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Tierney, George

Tierney, George (1761–1830). Whig politician, MP 1790 and 1796–1830. An early devotee of democratic principles, nicknamed ‘Citizen Tierney’, he joined the Association of the Friends of the People and helped to draw up their report criticizing the state of the representative system 1792–3. He spoke frequently in Parliament after 1796, ignoring the Whig ‘secession’ of 1798–1802. Disillusioned by events in France, he moderated his reformist views. After 1801 he advocated co-operation between the Whigs and Addington, and joined Addington's government in 1803 as treasurer of the navy. An intimate of the prince of Wales, he served as president of the India Board in the ‘Talents’ ministry of 1806–7. Returning afterwards to opposition, Tierney acted as chief whip and parliamentary manager to the Whigs under Grey and in 1817 was elected their leader in the Commons, but he was frustrated by their disunity and lack of energy and became depressed and pessimistic. He accepted office in Canning's cabinet as master of the mint but failed to persuade Grey to join the government. After Canning's death he was dogged by ill-health and was less active. He was a formidable parliamentary speaker but too moody and inconsistent to be a successful leader.

E. A. Smith

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