DOWNING, Sir George, 3rd Bt. (c.1685-1749), of East Hatley and Gamlingay, Cambs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1685, o.s. of Sir George Downing, 2nd Bt., of East Hatley by Lady Catherine Cecil, e. da. of James Cecil, M.P., 3rd Earl of Salisbury. m. Feb. 1700, his cos. Mary, da. of Sir William Forester, M.P., of Dothill, Salop by Lady Mary Cecil, 3rd da. of James Cecil, M.P., 3rd Earl of Salisbury, s.p. suc. fa. June 1711; K.B. 12 Jan. 1732.
Downing was the grandson of an able and unscrupulous official, who made a great fortune in the service of Cromwell and Charles II, giving his name to Downing Street. Brought up by an uncle, to whose 13 year-old daughter he was married at the age of 15, he never lived with his wife, supporting in 1715 her unsuccessful petition to the Lords for divorce on the grounds of the ages of the parties at marriage. At the first opportunity after coming of age he was returned as a Whig for Dunwich, where he owned an estate. He lost his seat in 1715, but recovered it in 1722, soon afterwards obtaining a 99 years lease of the borough from the Crown, which gave him control of both seats. In Parliament he consistently supported the Walpole and Pelham Administrations. He died 10 June 1749, bequeathing under a will made in 1717 his Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, and Bedfordshire estates to his first cousin, Jacob Garrard Downing, and his issue male, with remainder to various other relations on the same terms; and in default of such to be applied to the foundation of a college at Cambridge University to be named ‘Downing’s College’. Though a very wealthy man, who gave his natural daughter a dowry of £20,000, he is said during the last years of his life to have led ‘a most miserable, covetous, and sordid existence’.1
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. H. W. Stevens, Downing College, 18, 28, 31, 264, 267n.