Nielsen Hayden genealogy

George Downing

Male Abt 1624 - 1684  (~ 60 years)


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  • Name George Downing 
    Alternate birth 1623  [1
    Born Abt 1624  Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3
    Gender Male 
    Died Between 7 Jul 1684 and 19 Jul 1684  [2, 4, 5
    Person ID I20745  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others
    Last Modified 18 Sep 2018 

    Father Emanuel Downing,   b. Bef 12 Aug 1585, Ipswich, Suffolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft Nov 1660, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age > 75 years) 
    Mother Lucy Winthrop,   b. 9 Jan 1600, Groton, Suffolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Apr 1679, Westminster, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 10 Apr 1622  Groton, Suffolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Family ID F12816  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Frances Howard,   d. 10 Jul 1683 
    Married 1654  [2, 3
    Last Modified 18 Sep 2018 
    Family ID F12824  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • "A graduate of the first class of Harvard (1642), he returned to England in 1645 and became a member of Cromwell's staff; he switched allegiance to the monarchy in 1659-60 and became a baronet in 1663 and Secretary of the Treasury in 1666. His role in the growth of the British navy was substantial, though the opinion of his contemporaries of his character was not high. He was, as is often said, 'a serviceable man.'" [Myrtle Stevens Hyde, citation details below.]

      From Wikipedia:

      Sir George Downing [...] was an Anglo-Irish preacher, soldier, statesman, diplomat, turncoat and spy, after whom Downing Street in London is named. As Treasury Secretary he is credited with instituting major reforms in public finance. His influence was substantial on the passage and substance of the mercantilist Navigation Acts. The Acts strengthened English commercial and naval power, contributing to the security of the English state and its ability to project its power abroad.

      More than any other man he was responsible for arranging the acquisition of New York from the Dutch, and is remembered there in the name of two other streets named after him in New York, one in Greenwich Village and one in Brooklyn.

      [Downing College at Cambridge is also named after him. --PNH]

      From Abandoning America:

      George Downing, son of Lucy and Emmanuel Downing, emigrated with his parents in 1638 and settled at Salem, Massachusetts. He entered Harvard in 1640 and graduated BA in 1642. John Winthrop listed him as one of the nine 'young men of good hope' in the first graduating class, with Benjamin Woodbridge, William Hubbard, Henry Saltonstall, John Bulkeley, John Wilson Jr, Nathaniel Brewster, Samuel Bellingham and Tobias Barnard. On 27 December 1643 he was appointed to read to junior pupils at a salary of £4 a year. Downing and his fellow students found their prospects in New England looked dim: seven out of the nine who graduated in 1642 eventually found their way back to England.

      Downing returned to England via Barbados in 1645, travelling as a ship's chaplain. His mother Lucy wrote that his determination to leave sprang from 'his little expectation, and fears of supply here'. In 1646 Downing became a chaplain to Colonel John Okey's regiment in the New Model Army. The presbyterian polemicist Thomas Edwards singled him out for attention in Gangraena, as a 'young Peters' (Hugh Peter). Downing went north to Newcastle upon Tyne in 1648 as chaplain to the regiment of Sir Arthur Hesilrige, whose commander was Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell appointed Downing as scoutmaster-general (intelligence-gatherer) of the English forces in Scotland, 1 November 1649, at a salary of £365 a year. Downing served as an MP in all the parliaments of the Protectorate: for Edinburgh in 1654, for Carlisle in 1656 and 1659. Cromwell commissioned Downing to travel to the continent to lodge complaints from England about the massacre of protestants in Piedmont in April 1655. In 1657 he became Cromwell's envoy to The Hague. In the aftermath of Anglo-Dutch hostilities earlier in the 1650s, Downing played a pivotal role in shaping a protestant consensus against the powers of Catholic Europe. He also learned a great deal about Dutch trading practices and economic strategy, which he later brought to bear in England.

      Downing turned Royalist at the Restoration. He made an approach to Charles II while the king was still in exile, declaring that his father had taken him to New England where he had 'sucked in principles that since his reason had made him see were erroneous'. He was knighted in 1660 and in 1662 delivered his former commander, the regicide John Okey, to the scaffold. Downing secured many high offices, and played a vital role in the fortunes of crown and country through his reform of the Treasury. Downing Street, the home of the British Prime Minister, takes its name from him.

  • Sources 
    1. [S1617] Abandoning America: Life-Stories from Early New England, by Susan Hardman Moore. Woodbridge, Sussex: The Boydell Press, 2013.

    2. [S1616] Myrtle Stevens Hyde, "A Study of the Downing Family in England, with Connections in Early New England." The American Genealogist 74:161, 74:299, July 1999 and October 1999.

    3. [S387] Hale, House and Related Families, Mainly of the Connecticut River Valley, by Donald Lines Jacobus and Edgar Francis Waterman. Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut Historical Society, 1952.

    4. [S387] Hale, House and Related Families, Mainly of the Connecticut River Valley, by Donald Lines Jacobus and Edgar Francis Waterman. Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut Historical Society, 1952., month and year only.

    5. [S1617] Abandoning America: Life-Stories from Early New England, by Susan Hardman Moore. Woodbridge, Sussex: The Boydell Press, 2013., year only.