|The Right Honourable
|Treasurer of the Navy|
|Prime Minister||Henry Addington|
|Preceded by||Charles Bragge|
|Succeeded by||George Canning|
|President of the Board of Control|
|Prime Minister||The Lord Grenville|
|Preceded by||Thomas Grenville|
|Succeeded by||Hon. Robert Dundas|
|Master of the Mint|
|Prime Minister||George Canning
The Viscount Goderich
|Preceded by||Hon. William Wellesley-Pole|
|Succeeded by||John Charles Herries|
|Born||20 March 1761
|Died||25 January 1830
Savile Row, London
|Alma mater||Peterhouse, Cambridge|
Background and education
Born in Gibraltar, Tierney was the son of Thomas Tierney, a wealthy Irish merchant of London, who was living in Gibraltar as prize agent. He was sent to Eton and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he took the degree of Law in 1784. He was called to the bar from Lincoln's Inn in the same year, but abandoned law and plunged into politics.
Tierney contested Colchester in 1788, when both candidates received the same number of votes, but Tierney was declared elected. He was, however, defeated in 1790. He sat for Southwark from 1796 to 1806, and then represented in turn Athlone (1806–1807), Bandon (1807–1812), Appleby (1812–1818), and Knaresborough (1818–1830). 
When Charles James Fox seceded from the House of Commons, Tierney became a prominent opponent of William Pitt's policy. In May 1798, Pitt accused him of want of patriotism. A duel ensued at Putney Heath on Sunday, 27 May 1798; but neither combatant was injured. 
In 1803, Tierney, partly because peace had been ratified with France, and partly because Pitt was out of office, joined the ministry of Henry Addington as Treasurer of the Navy, and was created a Privy Councillor; but this alienated many of his supporters among the middle classes, and offended most of the influential Whigs. On the death of Fox, he joined (1806) the Grenville ministry as President of the Board of Control, with a seat in the cabinet, and thus brought himself once more into line with the Whigs. 
About a year after the death of George Ponsonby in 1817, Tierney reluctantly became the recognised leader of the opposition in the House of Commons. At first he was successful, with Whig gains being made at the 1818 general election. On 18 May 1819, Tierney moved a motion in the House of Commons for a committee on the state of the nation. This motion was defeated by 357 to 178, which was a division involving the largest number of MPs until the debates over the Reform bill in the early 1830s. Foord comments that "this defeat put an effective end to Tierney's leadership... Tierney did not disclaim the leadership till 23 Jan. 1821 ..., but he had ceased to exercise its functions since the great defeat".
In George Canning's ministry, he was Master of the Mint, and when Lord Goderich succeeded to the lead Tierney was admitted to the cabinet; but he was already suffering from ill-health and died suddenly at Savile Row, London.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Tierney, George". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Hamilton, John Andrew (1898). "Tierney, George". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 56. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland 1801-1922, edited by B.M. Walker (Royal Irish Academy 1978).
- His Majesty's Opposition 1714-1830, by Archibald S. Foord (Oxford University Press 1964)
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by George Tierney
- Archival material relating to George Tierney listed at the UK National Archives