GOUNTER (GUNTER), George (c.1646-1718), of Racton, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. c.1646, 2nd s. of George Gounter of Racton by Katherine, da. of Sir Lawrence Hyde of Salisbury, Wilts. educ. Winchester 1656; New Coll. Oxf. matric. 15 Aug. 1665, aged 18. m. (1) 28 May 1695, Elizabeth (d. 3 Nov. 1700) da. of William Sherrington of East Hoe, Soberton, Hants, s.p.; (2) Judith, da. of Richard Nicoll of Norbiton Place, Kingston-on-Thames, Surr., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. bro. by 1677.1
Fellow of New Coll. 1667-73; commr. for assessment, Suss. 1677-80, 1689-90, j.p. 1683-July 1688, Nov. 1688-?89; common councilman, Chichester 1685-Feb. 1688.2
Gounter’s ancestors had been assessed for taxation in Racton as long ago as 1327, and held land there by 1428. Their only previous parliamentary experience was when Giles Gunter sat for Arundel in 1442. Gounter’s father was already seriously indebted before the Civil War. He was appointed a commissioner of array and became a colonel of horse in the royalist army, compounding on the Truro Articles at £580. He procured the ship in which Charles II escaped to France in 1651. He was assessed at a mere £100 p.a. by the decimators, and died shortly before the Restoration leaving a large family. Gounter obtained a royal recommendation for a scholarship to New College at the request of his uncle, the lord chief justice, and in 1669 his mother was granted a pension of £200 p.a. for 21 years. He doubtless opposed exclusion, since he was added to the commission of the peace in 1683, and was elected to James II’s Parliament for Chichester, six miles from Racton. Later in the same month he was nominated to the corporation under the new charter. A moderately active Member, he was appointed to the committees on the bills for the rebuilding of St. Paul’s, prohibiting the import of tallow candles, encouraging shipbuilding and establishing a land registry. He was probably a government supporter, since on 14 Dec. 1685 a payment of £150 was authorized in respect of the arrears of his mother’s pension; but in 1688 he returned the following elaborate answers to the lord lieutenant’s questions on the Test Act and Penal Laws:
The bent of my inclination is to serve his Majesty in all things; but I must beg the freedom of suspending my opinion of what I shall or shall not do, supposing I should be a Member of Parliament, inasmuch as my yea and nay there would certainly follow the conviction of the present debate had then upon my judgment and conscience. ... I shall always endeavour to choose such Members to serve in Parliament as I shall judge to be most likely to do the King and kingdom best service.
He was removed from office, and probably never stood again. He died in 1718. His son, who added the name of Nicoll to his own, sat for Peterborough as a government supporter from 1729 to his death four years later.3