The Earl of Mount Edgcumbe
The Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, by Joshua Reynolds
Member of Parliament for Fowey
In office
Preceded byJonathan Rashleigh
Succeeded byJonathan Rashleigh
Hon. Robert Walsingham
Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle
In office
Serving with Richard Edgcumbe
Preceded byRichard Edgcumbe
The Lord Sundon
Succeeded byWilliam Baker
George Treby
Personal details
George Edgcumbe

3 March 1720 (1720-03-03)
Died4 February 1795 (1795-02-05) (aged 74)
Emma Gilbert
(m. 1761)
ChildrenRichard Edgcumbe, 2nd Earl of Mount Edgcumbe
Parent(s)Richard Edgcumbe, 1st Baron Edgcumbe
Matilda Furnese
EducationEton College
Military service
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Branch/service Royal Navy
CommandsPlymouth Command
Battles/warsSeven Years' War
Arms of Edgcumbe: Gules, on a bend ermines cotised or three boar's heads couped argent
Arms of Edgcumbe: Gules, on a bend ermines cotised or three boar's heads couped argent

Admiral George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, PC (3 March 1720 – 4 February 1795) was a British peer, naval officer and politician.

Early life

Edgcumbe was the second surviving son of Richard Edgcumbe, 1st Baron Edgcumbe and his wife Matilda, the only child of Sir Henry Furnese. He is thought to have been educated at Eton.[1]


In 1739, Edgcumbe was commissioned a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and in 1742 was promoted to be commander of the bomb vessel HMS Terrible. In the course of 1743, he was appointed acting captain of the 20-gun HMS Kennington, and was officially confirmed on 19 August 1744. He commanded her in the Mediterranean until 1745, when he was advanced to the 50-gun HMS Salisbury. This ship, as part of the Western Fleet under Edward Hawke and Edward Boscawen, initially patrolled the Bay of Biscay during the War of the Austrian Succession. Her ship's surgeon was James Lind, who conducted his experiments on scurvy during such a patrol in 1747. The war ended in 1748.[2] About this time Edgcumbe was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds and the Salisbury appears in the background.[3]

In 1751, he went to the Mediterranean as senior officer in HMS Monmouth, and the following year in the 50-gun HMS Deptford. He was still in her and with his small squadron at Menorca, when the French invaded the island on 19 April 1756. He hastily landed the marines and as many of the seamen as could be spared, and sailed the next day for Gibraltar, before the French had taken any measures to block the harbour. At Gibraltar he was joined by Admiral John Byng, by whom he was ordered to move into the 66-gun HMS Lancaster. In the Battle of Minorca, on 20 May the Lancaster was one of the ships in the van, under Rear-Admiral Temple West, which did get into action, and being unsupported suffered severely. In 1758, still in the Lancaster, he was in the fleet under Edward Boscawen at the reduction of Louisbourg. On his return to England, with the despatches announcing this success, he was appointed to the 74-gun HMS Hero, in which he took part in the blockade of Brest during the long summer of 1759, and in the crowning Battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759.[4]

Mount Edgcumbe House, 1869
Mount Edgcumbe House, 1869

He continued in the Hero, attached to the grand fleet under Hawke or Boscawen, until the death of his brother Richard on 10 May 1761, when he inherited his brother's barony, and succeeded him to Mount Edgcumbe House and as Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall.[4] He was promoted to Rear Admiral on 21 October 1762 and Admiral in 1778.[2]

Political career

In 1746, Edgcumbe was returned as Member of Parliament for Fowey at a by-election, on his father's interest. He was considered a government Whig, but rarely attended Parliament as he was at sea. In 1747, he was appointed Clerk of the Council of the Duchy of Lancaster, an office he retained until 1762.[2]

He was appointed Treasurer of the Household in 1765, serving until 1766, and made a Privy Councillor on 26 July. He became Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth the same year, retaining the command until 1771. In 1770, he was promoted vice-admiral and was appointed joint Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. He remained Vice-Treasurer until 1772, when he was appointed Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners and remained Captain of the Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners until resigning in 1782, when he was appointed Vice-Admiral of Cornwall. In 1784, he was again appointed joint Vice-Treasurer of Ireland, holding office until 1793.[5]

He was created Viscount Mount Edgcumbe and Valletort in 1781 and, in 1784, he was also elected a fellow of the Royal Society.[5] In 1789, he was granted the further title of Earl of Mount Edgcumbe.

Personal life

On 16 August 1761, he had married Emma Gilbert, the only daughter of John Gilbert, Archbishop of York, and a first cousin of Robert Sherard, 4th Earl of Harborough. and they had one child:[1]

Lord Mount Edgcumbe died on 4 February 1795 and his only son, Richard, succeeded to his titles.[4]


Through his only son Richard, he was a grandfather of Lady Emma Edgcumbe (wife of John Cust, 1st Earl Brownlow), Lady Caroline Edgcumbe (wife of Ranald George Macdonald, 20th of Clanranald), William Edgcumbe, Viscount Valletort, Ernest Edgcumbe, 3rd Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, and the Hon. George Edgcumbe.[1]


In English folklore, Emma has been identified as the subject of the story of the "Lady with the Ring". Lady Emma's Cottage on the Mount Edgcumbe estate is named after her.[6]

A manuscript journal, kept by Edgcumbe and Captain William Marsh, from 30 April 1742 to 1 June 1744, is in the Bodleian Library. A letter from Edgcumbe to Garrick is printed in the latter's 'Private Correspondence'.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Mount Edgcumbe, Earl of (GB, 1789)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Sedgwick, Romney (1970). The House of Commons 1715-1754 v.2. New York: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ The portrait of Edgcumbe is in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, catalogue no BHC 2677
  4. ^ a b c d Laughton 1888.
  5. ^ a b "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 29 November 2010.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Lady Emma's cottage".

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLaughton, John Knox (1888). "Edgcumbe, George". In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 16. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

Parliament of Great Britain Preceded byJonathan RashleighWilliam Wardour Member of Parliament for Fowey 1746–1761 With: Jonathan Rashleigh Succeeded byJonathan RashleighHon. Robert Walsingham Preceded byRichard EdgcumbeThe Lord Sundon Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle 1747 With: Richard Edgcumbe Succeeded byWilliam BakerGeorge Treby Military offices Preceded bySir Thomas Pye Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth 1766–1771 Succeeded bySir Richard Spry Political offices Preceded byThe Earl of Powis Treasurer of the Household 1765–1766 Succeeded byJohn Shelley Preceded byThe Earl of Lichfield Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners 1772–1782 Succeeded byThe Lord Ferrers of Chartley Honorary titles Preceded byThe Lord Edgcumbe Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall 1761–1795 Succeeded byThe Earl of Mount Edgcumbe Preceded byThe Viscount Falmouth Vice-Admiral of Cornwall 1782–1795 Peerage of Great Britain New creation Earl of Mount Edgcumbe 1789–1795 Succeeded byRichard Edgcumbe Viscount Mount Edgcumbe and Valletort 1781–1795 Preceded byRichard Edgcumbe Baron Edgcumbe 1761–1795