Canning, George (1778–1840), politician, 1st Baron Garvagh , was born 15 November 1778, only surviving son of Paul Canning of Garvagh, Co. Londonderry, and Jane Canning, daughter of Conway Spencer of Trumery, Co. Antrim; among his uncles were Sir Brent Spencer (qv) and Joshua Spencer. On the death of his father (1784) he inherited the estate of Garvagh, and in 1795 he entered Christ Church, Oxford. The nephew of the elder George Canning (qv), he watched – pressing unsuccessfully for patronage – as his cousin and namesake rose to prominence in England. On 13 July 1803 he married Lady Georgiana Stewart, daughter of the first marquess of Londonderry (qv), and half-sister of Viscount Castlereagh (qv). Although she died (17 November 1804) without issue, the marriage created a link between his cousin and his brother-in-law, two statesmen whose antagonism was to dominate politics at the end of the decade.
Canning sat as an MP for Co. Sligo (1806–12), initially with the opposition, but was persuaded to support the ministry of the duke of Portland (qv) in 1807. As the owner of important property in Cavan and Londonderry, his support was courted, and Castlereagh recommended him for a minor government office; he himself wanted to be a lord of the treasury. After the very public break between his cousin and Castlereagh in 1809, Canning was placed in a difficult position, but sided with his namesake and regularly voted with him on many parliamentary questions, including the catholic relief bill of 1812. He was elected FRS (1 February 1810) and FSA (March 1814). On 24 December 1812 he replaced his cousin as MP for Petersfield (1812–20), an English constituency, and the following year voted against the government regularly, supporting the catholic relief bill on 24 April 1813. In 1814 he began to express interest in an Irish peerage, much to the consternation of his cousin, who believed he should be satisfied with an office instead. Castlereagh, however, canvassed for him, and the prime minister, Lord Liverpool, was sympathetic, although the lord lieutenant of Ireland, Charles Whitworth (qv), did not consider Canning worthy of the honour. This criticism created much embarrassment, but Liverpool believed he had committed himself. Canning was eventually created Baron Garvagh in the Irish peerage (28 October 1818), continuing to sit in the house of commons for the remainder of the session. At this time he sought an advantageous marriage and proposed to the Gascoyne heiress in 1819, but was rejected; he later married (9 July 1824) Rosabella Charlotte Isabella, daughter of Henry Bonham, MP. He was made lord lieutenant of Co. Londonderry (1831–40) and also lieutenant-colonel of the Londonderry militia. He died 20 August 1840 at Chalons-sur-Marne, on his way home from Wiesbaden, and was buried at Derry. He and his second wife had two sons and one daughter. His eldest son Charles Henry Spencer George Canning (1826–71) succeeded him as 2nd Baron Garvagh. His second son was Albert Stratford George Canning (qv).