George DOWNING 
- Born: 25 Dec 1762, London
- Christened: 2 Feb 1763, St Andrew Holborn London
- Marriage (1): Mary ALSTON  on 27 Jan 1795 in Nayland SFK
- Died: 9 Oct 1800 aged 37
- Buried: St Paul Covent Garden
George Downing was born on 25 December 1762 in London, the son of Reverend George Downing, Rector of Ovington, Essex. He attended Doctor Parr's School at Stanmore, Middlesex and after finishing his education, he was articled to Mr. Alston, a solicitor at Nayland, Essex. He was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn, London in 1794. He became a Senior Lieutenant in the London Light Horse Volunteers. As a pastime he wrote Greek verse, some of which were published anonymously.
12 July 1786
I delivered to Mrs Hart of Boxford a mortgage bearing date the 29th day of May 1781 and made between Mrs Hart of the 1st part Sam Ware & E Gray of the 2nd part and Jne Hart decd of the 3rd part also bond bearing date 31 May 1781 from Mrs Ware to Mr Hart deceased also Indre of lease and release bearing date 11th and 12th instant the release being made between E Gray of the 1st part and Mrs Hart of the 2nd part an M Ware of the 3rd and E Taylor of the 4th also lease for year bearing date 11th inst from Miss Taylor to Mrs Hart and a bond from Mrs Hart to Miss Taylor for payment of 200 to Mrs Harts two daughters pursuant to Mr Wares Will.
George Downing Jr
From an entry in the Diary of the Alston Law practice Nayland, document in Pictures file.
George Downing of Lincoln's Inn was a barrister, called to the Bar 10 Oct 1794. Portrait and memoir in European Magazine Vol 39 pg 83 Feb 1801 Portrait in Gents Magazine and Freemasons Pocket Book. Provincial Grand Master for Essex (Freemasons). Senior Lieutenant Light Horse Volunteers.
There is a monument to him in St. Paul's, Covent Garden.
He was initiated (as a Mason) in Somerset House Lodge, No. 2, London (now Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge, No. 4), in 1793. In 1799 he was appointed a Grand Steward and served as President of the Board of Grand Stewards. The same year he joined Grand Stewards' Lodge, [SN. 162]. In 1796 he was appointed Provincial Grand Master of Essex, serving in this role until his death. In Royal Arch he was exalted in Chapter of St. James, No. 2, London and served as First Principal from 1796 to 1800. He was a Founder and First Principal of Hermes Chapter, No. 115 (of the Grand and Royal Chapter), Grays, Essex. However, this chapter did not survive and its Charter was returned. He died on 9 October 1800.
Library and Museum of Freemasonry - <http://126.96.36.199:7778/WebOPAC/TitleView/bibinfo.asp?RwSearchCode=0&BibCodes=18359481>
The Times, around the turn of the century, reports George as a distinguished Mason, involved in various Masonic charities - see picture images
In June 1793, . . . . . George Downing was invested at The Black Boy. Here at 9:00 am. 100 brethren assembled, where a public breakfast was provided. At 10.00 am. the Lodge was opened in the presence of 160 brethren (the lodges of Essex having petitioned H.H.H. the Prince of Wales to appoint George Downing of Lincoln's Inn and Ovington) and afterwards 180 brethren proceeded to church and a collection of L12 was made; the day ended with a dinner in the Shire Hall.
Times 22 Dec 1797
This day was publifhed, elegantly printed on a fine wove writing paper, hot preffed, embellifhed with a portrait of George Downing, Esq. Provincial Grand Mafter for the County of Effex, engraved by Ridley, from a miniature by Spicer, price 2s bound in red, or 2s 6d with a tuck, pockets, &c. complete.
I return you the warrant of Attorney signed; we go very well on the whole, both mother and child being in good health - Mary came down into the drawing room yesterday - Everyone here assures your mother that you are on the point of marriage, and she requests me to ask you whether it is so, and if so whether you wish to have the house at Nayland, as she has no objection to quit it. She and all of us unite in kind love and believe me Dr George
your faithful friend and brother
23 April 1798
P. S. you do quite right with respect to James, and your mother is much obliged to you for your caution
Copy of a letter, the original being in the position of Julia Redman 1999, postmarked 98 with a note by Alston Fenn "George Downing to George Alston refers to the birth of his daughter Catherine Mary Brackett (A9) also to their rumours of of George Alston's impending marriage to Mary Creek (A2)" also note by George Alston? "23 April Downing". on file 2007.
Written untidily with corrections on the back of the letter appears the following:
Sir By desire of Mr Jones I called upon you yesterday to settle the two-year . . . . . Lady Day cash which he expects you to pay to me immediately.
To Mr Lean
Sir Mr Dawson has fixed Monday next five o'clock in the afternoon to be at Hadleigh for . . . . . admit to the copyhold field of Rigatts Hall Manor
Nayland 25 April 98
Mr . . . . .
These appear to be drafts of letters emanating from George Alston's law office.
Essex Record Office D/DE/T115/3
MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTS AND PAPERS COLLECTED BY ESSEX ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
Dates of Creation 1792
Scope and Content Abstract of title of the Trustees under the Will of William Prior Johnson, esq., decd., to Leigh Heath and Leigh Park farms, reciting 30 deeds, 1658-1791 The asbstract includes summaries of D/DK T211 (1717) and D/DE T115/2, with the opinion of George Downing, Lincoln's Inn, 10 Aug. 1792
Acquisition Date From 1658
Acquisition Date To 1792
Essex Record Office D/DQ 84/41
MANORIAL DOCUMENTS AND OTHER RECORDS OF BELCHAMP WALTER, FOXEARTH AND PENTLOW
Level: Series Deeds of Manor of Foxearth
Dates of Creation 30 September 1783
Scope and Content:
Attested copy of Mortgage (Demise for 500 years), 29 Sept. 1783, to secure an annuity for life of L200 Sadler Whitmore of Wiston [Wissington] (co.Suff.), gent. to John Hadley of West Bergholt, esq. Manor of Foxearth alias Foxyeard Hall and appurtenances; messuage called Foxearth Hall with lands, meadows, pastures, . . . . . in occupation of Richard Aldham Recites: D/DQ 84/39,40 Witnesses: Samuel Alston, Geo. Downing, jun.
