Skip to main content

George Rose
, 1811

by Sir William Beechey, William Evans, Giovanni Vendramini (engraver) and T. Cadell & W. Davies (publisher)

engraving on paper (sheet: 52.2 cm x 35 cm, plate-mark: 37.7 cm x 30 cm)

George Rose (1744–1818), joint secretary of the British treasury at the time of the First Fleet, rose quickly through the ranks of the civil service after leaving the Royal Navy in 1762. In 1782 he joined the treasury, and late the following year became one of the secretaries to the treasury in the ministry of the young prime minister, Pitt, whom he strongly supported. Rose entered parliament as Member for Launceston early in 1784, and Pitt gave him a lucrative post in the Court of Exchequer; in 1788 he became clerk of the parliaments. In 1801 Rose left office with Pitt, but returned with him to power in 1804 and was again given important jobs. Rose resigned a few days after Pitt's death in 1806, but was treasurer of the navy under Lord Liverpool; he was member for Christchurch for 28 years, until his death. Rose had many detractors; contemporary scholar Jon Mee has suggested that William Blake’s poem ‘The Sick Rose’ (1794) refers to his corruption. Rose was friends with Admiral Lord Nelson and King George III. Influential as he was, it is thought that he endorsed Arthur Philip as first Governor of New South Wales. Sydney’s Rose Bay was named for him.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012
Accession number: 2012.45