George Cayley

George John Cayley (1826 - 1878)

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George John Cayley
Born in Brompton by Sawdon, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdommap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 11 Sep 1860 in Sketty, Glamorganshire, Walesmap
Died in The Rectory, Hunton, Kent, Englandmap
Profile last modified 3 May 2019 | Created 20 Oct 2017
This page has been accessed 141 times.


George John Cayley was born in 1826 at Brompton by Sawdon, Yorkshire, England. He was the son of Edward Cayley and Emma Cayley. He was baptised at Brompton by Sawdon on 28 March 1826.[1] He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge (where he did not graduate) before entering Inner Temple, London. He was called to the Bar in 1852, but partly devoted himself to writing. In 1854 he was a correspondent for the Daily News in Crimea (during the Crimean War), and afterwards travelled in the Near East.

He spent much of his life in Westminster, London, England[2][3], but also had a home inland from Scarborough, Yorkshire.

Several times he unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary seat of Scarborough. He advocated extending the franchise to skilled workers.[4][5].

In 1860 he married Mary Anne Frances Wilmot. The marriage was registered in the Swansea district of Glamorganshire, Wales in the 3rd quarter of that year.[6]

He was a noted craftsman and skilled amateur artist who illustrated his own works. In 1862 he and the artist George Frederick Watts designed a challenge shield for a shooting championship at Wimbledon, Surrey, England.[7] He also published several light poems and a travel book.

In 1869 poor health led him to move with his family to Majorca, and then the following year, to Algiers. There he was a keen tennis player and he wrote what is believed to be the first article on what came to be called lawn tennis (published in the Edinburgh Review in 1875). He and a craftsman he knew developed new designs for tennis rackets.

He passed away in 1878 at Hunton Rectory, Kent, England on his way back from England to Algiers.[8] He was buried at Hunton, Kent on 16 October 1878.[9] Probate was granted on 28 December 1878, with the death date recorded as 11 October 1878.[10]

He had a small but select circle of close friends, among them the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, Caroline Norton, Monckton Milnes and the artist John Everett Millais. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, he was often regarded as an eccentric, with his long beard, independent political views, skills at craftsmanship, high harsh voice and early championship of cigarette-smoking.


  • 1849-50 Life and adventures of Sir Reginald Mohun, a poem
  • 1853 Las Alforjas, or the Bridle Paths of Spain
  • 1858 The Working-Classes: their interest in administrative, financial and electoral reform
  • 1858 The service and the reward: a memoir of the late R W Roberts RN
  • 1859 Indignant Rhymes by An Illused Candidate
  • Lusio Pilaris and lawn tennis (published in the Edinburgh Review January 1875)


  1. England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,, accessed 3 March 2019
  2. Census data for 1851 and 1861
  3. Kelly's London Directory, 1869
  4. The Working Classes; their Interest in Administrative, Financial and Electoral Reform, George John Cayley, 1858
  5. Indignant Rhymes by An Illused Candidate, George John Cayley, 1859
  6. England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005, , accessed 3 March 2019
  7. Blackburn Standard 16 July 1862
  8. Modern English Biography, Frederick Boase, 1892-1921
  9. Kent burials, FindMyPast, accessed 3 March 2019
  10. England and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1957, , accessed 3 March 2019
  • Burke's Peerage
  • Burke's Landed Gentry
  • Dictionary of National Biography
  • Alumni Cantabrigienses, Venn (CUP 1940)
  • A supplement to Allibone's critical dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors, by John Foster Kirk, pub. Gale Research Company, Detroit 1965

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