George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe

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George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe
Captain the Honourable George Edgcumbe 1720-95 by Sir Joshua Reynolds.jpg
George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, by Joshua Reynolds
Born 3 March 1720
Died 4 February 1795 (1795-02-05) (aged 74)
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Rank Admiral
Commands held Plymouth Command
Battles/wars Seven Years' War
Arms of Edgcumbe: Gules, on a bend ermines cotised or three boar's heads couped argent

George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, PC (3 March 1720 – 4 February 1795) was a British peer, naval officer and politician.

Life[edit]

Edgcumbe was the second surviving son of Richard Edgcumbe, 1st Baron Edgcumbe and his wife Matilda, the only child of Sir Henry Furnese. He is thought to have been educated at Eton.

He was commissioned a lieutenant in the Royal Navy in 1739 and in 1742 was promoted to be commander of the bomb vessel HMS Terrible. In the course of 1743 he was appointed acting captain of the 20-gun HMS Kennington, and was officially confirmed on 19 August 1744. He commanded her in the Mediterranean until 1745, when he was advanced to the 50-gun HMS Salisbury. This ship, as part of the Western Fleet under Edward Hawke and Edward Boscawen, initially patrolled the Bay of Biscay during the War of the Austrian Succession. Her ship's surgeon was James Lind, who conducted his experiments on scurvy during such a patrol in 1747. The war ended in 1748.[1] About this time Edgcumbe was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds and the Salisbury appears in the background.[2]

In 1746, Edgcumbe was returned as Member of Parliament for Fowey at a by-election, on his father's interest. He was considered a government Whig, but rarely attended Parliament as he was at sea. In 1747, he was appointed Clerk of the Council of the Duchy of Lancaster, an office he retained until 1762.[1]

In 1751, he went to the Mediterranean as senior officer in HMS Monmouth, and the following year in the 50-gun HMS Deptford. He was still in her and with his small squadron at Minorca, when the French invaded the island on 19 April 1756. He hastily landed the marines and as many of the seamen as could be spared, and sailed the next day for Gibraltar, before the French had taken any measures to block the harbour. At Gibraltar he was joined by Admiral John Byng, by whom he was ordered to move into the 66-gun HMS Lancaster. In the Battle of Minorca, on 20 May the Lancaster was one of the ships in the van, under Rear-Admiral Temple West, which did get into action, and being unsupported suffered severely. In 1758, still in the Lancaster, he was in the fleet under Edward Boscawen at the reduction of Louisbourg. On his return to England, with the despatches announcing this success, he was appointed to the 74-gun HMS Hero, in which he took part in the blockade of Brest during the long summer of 1759, and in the crowning Battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759.[3]

He continued in the Hero, attached to the grand fleet under Hawke or Boscawen, until the death of his brother Richard on 10 May 1761, when he inherited his brother's barony, and succeeded him as Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall in June.[3] He was promoted to rear-admiral on 21 October 1762.[1]

He was appointed Treasurer of the Household in 1765, serving until 1766, and made a Privy Councillor on 26 July. He became Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth the same year, retaining the command until 1771. In 1770, he was promoted vice-admiral and was appointed joint Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. He remained Vice-Treasurer until 1772, when he was appointed Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners. Promoted to admiral in 1778, he was created Viscount Mount Edgcumbe and Valletort in 1781, and remained Captain of the Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners until resigning in 1782, when he was appointed Vice-Admiral of Cornwall. In 1784, he was again appointed joint Vice-Treasurer of Ireland, holding office until 1793. In 1784, he was also elected a fellow of the Royal Society[4] In 1789, he was granted the further title of Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, and died on 4 February 1795.[3]

On 16 August 1761, he had married Emma Gilbert (the only daughter of John Gilbert, Archbishop of York) and they had one child, Richard who succeeded to his titles. In English folklore, Emma has been identified as the subject of the story of the "Lady with the Ring". Lady Emma's Cottage on the Mount Edgcumbe estate is named after her. [5]

A manuscript journal, kept by Edgcumbe and Captain William Marsh, from 30 April 1742 to 1 June 1744, is in the Bodleian Library. A letter from Edgcumbe to Garrick is printed in the latter's ‘Private Correspondence’.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sedgwick, Romney (1970). The House of Commons 1715-1754 v.2. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  2. ^ The portrait of Edgcumbe is in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, catalogue no BHC 2677
  3. ^ a b c d Laughton 1888.
  4. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 29 November 2010. [permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Lady Emma's cottage". 
Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLaughton, John Knox (1888). "Edgcumbe, George". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 16. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Jonathan Rashleigh
William Wardour
Member of Parliament for Fowey
1746–1761
With: Jonathan Rashleigh
Succeeded by
Jonathan Rashleigh
Hon. Robert Walsingham
Preceded by
Richard Edgcumbe
The Lord Sundon
Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle
1747
With: Richard Edgcumbe
Succeeded by
William Baker
George Treby
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Pye
Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth
1766–1771
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Spry
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Powis
Treasurer of the Household
1765–1766
Succeeded by
John Shelley
Preceded by
The Earl of Lichfield
Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners
1772–1782
Succeeded by
The Lord Ferrers of Chartley
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Lord Edgcumbe
Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall
1761–1795
Succeeded by
The Earl of Mount Edgcumbe
Preceded by
The Viscount Falmouth
Vice-Admiral of Cornwall
1782–1795
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Earl of Mount Edgcumbe
1789–1795
Succeeded by
Richard Edgcumbe
Viscount Mount Edgcumbe and Valletort
1781–1795
Preceded by
Richard Edgcumbe
Baron Edgcumbe
1761–1795