MONSON, Hon. George (1730-76).
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Family and Education
b. 18 Apr. 1730, 3rd s. of John, 1st Baron Monson, by Lady Margaret Watson, da. of Lewis, 1st Earl of Rockingham. educ. Westminster 1738; Grand Tour 1747-9. m. 1757, Anne, da. of Henry, 1st Earl of Darlington, div. w. of Charles Hope Weir, s.p.
Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1750, lt. and capt. 1753, maj. 64 Ft. 1757, lt.-col. 1760; lt.-col. commdt. 96 Ft. 1761-3; brig.-gen. (India only) 1763; col. army 1769; col. 50 Ft. 1775- d.
Groom of the bedchamber to Prince of Wales 1756-60, to the King 1760-3.
In 1754 Monson contested Lincoln on his brother’s interest, and topped the poll after a corrupt and expensive election. On 6 Nov. 1757 Newcastle wrote to Sir John Ligonier, that had he known about the appointments of officers for the East Indies, he would have recommended a very near relation of his:1
Captain Monson of the Guards, who is a very pretty young man, and only wishes to go abroad, anywhere, to serve. I have long recommended him to the Duke, but without success. H.R.H. ... was pleased some time ago, to offer him to purchase a majority for £1200, but poor man, he had not the money, though his brother my Lord Monson spent above £6000 to choose him for Lincoln. The favour I now ask for him (who is a pretty old captain) is a majority; he would like it best in America, the East or West Indies, or at Gibraltar, that he might be on service.
On 18 Nov. Monson was appointed major in the 64 Foot and sailed for India, 5 Mar. 1758. He was second-in-command at the siege of Pondicherry, 1761, and was to have superseded Eyre Coote, but was seriously wounded. Monson, who distinguished himself at the capture of Manilla, 1762, was appointed a brigadier-general in India in 1763, and returned to England in December 1764.2 Even now, Gilly Williams wrote to George Selwyn, 19 Mar. 1765:3
His friends see ... little of him. He lives shut up with Lady Anne, and is going to settle for life in some remote county ... he has never been at White’s, and not twice at the House of Commons.
In Rockingham’s list of July 1765 he was classed as a supporter; in that of November 1766 as ‘Whig’, and in Newcastle’s of 2 Mar. 1767 as ‘friend’. But he did not vote on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767; and it is uncertain whether he voted on the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768—in Rockingham’s list he is shown to have voted with the Opposition, from the lists of Burke and Almon he is absent. There is no record of his having spoken in the House.
Monson did not stand again in 1768, though he was willing to do so in 1770 when a vacancy was expected.4 When he was appointed by the Regulating Act of 1773 to the supreme council of Bengal, the King wrote to North, 8 June 1773:
I am much pleased at Col. Monson’s going third in Council. I have ever found him desirous of service, and though not a showy man, has excellent sense.
Monson himself does not seem to have been keen on going out to India. When in November 1773 two regiments were vacant, North tried to obtain one for Monson, ‘a very deserving officer, who is embarked in a most arduous and important undertaking at the desire of Lord North’; but the King, though very favourable to Monson, refused because in that case Monson would join his regiment and relinquish going to India.5 And Philip Francis, in the review of events sent to Welbore Ellis, 18 Nov. 1777,6 says that no one ‘could have set out on such a service with less inclination to it’—‘he would gladly have resigned his appointment ... if he could have obtained a regiment in lieu of it’. He left England, together with General Clavering and Philip Francis, on 1 Apr. 1774, and reached Calcutta on 19 Oct.; and soon engaged in the bitter campaign against Hastings by which he is chiefly known. Burke’s eulogy of Monson, after his death, can be disregarded as much as Elijah Impey’s diatribe against him. He seems to have been an honourable man of mediocre abilities, indebted for his rise to his political connexions; he started out with certain prejudices against the East India Company acquired during his earlier stay in India, and soon became involved in a struggle to which he was hardly equal.
He died in India 25 Sept. 1776.