Essex Record Office D/DNe T39/32
NEAVE FAMILY OF ROMFORD AND PRITTLEWELL
Dates of Creation 16,26 October 1799
Scope and Content:
Opinions of Counsel (Lancelot Shadwell of Lincolns Inn and Geo. Downing) whether Sir Richard Neave may pay Mr [Tho.] Charles L415 in part discharge of his Judgment debt . . . . .
European Magazine February 1801 gives notice of George Downing's death 9 October 1800.
Feb 1801 European Magazine gives an account of George Downing including an image. See pictures.
Ref: Liveing Archive folder Downing George
Gentleman's Magazine July-Dec 1800 gives an account of George Downing's funeral with military honours as senior Lieutenant of the Light Horse Volunteers. Noting he was buried at St Paul's Covent Garden and that Spencer Percival led his horse in the funeral procession. (Spencer Percival was chancellor of the exchequer in 1807 and later Prime Minister he was assassinated in the House of Commons 11 May 1812)
Ref: Red Book.
A letter to George Alston by a friend and business associate in London Edward Blair dated 24 Nov 1800 refers to George Downing's death as "I was much shocked to hear by a brother soldier of his, the death of poor Mr Downing: that he died like a soldier thro excessive fatigue in the cause he had undertaken. Whether that cause be a good one or a bad one, is another question and will bear debate. I Have not yet called to pay my respects to your sister as I conceived that visits on such an occasion would be rather a troublesome intrusion, than a complement worth the accepting. I hope his time was not to much curtailed , to leave a suitable provision for his family. His business I am told was very considerable, but his expenses were also large. His private character and reputation highly respectable. His funeral according to the papers, a la militaire. It is thus the King rewards his martyrs, at a cheap rate to himself: with honours, and titles, and military trophys; or, in extraordinary cases, with pensions and preferments - which the country pays for.
With complements to all your family,
George Downing's Funeral
from "An Historical Record of the Light Horse Volunteers of London & Westminster" Published by Wright Co. Pall Mall
Through the duty in September just described the regiment sustained a severe lofs in the death of Lieutenant Downing, a very zealous officer whose services were most valuable in the field & in the committee.
His constitution naturally delicate was not improved by the sedentary habits of a barrister rising to the first rank of the profession; the fatigue, together with exposure to the inclement weather during these nights of duty, produced a violent inflammatory cold which in have few days terminated fatally. It was so strongly felt throughout the regiment, that he is valuable life had been decidedly lost on service, that an urgent application was made to his family that his comrades might be allowed the melancholy satisfaction of honouring his remains with a military funeral. The family who naturally courted privacy in their affliction, having reluctantly acceded to the application, the regiment was afsembled in parade order on the 16th day of October & having received the body of their late comrade at his house in Hatton Garden, attended it to the place of internment, the vaults under St Paul's Covent Garden - The charger of the deceased, was led by the Honourable Spencer Percival, one of the earliest and most intimate friends of its late master. Three volleys were fire over the mouth of the fault by a division of the Dismounted, & the Regiment separated, with sincere regret for the lofs of a highly valued officer & an exemplary & accomplished member of Society.
Oval aquatint miniature by Spicer in possession of E L Fenn Auckland NZ 1998.
An Engraving of George Downing in contemporary dress, was done by William Ridley from an origional enamelled minature, in the possession of Mrs Downing, by Henry Spicer Esq. and printed by Vernor and Hood, 32 Poultry, London on 20 October 1797. Dimensions: Print: 53 mm x 67 mm
It was published February 1801 in The European Magazine, whose editor James Asperne was an ardent Freemason. Reproductions of the image of Downing were offered, Asperne described him as "a Man who was fo UNIVERSALLY BELOVED".
The following is an ode to George written by an Alston (possibly by George or Samuel his Brothers in Law)?.
To the Memory of George Downing Esq:
We who departed excellence revere
Approach with silent step this hallowed bier
That bears to mingle with its native dust
A man supremely kind and truly just
Whose powers convivial made e'en sorrow gay
And gave to mirth a more enlivning ray
Such Downing was, Oh, much lamented shade
Accept our homage to thy memory paid
Yet what avail to thee the pomp of state
Or all the honours of the good or great
No wealth no grandeur can thy life restore
No titles charm thy clay cold bosom more
Still shall affection oft with downcast eye
Be'dew the spot where thy bless'd relics lie
Remembrance dwell on scenes of past delight
And mourn thy talents set in endless night
Friendships with generous sympathy combine
And deck with fadeless flowers thy sacred shrine.
Morning Herald X X
the 23 Oct 1800
1. George Downing: Letter to his sister F E Downing, 20 Jun 1781, Ovington.
Liveing Archive 212 D Item 1 Pages 1-2 In another hand Dec /42 (1) 20 June S1. Birthday greeting
June 20. 81
My very dear sister might (perhaps with reason) take it amiss were I to omit this opportunity of addressing you on the adding another year to your file of receipts - for such no doubt is every day we breathe, we receive it at the hand of providence in trust, & are liable to have our accounts called for whenever it pleases the Master of House to call his Servants to a reckoning.
No one can be more sensibly touch'd than I am, at anything which concerns my Sister nor can the welfare of anyone affect me with more pleasure, had I not those feelings I should be worse than a Brute - I have received nothing but tenderness from her, she merits nothing but love, nothing but affection, at my hands.
But what shall I say to my Fanny on this occasion, shall I fill up this Carte Blanche, with a list of compliments, on my Fanny's sweet dispositions,? That I will leave to your Enemy - shall I wish you a long and happy life? With respect to wishes I hope you have long been assured there is not one good one which I do not form in your behalf
all the difference is this year I express in prose what last year I wished in verse, don't be affronted or Splenetic at the dullness of my remarks (I confess it's an odd way of writing to a Lady) if I put you in mind of Gay's distich1 -
"Call it a Birthday? tis a truth 100 clear
"A birthday is the funeral of a former Year.
