Authorised form of nameVilliers; George (1628 - 1687); 2nd Duke of Buckingham; politician and wit
Dates1628 - 1687
Place of birthWallingford House, Westminster, London, England, Europe
Date of birth30 January 1628
Place of deathKirkby Moorside, Yorkshire, England, Europe
Date of death16 April 1687
Dates and placesBurial:
St George's chapel in Westminster Abbey, London, England, Europe (7 June 1687)
OccupationPolitician; statesman; writer
Research fieldChemistry
Christ Church, Oxford; Trinity College, Cambridge, MA (fil nob 1642)
Joined Royalist Army (1642); proscribed and sentenced to death (1648); fled to Holland (1648); with Charles II in Scotland (1650); fought at Worcester (1651); returned to Holland (1651); returned to England (1657); imprisoned in the Tower of London (1658-1659); set up the Vauxhall glassworks factory at Lambeth, the productions of which were praised by John Evelyn FRS (1660); gentleman of the bedchamber (1661); Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire (1661-1667, recommisioned later in 1667); Privy Councillor (1662-1667); one of the 'Cabal', the cabinet signatories to a treaty with France (1667-1672); played a leading role in the impeachement of former Lord Chancellor Clarendon (1667) shareholder in the Royal African Company; Committee for Foreign affairs (1668); purchased position as Master of the Horse for £20,000 (1668-1674); fought an infamous duel with the Earl of Shrewsbury whose wife was Buckingham's mistress, Shrewsbury later died of his wounds (1668); High Steward of Oxford (1669); Ambassador to Paris (1670-1672); Chancellor of Cambridge University (1671-1674); attached to the embassy to The Hague (June 1672); Keeper of Enfield Chace (1672-1675); Lieutenant General of the Forces (1673); Lord of the Admiralty (1673-1674); dismissed from all offices (1674); imprisoned in the Tower of London for seeking the dissolution of parliament (1677) released after a month thanks to the influence of Nell Gwyn, the King's mistress and other courtiers; lived in retirement in Yorkshire; author of restoration plays, notably 'The Chances' (1667) adpated from John Fletcher's comedy and the popular satire 'The Rehersal' (1671), he also wrote poetry and satirical prose and was famed as a wit
KG 1649
Membership categoryOriginal Fellow
Date of election20/05/1663
Age at election53
Date of ejection or withdrawal22/07/1685
Other Royal Society activityExpelled due to non-payment of arrears
RelationshipsParents: George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, and Katherine Manners; succeeded his father (1628)
Married: Mary Fairfax
General contextVilliers was a patron to Thomas Sprat (FRS 1663).

Villiers was a shareholder in The Royal Adventurers into Africa, later Royal African Company (RAC). The RAC was a British trading company established by Royal Charter in 1660 which enslaved and sold African people. The company was chartered by Charles II, the founding royal Patron of the Royal Society, which was also chartered in 1660. The RAC was made up of and funded by members of the Stuart royal family and London merchants many of whom were, or went on to become, Fellows of the Royal Society. The Royal Society itself held shares in the company from 1682 until 1699. The RAC held a monopoly on English trade on the west coast of Africa. The principal interest of the company was originally gold and secondarily other natural resources. The Company's second charter in 1663 mentions trade in enslaved people, who were mainly sold into slavery on British owned estates in the West Indies and America. The Jesus College Cambridge Legacy of Slavery Working Party has stated that the RAC was responsible for selling more Africans into slavery in America than any other institution in the history of the Atlantic slave trade, and that they ran a brutal regime with the full knowledge of their investors. The company became insolvent in 1708, it survived until 1752 when its assets were transferred to the new African Company of Merchants, which lasted until 1821.

As a member of the Council for Foreign Plantations, within the Board of Trade government body, Villiers worked to further the government's colonial interest. In his post, he made £500 quarterly. The Council's orders and tasks fell within a broad remit and included finding ways in which to take and enslave people to bring to the colonies, mediating between the Royal African Company and the colonies, as well as enforcing the 'reeducation' of Native Americans and enslaved people in the colonised regions.
Related imagesDiscover a selection of related images in our picture library

Villiers G, IM006539.jpg

Bulloch's Roll; DNB; Venn; Foster; GEC; Davies; Wikipedia; ODNB
Melton F T. 1988. ‘A rake refinanced: the fortune of George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, 1628–85’, in Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 51, pp. 297–318
Govier M. 1999. 'The Royal Society, Slavery and the Island of Jamaica: 1660-1700', in Notes and Records, vol. 53 pp. 203-217
Davies, K G. 1999. 'The Royal African Company' (Longmans, Green)
Pettigrew, W A. 2013. 'Freedom's debt : the Royal African Company and the politics of the Atlantic slave trade, 1672-1752.' (University of North Carolina Press)
Associated material:
Brian Fairfax's life of Buckingham, BL, Harleian MS 6862
The election date is Villier's re-election date into the Society after the grant of the second charter in April 1663. All Fellows admitted in a two-month window after this charter, until 22 June 1663, are considered Original Fellows. He was previously admitted into the Society on 5 June 1661.
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA3322
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
IM/004741Villiers, Goerge, 2nd Duke of Buckinghamnd
Add to My Items

    Collection highlights

    Browse the records of some of our collections, which cover all branches of science and date from the 12th century onwards. These include the published works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society's activities since our foundation in 1660.

    The Royal Society

    The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of
    the world's most eminent scientists and is the
    oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.
    Registered charity number 207043

    Website design ©CalmView


    + 44 207 451 2500
    (Lines open Mon-Fri, 9:00-17:00. Excludes bank holidays)

    6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

    Email Us →


    Subscribe to our newsletters to be updated with the
    latest news on innovation, events, articles and reports.

    Subscribe →

    © CalmView