George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, 1628-87

Fought for Charles II at Worcester then married into the family of Sir Thomas Fairfax; he claimed to have persuaded Fairfax to support the Restoration.

Portrait of George Villiers, 2nd Duke of BuckinghamSon of the 1st Duke of Buckingham who was murdered in 1628, George Villiers and his younger brother Francis were taken in by King Charles I and brought up with the royal children. After gaining his degree at Trinity College, Cambridge, Buckingham joined the Royalist army in 1642. He took part in Prince Rupert's attack on Lichfield Close in April 1643. Then the two brothers left England to travel abroad under the care of the Earl of Northumberland, living in Florence and Rome.

On the outbreak of the Second Civil War, the brothers returned to England and joined the Earl of Holland's insurrection at Kingston, Surrey in July 1648 during which Francis Villiers was killed and Lord Holland was captured; Buckingham succeeded in escaping to the Netherlands. His estates in England were confiscated because of his participation in the rebellion, but Charles II conferred the Order of the Garter on him in 1649 and admitted him to his privy council in 1650. Buckingham supported Charles' alliance with the Scottish Presbyterians and accompanied him on his expedition to Scotland in June 1650. He fought at the battle of Worcester in September 1651, after which he escaped to Rotterdam and eventually joined Charles at his court-in-exile in France.

Buckingham quarrelled with Charles and secretly returned to England in 1657, hoping to recover his estates, which had been granted to Lord Fairfax. He courted and married Fairfax's daughter, Mary, in September 1657 and seems to have impressed Fairfax himself. Suspected of plotting against the government, Buckingham was arrested and imprisoned, first at York House then in the Tower. Fairfax came to London to intercede for him, quarrelling bitterly with Cromwell a few days before the Protector's death. Released into Fairfax's custody, Buckingham joined his march against Lambert in January 1660, and afterwards claimed to have persuaded Fairfax to support the Restoration.

On the King's return, Buckingham met him at his landing at Dover. Although received coldly at first, he was soon back in favour. He was appointed a gentleman of the bedchamber and carried the orb at King Charles' coronation in April 1661. Later that year Buckingham was made lord-lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Thereafter, Buckingham became deeply involved in the political intrigues of the Restoration court.


C.H. Firth, George Villiers, second duke of Buckingham, DNB 1899