George Berkeley, 1st Earl of Berkeley

George Berkeley, 1st Earl of Berkeley PC FRS (1628 – 10 October 1698) was an English merchant and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1654 until 1658 when he succeeded to the peerage.


Berkeley was the son of George Harding, 8th Baron Berkeley, who died 1658. He was a canon-commoner at Christ Church, Oxford, but did not take any degree. In 1654 he was elected Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire in the First Protectorate Parliament. He was re-elected MP for Gloucestershire in 1656 for the Second Protectorate Parliament.[1] Berkeley succeeded to the barony in 1658, and was nominated in May 1660 as one of the commissioners to proceed to the Hague and invite Charles II to return to the kingdom. In the following November he was made keeper of the house gardens and parks of Nonsuch Palace, where the Duchess of Cleveland later lived.

In 1661 Berkeley was placed on the council for foreign plantations. In 1663 he became a member of the Royal African Company on its formation (10 January), acquiring a share in the territory lying between the port of Salee in South Barbary and the Cape of Good Hope. In the same year he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society. He was made a privy councillor in 1677. In April 1678, he was made a member of the board of trade and plantations which had been established in 1668.

On 11 September 1679 he was created Viscount Dursley and Earl of Berkeley. He was elected to the governorship of the Levant Company on 9 February 1680 and held the position for most, if not the whole, of his subsequent life. In May 1681 he was elected one of the masters of Trinity House. At this time he was a member of the East India Company. In February 1685 he was appointed Custos Rotulorum of Gloucestershire, and 21 July 1685 was sworn of the privy council. After the flight of James II, 11 December 1688, Berkeley was among the lords who assembled at Guildhall and declared themselves a provisional government. He was nominated as ambassador to Constantinople on 16 July 1698, but not wishing to go, petitioned parliament in May 1699 to be excused the office.

Berkeley died after 1699, and was buried in the parish church of Cranford, Middlesex, where he had an estate.


He published in 1668 a religious work entitled Historical Applications and Occasional Meditations upon several Subjects.


Berkeley married on 11 August 1646, Elizabeth Massingberd, daughter of John Massingberd, treasurer of the East India Company, by whom he had two sons, Charles and George, and six daughters:


Parliament of England
Preceded by
John Crofts
Robert Holmes
William Neast
Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire
With: John Howe
Matthew Hale 1654
Christopher Guise 1654
Sylvanus Wood 1654
Baynham Throckmorton 1656
John Crofts 1656
William Neast 1656
Succeeded by
John Grobham Howe
John Stephens
Honorary titles
Interregnum Custos Rotulorum of Gloucestershire
Succeeded by
Viscount Dursley
Preceded by
The Viscount Mordaunt
Custos Rotulorum of Surrey
Succeeded by
Henry Howard
Preceded by
Henry Howard
Custos Rotulorum of Surrey
Succeeded by
The 2nd Earl of Berkeley
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Berkeley
Succeeded by
Charles Berkeley
Preceded by
George Berkeley
Baron Berkeley
(descended by acceleration)

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