Nayler, George (DNB00)

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NAYLER, Sir GEORGE (1764?–1831), Garter king-of-arms, was fifth son of George Nayler, surgeon, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, and one of the coroners of the county, by Sarah, daughter of John Fark of Clitheroe, Lancashire. The Duke of Norfolk gave him a commission in the West York militia, and in recognition of his taste for genealogy appointed him Blanc Coursier herald and genealogist of the order of the Bath on 15 June 1792. His noble vellum volumes of the genealogies of the knights of the Bath, now in the library of the College of Arms, are eulogised by Mark Noble in the last paragraph of his ‘History’ of the college (1804). Nayler became an actual member of the college when appointed Bluemantle Pursuivant in December 1793. On 15 March 1794 he was made York herald. When the Emperor Alexander of Russia was to be invested with the Garter in September 1813, Nayler, greatly to his disappointment, was not included in the mission. By way of consolation, the Duke of York, to whom he was a persona grata, persuaded the regent to knight him (28 Nov. 1813). At the extension of the order of the Bath in January 1815, Nayler was confirmed in his position in connection with that order, and every knight commander and companion were required to furnish him with a statement of their respective military services, to be entered by him in books provided for that purpose. No salary was assigned to him in that capacity; his fees were trifling, and the ‘services,’ according to Sir Harris Nicolas (Hist. of the Order of the Bath, 1842, pp. 248–9), ‘after the lapse of twenty-five years still, it is believed, remain unwritten.’ When the Hanoverian Guelphic order was established in August 1815, he was appointed its first king-of-arms, and in the following year a knight of the order. Again, when an order was instituted for the Ionian Islands by the title of the Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, he was also nominated its first king-of-arms on 17 April 1818. On 23 May 1820 he was promoted Clarenceux king-of-arms, in which capacity he officiated as deputy to the aged Sir Isaac Heard (then Garter) at the coronation of George IV, and succeeded him as Garter on 11 May 1822. He went on four missions to foreign sovereigns with the Garter: to Denmark in 1822, to Portugal in 1823, to France in 1825, and to Russia in 1827. From John VI of Portugal he received the insignia of a knight commander of the Tower and Sword, which he was licensed by George IV to wear (5 June 1824). He also received from Spain the order of Charles III.

Nayler died suddenly at his house, 17 Hanover Square, on 28 Oct. 1831, aged about 67, having just survived the abridged ceremonial of the coronation of William IV and Queen Adelaide, and was buried in the family vault at St. John's Church, Gloucester, on 9 Nov. He left a widow and four daughters. His portrait, painted by Sir William Beechey, was engraved in mezzotint by Edward Scriven. Nayler was elected F.S.A. on 27 March 1794, and in the following year sent a paper to the society on ‘An Inscription in the Tower of London,’ which is printed in the ‘Archæologia’ (xii. 193), accompanied by a plate representing the tablet erected in the Tower in 1608 by Sir William Waad, the then lieutenant, to commemorate the Gunpowder plot (cf. Archæologia, xviii. 29).

He also undertook a ‘History of the Coronation of King George IV,’ which he did not live to complete. For this work he engaged the services of Chalon, Stephanoff, Pugin, Wild, and other able artists. Parts i. and ii. were published in 1824, in atlas folio, price twelve guineas each. After Nayler's death the plates came into the hands of Henry George Bohn, and he made up parts iii. and iv., combining another contemporary work on the same subject by Whittaker, and republished the whole at twelve guineas in 1839.

In Lowndes's ‘Bibliographer's Manual’ (ed. Bohn, 1860, p. 1655) there is attributed to Nayler an anonymous publication entitled ‘A Collection of the Coats of Arms borne by the Nobility and Gentry of Gloucestershire,’ 4to, 1786 (2nd ed. 1792); it was in reality the work of one Ames, an engraver at Bristol, Nayler being merely one of the subscribers.

Nayler formed a collection of private acts of parliament, which is now in the library of the city of London at Guildhall. It is in thirty-nine volumes, and each act is illustrated in manuscript, with a pedigree denoting the persons named in it. The series commences about 1733 and extends to 1830. Each volume is indexed. Nayler likewise made a collection of impressions from coffin-plates, which fills fourteen volumes, and is now in the British Museum, Addit. MSS. 22292–22305. They extend from 1727 to 1831, inclusive, and each volume has an index and a few biographical notes made by him. This collection was for some time in the possession of W. B. D. D. Turnbull [q. v.], who added a few impressions down to 1842.

[Nichols's Herald and Genealogist, vii. 72–80; Gent. Mag. December 1831, p. 567; Barham's Life of R. H. Barham, 1870.]

G. G.