Goring, George (1583?-1663) (DNB00)

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GORING, GEORGE, Earl of Norwich (1583?–1663), was the son of George Goring of Hurstpierpoint and Ovingdean, Sussex, by Anne, daughter of Henry Denny of Waltham, sister of Edward Denny, earl of Norwich (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 461). Goring is said to have begun his life at court as one of the gentlemen pensioners of Queen Elizabeth (ib.) According to Lloyd he was educated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and afterwards served some time in Flanders (Memoirs of Excellent Personages, 1668, p. 560). He was knighted on 7 May 1608, and became about 1610 one of the gentlemen of the privy chamber of Henry, prince of Wales (Birch, Life of Henry, Prince of Wales, p. 450). Goring's gifts as a courtier and a wit attracted the favour of James I. Weldon describes him as one of the king's three ‘chief and master fools,’ and ‘master of the games for fooleries’ (Secret History of the Court of James I, 1811, i. 399). At a dinner to solemnise the birthday of Prince Charles in 1618, ‘Sir George Goring's invention bore away the bell, that was four huge brawny pigs piping hot, bitted and harnessed with ropes of sausages, all tied to a monstrous bag-pudding’ (Lodge, Illustrations of English History, iii. 293). Other specimens of his peculiar humour are recorded by Pepys (Diary, 3 Feb. 1661), and in ‘Fragmenta Aulica, or Court and State Jests in noble Drollery,’ by T. S., 1662 (pp. 45, 54). Goring followed Prince Charles to Spain in 1623 (Court and Times of James I, ii. 388). He was also engaged in negotiating the marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, became successively vice-chamberlain and master of the horse to that queen, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Goring on 14 April 1628 (Court and Times of Charles I, i. 29, 140, 382; Collins, Peerage, ed. Brydges, ix. 458). During the next ten years Goring's favour continued to increase; offices were heaped upon him, and he was engaged in many of the king's most oppressive schemes for raising money. He was appointed clerk of the council of Wales. The jurisdiction of the liberty of Peveril was revived for his benefit (8 May 1638, Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1638, p. 422). He was commissioner for the granting of licenses for the export of butter, for the regulation of the manufacture of gold and silver thread, and chief among the persons to whom on 16 March 1636 the tobacco monopoly was granted (ib. 1635 p. 282, 1636 p. 178; Rymer, Fœdera, xx. 116; Verney Papers, p. 184). Osborne describes him as the leader of the monopolists; ‘because there must be some great man (as a captain-projector) to lead some on and hearten others, Sir George Goring leads up the march and dance with the monopoly of tobacco and licensing of taverns, setting some up, where and as many as he pleased, and this done by a seal appendicular to an office erected by him for that purpose, as if authorised by a law; besides all this he hath pensions out of the pretermitted customs; insomuch as I have heard it most credibly reported that his revenue was 9,000l. per annum all of these kinds’ (Secret History of the Court of James I, ii. 41).

Goring was appointed to the privy council 25 Aug. 1639 (Rushworth, iii. 967). On the approach of the first Scotch war Goring engaged himself to raise a hundred horse for the king's service, and he was also one of the five lords through whom the king attempted in October 1640 to raise a loan from the city (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1638–9, p. 378; 1640–1, p. 133). The meeting of the Long parliament, however, put a period to Goring's prosperity. The monopoly of tobacco was abolished, and he also lost money which he had advanced to the king on the security of the customs. His income, which was estimated at 26,000l. a year in 1641, was freely spent in the king's service (ib. 1663–4, p. 6). His younger son, who was finishing his education in Paris, was recalled to England to enter the king's army. ‘Had I millions of crowns or scores of sons,’ wrote Goring to his wife, ‘the king and his cause should have them all, with better will than to eat if I were starving. … I had all from his majesty, and he hath all again’ (ib. 1644, pp. 110, 261). Goring accompanied the queen to Holland in February 1642, assisted her to raise money for the king's service, followed her back to England in the next spring, and took part in an unsuccessful attack on Leeds in April 1643 (Letters of Henrietta Maria, ed. Green, pp. 50, 84, 190). Letters from Goring relating to the war in Yorkshire and the queen's journey to Oxford are printed by Rushworth (v. 270) and in Warburton's ‘Prince Rupert’ (ii. 172, 181). Towards the end of 1643 Goring was sent ambassador to France to negotiate for a French alliance, and received from Mazarin promises of aid both in arms and money. The letter in which he announced his success to the queen was intercepted by the parliament, and he was promptly impeached for high treason (10 Jan. 1644, Old Parliamentary History, xiii. 17; Gardiner, History of the Great Civil War, i. 320). Charles rewarded Goring's zeal by raising him to the title of Earl of Norwich (28 Nov. 1644), which had lately become extinct by the death of his uncle, Edward Denny (Collins, ix. 457, 459; Black, Oxford Docquet, p. 235).

