VERNON, George (c.1636-1702), of Sudbury Hall, Derbys.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c.1636, 1st s. of Henry Vernon of Sudbury by Muriel, da. and h. of Sir George Vernon†, j.c.p. 1632-9, of Haslington, Cheshire. educ. I. Temple, entered 1652; Christ Church, Oxf. 1655. m. (1) c.1660 Margaret (d. 12 Aug. 1675), da. and h. of Edward Oneley of Catesby, Northants., 2s. d.v.p. 5da.; (2) Dorothy (d.1680), da. of Sir Robert Shirley, 4th Bt., of Staunton Harold, Leics., 2da.; (3) 1681, Catherine, da. of Sir Thomas Vernon†, Haberdasher, of Coleman Street, London, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1659.1
Commr. for militia, Cheshire and Derbys. Mar. 1660; lt.-col. of militia ft. Derbys. Mar. 1660-?61; j.p. Cheshire July 1660-80, Derbys. July 1660-?71, 1673-80, Feb. 1688-95, 1698-d., Staffs. 1665-?71, 1673-?83, 1692-5, 1699-d.; dep. lt. Derbys. July 1660-80, Feb. 1688-d., commr. for assessment, Derbys. Aug. 1660-80, 1689-90, Cheshire 1664-74, 1689; commr. for corporations, Derbys. 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662, sheriff 1663-4; ranger, Needwood forest 1670-d.; commr. for recusants, Derbys. and Staffs. 1675; capt. of horse, Debys. militia 1690-2.2
Vernon was descended from William Vernon, chief justice of Chester under Henry III, and from Sir Richard Vernon, Speaker in 1426. His father seems to have been remarkably unfortunate in the Civil War. He was in arms for Parliament, raised 300 men for their service and served on the Cheshire county committee from 1643 to 1648. But after being plundered and imprisoned by the Royalists, he sued out a pardon at Oxford, with the result that he was 'indicted' of high treason for adhering to Parliament ... and at the same time had his estate sequestered to the Parliament'. Charged by a single witness with 'words pretended to be spoken when he and his estate were under the power of the enemy', and with resorting to royalist garrisons, thoguh he was taken there as a prisoner, he was ordered to pay a £500 fine, but does not seem to have done so. Vernon, soon after succeeding to an estate of £3,000 p.a. or more, was described as 'loyal and very orthodox. A prudent young man, sober and active, ... near allied to most of the gentry and mobility of Staffordshire, Derbyshire, he was concerned in the supression of the Anabaptist rising, and in the following year, when John Frescheville* was raised to the peerage, he was 'very inclinable to serve the county' in Parliament, but stood down in favour of John Milward*. On Milward's death in 1670, however, he stood the pollas court candidate against William Sacheverell*, but was defeated by a wide margin. Vernon lodged a petition with the House, but withdrew it on receiving the advice that 'the most that can be expected will be the punishment of the miscarriages, if they can be proved'. To add to his chagrin, a private bill to free his Cheshire property from tithe was lost in the Commons on its second reading a month later, and he appears to have been temporarily dropped from the commission of the peace.3
Vernon sat for the borough in the three Exclusion Parliaments. At the first election of 1679 he defeated the Presbyterian Sir John Gell*, and was marked 'base' on Shaftesbury's list. He was probably appointed to five committees, of which the most important was for disbanding the army. He made no speeches, but may have been converted to exclusion by debates in the House, for he voted for the bill. He was re-elected without opposition in August, though ready, if necessary, to surrender his seat to Sacheverell, who had 'so well served the country'. vernon became one of the 'hot and violent conductors' of the second Exclusion Parliament, in which he was named to 20 committees, acted as teller in three divisions, and made 16 speeches. He was appointed to the committee to draw up the address complaining of evil counsellors, and moved the second reading of the exclusion bill. He hoped that
we may not meet with any interruption in the perfecting of those bills which are necessary for the good of the King and the kingdom ... to make his Majesty's government not only more easy to him, but so formidable as that he may become a terror to his enemies and in a capacity to give assistance to his friends, both at home and abroad.
