SAUNDERSON, George, 5th Visct. Castleton [I] (1631-1714), of Sandbeck, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1660 - Mar. 1681
1685 - 1687
1689 - 1698

Family and Education

b. 12 Oct. 1631, 3rd s. of Nicholas Saunderson, 2nd Visct. Castleton [I], by Frances, da. of Sir George Manners of Haddon Hall, Derbys. and sis. of John Manners†, 8th Earl of Rutland.  m. (1) bef. Mar. 1656, Grace (d. 1667), da. of Henry Belasyse† of Newburgh Priory, Yorks., 8s. (7 d.v.p.); (2) 14 Feb. 1675, Sarah, da. of Sir John Evelyn† of West Dean, Wilts., wid. of Sir John Wray, 3rd Bt.†, of Glentworth, Lincs. and Thomas Fanshawe, 2nd Visct. Fanshawe [I]†, s.psuc. bro. Peregrine as 5th Visct. Castleton 1650.1

Offices Held

V.-adm. Lincs. 1660–?1702; steward, honour of Bolingbroke 1660–?d.; freeman, Portsmouth 1691.2

Capt. Prince Rupert’s horse 1667; col. of ft. 1689–94.


By the time of his victory in Lincolnshire in 1690, Castleton was already a fixture in county politics, having been returned for the shire at the preceding seven elections. Before the Revolution he had proved a most independent Member, opposing the Danby (Sir Thomas Osborne†) administration, rallying to the Court in the early 1680s, only to lose his local offices under James II. His support for William and Mary was demonstrated by the regiment of foot which he raised in Yorkshire in 1689, and at the outset of the 1690 Parliament the Marquess of Carmarthen (formerly Danby) marked him as a Whig. However, later that year Court managers in the Commons recorded that he was ‘discontented’, and his attitude continued to cause them concern. In the first session he seconded the motion of Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., that the House should consider how the peace of the nation was to be preserved during the King’s absence, while at the same time remarking that ‘I am seldom of that gentleman’s opinion’. In April 1691 Robert Harley* identified him as a Country supporter, and his estrangement from the Court was also suggested by a report that he was to be excluded from the Lincolnshire lieutenancy.3

Castleton was a frequent speaker in the third session, rising on 9 Nov. 1691 in support of the motion for a second reading of the treason trials bill, and he later spoke in favour of a Lords’ amendment, designed to reduce impeachments by the Commons to the level of indictments. He again backed Seymour on a motion appointing an early day for considering the report of the commissioners of accounts, and on 3 Dec. demanded that any Members who had received secret service money be declared betrayers of their country, observing ‘the herd will not suffer wounded deer to herd with them’. Later that month he collaborated with Country leaders Sir Thomas Clarges and Robert Harley to advance an unspecified bill. He spoke on 8 Jan. 1692 in favour of the bill for lessening interest rates, argued on 15 Feb. for adding a clause to revive the bill for taking public accounts, and later voiced his approval of sending the Lords a reminder of the bills for forfeited estates in England and Ireland before carrying up the poll bill.4

Castleton spent the summer of 1692 on campaign in Flanders, but returned in time for the new session of Parliament. In early November it was rumoured that Court opponents intended to make capital out of the alleged maltreatment which he and other English commanders had suffered at the hands of Dutch officers at the battle of Steenkirk. Significantly, a list of Court supporters drawn up between March and December 1692 urged that he be spoken to ‘in relation to his own carriage and behaviour’. If any action was taken on this it was not very effective, since he continued to support opposition initiatives. On 10 Nov. he seconded a motion for the commissioners of accounts to prepare a report, and during a debate on the King’s Speech four days later he ‘reflected on the many persons in places in the House, very boldly’. In debate on the mismanagement of the navy he supported the message of thanks to Admiral Edward Russell* for his conduct of the fleet, and on 21 Nov. moved to put the question to address the King to entrust the Admiralty to those who ‘are able both for skill and fidelity for that place’. He spoke twice on 23 Nov. in favour of employing only English officers in the army, citing his own experiences that summer when orders were sent to him in French, which neither he nor his officers could understand. Indeed, he was regarded as the leading critic of the Dutch commander Count Solmes, and was said to have moved the promotion of the Earl of Marlborough (John Churchill†), but was not seconded. On 26 Nov. he backed the motion to address the King and Queen to employ as ministers only men of ‘known ability and integrity’. Four days later he spoke anxiously of the nation’s defences, arguing that the Commons should consider them rather than the failure of the allied descent in France. Nevertheless, the next day he spoke against the resolution of the committee of the whole to grant £23,406 to finish building a naval yard near Plymouth, pointing out that the crown should have requested that sum. He later seconded a procedural motion concerning the naval estimates. In February 1693 he complained of the growing frequency of impressment for land service, and spoke four times in favour of the triennial bill, ‘as thinking it for the King’s service and the nation’s good’. He also threw his weight behind the bill to suppress hawkers and pedlars. In the remainder of the Parliament Castleton was inconspicuous. He handed over the command of his regiment to his son, Thomas, in 1694, and thus played no part in its distinguished service at Namur. He was twice cited as a placemen, and his name also appeared in the list of ‘friends’ compiled by Henry Guy* in the 1694–5 session.5

Castleton successfully contested Lincolnshire in 1695, and was forecast on 31 Jan. 1696 as a probable opponent of the Court in a division over the proposed council of trade. He subsequently refused to sign the Association, and a month later voted against setting the price of guineas at 22s. In the next session he contributed to debate on the testimony of the informer Goodman, and both spoke and voted on 25 Nov. against the bill of attainder against Sir John Fenwick†. His only substantive contribution to Commons’ business in this Parliament was made in December 1697 when he managed a private estate bill. In that month he bemoaned the fact that he was ‘dedicated in my old age to care and trouble’. Only four months previously his son, Hon. James*, had spoken anxiously of the damage which Castleton’s ‘mismanagement’ and unpopularity at court might inflict on the careers of his office-holding sons, but his family did not suffer on this account. He does not appear to have stood in 1698, but may have at least made an initial canvass, for an observer expressed surprise that he could have been ‘mistaken in his application’ to the county. Although removed from Westminster, soon afterwards he was classed as a Country supporter. He did not stand again, but in September 1700 interest was made for his election for the county by John Hervey*, who commended his ‘great integrity and constant strict adherence to the true interest of this nation’. Furthermore, a contender for the Lincolnshire contest of November 1701 thought that he might put up. He died at Sandbeck on 27 May 1714, and was succeeded by his only surviving son James, to whom he left extensive estates in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, as well as a bequest of £16,000.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Perry Gauci


  • 1. Burke, Extinct Baronetcies, 469–70.
  • 2. Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster Official Lists, 186; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 371.
  • 3. A. Browning, Danby, iii. 179; Grey, x. 136; Add. 70015, f. 86.
  • 4. Luttrell Diary, 8, 55, 61, 75, 117, 187, 193; Grey, 199; HMC Portland, viii. 34.
  • 5. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 2792a, [?] to Portland, 1 Nov. 1692; Browning, 182; Luttrell Diary, 216, 219, 230, 247, 254, 257, 263, 272, 279, 282, 396–8, 406, 412; Ranke, vi. 188; Grey, 307.
  • 6. Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 1040; Add. 46541, ff. 133, 158; BL, Althorp mss. Francis Gwyn* to Ld. Halifax (William Saville*), 10 Aug. 1698; Hervey Letterbks. i. 153–4; HMC Portland, ii. 181; PCC 92 Aston.