ANSON, George (1697-1762).
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Family and Education
b. 23 Apr. 1697, 2nd s. of William Anson of Shugborough, Staffs. by Isabella, da. and coh. of Charles Carrier of Wirksworth, Derbys. and sis. of Janet, w. of Thomas Parker, M.P., 1st Earl of Macclesfield; bro. of Thomas Anson. m. 25 Apr. 1748, Elizabeth, da. of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, s.p. cr. Baron Anson 15 July 1747.
Entered navy 1712, lt. 1716, capt. 1724, r.-adm. 1744; ld. of Admiralty 1744-51; v.-adm. 1746, adm. 1748; elder bro. of Trinity House 1749, master 1752-6; v.-adm. of Great Britain 1749-d. ; P.C. 29 Mar. 1750; 1st ld. of Admiralty 1751-6, 1757-d. ; adm. and c.-in-c. of the fleet 1761.
In June 1744 Anson arrived in England from his celebrated voyage in the Centurion round the world, during which he had captured the annual ship from Manila to Acapulco, containing treasure worth about £500,000. He was promoted rear-admiral, made a lord of the Admiralty, and brought into Parliament for Hedon by Pulteney, Lord Bath, against Luke Robinson, whom Bath had prosecuted for bribery at Hedon in 1742. When the King asked Bath
how the Hedon election went on, his Lordship replied he hoped well, he had let fly an Acapulco ship at ’em and that was powerful. His Majesty to this very properly said, ‘I thought your Lordship would not have bribed.’1
In 1747 Anson was created a peer for his victory off Cape Finisterre, capturing specie worth about £300,000. At the general election that year he joined interests with Lord Gower at Lichfield, where he had been laying out part of his prize money in buying burgages and freeholds. Thenceforth he and Lord Gower each nominated one Member for Lichfield, Anson returning his brother Thomas. At Hedon, where Lord Bath had resigned his interest to him, he put up his shipmate in the Centurion, George Saunders. During the election campaign he was pressed so strongly by Lord Gower to remain in Staffordshire for the county meeting that he could not refuse, though, he wrote to his chief at the Admiralty, the Duke of Bedford,
I am persuaded I sacrifice Saunders and my interest at Hedon, where they assured me by a messenger that came to me last night if I come thither immediately and name another to join Captain Saunders they would certainly choose both, but that if I neglected to make my appearance among my friends there they would not regard Saunders as a person recommended by me.2
Saunders was defeated but at the next general election Anson nominated both Members for Hedon. Marrying the daughter of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke in 1748, he attached himself to the Pelhams, who made him first lord of the Admiralty when they broke with Bedford in 1751. Except for six months in 1756-7, when he went out with Newcastle and Hardwicke, he remained head of the navy till his death, 6 June 1762. Describing him as ‘reserved and proud, and so ignorant of the world that Sir Charles Hanbury Williams said he had been round it, but never in it,’ Horace Walpole adds, in words omitted by his editor: ‘Lady Townshend said he was in the same situation with regard to his wife’.3