BEESTON, Sir George (c.1520-1601), of Beeston, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. c.1520, 1st s. of John Beeston by Katherine, da. of Sir George Calverley of the Lea, Cheshire. m. (1) Alice (d.1591) da. of Thomas Davenport of Henbury, 2s. inc. Hugh 2da.; (2) a da. of George Ireland of the Hutt, Lancs., s.p.; (3) Mary, da. of James Chetwode, wid. of one Dorington, s.p. suc. fa. 1542. Kntd. 1588.1
Gent. pens. by 1547-at least 1589; ranger of Delamere forest, Cheshire 1562; j.p. Cheshire from c.1573, j.p.q. Chester by 1594.2
According to Ormerod, this Member’s memorial states that he was 102 when he died in 1601, causing biographers to comment on his fighting against the Armada at the age of 89. More prosaically, his father’s inquisition post mortem shows that he was 22 when he succeeded to the family estates in 1542. He was a considerable landowner in Cheshire, and held leases in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire. The first mention of Beeston after he became head of the family is dated 1548, and is concerned with the siege of Boulogne and his distinguishing himself at the battle of Musselborough. His name is to be found on all the surviving lists of gentlemen pensioners from Mary’s reign, and he ‘went not with the Duke of Northumberland’ in August 1553. In Elizabeth’s reign he was a courtier, a note on a 1587 list of justices of the peace describing him as one who ‘lyeth at the court altogether’. Still, the records show him sometimes fighting at sea. In September 1562 he was one of the captains ordered to ‘keep the Narrow Seas’, and later he commanded the Dreadnought with distinction. About 1576 he was in charge of the shore defences at Gravesend.3
Like other Elizabethan gentlemen, Beeston seems to have exercised his combative instincts in local faction as well as in his country’s service. In 1574 he, his son Hugh, Lancelot Bostock and others were accused in the Star Chamber of assaulting a certain John Pryce. Giving evidence on Beeston’s behalf, his relative (Sir) George Calverley described him as ‘one of her Majesty’s gentlemen pensioners, of good desert and service to her highness, and of like worship and countenance in his county’.4
It was when he was an elderly man that Beeston reached the height of his career: in February 1588, at Queenborough, he commanded the four ‘great ships’ that were to sail with Charles Howard I, 2nd Lord Howard of Effingham, and after the Armada battle he was knighted by Howard on board the Ark Royal. In the following April he again held a command at sea.5
He died 13 Sept. 1601, and was buried at Bunbury, near Beeston. The heir, Hugh, was aged 56.6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. Ches. 3/68/11; Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 271-2; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. lix), 20.
- 2. CPR, 1560-3, p. 246.
- 3. Ormerod, ii. 263, 264; Rylands Eng. ms 309; PRO Chester 3/68/11, 86/16; PRO Index 6800, f. 69; HMC Hatfield, iv. 240; E407/1/19; Lansd. 3, f. 197; 22, f. 51; 53, f. 180; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 205, 528; Armada State Pprs. ed. Laughton (Navy Rec. Soc. i), 14, 16, 76.
- 4. St. Ch. 5/D1/13.
- 5. Laughton, loc. cit.; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 593.
- 6. Ches. 3/86/16; Ormerod, ii. 272. Information from W. J. Tighe.