1809.
Bowyer was reported to have canvassed Sudbury in 1802 (when still under age), but he did not persevere. In 1807 he declined to stand for Abingdon, professing reluctance to disturb the sitting Member and a distaste for ‘the inconvenience of being representative of a scot and lot borough only a mile or two’ from Radley, but was returned instead, after a contest, for Malmesbury, on the Estcourt interest.3
His only recorded votes during the first three sessions of the 1807 Parliament were against the mutiny bill, 14 Mar., for a larger grant to Maynooth, 29 Apr. 1808, and against Perceval’s exculpatory motion on the Duke of York, 17 Mar. 1809. In November 1809 he was asked by leaders of the contending factions at Abingdon to come forward for the current vacancy as a peacemaker candidate and agreed to do so. He vacated Malmesbury and seemed set for a quiet return when an opponent unexpectedly appeared and, by threatening to petition against his alleged infringement of the Treating Act, forced him to substitute his younger brother Henry. Having ascertained that there was no danger of a retrospective petition Bowyer took over the seat in June 1811 and easily retained it against token opposition at the general election of 1812.
On 30 Mar. 1812 Bowyer welcomed the prospect of the accession to the government of Lord Sidmouth, a friend and neighbour, though he stated his uneasiness at the anti-Catholic bias of the proposed new arrangement.4 He continued to take an independent line on questions of economical reform, voting against the sinecure paymastership, 22 and 24 Feb., for the sinecure offices bill, 4 May, against the Admiralty registrars bill, 19 June, and the leather tax, 26 June, but was in the ministerial minority against Stuart Wortley’s motion for the formation of a stronger administration, 21 May 1812, and in the list compiled after the general election was reckoned a supporter of government.
Bowyer voted for Canning’s motion to consider Catholic relief, 22 June 1812, and set out detailed proposals for securing adequate safeguards for the protestant establishment in a treatise published the following year.5 He voted for Grattan’s motion, 2 Mar., and for the Catholic relief bill, 13 and 24 May 1813. These were Bowyer’s only recorded votes in the 1812 Parliament. It seems likely that serious financial problems, the result of a vain attempt to find coal on his estate, put a premature end to his parliamentary career. He negotiated unsuccessfully for the sale of Radley to the Duke of Wellington in 1814 and eventually leased it to a nonconformist school, the forerunner of Radley College, founded in 1847.6 He apparently did not speak in debate and gave up his seat at the dissolution of 1818.
Bowyer, whose eldest son and heir became a Catholic in 1850, never mastered his financial difficulties, was outlawed and died at Dresden on 1 July 1860.7
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. Essex RO, Braybrooke mss C5/28.
- 2. Gent. Mag. (1800), ii. 1221.
- 3. The Times, 26 Mar. 1802; Berks. RO, Preston mss, Bowyer to Sellwood, 12 Nov. 1809.
- 4. Sidmouth mss.
- 5. Resolution of the House of Commons considered, pp. v-vii.
- 6. VCH Berks. ii. 278; iv. 410, 412; Add. 38366, f. 1.
- 7. Add. 28673, f. 399.