Payne, George (1803-1878) (DNB00)

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PAYNE, GEORGE (1803–1878), patron of the turf, was born on 3 April 1803. His father, George Payne of Sulby Hall, Northamptonshire, was shot in a duel on Wimbledon Common on 6 Sept. 1810 by one Clark (Annual Register, 1810, pp. 277–8); he left a widow, Mary Eleanor, daughter of R. W. Grey of Backworth House, Northumberland. George, the son, was educated at Eton from 1816 to 1822, and on 12 April 1823 matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, where he indulged his sporting tastes so freely that the college authorities, after much delay and long-suffering, requested him to leave the university. He came of age in 1824 and into the possession of the family seat, Sulby Hall, and the Northampton estates, with a rent-roll of 17,000l. a year. In addition, he took up the sum accumulated during his minority, amounting to about 300,000l. The income was, however, wholly incapable of keeping pace with his extravagance; Sulby passed from his hands, the money disappeared in a few years, together with two other large fortunes which he successively inherited from relatives. He served the office of sheriff of his native county in 1826, when he met the judges with unparalleled state. On a vacancy occurring in 1835, he was unanimously elected master of the Pytchley hounds; he gave way to Lord Chesterfield in 1838, but again served as the master from 1844 to 1848. His first tenure of office was marked by unwonted splendour. He owned racehorses, but he was notoriously unlucky on the turf with his own horses, though he was sometimes fortunate in backing those of his friends. His first partner on the turf was Edward Bouverie of Delapre Abbey, Northamptonshire. Bouverie's colours were all black, while those of his friend were all white. They amalgamated their colours, and so originated the famous ‘magpie jacket.’ Popular as these colours were, and often as they were seen on racecourses in England, they were never associated with any greater success than the winning of a good handicap. The best horse he owned was Musket, bequeathed to him by Lord Glasgow, who left him at the same time 25,000l. Musket never carried the magpie stripes, but always the white and crimson of his former owner. In connection with Charles C. F. Greville, he had horses trained for many years by the Dillys at Littleton, near Winchester; a few handicaps and a second to Crucifix for the Oaks with his filly Welfare in 1840 were all his successes of any consequence during these years. When Dilly retired from business, Payne sent his horses to George Dockeray at Epsom. After this trainer's death, Payne's horses went to Alec Taylor at Manton, Wiltshire, and there they remained to the last. Nat Flatman was Payne's favourite jockey, and for some time he had the first call on his services. His betting was very reckless; he would sometimes back twenty horses in a race for a big handicap, and then miss the winner. He lost 33,000l. in 1824, when Mr. Gascoigne's Jerry won the St. Leger; but in the succeeding year he recovered great part of the money by backing Memnon. He owned horses from 1824 to 1878, yet his only victories of any importance were with a purchased filly, Clementina, which won the One Thousand Guineas in 1847, and with Glauca, which won the Cesarewitch.

He was an infatuated gambler, not only on the turf, but also at the card-table. He was one of the persons who, in the winter of 1836, accused Henry William, twenty-second Baron de Ros, of not playing fairly. At the trial, on 10 Feb. 1837, he was one of the witnesses, and had his character most unfairly aspersed by Sir John Campbell (afterwards the first Baron Campbell). Payne had serious thoughts of publicly horsewhipping Campbell, but the latter, through the medium of Colonel Anson, made an apology (Times, 11 Feb. 1837, pp. 2–4, 13 Feb. pp. 2–4).

Payne had hosts of friends and admirers, and no enemies. He died unmarried at 10 Queen Street, Mayfair, London, on 2 Sept. 1878, and was buried at Kensal Green on 6 Sept., King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, and many friends being present. His only brother, William Payne, died at Pitsford Hall, Northamptonshire, in 1858. His sister Elizabeth Martha married, in 1827, Sir Francis Holyoake Goodricke, bart., who died in 1865.

[Baily's Mag. 1860 i. 183–6 (with portrait), 1883 xli. 148–53; New Sporting Mag. 1837, xiii. 364; Westminster Papers, 1878, x. 139 (with portrait); Nethercote's Pytchley Hunt, 1888, pp. 4, 99, 117–48 (with portrait); Thormanby's Famous Racing Men, 1882, pp. 113–20 (with portrait); Rice's British Turf, 1879, ii. 296–308 (with portrait); Cecil's Records of the Chase, 1877, pp. 135–6; Daily Telegraph, 3 Sept. 1878, p. 5; The Field, 7 Sept. 1878, p. 312; Times, 3, 5, and 7 Sept. 1878; Sporting Times, 8 May 1875, pp. 305, 308 (with portrait); Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 1876, iv. 475, 496 (with portrait); Illustrated London News, 1844, v. 72 (with portrait); Graphic, 1878, xviii. 276 (with portrait); Racing, in Badminton Library (1886), pp. 75, 198, 204–5.]

G. C. B.