George Champney was born in 1787, the son of Thomas Champney and Elizabeth Loraine.
Champney was a surgeon and alderman, who had his surgery in the 1820s on Colliergate in the city. In 1824 the local press noted how Sheriff George Champney had given “an elegant dinner” at his Colliergate residence, and that a large party had taken place. In 1829, he became the Lord Mayor of York, but in 1834 resigned from his position as alderman.
In 1824, the Yorkshire Fire and Life Insurance Company was established, and Champney was to become on of the directors of the company. Patrons of the company included The Archbishop of York and the Marquis of Londonderry, with the company having 500,000 pounds of capital. Champney was also a director of the Yorkshire Bazaar.
He was also the surgeon responsible for the hospital room at York Gaol, at the base of Clifford’s Tower, and would have been present at some of the small number of executions that took place at the prison. He was also called on to attend court on numerous occasions to give evidence following his inspection of corpses.
In 1829, Jonathan Martin attempted to set fire to York Minster, and was arrested and taken to court. He was found not guilty due in insanity. However, Champney had said to the court that, “I am a surgeon at York, and to the jail here. I have conversed with Martin five times, and consider that he has the capacity of distinguishing right from wrong”.
In 1836, Champney was called to give evidence after the suicide of Mary Ann Stacey in York Castle. She was an unconvicted prisoner from Sheffield, who had hanged herself, and Champney said to the court that “I considered her quite insane. Yesterday morning I saw her, and she was in the same state.”
George married Harriet who was 23 years younger, having been born in 1810, and they had three children, Albert, Annie and Grace.
Albert was baptised on April 18th 1834 at St. Mary Castlegate Church in York, when the family lived on Tower Street. He died however towards the end of 1837.
George died at the age of 73 in 1860 at his residence at Middlethorpe and Harriet Champney died at the age of 92 in 1902.
On the 27th August 1860, Joseph Munby, the Clerk of the Court of Gaol Sessions announced that a new surgeon would be appointed to York Castle following Champney’s death, and summoned the Justices of the Peace for the three Yorkshire ridings to meet at the Castle to discuss the replacement.
On 9th July 1861 Grace, the youngest daughter, married Frederick James Walker at Beverley Minster.
George and Harriet Champney are both buried at St James Parish Church, in Bilbrough, Yorkshire. A photo provided by the Gravestone Photos project is at the top right of this page.