GARLAND, George (1753-1825), of Leeson House, Purbeck, Dorset.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Sheriff, Poole 1784, mayor 1788, 1810; sheriff, Dorset 1824-5.
Capt. Poole vol. inf. 1798.
Garland, with his elder brother Joseph, was a partner in the Poole merchant house of Garland, Simmonds and Linthorne, engaged in the Newfoundland trade. His marriage to Amy Lester increased his stake: her father at his death in 1802 divided his business interests between him and his brother-in-law Sir John Lester, who left his share to him at his death in 1805. He then dissolved his partnership with his brother Joseph.2
Garland had aspired to his father-in-law’s seat in Parliament for Poole and was indignant when the latter surrendered it to please government in 1796. In 1800 he took steps to undermine Lester’s compromise with government, preparing to oppose their nominee Charles Stuart*. Stuart’s death enabled him to come in unopposed a year later, though he had to seek re-election because he held an Admiralty contract; it had not been executed, but incapacitated him from voting. It was his wish to be ‘unshackled’ in politics. His correspondence with the radical writer Augustus Miles in the 1790s on topics such as parliamentary and administrative reform showed a guarded respect for Miles’s views: ‘the King might read them with profit’, but they would be dangerous ‘in the hands of the multitude’. In 1798 he favoured parliamentary reform ‘at the end of the war’. In the same year he wrote that political independence was ‘a pretty thing to talk about’. Government expected his support and sent him circulars, but he often pleaded ill health: he was disgruntled by the failure of his applications for naval promotion for one of his sons.3
Garland, who had apparently moved an unsuccessful amendment to the assessed taxes bill in 1803,4 joined opposition to Addington’s ministry, 15 Mar. 1804, on Pitt’s motion of naval inquiry, and again on the defence motions of 23 and 25 Apr. which brought down Addington. He was listed in September 1804 and July 1805 a supporter of Pitt’s second administration. On 12 June 1805 he voted for the criminal prosecution of Melville; he had voted against the censure on him, 8 Apr., and had repeatedly applied to him on behalf of his son in the navy. On 22 Jan. 1806, after a spate of further unsuccessful applications, he informed his colleague Jeffery, with reference to the new session:
You cannot be ignorant, nor can I, that any earnest application from Mr Pitt to my L[ord] Barham must have been attended with success. Much as I admire Mr Pitt’s general measures, and assured as I am, that he will, as he ought to, have a majority I will not at the immense risk and inconvenience to my business, which would attend my leaving Poole at this time, add to that majority, unless I am clearly convinced that the country, rather than Mr Pitt, who has no claims on me, calls for the sacrifice. I have never asked, nor is there a personal favour I wish, but the promotion of my son; this they have refused, when they have to do justice to his claims.
When Pitt died soon afterwards, Garland was shocked but not ashamed and renewed his applications to Pitt’s friends and subsequently to the Grenville ministry. In August 1806, it seems, he refused to accept promotion for his son on condition of his joining a government candidate at Poole in opposition to Jeffery at the ensuing election; he complained to Earl Spencer, 27 Aug., that this was hard, as he was prepared to give government ‘every support which was in my power to do without a total surrender of independence and character’.5 He had in fact voted with opposition against the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, and on 15 May criticized the property duty bill. In his election campaign, he denied ‘systematic opposition’ to government and, pouring scorn on their efforts to embarrass him, wrote, ‘If I return to Parliament I will give them for my country’s sake, support in every measure I think for its good’. After his return he wrote that he did not believe the fate of England depended on any man or set of men. He sent memoranda to Lord Auckland at the Board of Trade on the prospects for foreign trade after the Berlin decrees. He was, according to Lord Holland’s list of 1806, a ‘staunch friend’ of the abolition of the slave trade, but he had informed Henry Wills of Bristol in March 1806 that, though he favoured it in the abstract, he could not support it as the West Indies were at stake.
When the new government requested his attendance on Brand’s and Lyttelton’s motions in April 1807, he pleaded ‘real indisposition’ as his excuse for staying away, not forgetting to add that he supported ministers and hoped for promotion for his son. On 28 Apr., embarrassed by the certainty of a contest at Poole, he decided that his health was not equal to the duties of Parliament; his brother Joseph stood instead and was defeated. He declined an opportunity to come in for Poole at the next vacancy early in 1809, but secured his son Benjamin’s return and remained active in Poole politics. He blandly admitted the evils of the borough system in a letter to John Cartwright, 18 Mar. 1816,6 and had them brought home to him in his efforts to prevent his son-in-law Christopher Spurrier from obtaining a seat for Poole at the expense of his own interest, on which he had determined since 1812 that not more than one Member could be returned. He accordingly opposed Spurrier at the election of 1818, after trying to buy him off.
Garland died 28 Dec. 1825, a prominent benefactor of Poole.7
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Dorset RO, D365, Garland ped.: unless otherwise stated, this article is based on George Garland’s letter bk. A.
- 2. N and Q. (ser. 12), ii. 368; PCC 124 Kenyon, 194 Nelson.
- 3. PRO 30/8/138, ff. 137-41.
- 4. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 229.
- 5. Spencer mss.
- 6. Garland letter bk. B, f. 3.
- 7. J. Sydenham, Poole, 147, 420.