Goring played a leading part in the second civil war. He had come over to England at the end of 1647 ‘under a pass from the parliament, and upon pretence of making his composition.’ According to Clarendon it was from the Earl of Holland that Goring received a commission to command the forces of Kent, and lead them wherever the king's service should make requisite (Rebellion, xi. 39). According to another account the commissioners of the Kentish cavaliers, weary of disputing over the choice of a general, offered the command to Goring, who happened to be accidentally passing through their quarters (Matthew Carter, Relation of that honourable as unfortunate Expedition of Kent, Essex, and Colchester, 1648, pp. 82, 86, Colchester reprint n. d.). He was proclaimed general on 30 May in a rendezvous on Barham Down. Clarendon attributes the failure of the rising partly to the defects of Goring's leadership and lack of experience. ‘The earl was a man fitter to have drawn such a body together by his frolic and pleasant humour, which reconciled people of all constitutions wonderfully to him, than to form and conduct them towards any enterprise’ (Rebellion, xi. 55). Carter, who acted as quartermaster-general under Goring, admits his inexperience, but praises his prudence, his courage, and his indefatigable energy, and throughout defends his conduct. The Kentish levies were defeated by Fairfax at Maidstone on 1 June, and Goring then marched on London, hoping to be joined by the royalists of Surrey and of the city. But the city made no movement, and the common council forwarded his letters unopened to the parliament (Commons' Journals, 3 June). Goring then crossed over into Essex to examine into the preparations of the cavaliers of that county, leaving his forces encamped in Greenwich Park till his return. Without waiting for orders they followed him, and Goring, finding very little support from the men of Essex, endeavoured to hold out in Colchester until help came (12 June). A declaration, published by Goring and his associates, is reprinted by Carter (p. 161). In August starvation obliged the garrison to surrender. The besieged had intended to attempt a general sally, but the common soldiers suspected their officers of an intention to escape and desert them. To allay this suspicion Goring and the other leaders took a solemn engagement to deliver themselves up as prisoners, and submit to the mercy of their enemies, if thereby they could purchase the liberty of their followers (ib. p. 208). In the capitulation signed on 27 Aug., Goring and the leaders surrendered to mercy, while quarter was promised to the soldiers. Goring was sent prisoner to Windsor Castle; he had been voted a rebel on 5 June, and it was decided on 25 Sept. that he should be impeached (Rushworth, vii. 1139, 1272). Goring vainly pleaded his right to a trial by his peers and the promise of Fairfax that his life should be saved, a promise which Fairfax explained did not guarantee him from punishment by the civil power (Cary, Memorials of the Civil War, ii. 26; see also Fairfax, Thomas, third Lord Fairfax). On 10 Nov. the House of Commons voted that Goring should be banished, but on 13 Dec. the independents, having regained the ascendency, rescinded this vote, and on 2 Feb. 1649 an ordinance was passed constituting a high court of justice for the trial of Goring and other prominent offenders. He was sentenced to death on 6 March, but two days later the commons thought fit to respite his execution. In the division on Goring's case, the numbers for and against being equal, the speaker's casting vote turned the scale in favour of mercy (Old Parliamentary History, xviii. 