Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Daniel, George (1616-1657)

DANIEL, GEORGE, of Beswick (1616–1657), cavalier poet, born at Beswick on 29 March 1616, was the second son of Sir Ingleby Daniel of Beswick, a chapelry and estate in the parish of Kilnwick, Yorkshire, East Riding, by his second wife, Frances, daughter and heiress of George Metham of Pollington, in the parish of Snaith. William Daniel, the eldest son, died unmarried, and was buried at St. Michael's, Ousebridge, Yorkshire, 4 May 1644; he had been baptised at Bishop-Burton, 19 March 1609–10. Between George and the third son, Thomas, afterwards Sir Thomas Daniel, captain in the foot-guards, there was the closest friendship. He was knighted 26 April 1662, became high sheriff of Yorkshire 1679, and was buried at London about 1682; a loyal gentleman, of courage and business capacity, while George seldom left his home and his books. George had two sisters, Katharine (who married John Yorke of Gowthwaite, and died in March 1643–4) and Elizabeth. Few memorials of George remain, except the handsome manuscript collection of his poems (some others were destroyed by a fire, and these were naturally accounted his best); carefully transcribed, perhaps by a copyist, and signed by the author. The folio volume is enriched with several oil-paintings, four being portraits of himself, one with hand interlocked in that of his brother Thomas. George is here seen at his best, thirty years old; plump, fresh-coloured, with waving locks of light-brown hair, blue eyes, and small moustache. In a later portrait, taken in 1649, he appears as a student in his library, sitting in furred robe and large fur cap. Daniel is verbose and artificial, his subjects remote from contemporary interest. After the king's death he lived in retirement, and he let his beard grow untrimmed in memory of 30 Jan. In his ‘A Vindication of Poesie’ he calls Ben Jonson ‘Of English Drammatickes the Prince,’ and he speaks slightingly of ‘comicke Shakespeare.’ On the death of the laureate in 1638, he wrote a panegyric ‘To the Memorie of the best Dramaticke English Poet, Ben Jonson.’ His ‘Occasional Poems’ and his ‘Scattered Fancies’ possess merit, and show a cultivated taste. They were completed respectively in 1645 and 1646. He complains of one hearer who fell asleep under his recitation, and says that he will in future prefer tobacco, the charm of which is also celebrated in 'To Nicotiana, a Rapture.' Samuel Daniel, C. Aleyn, and Drayton had strongly influenced him in his longer poems, but it is in the lighter fancies that he excels. He wrote 'Chronicles' and 'Eclogues,' and a paraphrase of 'Ecclesiasticus,' 1638-48. His 'Trinarchodia ' was finished in 1649. His 'Idyllia' were probably written in 1650, and revised in 1653. He married Elizabeth, daughter of William Ireland of Nostell, Yorkshire, by Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Robert Molyneux of Euxton, Lancashire. The property she brought revived his failing fortunes. Their only son, a second George Daniel, died young, s.p., and was buried at St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London. The mother's wealth descended to three daughters, Frances, Elizabeth, and Gerarda; the two latter married, but Gerarda alone left issue, Elizabeth, baptised 16 Feb. 1674-5, in whom the direct line from George Daniel ended. He died at Beswick in September 1657, and was buried on the 25th in the neighbouring church at Kilnwick (Burial Register). The engraved portrait by W. T. Alais does not adequately represent the poet, even from the poorest of the several extant oil-paintings, which are not improbably the work of George himself, as is also the full-length nude study of a nymph. The manuscript containing them is preserved in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 19255, folio), and the whole has been printed, verbatim et literatim, in four large 4to volumes, a hundred copies for private circulation, by Dr. Grosart, carefully and exhaustively edited.

[The Poems of Georgia Daniel of Beswick, Yorkshire, from the original manuscripts in the British Museum, hitherto unprinted, edited, with introduction, notes, portraits. &c., by the Rev. A. B. Grosart, St. George's, Blackburn, Lancashire, 4 vols. 4to, 1878; Choyce Drollery, Songs and Sonnets of 1666, being vol. iii. of 'The Drolleries' of the Restoration, 1876, pp. 280-1.]

J. W. E.