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This Day in Georgia History

July 12, 1682

John Percival Born

To view a meeting notice addressed to John Percival, see the Georgia Archives

John Percival was born in County Cork, Ireland. Percival was three when his father died, and the family went to live with his father’s uncle in England. At age 16, Percival entered Magdalen College at Oxford, where he studied for 18 months before leaving without a degree. In 1704, Percival returned to Ireland, where he was elected to the House of Commons in the Irish Parliament. Later that year, he was appointed to the British Privy Council, a seat he would hold for almost a half century. After a two-year tour of Europe, Percival moved to Charlton, his country estate near London. When King George I ascended to the British throne in 1714, Percival’s ties to the royal court increased. The next year, Percival was offered an Irish barony, which allowed him to set in the House of Lords. In 1722, Baron Percival became Viscount Percival. In Aug. 1727, he was elected to the House of Commons, where two years later served on the Gaols Committee, chaired by James Oglethorpe. The next year, Oglethorpe shared with Percival his proposal for sending London’s poor to a new settlement on the southern frontier of Britain’s colonies in America. Next to Oglethorpe, Percival became the most important advocate for the creation of the colony of Georgia. He was named in the colony’s charter as a member of the Georgia Trustees, in which capacity he kept both a journal of Trustee proceedings and a private diary that detail much information about the Georgia experiment. In Aug. 1733, Percival was awarded with an Irish earldom - the first Earl of Egmont. Through most of the first decade of Georgia’s existence, Egmont was the most important and faithful member of the Trustees. However, his health declined, and he attended his last board meeting on Feb. 13, 1748. Less than three months later - on May 1 - he died.