I make no comment, leaving it to your own good sense to draw the conclusion.
I am convinced that however it may be with the Generalities of Mankind whose time perhaps carries [?] with it no more than a "mere occasion" & that in embryo, it is far different with my Fanny - her Actions I am persuaded are not the offspring of those synonymous tho equivocal terms "fassie [?] & Reputation but originate from a far higher & nobler motive, about which the gaddy World [?] may reason themselves mad & in the end know no more of it than I do of Embroidery. Its my earnest wish that my Sweetest Sister may live to see many years & each one
happier than the foregoing - and when [?] it pleases God to remove you hence (torn) you have a firm belief that he who first formed thy precious Soul will take care of it & receive it to himself, this my sister is all I can wish for you, all you can have did I fill up a folio sheet with Wishes they might all be included in these two viz
Happiness here & happiness hereafter this I more than wish, for every wish is turned into a prayer & that a truly fervent one too & where ever it shall please Providence to dispose of you, those Wishes & those prayers will still follow you & as I have hitherto been I hope I shall ever remain your
Affectionate & faithful Brother
2. George Downing: Letter to his sister F E Downing, 6 Jun 1785, Nayland SFK.
Liveing Archive 213 D Item 2 Pages 1-4. In another hand (2) S5, OXFORD - postal stamp. Sealed with red sealing wax.
at Mrs Broughton's
Turn at Chelmsford.
Oil of Lavender & Essence of Bergamot 1 Dram each
Essence of Ambergrease (sic) - 30 Drops
Rectified Spirits of Wine - ½ a pint
6 Drops of Oil of Rhodium
¼ Gram of Musk, or, no Musk
My Sweet Sister
Above you have a receip which I promised our Dr Mother I would send to you in London but as it was not in my own custody I could not get it time enough to send to you there \endash she wishes you to have a double quantity of these Ingredients mixed up for her, in all probability you will have an opportunity of getting them from Town where you may have them much cheaper & better than in the Country \endash it is the best composition in the World & will make you all as sweet as nose gays & now my sister let me thank you for a very pretty Letter & a very pretty pair of buckles which came safety to hand on Saturday night I admire them much & the more as they are not of that enormous size which were worn 2 months ago \endash I shall never put them on without thinking of the kind Donors \endash how generous was Drst Aunt in her offer of treating you with a sight of the Music nothing could be more like her dear self, I think I can divine my Fanny's reasons for not going, where was you to have slept the night before ? Am I right or wrong, I can assure you I set all my wits to work to unravel the
cause \endash if it was any fantastical scruples about dress, expect me not to spare you so be prepared \endash all the Polite World hereabouts are gone up to Town to satisfy their ears & if their Pockets cannot afford it very well \endash I must own I should have enjoyed being there above all things \endash but business pleasure & economy are irreconcilable \endash & so I do not suffer my ears to itch after what is out of my reach \endash this you say is talking like a philosopher, but I hope it will please God to let me think & act like a christian \endash I see so many instances of young fellows contracting a turn for diversions & experience in their youth that I am quite ashamed & afraid \endash how they do it & how they support it I know not I fear too many fix a Clog on their heels in their Boyhood which they never kick off in their manhood \endash but always drag heavily through life \endash as to myself I hope I desire not to imitate them, I own it sometimes hurts my pride to put up with many slights & indignities I have levelled at me but it is all very good for me \endash & if I cannot vie with my equals in appearance I can in credit \endash I can go into a shop & have my orders complied with with readiness even for the smallest trifle, when I see others betrayed into very mortifying situations who have long bills against them \endash but enough of this \endash I spent a most agreeable Week in Ely, my expectations were really out run by the appearance of our sweet mother she runs & trots about
& appears as stout & brisk as if nothing had ailed her \endash it did me more good to see her than anything I have met with these many many months \endash we have indeed abundant cause for thanksgiving \endash I hope the journey may have been as agreeable to our Dr Aunt, tell her I am on the point of copying a piece of Salvator Rosa1 the subject of which is a Murder in the Alps \endash I hope I shall not add a 2nd murder to the 1st \endash I do not say much about Ely as I take it for granted that you will ere this comes to your hand have been there & seen for yourself \endash I think our Dr Father also looks purely [?] \endash I really was much hurt by the account of poor Mrs Broughton what a lesson of humility to us all \endash I beg my tender & affectionate Duty & Love to our Dr Aunt & tell her I think it long till I can see both her & you & would give something if could bring it about to take a peep of you \endash God bless you my Drs Sister & believe me with much sincerity [?] your ever
Geo: Downing Jnr.
Nayland 6 June 1785.
Best Tespts [?] To Mrs Edwards - I beg of you to write soon.
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvator_Rosa Perhaps?
