ANSON, Sir George (1769-1849), of Rushal Hall, Staffs. and 5 Bulstrode Street, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 1769, 2nd s. of George Adams† (afterwards Anson) (d. 27 Oct. 1789) of Shugborough Manor, Colwich, Staffs. and Mary, da. of George Venables Vernon†, 1st Bar. Vernon. educ. Eton 1779-85. m. 27 May 1800, Frances, da. of John William Hamilton, 6s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (2 d.v.p.). KCB 2 Jan. 1815; GCB 29 July 1833. d. 4 Nov. 1849.
Cornet 16 Drag. 1786, lt. 1791; capt. 20 Drag. 1792, maj. 1794, brevet lt.-col. 1797; lt.-col. 15 Drag. 1798; brevet col. 1805; brig.-gen. 1809; maj.-gen. 1810; col. 23 Drag. 1814-18; lt.-gen. 1819; col. 4 Drag. 1827-d.; gen. 1837.
Groom of bedchamber to duke of Kent 1800, equerry 1810-20, subsequently to the duchess; a.d.c. to the king 1805; groom of bedchamber to Prince Albert 1840-1.
Lt.-gov. Chelsea Hosp. 1846-9, gov. May 1849-d.
Anson, who had distinguished himself as a cavalry commander in the Peninsula, continued to sit for Lichfield on the family interest, headed since 1818 by his nephew Thomas William, 2nd Viscount Anson, by whom he was again returned unopposed at the 1820 general election.1 A very lax attender, who was ‘no orator’ and seldom spoke, when present he voted with the Whig opposition to the Liverpool ministry on most major issues, including economy, retrenchment and reduced taxation, but unlike his nephew he never joined Brooks’s.2 He presented a Lichfield petition for the cessation of all ‘hostile proceedings’ against Queen Caroline and the restoration of her name to the liturgy, 31 Jan. 1821.3 He voted for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He divided in favour of making Leeds a scot and lot borough if it received Grampound’s seats, 2 Mar. 1821, and for parliamentary reform, 25 Apr. 1822, 24 Apr. 1823, 27 Apr. 1826. On 6 Mar. 1821 he was granted ten days’ leave on urgent private business. At the 1826 general election he topped the poll at Lichfield after a contest forced by the local independents.4 He voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and the Wellington ministry’s concession of emancipation, 6, 30 Mar. 1829. He divided for Daniel O’Connell to be allowed to take his seat unhindered, 18 May 1829. On 15 Mar. 1830 he presented a petition from Lichfield landowners against the Walsall road bill. He voted for Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830.
At the 1830 general election he offered again for Lichfield where, in response to accusations of ‘non-attendance’ levelled against him by the independent candidate, he insisted that ‘the lists of divisions’ were ‘not correct’ and that ‘in many of them, his name had been left out’. A violent contest ensued, but after a controversial compromise between the other two candidates, in which he later disclaimed any involvement by his family, the poll closed with Anson 20 votes ahead.5 He was of course listed by the Wellington ministry as one of their ‘foes’, and he divided against them on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. His nephew was appointed master of the buckhounds by the incoming Grey ministry. In March 1831 he supported calls in Staffordshire for a meeting to address the throne in support of their reform bill.6 He divided for its second reading, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he stood as a reformer and ‘an enemy to corruption of every kind’, citing the votes he had ‘given upon every question of retrenchment and reform’. He was returned unopposed.7 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, against the adjournment, 12 July 1831, and gave general support to its details. In his only known speech in this period, 17 Aug., he disputed Peel’s assertion that 40s. freeholders who qualified in respect of urban properties tended to ‘reside in the town’ and have ‘purely a town connection’, noting that many Lichfield freeholders were non-resident and had ‘nothing whatever to do with the city’, being ‘annuitants ... made merely for election purposes’. He voted for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He divided for the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, again supported its details, and voted for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry reform unimpaired, 10 May, the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish bill, 1 June. He voted with government on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., and the Russian-Dutch loan, 12, 20 July 1832 (as a pair).
Anson was returned in second place for Lichfield after a contest with two other Liberals at the 1832 general election, and re-elected in 1837 and 1841, shortly after which he retired. ‘Old Sir George Anson’, as he was called by Queen Victoria, was ‘delighted’ to be appointed a groom of the bedchamber to Prince Albert in 1840.8 ‘Universally loved and respected for his noble, just, and charitable bearing’, he served as lieutenant-governor of Chelsea Hospital from 1846, and as governor from 25 May 1849, and died there that November.9 By his will, dated 1 Feb. 1849, the benefits of a trust fund established by his marriage settlement and his personalty were divided equally between his surviving children.10
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Philip Salmon
- 1. Lichfield Mercury, 10 Mar.; Staffs. Advertiser, 11 Mar. 1820.
- 2. Black Bk. (1823), 135; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 448.
- 3. The Times, 1 Feb. 1821.
- 4. Dyott’s Diary, i. 379; Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, 12, 19, 26 June; Staffs. Advertiser, 10, 17, 24 June 1826.
- 5. Lichfield Mercury, 30 July; Staffs. Mercury, 7 Aug.; Staffs. Advertiser, 7 Aug. 1830; Bodl. GA Staffs. b.6, election cuttings.
- 6. Lichfield Mercury, 18, 25 Mar. 1831.
- 7. Ibid. 29 Apr. 1831; Bodl. GA Staffs. b.6.
- 8. Victoria Letters (ser. 1), i. 254.
- 9. Gent. Mag. (1850), i. 88.
- 10. PROB 11/2103/898; IR26/1828/911.