VERNON, George I (1635-1702), of Sudbury Hall, Derbys.
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Family and Education
b. 1635, 1st s. of Henry Vernon of Sudbury by Muriel, da. and h. of Sir George Vernon† of Haslington, Cheshire. educ. I. Temple 1653; Christ Church, Oxf. 1655. m. (1) c.1660, Margaret (d. 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 (d. 1710), da. of Sir Thomas Vernon*, sis. of Sir Charles† and Thomas Vernon*, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1659.1
Gent. of privy chamber (extraordinary) July 1660.2
Commr. for corporations, Derbys. 1662–3, loyal and indigent officers 1662, recusants, Derbys. and Staffs. 1675.3
Sheriff, Derbys. 1663–4; ranger Needwood Forest 1670–d.4
Vernon was an Exclusionist under Charles II. Under James II he became a leading Whig collaborator and was the right-hand man of the absentee lord lieutenant, the Earl of Huntingdon. He sent many letters of advice to Huntingdon concerning the settlement of the militia and regulation of Derby corporation. His reward for this sterling activity was to be nominated by the Court for one of the Derby seats in the elections to James II’s proposed Parliament in 1688.5
Nothing is known of Vernon’s role in the events of 1688–9, which may indicate a decision to lie low. Nevertheless, he appears to have retained his local offices since he was soon involved in a dispute over the rights granted to Rupert Browne in Needwood Forest in lieu of an estate in Sheerness which had been transferred to the crown for the use of the navy. In his support for Browne, he upset the Duke of Devonshire (William Cavendish†), the steward of the honor of Tutbury, within whose jurisdiction the forest lay. Devonshire complained to his fellow lords justices that Vernon had abused his powers as a j.p. by encouraging a riot, with the result that he had his name struck out of the commission in June 1695. This dispute gave an edge to the Derby election in 1695. Vernon was early in the field, along with the town clerk, John Bagnold*, using his considerable wealth to appeal to the freeman electorate (he was rumoured to have spent £600–700). However, the Cavendish family made a late entry into the contest in the form of Lord Henry Cavendish*, the Duke’s second son, who joined his interest with that of Bagnold to defeat him.6
Vernon renewed his interest on Bagnold’s death in 1698, getting a writ moved almost immediately for a by-election, despite the imminence of a dissolution. The by-election was never held, but in the general election Vernon again found himself opposed by Lord Henry Cavendish, this time in alliance with Sir Charles Pye, 2nd Bt.* He emerged victorious and immediately engaged his kinsman, Secretary Vernon (James I*), to conciliate the Duke of Devonshire. Although the lords justices felt unable to restore him to the commission of the peace for Derbyshire, James Vernon could report that the Duke had agreed that ‘when you have a mind to take up your deputation in the lieutenancy, that may be easily effected’. Vernon soon proved his loyalty to the ministry on the controversial issue of the standing army, despite an assessment of the new Parliament which suggested that he would adhere to the Country party. On the contrary, he intervened twice in the debates on 4 Jan. 1699 to support the Court’s motion to allow an increase in the army, and on the 18th probably spoke and certainly voted against the third reading of the disbanding bill. Apart from the debates on the army there is little evidence that he was a major contributor to the important questions of the Parliament. The presence of George Vernon II* in this Parliament makes it impossible to distinguish his role, if any, on national issues. Contemporaries linked Vernon with a controversial piece of private legislation, the bill to make the Derwent in Derbyshire navigable. As early as October 1698 he had advised the promoters that the best strategy to adopt was to agree with the ‘proprietors that should be damaged by such navigation before the bill should be proposed’. On 3 Jan. 1699 he was ordered to prepare a bill in company with Lord Henry Cavendish and was by that time seen as a leading promoter of the bill which, despite his efforts, was defeated at the second reading.7
Vernon seems to have toyed with the possibility of standing again for Derby in January 1701 despite ill-health, which led one commentator to remark upon his departure from the county that he was ‘in doubt whether he shall return in a coach or a coffin’. He does not seem to have gone to a poll, probably withdrawing as a compliment to Lord James Cavendish*. Vernon was, however, active in soliciting votes for the Marquess of Hartington (William Cavendish*) and Lord Roos (John Manners*) in the county election. He was reported to be making interest in April 1702, but died on 13 July before the election took place. He was succeeded by his son, Henry II*.8
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Fam. Swynnerton (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), vii(2), 118; Collins, Peerage, vii. 406–7; Derby Arch. Jnl. lxxvi. 28–29; Shaw, Staffs. i. 82–83; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1700–15, p. 44.
- 2. LC 3/2.
- 3. J. P. Yeatman, Recs. Chesterfield, 138; Derby Arch. Jnl. 28–29.
- 4. Shaw, 88.
- 5. Derby Arch. Jnl. 28–29; HMC Cowper, ii. 344; CSP Dom. July–Sept. 1683, pp. 182, 209–10; Huntington Lib. Hasting mss HA 12974–83, Vernon to Huntingdon, 31 Jan., 4 Mar., 15 Apr., 1 May, 8 June, 1 July, 6, 19 Aug., 9 Sept. (and enclosures) 1688 and n.d.; D. Hosford, Nottingham, Nobles and the North, 56–57, 62, 69, 74.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 493; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 778; Add. 40772, f. 211; Devonshire mss at Chatsworth House, Whildon pprs. John to James Whildon, 25 Oct. 1695, and ‘Monday afternoon’, Aaron Kinton to ?same, 9 Nov. 1695; HMC Portland, iii. 573.
- 7. Add. 70019, Lady Pye to Robert Harley*, 11 May 1698; 40771, ff. 296, 323; Cam. Misc. xxix. 381–2, 386; HMC Cowper, ii. 379, 382, 385.
- 8. BL, Lothian mss, John Beresford to Thomas Coke*, 25 Nov., 14 Dec. 1700, S. Holbrooke to same, 21 Dec. 1700, William Franceys to same, 23 Dec. 1700, Robert Hardinge to same, Sat. night, 18 Apr. 1702.