3. George Downing: Letter to his Mother Catherine Downing, 31 Jan 1786, New Inn.
Liveing Archive 214 D It 3 P 1-4. In another hand (3) 31 Jan 1786 Post marks FH VI/12
New Inn 31st Janry 1786
Ever Hond Sir & Madam
The oddest excuse a man can make for not writing at a given time is, that he was at that very time employed in writing to someone else \endash but odd as this may appear I am going to offer it as my plea for not writing on Saturday \endash the truth is that at the very time I intended to have wrote to you, business of considerable consequence faced me to write a terrible long letter to Nayland, & as I was apprized of Mrs Johnson's writing the post before I was the less anxious upon that Account, ever since I came to Town I have been in one continued whirl of business, which I have reason to believe has done me no other harm than to make my legs & occasionally my head to ache. I have recd abundance of warm & pressing invitations from difft friends to dine with them, but you will I doubt not be surprised to hear that excepting one day at Kensington I have dined no where & drank tea only twice once with Mr Broughton & once with Mr Grimwood with the latter of whom I breakfasted on Sunday by engagement, as he kindly offered to take me into his Seat at St John's Chapel, Mr Cecil's Sermon was on the transfiguration he preached extempore but his matter is so well arranged as to convince me that he takes infinite pains in the Composition, the truths he delivered were indeed
sweetly evangelical, & demonstrative of a Heart who had drank deeply of the Well of Life, & whose objects & desires were fixed upon his dying Lord; he is lively without affectation Zealous without Ostentation & plain & familiar without degenerating into slovenliness or quaintness of expression, his afternoon Sermon was a Continuation of that in the Morning, the subject of the former was general observations on the transfiguration the time, the Manner, the Attendants, & the subject of this Conversation concluding with practical inferences naturally arising from it, the Afternoon Sermon was confined to Peter's rashness & the remarkable manifestation of the divinity of our Lord & the solemn testimony of his Divine mission from above \endash with respect of the time he took occasion to observe that it was the time of prayer when our Lord was thus transfigured, & from thence confessed [?] that is at that period we are favoured with the highest manifestations of divine Love, & took occasion to inforce the duty of prayer in a very affectionate & fervent manner \endash the manner in which our Lord was transfigured was emblematic of the character of his mission, he was arrayed in light his garments became whiter than any Fuller could white them, the message both in the old & new Testament was metaphorically represented as a Great Light witness [?] - Isaiah's prophecy "upon them hath the Light shined" "have seen a great Light" & "Simeons Light to lighten the Gentiles "St John's "Light shining in darkness" etc etc \endash the Attendants Moses & Elias \endash Moses at the Head of the Law, Elias of the Prophets, seemed to be both of them surrendering up their Authority to him who was the fulness of both \endash the Subject of their Conversation was Xt's Death, & here indeed Mr C was truly excellent the
manner in which he treated the glorious doctrine of the atonement for & redemption of fallen man will I think never be out of my remembrance, it would ill become me to attempt to give you any idea of it, my poor abilities & the compass of a Letter are equally incompetent to the Task, All I shall say is that I never felt my own ignorance & want of knowledge in these great points so much in my life & I can now only think & blush \endash Mrs Johnson had kindly insisted on my dining with her on Sunday but was so obliging as to put off her dinner till after the Evening Service, at which time My Cousin Chas & Mr Vzee also by her invitation went along with me - my business has been so great as to enable me to go there less [?] than I otherwise would but I am not fond of doing it without I can get out early in the afternoon \endash I think however I have slept there 3 nights On Tuesday I went with Sophia & Miss Manning [?] to the museum at Leicester house & was vastly entertained, but I was obliged to run through as fast as possible \endash Mr & Mrs Grimwood are both excellent people I heartily wish I could introduce my Dr Parents to them, if possible I plan to go [?] there this evening & am in hopes of meeting Mr Gaskin & Mr Coulthurst \endash Cousin C desires his duty he is quite a friend indeed, & I am peculiarly fortunate in being at his Chamber's I find him always ready, and always contriving to assist & oblige me - I hope if possible to get to Billericay on Thursday, what keeps me now is settling a Case & it is not improbable but I shall have a journey into Herefordshire with Lady Prime Wf of the late Sergeant Prime before I can bring it to conclusion \endash in the midst of all my avocations I have a heart that continually veers towards Ovington & ever anxious to hear from thence do then write me a line directed to Billericay & if accident should keep me here or elsewhere they will send it to me, and since their keeping one for me there a long time when I was in London last I have given them orders on this subject my best duty & love . . . . . due & I am
your obt son G D Jnr
4. George Downing: Letter to his sister F E Downing C/o Mr Bowles Fort Bristol, 20 Aug 1790, Lincolns Inn LND.
Liveing Archive 215 D It 4 P 1-3
I greet thee well \endash it may perhaps seem strange unto thee that I have kept so long silence, but certain intentions which have been ripening in the seed plot of my goodwill, & which the Suns Warmth hath but even now brought to maturity, have restrained me from writing to thee, that I might not afterwards appear to fall short of the profession's I had held forth unto thee. And even now, so it is, that I have but little certainty as to the fulfilment (torn) whereof I write, tho I confess freely unto thee I have greater confidence than heretofore in as much as I have felt much concern and uneasiness about thy purpose of journeying from Bristol alone, lest my fear or dismay should occupy thee, or any accident approach which might happily be prevented by my presence, I have after serious and I hope profitable thought thereupon, earnestly desired if by any means I may carry the same into effect, to come down unto thee, that thou mayest [?] a friend with thee on thy journey, and that I also may have a seemly opportunity of seeing our Friends and testifying my good will unto them \endash and my desire is, if it may so be, to be at our Friends House on the fourth day of the next week but one and to return from thence with thee on the sixth day of the same week, proposing to lodge that night with our friend Deane of Reading with whom I have business, and to come the next day to this
Town \endash the day after, will I hope be a day of rest to thee and me, and on the next day we may, if it so please thee go down to our friends near Ely Steeple House, for which purpose I mean to take places before I depart hence and so with my hearty commendations to our good Friends with whom thou dwellest, I bid thee farewell.
Thy loving brother
20th day of the 8th month 1790
5. George Downing: Letter to his monther Catherine Downing, 15 Mar 1794, Lincolns Inn LND.
Liveing Archive 216 D It 5 P 1-2
In pencil "for Catherine Mar 15 1794 (5).
Rev Mr Downing
Ever Hond Sir & Madam
As the time approaches of seeing my dearest father I feel a sense of increasing pleasure, I trust that the weather will be fine & that he will have satisfaction of having and the comfort of finding my sweet Mother & Sister's in such a state as he would wish \endash my dear Sister Kitty has of late been much on my mind, I shall rejoice to hear concerns central [?] account of her improvement \endash I am particularly indebted for my dear mother for her communications respecting her \endash In her sensible [?] in physic in general, and her particular knowledge of her Children's Constitution, I have such a reliance that what she says I look on as coming from Authority. Yesterday and today I have been much engaged & it is with difficulty I can spare a few minutes to write my Letter, but if I miss [?] it will not tell my dear father how glad I shall be to see him \endash I must however he wants no appearance of it, that my Sisters want no testimony of my Love, & that both my dear parents recognise me as their dutiful and obedient son
Lincolns Inn 15 Mar 1794
6. George Downing: Letter to his sister F E Downing C/o Rev Downing Ovington, 30 May 1794, Lincolns Inn LND.
Liveing Archive 217 D It 6 P 1-3. In another hand (6) 30 May 1794 postmark BA 3? 94. Sealed with red sealing wax.
