SHIFFNER, George (1762-1842), of Coombe Place, nr. Lewes, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. 17 Nov. 1762, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Henry Shiffner† of Pontrylas, Herefs. by Mary, da. and coh. of John Jackson of Pontrylas, second in council, Bengal. educ. Bosma’s acad. Amsterdam 1777-8; Pastor L’Honore’s, The Hague 1778-80. m. 31 Oct. 1787, Mary, da. and h. of Sir John Bridger of Coombe Place, Suss. and Coln St. Aldwyn’s, Glos., 4s. 4da. suc. fa. 1795; fa.-in-law 1816; cr. Bt. 16 Dec. 1818.
Cornet, 11 Drag. 1782-8; capt. Suss. militia 1794-5, Lewes vol. cav. 1795.
Shiffner was the son of a Russia merchant of Baltic extraction who failed in business and settled on his wife’s estate in the country. He was carefully educated in Holland, and though his paternal inheritance was modest he made an advantageous marriage which brought him Coombe Place near Lewes. He became active in county affairs and in 1807 was a contender for a county seat. He eventually aspired to a seat for Lewes. He hoped to come in on the death of Thomas Kemp in 1811, but withdrew when the latter’s son came forward, coming in soon after on a vacancy caused by the death of the other Member, Henry Shelley. He was spared a contest then, but only just saved his seat at the general election of 1812.1
Shiffner’s chief supporter at Lewes was Thomas Pelham*, 2nd Earl of Chichester, whose family had formerly held sway there; like him, he was generally well disposed to administration, but with an independent streak of his own. Thus he voted against McMahon’s sinecure, 24 Feb. 1812, and went on to support the sinecure reform bill, 29 Mar. 1813. He was not in favour of the remodelling of administration, 21 May 1812, but voted against the leather tax, 1 July. He invariably opposed Catholic relief. He was among the Prince Regent’s guests at Brighton and in August 1813 proposed the toast to ‘Brighton—the favoured residence of the Prince Regent’ at the Pavilion ball. His first known speech in the House, 24 Feb. 1815, was in favour of agricultural protection, but of a lower threshold price than 80s., which would account for his minority vote on the subject the day before. He voted with ministers on civil list questions, 14 Apr., 8 May 1815, 24 May 1816, and on the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment bill, 29 June, 3 July 1815. On 14 June 1816 he was in their majority on the Irish vice-treasurership, but in the minority against the farmhorse tax. He rallied to ministers on the Admiralty salaries, 17 Feb. 1817; on the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and on the employment of informers, 5 Mar. 1818. The latter was his last known vote that session, but on 14 Apr. (as previously on 1 May 1817) he spoke up for the protection of the Sussex woolmen against foreign competition. He was also on a ministerial dinner list that session.
Shiffner was placed second on the poll in 1818, defeating a Whig in coalition with Sir John Shelley, whose voting record, he admitted, was ‘so strong’ compared with his, that is, much less favourable to ministers. Before the year was out he received a baronetcy. He gave a silent support to ministers in the ensuing Parliament, voting with them on the conduct of Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar., against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and in favour of the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819.
Shiffner sold Pontrylas for £55,750 on acquiring Coombe Place in 1816. He died 3 Feb. 1842.2