George Goring: Royalist Commander and Debauchee

Maurice Ashley profiles the younger George Goring, one of the more successful of Cavalier generals, but one whose brave deeds and eclectic character have been little discussed.

George Goring the younger has not yet been awarded a biography, though he deserves it,1 for he was one of the oddest and most entertaining characters on the Royalist side during the first civil war. After Prince Rupert and Lord Hopton, he was the most successful of the Cavalier generals.

He distinguished himself at Marston Moor and in 1645 twice inflicted repulses on Oliver Cromwell, once in Dorset and once at Faringdon in Oxfordshire. He also took part in the defeat of the Earl of Essex, the Parliamentarian commander-in-chief, at the battle of Lostwithiel.

Sir Richard Bulstrode, who became his adjutant in Cornwall, declared that:

He was a person of extraordinary abilities as well as courage and was without dispute as good an officer as any that served the King and the most dexterous in any sudden emergency that I have ever seen.

Sir Edward Walker, Charles I’s secretary, wrote in 1645 that Goring had ‘the Master Wit and had by the late Actions gotten some Reputation’. He even impressed the formidable Thomas Wentworth, Lord Deputy of Ireland and future Earl of Strafford, who wrote of him when he was twenty-five (Goring was born in 1608) ‘I judge him to be of frank and sweet generous disposition’ with a ‘genius’ for war.

At the same time Goring was the merriest of the Cavaliers. He was adept with the bottle and a success with women. Ann Lady Fanshawe, who did not know him until he was in his early forties, described him as ‘very tall and very handsome’ and added that:

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