Rev Mr Downing's
Indeed my dearest sister I feel much obliged to you for your Letter & much comforted by the intelligence it contains it was so early days when my dear Father wrote, that I felt anxious to have the account of ye then favourable Symptoms confirmed, thank God this is done, & my mind much relieved. However I rely on you my love to write again soon \endash tell the dear Lady to take good care of herself, & thank both her & my Father for the lines subjoined to your Letter \endash I am glad my [?] Sisters are gone to Ason [?] \endash for I think it will give them health & vivacity \endash I am going to dine at Islington today by invitation to meet Dr Gooch and Dr Gaskins \endash the Broughton's I find are to be there also \endash my dearest Mother may rely on my promises, I think the general spirit of preparation with so intimidiate [?] the Democratic party, as to render actual service unnecessary [?] \endash the learning the exercise has this good effect upon me that it makes me both go to bed & rise earlier, & I already find myself the better for it \endash you are very kind in your wishes, & write as you always do full of sisterly affection \endash I have received nineteen guineas since I have been called to the Barr so that I have hitherto no excuse to grumble \endash my . . . . .
business is not yet finished so that at present I cannot boast of much relaxation [?] derived from it I have to [?] take 6 or 8 sets of papers off the old score \endash I know of no news to amuse you, & thank God of none to this compose you \endash the news I most look for is the information of your coming to Town
Fare well my sister \endash give my best duty & best love to our dear parents
& accept the affection
of your Brother
Lincolns Inn. May 30t 94
The charity children marched with oak bows yesterday
7. George Downing: Letter to his uncle Mr Bowles, 30 Jan 1796, Lincolns Inn LND.
Liveing Archive 218 D It 7 P 1-2 In another hand (7) 30 Jan 1796
mem. This letter was given to George Downing Liveing by Dr James Fripp. It appears to have been written to Mr Bowles. G.D.L.
Reced 1 Feb 1796
Ansd 9 Do
30th JJ 1796
My dear Uncle
I write to you, at the request of our Relation & Friend Mr Baldwin, to convey the melancholy intelligence of his daughter's death; a complaint under which she had laboured for some time, and which there is every reason to suppose was water in the Chest carried her off yesterday morning \endash The poor Father & Mother are, as you may easily conceive, in deep distress, but on the whole bear up as well as one could expect \endash I earnestly hope that both you & my aunt & the numerous branches of your Family enjoy health & happiness, may you long continue to do so, & never more experience an instance similar to that in Sergeants Inn \endash I had a letter from Ovington yesterday, my Mother was afflicted in the beginning of the winter with a severe return of her old disorder, & has ever since been a close prisoner, but I trust from her Letters, that her health is returned & her strength returning, my Father & Sister are pretty well \endash I hope in your great trading town you are not subject to the miseries of scarcity, which in a certain degree is felt throughout the kingdom, & still more in the neighbouring Countries \endash Perhaps it may be an interposition of a merciful Providence to make wars to cease & still the madness of the people; At all events let us say as good Christians God's wish be done! \endash Remember me, I beg of you (& my dear wife wishes to be included in your remembrance) to my Aunt & Cousins O believe me your dutiful & affect Nephew
8. George Downing: Letter to his sister F E Downing C/o Rev Mr Downing Ovington, Apr 1796.
Liveing Archive 219 D It 8 P 1-2 In another hand (8) Ap 1796. Postmark E A P 1 96
Revd Mr Downing's
My very dear Sister
Whatever were your feelings on writing your last Sisterly Letter, & I can give you credit for exquisite feelings, I'll assure you they could not exceed the emotions of my own heart at receiving the very grateful intelligence it contained \endash And I shall not cease to pray Almighty God to accomplish what he has thus favourably begun \endash and surely my beloved Sister as he has already shewn us so many mercies, we may & ought to trust that he will bless us with the complete restoration of our dear Mother to health & strength \endash This illness has made her more dear to me than ever, & her life has ten times increased in value \endash God grant that it may awaken in me a sense of gratitude for the blessings I have already enjoyed in the lives of both our dear parents, and spirit of fear of incurring a forfeiture of such mercies \endash All of you I am sure feel with me on the subject \endash the little Mary, who is a sort of graft on our own stock, is gone this morning in search of a little bit of white Fish for her dear Mother, & if she succeeds will probably announce it to you \endash tell my dear Father that I feel very thankful for his kind Letter, and that Mr Knutsford (sic)1 is going to Nayland to serve Mr Jones as his curate there, at least such a matter is on the Tapis2 \endash Also pray beg the favour of him before he comes to Town to pay Mr William Jones six pounds for me, which I received on account of his half pay yesterday \endash If it is inconvenient to him to advance the money, I will enclose a note for ten pounds to the Dr Gentleman & request him to pay it out of it for me \endash I trust nothing will prevent our seeing you the week after next, in the meantime present my best duty to my precious Father & Mother & much love & affection to Dr H & M
your faithful and affecte Bro
1. This most likely Francis Fortescue Knottesford  who served a curacy at Stoke by Nayland. However there are conflicting accounts of the date of this, Jones like George Downing died in 1800
2. on the tapis. (of a subject) under consideration or discussion. This expression is a partial translation of the French phrase sur le tapis , meaning literally 'on the carpet'.
https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com › on+the+tapis
9. George Downing: Letter to his sister F E Downing C/o Rev Downing Ovington, 3 Jun 1796, Lincolns Inn LND.
Liveing Archive 220 D It 8A P 1-2 In another hand (8A) 3 June 1796
Rev Mr Downing's
My dear Sister
I thank you vastly for your pretty note found this morning, as I do for your good company, which I never can have without being the better for it & never part [?] with or without being the surer [?] I thought much & thank God for the difference of prospects in your & your sister's Journey, as I travelled - Poor dear Mary would never have gone thro' it, if I had not accompanied her - I went all thro' to Colchester not being able to get a place in any coach, & had the satisfaction [?] of seeing her safe in the Chaise for Nayland How she found things there I know not, but the issue of good or cost [?] she made human probably now knows - if it be the former God be praised, if the latter it is her & my duty to submit with resignation, & I trust we shall do so; she is an affectionate Daur, as well as a fond wife, so that I doubt not she will be a comfort to her children in any event - as I was obliged to be in Town, I had no alternative but to portchaise it all the way, I looked hard in at the Bury but could not see you, & I did not care to stop the coach - it was near ten before I reached Hatton Garden No news from Nayland by this days post - write to me directly & I will write to our good parents tomorrow - how I envy you meeting! & And now I value their lives - Farewell with much duty & believe me your affect brother.
