Berkeley was the fourth and youngest son of Charles Berkeley, 2nd Earl of Berkeley, and his wife Elizabeth Noel. (Elizabeth was the daughter of Baptist Noel, Viscount Campden, and the sister of Edward, first earl of Gainsborough.) He attended Westminster School from its foundation in 1708 and Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1711, graduating MA there in 1713.
Berkeley was returned as Member of Parliament for Dover at a by-election on 20 December 1720. He was returned unopposed at the general election of 1722. On 28 May 1723 he received an appointment as master keeper and governor of St Katharine's Hospital in London, and filled that post until his death. He was elected in a contest at Dover in 1727. At the 1734 general election he was returned unopposed as MP for Hedon, Yorkshire. At the 1741 general election, he was initially defeated, but was seated on petition on 4 March 1742. Pro-Walpole at first, Berkeley was alienated from him by his brother Lord Berkeley's dismissal from the post of First Lord of the Admiralty on the accession of George II, and switched loyalties to Pulteney.
Family and legacy
He married Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, on 26 June 1735, as her second husband and nine months after she ceased to be George II's mistress and – though they had no surviving children – the marriage was far happier than her first. He had probably met her through his sister Lady Elizabeth Germain, a friend of Henrietta, but the reasons for Henrrietta's choice of second husband were far from clear to court commentators. One of them, Lord Hervey, described him as:
- neither young, handsome, healthy, nor rich, which made people wonder what induced Lady Suffolk's prudence to deviate into this unaccountable piece of folly: some imagined it was to persuade the world that nothing criminal had ever passed between her and the king, others that it was to pique the king. If this was her reason, she succeeded very ill in her design.
However, in a letter from Elizabeth Germain to Jonathan Swift on 12 July 1735, Elizabeth described Lady Suffolk as
- indeed four or five years older than [George]; but for all that he has appeared to all the world, as well as to me, to have long had (that is, ever since she has been a widow, so pray do not mistake me) a most violent passion for her, as well as esteem and value for her numberless good qualities.
- Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition, volume 1, page 576.
- Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 350. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition.
- "Berkeley, The Hon. George (BRKY711TH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- "BERKELEY, Hon. George (?1692-1746), of Marble Hill, Twickenham, Mdx". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 8 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- John, Lord Hervey, Some materials towards memoirs of the reign of King George II, ed. R. Sedgwick, new edn, 3 vols. (1952), 2.10
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry
- The Peerage
- John Wilson Croker, ed., Letters to and from Henrietta, countess of Suffolk, and her second husband, the Hon. George Berkeley: from 1712 to 1767, (London: J. Murray), 1824. Google Books: Vol. 1, Vol. 2.
|Parliament of Great Britain|
| Member of Parliament for Dover
With: Henry Furnese
| Member of Parliament for Hedon
With: Sir Francis Boynton, Bt 1734–1739
Harry Pulteney 1739–1741
| Member of Parliament for Hedon
With: Earl of Mountrath 1742–1744
George Anson from 1744