FLETCHER, George (c.1666-1708).
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Family and Education
b. c.1666, 2nd s. of Sir George Fletcher, 2nd Bt.*, being 1st by his 2nd w.; bro. of Henry Fletcher†. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 23 Nov. 1683, aged 17; I. Temple 1683. unm.1
Capt. 5 Drag. Gds. 1692, maj. 1702, brevet lt. col. 1704–d.2
The younger son of one of the leading members of the Cumberland gentry, Fletcher chose to pursue the profession of arms, gaining a commission in 1692. His first experience of parliamentary elections appears to have come in 1690, when, in the absence of his father, the successful candidate was chaired by those attending the uncontested Cumberland election, and in 1698 he was himself successful at Cockermouth on his father’s interest, who owned burgages in the borough. Included on a list of placemen dating from September, Fletcher was classed as a Court supporter in a comparison of the old and new Commons, and on 18 Jan. 1699 voted for the standing army. In January 1700 James Lowther* informed his father that ‘Mr Fl[etcher] never speaks either in the House or at committees’, and this low profile may perhaps explain why an analysis of the Commons into interests dating from early 1700 classed him as doubtful. Following his father’s death in July 1700 the family estates descended to Fletcher’s older brother, the Catholic Henry. In January Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*, wrote of his belief that Fletcher ‘has given so good testimony of his ability and conduct at the sessions and at other places, that, had he joined Mr [Gilfrid*] Lawson, they had certainly carried it for the county’, but Fletcher was instead returned again for Cockermouth. Little is known of Fletcher’s contribution to the first Parliament of 1701, though James Lowther reported that in March and April Fletcher attempted to persuade his fellow army officer Thomas Stanwix* to withdraw his petition against Lowther’s return at Carlisle. Somewhat surprisingly, Fletcher was blacklisted as having opposed in this Parliament the preparations for war with France, and the accuracy of this claim is further called into question by the willingness of Cumberland’s Whig interest to support his candidacy for the county at the second 1701 election. Having been successful, Fletcher was reckoned a ‘gain’ by Lord Spencer (Charles*), and classed as a Whig by Robert Harley*. Fletcher again made little impact in the House, James Lowther noting in April 1702 that Fletcher was ‘in town but never comes to the House’, his poor attendance being due at least in part to ‘bad health’. He nevertheless secured the support of the county’s Whig interest for the 1702 election but was unsuccessful and for the next three years concentrated on his military career, fighting in the Low Countries and serving at Blenheim.3
Fletcher’s continuing parliamentary ambitions are clear from the expectation in the spring of 1705 that he would return to contest the Cumberland election, and he was successful without the contest going to a poll, though when comparing the merits of the aspirants for the Cumberland seats James Lowther could only find to recommend him the expectation that Fletcher was ‘a man of such an irregular life that he is not like to trouble the country long’. Fletcher’s election was again classed as a ‘gain’ by Lord Sunderland, and an analysis of the new House classed him as a ‘Churchman’. He was loyal to the ministry in the opening session of the Parliament, voting on 25 Oct. 1705 for its candidate for Speaker and supporting it during the proceedings of February 1706 on the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill, but his contribution to parliamentary proceedings appears to have been minimal. James Lowther forecast in late 1705 that Fletcher would support Thomas Lamplugh’s* bill for the enlargement of Parton harbour, and on 25 Jan. 1706 Fletcher was indeed the first-named Member appointed to draft this bill. Little more is known of his parliamentary career. An analysis of the House dating from early 1708 classed him as a Tory, but he appears to have suffered increasingly from poor health. In April 1707 Lowther reported that Fletcher ‘has been very ill and cannot live long’. This forecast was premature as Fletcher was still alive in early 1708 and had let it be known that he intended to stand at the next election, but his attempts to muster an interest were hampered by ill-health, which prevented him travelling to Cumberland. His condition deteriorated steadily between January and March 1708, and on 30 Mar. Narcissus Luttrell* reported that Fletcher was ‘lately dead’. He was buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields on the 31st, his coffin ‘borne by Lord Berkeley, Mr Christopher Musgrave*, Mr James Lowther, etc. in white scarves’.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. Hutchinson, Cumb. i. 508.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1691–2, p. 105.
- 3. Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/25, Thomas Tickell to Sir John Lowther I, 9 Mar. 1689–90; D/Lons/W2/2/3, James Lowther to same, 6 Jan. 1699[–1700]; 4, same to same, 18, 22 Mar. 1700[–1], 1 Apr., 15 Nov. 1701; 5, same to same, 14 Mar. 1701[–2], 8 Apr. 1702; D/Lons/W1/21, Sir John Lowther I to Ld. Carlisle (Charles Howard*), Jan. 1700[–1].
- 4. Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/8, same to same, 20 Feb., 3 Mar. 1704[–5], 5, 12 Apr., 22 Sept., 1, 8, 10 Nov. 1705; D/Lons/W1/27, Fletcher to Sir John Lowther I, 21 Apr. 1702; D/Lons/W2/1/40, James Lowther to William Gilpin, 3 Apr., 23 May 1707; 41, same to same, 12, 20, 27, 30 Jan., 12, 14, 17, 21 Feb., 13, 16 Mar. 1707[–8]; Nicolson and Burn, Cumb. and Westmld. ii. 390–1; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 285; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 467.