Sir George Downing

Downing, Sir George, Bart., a lawyer, was born in Dublin in 1624. (His father emigrated to New England in 1638, where he represented Salem in the General Court, 1638-'43. His mother was a sister of Governor John Winthrop.) Returning to England in 1645, the voung man became a preacher amongst the Independents, then a chaplain to one of Cromwell's regiments, and in 1653 was appointed Commissary-General to the army in Scotland. He was member for a Scottish borough in 1654 and 1656, and agent in Holland two years afterwards. Becoming a royalist, he was knighted by Charles II., entered Parliament, and was again envoy to Holland. There he basely caused the arrest, transmission to England, and consequent execution of three of his former companions in Cromwell's government, who had been judges of Charles I. Through his agency principally the New Netherlands were wrested from the Dutch and annexed to the English possessions as New York. In 1663 he was created a baronet. Sent in 1671 on a mission to Holland, he returned before completing his errand to the satisfaction of the King, and was imprisoned in the Tower, but was again received into favour. He was a man of ability and natural aptitude for politics, and was the author of some tracts on state affairs. Downing-street, in London, perpetuates his name, and his grandson, Sir George, founded Downing College, Cambridge. He died at East Hatley, Cambridgeshire, in 1684, aged about 60.


37a. Biographical Dictionary—American Biography: Francis S. Drake. Boston, 1876.