The Right Honourable George Annesley, second and last Earl of Mountnorris, ninth Viscount Valentia, co. Armagh, and Baron Mountnorris of Mountnorris Castle, co. Armagh, eighth Baron Altham, of Altham co. Cork, the premier Baronet of Ireland, was a traveller and plant collector active in the early-19th century. He was born at Arley Castle in either 1769 or 1770, the eldest son of Arthur, first Earl of Mountnorris and his wife, the Honourable Lucy Fortescue Lyttelton, only daughter of Lord George Lyttelton.
Lord Mountnorris married Lady Anne, daughter of William Courtenay, 2nd Viscount Courtenay, in 1790. She died in January 1835, aged 60. Lord Mountnorris died in July 1844, aged 73. He had no surviving male issue and on his death, the earldom of Mountnorris became extinct, while he was succeeded in the baronetcy of Newport-Pagnell, the barony of Mountnorris and the viscountcy of Valentia by his distant relative, Arthur Annesley, who became the 10th Viscount Valentia.
Mountnorris sat as Member of Parliament for Yarmouth from 1808 to 1810. In 1802 he was appointed secretary and draughtsman to George Annesley, Viscount Valentia. They started on an eastern tour, travelling on Minerva to India via the Cape. Salt explored the Red Sea area, and in 1805 visited the Ethiopian highlands. He returned to England in 1806. Salt's paintings from the trip were used to illustrate Lord Valentia's Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia and Egypt, in the years 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805, and 1806, published in 1809 in three volumes.
Better known as Lord Valentia, the title from his youth, Annesley, travelled widely and collected plants from India and other parts of the world he visited. He established a ten-acre arboretum in the grounds of Arley Castle, Upper Arley, Worcestershire, England in the first half of the 19th century. He also commissioned the remodelling of the house into an asymmetrical Gothic castle, completed in 1844, the year of his death. Annesley died, aged seventy four, at Arley Castle on 23 July 1844. He was a fellow of the Royal Society (1796) and the Literary Society (1796) and author of Voyages to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia and Egypt (1809).
'Obituary: Earl of Mountnorris', The Gentleman's Magazine, 22 (1844), pp. 425-426.
Desmond, Ray, Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists (London: Taylor & Francis, 1994), p. 17.
National Portrait Gallery, Search the Collection, 'George Annesley, 2nd Earl of Mountnorris' < http://www.npg.org.uk/live/sea... > [accessed 18 December 2008]