3d of June 1796
10. General Regulations of The Light Horse Volunteers, 1798.
11. George Downing: Letter to his Mother Catherine Downing, 8 Apr 1798, Re the birth & resuscitation of his daughter.
Liveing Archive 221 D It 9 P 1-5. In another hand (9) Ap 8 1798 birth of CM Downing Postmark A A P 9 98
At least two incomplete letters in scraps.
My precious Brother
. . . . . but she preferred my staying with her, so I sent James and she . . . . . herself & I walked with her about the room or sat by her when in her chair late Mr . . . . . came he told me her time was approaching but that I might probably expect her Labour to last 24 hours but that all was going on right \endash I then went down & made him some tea & at five returned with him up stairs, when . . . . .
. . . . . of the resumption [?] my dear babe has arisen from the Womb of her Mother, she has been also born a second time by the love of regeneration God grant that she may continue dead unto sin & being a partaker of the death of Christ may be in deed & in truth a partaker of his resurrection \endash she has been baptised this evening by the name of Catherine Mary \endash It were impossible to subscribe to you the different agitations that have in the course of the last twenty four hours alternately occupied one/me \endash at present all seems merged in gratitude . . . . .
. . . . . mercies received, my head is confused, but I have enough recollection left, to acknowledge that I have received both the wife of my bosom & the issue of my body from the Jaws of the Grave \endash and little less marvellous is if interference of Providence in these cases, then it will appear to be wishes [?] the graves shackles [?] in obedience to the Almighty mandate give up their dead \endash may the gracious God also (torn) strength to opening gates of the womb, direct hereby his grace after & formally enable her to enter the gates of everlasting life which he has on this day set open to all believers.
Sunday evening 8 April 1798 9 o'clock.
Monday morning \endash 12 o'clock
Little Kate & little Kate's mother are both . . . . . & have had a good night, Mr Croft [?] has paid us a minister visit [?] which he says is quite ample, and the ladies and child's looks preclude the . . . . . of enquiries \endash I saw the little soul [?] . . . . . just now sucking her . .oat as if she would have devoured [?] no milk yet \endash how very thankful ought we to be . . . . . go on so well, I suppose the new Aunts will feel a little [?] importance give my love to them, & tell Maria particularly that her niece is pronounced like her; I am certainly no judge of resemblances, but it strikes me that her eyes are my Father's, & the nose Maria's \endash
your most dutyful [?] son
G Dow. . . .
PS Mr Shadwell is to be the godfather \endash whether Mrs Alston is to be godmother or no I have not heard \endash I hope my good Father will excuse the blunder I have committed in saying that the large grey eyes of my babe are like his own \endash I need not say remember us in thanksgiving
How great was both our consolation at hearing the cries of the infant assure us of its having become a Cotenant [?] with us of this earthly tabernacle \endash May God grant that she may become a partaker of the resurrection we this day celebrate ,& that her this day rising from the womb, may be the ernest [?] of her new birth & resurrection to life eternal \endash call on your kind host and hostess to pass on my thankfulness & believe me your affectionate Bro
Easter Sunday evening
12. George Downing: Letter to his Mother Catherine Downing & father, 1 Sep 1798, Lincolns Inn LND.
Liveing Archive 223 D It 11 P 1-4
13. George Downing: Letter to his Parents, 19 Sep 1798, Lincolns Inn LND.
Liveing Archive 224 D It 11A P 1-3
14. George Downing: Letter to his father & mother, Dec 1798.
Liveing Archive 222 D It 10 P 1-4
15. George Downing: Letter to his Parents, 1799.
Liveing Archive 228 D It 15 P 1-2
16. George Downing: Letter to his Parents, 1799, Lincolns Inn LND.
Liveing Archive 226 D It 13 P 1-3
17. George Downing: Letter to his Parents, Aug 1799.
Liveing Archive 225 D It 12 P 1-4
18. George Downing: Letter to his Parents, 5 Nov 1799, Lincolns Inn LND.
Liveing Archive 227 D It 14 P 1-2
19. George Downing: Letter to his Parents, 30 Dec 1799.
Liveing Archive 229 D It 16 P 1-2
20. Letter to Col Herries by George's Executors: thanks for the support of the Corps of the Light Horse Volunteers, 17 Oct 1800, Hatton Garden London.
Liveing Archive: Image Letter 21b
17 Oct 1800
Copy letter from th Executors of G. D. Snr to Col Herries"
In the names of the afflicted family of our much lamented friend Lieutenant Downing, and of ourselves as his Executors, we beg leave to return you, and trust you will have the goodnefs to communicate to the Corps at large, our sincere thanks for the very distinguish'd mark of Honour & Respect testified by their attendance on the melancholy occasion of yesterday.
The striking Propriety & Solemnity with which the whole was conducted, & for which we are so entirely indebted to your exertions could not fail of being highly gratifying & consolatory to ourselves and his numerous Friends, at the same time that it was so honourable to the Feelings of the Gentlemen under your command
We are Dear Sir etc etc
Hatton G 17 Oct 1800
To Col Herries etc etc etc
21. European Magazine: Masonic Lodge Obituary & Reflection on life of Geo Downing, Feb 1801, London.
Liveing Archive IMG 4084 - IMG 4088
GEORGE DOWNING, ESQ.