145, 472, xix. 55). According to Whitelocke and Clarendon, Lenthal gave as a reason for his vote the favours he had formerly received from Goring ('Memorials, ff. 382, 386; Rebellion, xi. 259). A contemporary letter, however, attributes his escape to the intervention of the Spanish and Dutch ambassadors (Carte, Original Letters, i. 247). On 7 May 1649 Goring, on his petition to the House of Commons, was pardoned as to his life, and set at liberty (Old Parliamentary History, xix. 126). Shortly afterwards he rejoined Charles II on the continent, and remained in exile during the rest of the interregnum. In the spring of 1652 he was employed by Charles to negotiate with the Duke of Lorraine for the relief of Ireland, and to propose a marriage between the Duke of York and a daughter of the Duke of Lorraine (Cal. Clarendon Papers, ii. 119, 126). His negotiations met with little success; Clarendon complains of his unskilful activity, and his habit of censuring plans to which he was not privy. ‘As he is a very honest worthy person,’ wrote Hyde to Nicholas, ‘so he is not for business, nor will ever submit to half those straits and necessities which all men must do who desire to serve the king’ (ib. iii. 57, 73, 145). Nevertheless the two remained on very good terms, and Goring signs himself to Hyde ‘yours through thick and thin’ (Cal. Clarendon Papers, iii. 77). Nicholas characterises Goring in 1651 as ‘the ablest and faithfullest person that can be employed now by the king to do him real service in France’ (Nicholas Papers, p. 255). During the latter part of the exile of Charles II, Goring does not seem to have been employed, no doubt on account of his advanced age. He was, however, one of the chief agents in the attempt to use Sexby and the Levellers in the king's service, and the arrest of Manning, the spy, was due to his suggestion (Cal. Clarendon Papers, iii. 40, 51, 69). At the Restoration he was appointed captain of the king's guard, and took his place in the privy council, but did not regain his lucrative office as farmer of the tobacco customs, nor did he obtain much satisfaction for his losses in the king's service. Of his once great estate he could only leave 450l. a year to his heir. The king, however, had granted him on 26 Sept. 1661 a pension of 2,000l. a year, which was in part continued to his successor (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1663–4, pp. 6, 17, 147). Goring died at Brentford on 6 Jan. 1662–3, aged, according to Smyth, about eighty (Obituary of Richard Smyth, p. 57). He was buried on 14 Jan. in Westminster Abbey, in St. John Baptist's Chapel, where his wife Mary, second daughter of Edward Nevill, sixth lord Abergavenny, had been interred on 15 July 1648 (Chester, Westminster Abbey Registers, pp. 142–58).

By her he had two sons and four daughters, viz. (1) George, lord Goring [q. v.]; (2) Charles, who charged with his brother at the second battle of Newbury, succeeded his father as Earl of Norwich, married the widow of Sir Richard Baker, and died without issue, 3 March 1672 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. p. 146; Collins, ix. 459); (3) Elizabeth, married William, lord Brereton, of Ireland; (4) Mary, married Sir Drue Dene of Maplestead, Essex; (5) Diana, married, first, Thomas Covert of Slaugham, Sussex, and secondly, George, son of Endymion Porter, who was lieutenant-general in the western army, under the command of his brother-in-law, George Goring, and was characterised by him as ‘the best company, but the worst officer that ever served the king’ (Bulstrode, Memoirs, p. 137); (6) Catherine, married William Scott of Scott's Hall, Kent, whose petition for a divorce from her is recorded in Burton's account of the parliament of 1656 (Diary, i. 205, 335). The history of the Goring property is traced in the ‘Collections of the Sussex Archæological Society,’ xi. 67.

[Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges; Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion; Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Sussex Archæological Society's Collections, xi. 66, xix. 97; authorities above.]

C. H. F.