Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DOWNING, Sir George, British statesman, born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1624; died in East Hatley, Cambridgeshire, England, in 1684. His father emigrated to Salem, Massachusetts, in 1638, and represented that place in the general court in 1638'43. His wife was Lucy, a sister of Governor Winthrop. The son was graduated at Harvard in 1642, returned to England in 1645, and became a preacher among the Independents; chaplain to Colonel Okey's regiment in Cromwell's army, and in 1653 commissary general and scoutmaster general to the army in Scotland; member of parliament for a Scottish borough in 1654 and 1656, and agent in Holland in 1658'60. Turning royalist, he was knighted by Charles II., 21 May 1660. He was elected Member of Parliament for Morpeth in 1661, and was again made envoy extraordinary to Holland. Here he caused the arrest of Cols. Okey and Barksted, and Miles Corbet, three of the judges of Charles I., who were sent to England and executed. Principally through his agency the New Netherlands were wrested from the Dutch and annexed to the English possessions as New York. He was afterward secretary of the treasury and a commissioner of the customs, he was created a baronet, 1 July 1663. In 1671 he was sent on a commission to Holland, but returned before completing his errand to the satisfaction of the king, and was imprisoned in the Tower, but was again received into favor. Governor Bradstreet was his brother-in-law. Downing Street, London, perpetuates his name. He was a man of ability and natural fitness for politics, and was author of" Political Tracts" (1664'72).
His grandson, Sir George, died in 1747, founded Downing College, Cambridge, England, in 1717.
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