1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Goring, George Goring, Lord
GORING, GEORGE GORING, Lord (1608–1657), English Royalist soldier, son of George Goring, earl of Norwich, was born on the 14th of July 1608. He soon became famous at court for his prodigality and dissolute manners. His father-in-law, Richard Boyle, earl of Cork, procured for him a post in the Dutch army with the rank of colonel. He was permanently lamed by a wound received at Breda in 1637, and returned to England early in 1639, when he was made governor of Portsmouth. He served in the Scottish war, and already had a considerable reputation when he was concerned in the “Army Plot.” Officers of the army stationed at York proposed to petition the king and parliament for the maintenance of the royal authority. A second party was in favour of more violent measures, and Goring, in the hope of being appointed lieutenant-general, proposed to march the army on London and overawe the parliament during Strafford’s trial. This proposition being rejected by his fellow officers, he betrayed the proceedings to Mountjoy Blount, earl of Newport, who passed on the information indirectly to Pym in April. Colonel Goring was thereupon called on to give evidence before the Commons, who commended him for his services to the Commonwealth. This betrayal of his comrades induced confidence in the minds of the parliamentary leaders, who sent him back to his Portsmouth command. Nevertheless he declared for the king in August. He surrendered Portsmouth to the parliament in September 1642 and went to Holland to recruit for the Royalist army, returning to England in December. Appointed to a cavalry command by the earl of Newcastle, he defeated Fairfax at Seacroft Moor near Leeds in March 1643, but in May he was taken prisoner at Wakefield on the capture of the town by Fairfax. In April 1644 he effected an exchange. At Marston Moor he commanded the Royalist left, and charged with great success, but, allowing his troopers to disperse in search of plunder, was routed by Cromwell at the close of the battle. In November 1644, on his father’s elevation to the earldom of Norwich, he became Lord Goring. The parliamentary authorities, however, refused to recognize the creation of the earldom, and continued to speak of the father as Lord Goring and the son as General Goring. In August he had been despatched by Prince Rupert, who recognized his ability, to join Charles in the south, and in spite of his dissolute and insubordinate character he was appointed to supersede Henry, Lord Wilmot, as lieut.-general of the Royalist horse (see Great Rebellion). He secured some successes in the west, and in January 1645 advanced through Hampshire and occupied Farnham; but want of money compelled him to retreat to Salisbury and thence to Exeter. The excesses committed by his troops seriously injured the Royalist cause, and his exactions made his name hated throughout the west. He had himself prepared to besiege Taunton in March, yet when in the next month he was desired by Prince Charles, who was at Bristol, to send reinforcements to Sir Richard Grenville for the siege of Taunton, he obeyed the order only with ill-humour. Later in the month he was summoned with his troops to the relief of the king at Oxford. Lord Goring had long been intriguing for an independent command, and he now secured from the king what was practically supreme authority in the west. It was alleged by the earl of Newport that he was willing to transfer his allegiance once more to the parliament. It is not likely that he meditated open treason, but he was culpably negligent and occupied with private ambitions and jealousies. He was still engaged in desultory operations against Taunton when the main campaign of 1645 opened. For the part taken by Goring’s army in the operations of the Naseby campaign see Great Rebellion. After the decisive defeat of the king, the army of Fairfax marched into the west and defeated Goring in a disastrous fight at Langport on the 10th of July. He made no further serious resistance to the parliamentary general, but wasted his time in frivolous amusements, and in November he obtained leave to quit his disorganized forces and retire to France on the ground of health. His father’s services secured him the command of some English regiments in the Spanish service. He died at Madrid in July or August 1657. Clarendon gives him a very unpleasing character, declaring that “Goring . . . would, without hesitation, have broken any trust, or done any act of treachery to have satisfied an ordinary passion or appetite; and in truth wanted nothing but industry (for he had wit, and courage, and understanding and ambition, uncontrolled by any fear of God or man) to have been as eminent and successful in the highest attempt of wickedness as any man in the age he lived in or before. Of all his qualifications dissimulation was his masterpiece; in which he so much excelled, that men were not ordinarily ashamed, or out of countenance, with being deceived but twice by him.”
See the life by C. H. Firth in the Dictionary of National Biography; Dugdale’s Baronage, where there are some doubtful stories of his life in Spain; the Clarendon State Papers; Clarendon’s History of the Great Rebellion; and S. R. Gardiner’s History of the Great Civil War.