CHOUTE (CHUTE), Sir George, 1st Bt. (1665-1722), of Surrenden, Bethersden, Kent
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Family and Education
bap. 10 Feb. 1665, posth. and o. s. of Sir George Choute of Hauxhill and Surrenden by Cicely (d. 1675), da. and coh. of Ralph Freke of Hannington, Wilts. unm. suc. fa. at birth; cr. Bt. 17 Sept. 1684.
Freeman, Hastings 1695, Winchelsea 1696.1
Choute’s Kentish forebears could be traced back to early Tudor times. His grandfather and namesake had been an ardent Royalist and one of the Cavalier promoters of the ‘Kentish Petition’ of 1642, while his father, knighted in the early weeks of the Restoration, had seemed destined for a promising career in the service of the court before smallpox killed him at the age of 23. Born after his father’s death, Choute was still a minor in 1684 when created a baronet, an honour which both recalled his family’s past loyalty to the crown and sought his goodwill. The new status assured him also of a position in the forefront of county affairs, yet he had to wait until 1689 before being nominated to the lieutenancy and to the bench. His opportunity to enter Parliament came in August 1696 when the corporation of Winchelsea invited him to succeed his recently deceased (maternal) uncle, Colonel Robert Austen I*, as one of their representatives. His family ties with the previous Member and the proximity of his estate to the borough promised a degree of continuity and made him an appropriate choice. After he was elected unopposed in November, his sojourn in the House proved brief and unremarkable. A consistent pro-Court stance was retrospectively noted in a comparative listing of the new and old Houses of Commons drawn up shortly after the 1698 election. The only specific occasion on which he is known to have given the administration his support, however, was in the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† on 25 Nov. 1696. The sole reference to him in the Journals records a fortnight’s leave of absence granted on 23 Dec. 1697. He made no apparent effort to stand for re-election in 1698.2
Choute’s Whiggish sympathies are most clearly seen in his approbation of the celebrated Kentish petition of May 1701 urging the Commons to fulfil its obligation of supporting the war. In early July, upon the release of the five signatories who had been arrested on Tory initiative, Choute and Sir Thomas Roberts, 4th Bt.*, headed a delegation of local gentlemen and freeholders to welcome their return. Two of the five, William and Thomas Colepep(p)er, were in fact Choute’s distant kinsmen through his grandmother’s family. Well in advance of the 1705 election he was known to be harbouring ‘pretensions’ to one of the county seats but abandoned these thoughts in June 1704 as stronger Whig candidates began staking their claims. Thereafter, he showed no further interest in re-entering Parliament, but confined his attentions to parochial and magisterial chores. He is recorded as having voted Whig in the 1713 contest in Kent. He died unmarried on 4 Feb. 1722 and was buried at Bethersden, having bequeathed his estate to Edward Austen, his first cousin once removed. A monumental inscription praises him as a gentleman of archetypal virtue: ‘a true lover of the interest of his country, a generous neighbour, a kind master and a faithful friend’.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. Hastings Mus., Hastings ct. bk. C/A(a)2, f. 289; E. Suss. RO, Winchelsea ct. bk. WIN 60, p. 50.
- 2. Arch. Cant. xviii. 55–57, 67–70; A. M. Everitt, Community of Kent and Gt. Rebellion 1640–60, 95–107; CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 206; info. from Prof. N. Landau; BL, Althorp mss, box 3, R. Crawford to Ld. Halifax (William Savile*, Ld. Eland), 22 Aug. 1696; box 8, Sir George Rooke* to same, 27 Aug., 3 Sept. 1696.
- 3. Add. 57861, f. 69; J. Cave-Browne, Story of Hollingborne, 35; Hasted, Kent, ii. 174–5; Bath mss at Longleat House, Thynne pprs. 17, f. 294; Centre Kentish Stud. Q/Rpe1; PCC Marlbro’ 177; Arch. Cant. xviii. 70.