CHURCHILL, George (1654-1710).
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Family and Education
Lt. RN 1666-8, 1672-4, capt. 1678-93, adm. 1702-3; ensign, Duke of York’s Dgns. 1676, lt. 1678-9; capt. King’s Dgns. 1685-Dec. 1688; cornet and maj. 3 Life Gds. 1691-2.
Commr. for assessment, Herts. and St. Albans 1689; j.p. Herts. by 1698-d., Dorset by 1701-d.; dep. ranger, Windsor Little Park 1702-d.; elder bro. Trinity House 1704-d., master 1705-7.2
Groom of the bedchamber to Prince George of Denmark 1689-1708; ld. of Admiralty 1699-1702, member of council 1702-8; commr. for naval sick and wounded 1707.3
Churchill accompanied the Earl of Sandwich (Edward Montagu I) on his mission to Madrid as a page at the age of 12, though he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the navy. On his return he became a draper’s apprentice, but was rescued from this humdrum occupation by the outbreak of the third Dutch war. His elder brother’s success at Court ensured that from 1676 he was seldom out of employment, military or naval. He was returned on his brother’s interest for St. Albans in 1685 under the new charter, when he was described as ‘a person never before seen or known by the townsmen’; but he was completely inactive in James II’s Parliament. Sunderland recommended him for re-election as court candidate in 1688.4
Churchill was one of the first naval officers to join William of Orange, and, as captain of the frigate Newcastle, stood by to assist the seizure of Plymouth citadel on 27 Nov. 1688. Lord Bath reported him ‘a very worthy gentleman and much devoted to your Highness’s service’. He was re-elected to the Convention, in which he made three recorded speeches and was appointed to only four committees, including those for the habeas corpus suspension bill, and for considering a petition from the Greenwich seamen. He was absent at sea for some time, and on 18 Nov. 1689 he was charged with extorting money for convoying merchantmen. In his defence he declared that ‘it was a voluntary gift from them, and I compelled no man’. But the House found him guilty and sent him to the Tower. He was released on his petition ten days later, and resumed his seat, being appointed to the committee to recommend provision for wounded seamen and their dependants. He continued to sit as a Tory under William III, although until his brother’s disgrace he was on active service in the navy. Under Anne, when he was chiefly occupied in naval administration, he became a Whig. He died on 8 May 1710 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His moderate fortune, estimated at £24,000, was divided between his illegitimate son and his nephew, Francis Godfrey.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: E. R. Edwards / Geoffrey Jaggar
Unless otherwise stated this biography is based on A. L. Rowse, The Early Churchills, 352-64.
- 1. Musbury par. reg.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1494; xiv. 185.
- 3. LS 13/231/24.
- 4. Churchill, Marlborough, i. 47; Soc. of Genealogists, London Drapers’ Apprentices; HMC Verulam, 101; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 276.
- 5. CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 364-5; CJ, x. 289, 290, 297; HMC Downshire, i. 319; Grey, ix. 430-1; Luttrell, vi. 580.