DAMER, Hon. George (1746-1808).
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Family and Education
b. 28 Mar. 1746, 2nd s. of Joseph Damer†, 1st Earl of Dorchester, by Lady Caroline Sackville, da. of Lionel, 1st Duke of Dorset; bro. of Hon. Lionel Damer*. educ. Eton 1755-63; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1763; Grand Tour. unm. Styled Visct. Milton 1792-8; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Dorchester 12 Jan. 1798.
MP [I] 1795-7.
Maj. 87 Ft. 1779-85.
PC [GB] 17 Dec. 1794; [I] 4 Jan. 1795; chief sec. to ld. lt. [I] 1794-5.
Col. Dorset yeomanry 1794, 1803-d., Dorset militia 1798-9; ld. lt. Dorset 1803-d.
In 1790 Damer was elected for the third time at Dorchester, where since 1754 one seat had always gone to a member of his family. According to Oldfield, Damer ‘being in a different interest from his father, refused to employ the influence arising from his father’s property, and solicited the suffrages of the personal voters only’.1 He obtained the support of nearly two-thirds of the resident ratepayers, but was unseated on petition when an election committee confirmed the right of election to include non-residents. Like his brother Lionel, he was closely connected with Earl Fitzwilliam and was quickly provided with another seat by him. Both brothers were veteran members of Brooks’s Club and joined the Whig Club on the same day in 1786.
Milton (as Damer was styled after his father was created Earl of Dorchester in 1792) had voted with the Whigs on Grey’s motion on Oczakov, 12 Apr. 1791. He supported Fox’s amendment to the address, 13 Dec. 1792, ‘against his sentiments’, being listed a Portland Whig that month. In 1794 he went over to Pitt with Fitzwilliam. He informed Thomas Grenville, 10 July:
That I approve of this junction with all my soul is most true because I know not how any great good to the country could have been effected without it; and most true is it that I despise all the blustering and wry faces of opposition, yet have I a lurking fear behind, which I am half ashamed to own, and which the number and respectability of our friends ought to put out of all question.2
Fitzwilliam took him to Ireland as his chief secretary, though ‘not at all a man of business’. Fitzwilliam’s first thoughts had been of Thomas Grenville* and Thomas Pelham* but Portland informed him, 2 Sept. 1794, that if, as seemed likely, neither would go,
Lord Milton must be pressed into the service, and I wish he would believe me as readily as you will that I am sure he will do very well, and supported as you will be in the House of Commons he will feel quite easy and triumphant—as for private audiences I really don’t think there can be a better chief secretary.3
Milton was keen enough to offer on 6 Oct. to accompany Fitzwilliam in a private capacity, and when Fitzwilliam was eventually appointed lord lieutenant in December he remained the only candidate for the secretaryship willing to work in Ireland. After their rapid dismissal, Milton naturally played a part in the preparation of Fitzwilliam’s defence and spoke in the House in justification of their conduct, 24 Apr. and 19 May 1795.4
For the remainder of his career he shared Fitzwilliam’s views on the incapacity of ministers, cast an opposition vote on Whitbread’s motion on the French attack on Ireland, 3 Mar. 1797, and shortly afterwards would have seconded a motion by French Laurence on Irish affairs, had he not been called to his local military duties. On 2 Apr. 1797 he informed the Speaker that gout prevented him from attending the call of the House.5 Like his brother he did not respond to Fox’s call to support his censure of the imperial loan, 14 Dec. 1796,6 and voted with government on the assessed taxes, 4 Jan. 1798, a week before he succeeded to the earldom. He died 7 Mar. 1808.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: J. M. Collinge
- 1. Boroughs, i. 177.
- 2. Malmesbury Diaries, ii. 476; Add. 42058, f. 171.
- 3. NLS mss 11138, f. 106; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F31/28.
- 4. Fitzwilliam mss; Burke Corresp. viii. 223, 227-30.
- 5. Burke Corresp. ix. 293; Sidmouth mss, Milton to Addington, 2 Apr. 1797.
- 6. Fitzwilliam mss, X516/32, Fox to Fitzwilliam, 10 Dec. .