He joined in the demand for the dismissal of Judge Jeffreys for 'traducing of petitions', and helped to draw up the address. He was also concerned in the reply to the King's demand for supply to maintain Tangier:
I am much afraid of Tangier, but more of a Popish successor. By the one we may lose something of trade; but by the other our religion and all that we have stands in danger. And therefore until we are secured as to that, for my own part I do not think myself concerned in anything else. For these two years last past there hath been talk of expedients to protect us against Popery; I believe it was only to quiet our thoughts while Popery steals on upon us.
He fell violently upon the trimmers. In the deabte on Halifax (Sir George Savile*), he snarled: 'I would rather have his head than any Popish lord's in the Tower'. He helped to draw up the address for his dismissal, and acted as teller for the ayes. On 19 Nov. he moved that Edward Seymour* should be ordered to attend to answer the charges which he and Miles Fleetwood* undertook to prove. He was among those appointed to prepare the impeachment and acted as teller against the addition of Tory (Sir) Christopher Musgrave* to the committee. He was named to the committee to bring legislation for security against arbitrary power, and seconded the motion of Sir William Jones* for an address insisting on exclusion, which he helped to draft. On 3 Jan. 1681 he was again ordered to prepare evidence against Seymour. He declared his confidence that the Lords would not reject exclusion again, at least without a conference, exclaiming rather helplessly: 'The King is against the bill because the Lords are, and the Lords are against because the King is so'. He urged the dismissal of Laurence Hyde*, and was appointed to search for precedent for the imprisonment of all persons under impeachment. Vernon was re-elected at the head of the poll, but appointed only to the committee of elections and privileges in the Oxford Parliament.4
After the Rye House Plot, some of Vernon's local political enemies produced reliable evidence of his saying 'that before the Duke of York should coem to the crown, he should be seen at the head of ten thousand men'; but no action was taken against him, and he was not molested during Monmouth's rising. In 1688 he followed Sacheverell and the Earl of Huntingdon into the ranks of the Whig collaborators, toasting the birth of the prince of Wales, and moving for a congratulatory address from Derby. He was restored to the local office and approved as court candidate, but on 1 Nov. he wrote, as one of the only two deputy lieutenants in country who had taken the Test, to Lord Preston (Sir Richard Grahme*) that it was 'disgustful to the country in general to obey any orders or to act under any Roman Catholic'. He was not re-elected until 1698, when he voted with the country party. He died on 13 July 1702, aged 66, and was buried at Sudbury. His son sat for Staffordshire as a Tory in the last Parliament of Queen Anne.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: E. R. Edwards
- 1. Collins, Peerage, vii. 406-7; The Topographer, ii. 220-1; Sudbury par. reg.
- 2. Stowe 195, f. 151v; Add. 34306, f. 9; J. P. Yeatman, Recs. Chesterfield, 138; Shaw, Staffs. i. 88; Vernon mss 18/90.
- 3. Ormerod, Cheshire, i. 61; SP23/223, ff. 827, 833; W. H. Black, Docquets of Letters Patent, 231; Gentry of Staffs. (Staffs. Rec. Soc. ser. 4, ii) 31; CSP Dom. 1663-4, pp. 663-4; Add. 34306, f. 46v; Vernon mss 18/24, Lord Devonshire to Vernon, 27 Nov. 1670; CJ, ix. 197, 216; HMC 8th Rep. 152.
- 4. Add. 6705, f. 101; Spencer mss, Hickman to Halifax, 15 Aug. 1679; HMC Ormonde, n.s. v. 504, 561; CJ, ix. 650, 653, 655, 644, 683, 703; Clarke, Jas. II, i. 609; Exact Coll. Debates, 82, 115, 252; Grey, vii. 462; viii. 22, 35; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 99, 111, 113.
- 5. HMC Coke, ii. 344; CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 209; 1687-9, p. 273; HMC Hastings, ii. 185, 187; HMC 7th Rep. 412; Le Neve, Mon Angl. 1700-15, pp. 43-44.