BARRISTER AT LAW, LIEUTENANT OF THE LICHT HORSE VOLUNTEERS OF LONDON AND WESTMINSTER, AND PROVINCIAL GRAND MASTER OF THE ANCIENT AND HONOURAIILE SOCIETY OF FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS FOR THE COUNTY OF ESSEX.
THE virtues of private life, and the talents that adorn a retired station, are not less worthy of contemplation, and are more likely to be extenlively useful as examples, than even the policy of statesmen, or the exploits of heroes. The late much-lamented subject of this Memoir was the son of the Rev. George Downing, Rector of Ovington, Effex, and was born in London on Christmas Day 1762. After having received a liberal education at the school then kept by Dr Parr, at Stanmore, Mr Downing was articled to Mr Alston, a Solicitor of some eminence at Nayland, in Suffolk. At the expiration of his term he was entered of Lincoln's Inn, and in May 1794 was called to the Bar. Of his profession Mr Downing was a distinguished ornament. He soon perceived, that talents alone, however eminent, without great application, were inadequate to attain either distinction or emolument. Under this impression, he devoted his time almost wholly to study, very frequently consuming the "midnight oil" in short, no man, we believe, ever made himself more a slave (as it is sometimes called) to business than he did. The result was flattering and honourable to him; for, at the time of his death, though, in fact, a young man, he was nearly at the head of his profession in the conveyancing line.
That he had a mind highly cultivated, and warmly attached to polite literature, all who had the happiness of his acquaintance well knew; and we believe some fruits of his little leisure have been laid before the public; but that modesty which was a very diftinguishing trait in his character prevented his assuming the merits of them; and, as they were anonymoully published, we are unable to trace them. One small specimen, however, of his classic taste is in the hands of the Writer of this article, and may not be thought unworthy of being preferved. It is the following extemporaneous Epigram, composed while listening to a voluntary on the organ:
Translated from the Greek (see image opposite) by Dr S Lapidge1.
"By playing sweet melodies on his lyre Orpheus led the foot [of the lady] that had died back to earth for a second time, because Apollo himself had taught him. And God taught you, O honey-sweet one, a stronger song, because you yourself raise those who are still living to Heaven."
Almost the only kind of relaxation from the fatigues of business that Mr. Downing permitted himself to enjoy, he sought in the pleasurable and instructive pursuits of the ancient and honourable Craft of Free and Accepted Masons. The attention which he had paid to the acquisition of knowledge on this subject was soon evinced by the ability with which he illustrated the Lectures in the Grand Stewards and Somerset House Lodges; and which; very soon advanced him to the honourable distinction of Master of those respectable bodies, of which some of the first men in the country are members.
In 1797, the amiable manners of Mr. Downing, not less than his acquirements, called him to be recommended to the notice of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Grand Master; who honoured him with the appointment of Provincial Grand Master for the County of Essex ; and he was installed at Chelmsford on the 15th of May in that year, in the presence of a most numerous and respectable assemblage of the Brethren; whom Mr. Downing addressed in nearly the following terms :
The pleasure I derive from taking this chair receives a melancholy alloy from the consideration, that it is occasioned by the death of our late excellent Brother Dunckerley; a man who, for conviviality of disposition, correctness of principles, extent of Masonic knowledge, and readiness of communication, stood, perhaps, unrivalled; and who, by the happy application of there enviable endowments, not only conciliated the affection, but inspired the improvement of the Craft over whom he had the honour to preside. He loved Masonry from his soul: and as his attachment was not the effect of a hasty impression upon a lively imagination, but the result of a long and well-directed scrutiny into the nature and utility of the institution, he seldom failed to communicate a portion of his zeal to those with whom he conversed.
In this county he may be considered to have been the Father of the Craft ; and his death has been accordingly felt with a degree of filial regret a regret which, I am sorry to think, will be increased by a comparison between him and his successor
I confess, Brethren, that when I contrast my own inexperience with his knowledge, and consider that I am going to build on foundations laid by so able an architect, I feel dispirited at what I have undertaken; and find nothing to console me but the reflection, that with the foundation he has left a design of the superstructure, and a number of well instructed Craftsmen to assist me in carrying it on.
From my first initiation into the mysteries of our venerable order, they have been subjects of my continual admiration, and so much on account their antiquity as their moral tendency for though the former may attract enquiry and gratify the research the of the antiquarian, it is the latter which invites the cultivation, gives energy to the exertion, and insures final perseverance of the genuine Freemason. Let us not, however, affect to think lightly of the venerable sanction which our mysteries have acquired by the adoption of successive ages. Of their antiquity there is a sort of evidence which eclipses tradition. The method adopted by the Craft for communicating instruction to their disciples, was in use before the invention of letters. All the learning of the ancient world was conveyed in symbols, and intrenched in mysteries: and surely that is not only the most ancient, but the most impressive vehicle of knowledge, which by applying sensible objects to a figurative use, afford's amusement as well as instruction, and renders even the playfulness of the imagination, that most ungovernable of all the human faculties, instrumental to moral improvement. Those who have made enquiries into the rise and progress of science, have found that, in the early ages, all speculative knowledge was confined to a few, and by them carefully concealed from vulgar curiosity under the veil of mysteries, into which none were initiated, till not only their intellectual capacities, but the firmness of their characters, had been put to a severe test: the result of which determined the degree of probability that they would resist the stratagems of curiosity and the imperious demands of authority. The most famous mysteries on record are those in Perfia, which ,were celebrated in honour of the God Mythra, and those at Eleusis, in Greece in honour of the Goddess Ceres. Many arguments might be adduced to prove, that both there were corruptions, of Freemasionry; and hereafter I shall not want the inclination, if I do want the opportunity, to discuss them. At present, however, I shall content myself with pointing out the similarity which subsists between the initiatory rites practised by the professors of those mysteries and by our Brethren, both ancient and modern; more especially in the allegorical part of their ceremonials.
Here followed an historical detail the ceremonies into the Mythraic and Eleufinian mysteries, and a comparative examination of them with Freemasonry, all which we are induced to omit, for reasons that will readily occur to the Masonic part of our readers: and at the conclusion of this account, the Provincial Grand Master took an opportunity of making some remarks on the practises of different Lodges in England and France, in what is termed making Masons, and then proceeded as follows:
I conceive it to the credit of the English Masons in general, that they are content to make a solemn impression without doing violence to the feelings of the candidate, to awe without intimidation; and we may be bold to affirm, that by how much soever the terror of an initiation into either of the Heathen mysteries above alluded to exceeded the terror of a Masonic examination, by so much, and more, do the moral and social advantages of the latter institution exceed those of the former.
The former, springing from, and of course partaking of; the gross and dark superstition of the time; and countries where they were practised, had for their object the suppression of science, and the increase of superstition. The latter, boasting still higher antiquity, but fortunately originating in a part of the world where the unity of the Divine Being was not obscured by the mists of idolatry, had for its object the increase of knowledge, the worship of one God Eternal, and the admiration of his attributes, by the contemplation or his works. With the votaries of Ceres and Mythra the possession of knowledge was like lightning in the hand of a magician, dazzling indeed in its refulgence, but employed oftener to blast than to illumine: with our ancient Brethren it was like the fun in the midst of the planetary system, spreading forth her genial beams, and communicating light and action to the surrounding planets. For, if credit be due either to tradition or record, the western world is indebted for much of its present knowledge to the liberal communications of our Brethren. In the early ages, the weakness and prejudices of mankind rendered it necessary to conceal many truths, which the progress of civil society, and the consequent expansion of the human faculties, made it prudent to reveal. And though there still secrets which, for very weighty reasons we confine within the circle of the initiated, and sparingly communicate even to them, whatever appeared likely to increase the stock of human happiness, and deemed not dangerous in common hands, our ancient Brethren have generously communicated to the world.
For proofs of the moral tendency of Freemasonry we need only appeal to our lectures, a due attention to which cannot fail of proving highly auxiliary to the practice of religious, and social duties. In them will be found a summary of moral conduct, which, in soundness of principle, and facility of application, may justly vie with the most celebrated systems of ethics: the whole rendered familiar to our conceptions, amusing to our fancies, and impressive on our memories, by easy and opposite symbols. By them we learn the analogy between physical and moral good, to judge of the wisdom of the Creator by the works of the creations and hence we infer, that our wise Master builder, who has planned and completed a habitation so suitable to our wants, so convenient to our enjoyments, during our temporary residence here, has exercised still more wisdom in contriving, more strength in supporting and more beauty in adorning, those internal mansions where he has promised to receive and reward all faithful Masons hereafter.
Thus are our faith and Hope exercised by Masonic studies: but there is a virtue which divine authority has pronounced greater Van Faith and Hope, and to this excellent virtue of charity are our Masonic labours more especially directed. For this is the student reminded " to consider the whole race of mankind as one family, inhabitants of one planet, descended from one common pair of ancestors, and sent into the world for the mutual aid, support, and protection of each other;" and that, as the pale of our society encloses persons of every nation, rank, and opinion, no religious, national, or party prejudices should discover themselves at our meetings; but that, as our Brother Preston very feelingly expresses it, "both hearts and tongues should join in promoting each other's welfare, and rejoicing in each other's prosperity." In a word, that we should not only profess, but practice the three great principles of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
There are some, I well know, who are so little acquainted with our principles and our practices, as to contend, that the whole of Freemasonry conflicts in conviviality. To these we are not afraid to declare, that in this respect we boast only this superiority, that our meetings are not infested with strife and debate: and where this the only distinguishing characteristic of the Brotherhood, the candle of Masonry might be pronounced to sink fast into the socket. But to the honour of modern Masons be it spoken, that an institution has been lately established among ourselves, which, though the latest is perhaps the brightest jewel in the Masonic diadem. You will easily perceive that I allude to our infant Charity in St George's Fields; an institution which resembles the universality of our order, by being confined to know parish, country, or climate; it is enough that the objects are the female issue of deceased or distressed Brethren. A charity, in its design more benevolent, in its selection more judicious, in event more successful, was never established.
Mr Downing concluded with an elegant complement to the Patrons and Officers of the Institution; an appeal to the candour of the Lodge in case he should her in his future government of it; and an assurance of a constant and zealous attention to its interests and welfare.
When the threats of the enemy, and the still more alarming menaces of internal faction, rendered necessary the incorporation of the loyal and brave inhabitants of the kingdom in volunteer corps, Mr Downing enlisted himself under the popular banner of Col Herries, commanding the London Light Horse Volunteers; and his military adder and skill promoted him, by due graduations, to the rank of Senior Lieutenant; which office he held till his death (October 9, 1800), which has been with great truth attributed to the effects of a cold brought on by the seal and exertion which he manifested during the late unfortunate riots, committed under the pretext of the high price of provisions. (The ceremony observed at his funeral was described in our XXXVIIIth volume, p. 319.)
It only remains to observe that in his person Mr Downing was of middle stature; of a somewhat pallid complexion, the consequence, probably, of excessive study; his eyes, however, were remarkably vivacious, and his whole countenance was strongly indicative of intellectual endowments, and of a disposition warm, generous, and kind. His scholastic attainments were great and various; and his judgment was acute and comprehensive. There was scarcely a subject with which he was not in some degree acquainted, nor any branch of literature that he had entirely neglected. The writer of this brief outline is happy in saying, that he never met with companion more entertaining or instructive, or a friend more sincere.
Ref: The European Magazine for February 1801.
1. I believe that there are some errors in the text of this epigram as it is printed in Mr Downing's obituary. I have attempted to correct these errors, and have printed above the text as I believe Mr Downing would have written it, although I have not bothered to include accent marks. S. Lapidge - 2017.
George married Mary ALSTON  [MRIN: 64], daughter of Samuel ALSTON  and Mary VANDERZEE , on 27 Jan 1795 in Nayland SFK. (Mary ALSTON  was born on 6 Jun 1761, christened on 22 Jun 1761 in Nayland SFK and died on 5 Mar 1842.)