Notice: Book spoilers!
The Honourable Sir George Warleggan, Member of Parliament for St. David JP (b. 1759) was a ruthless banker. George was the second husband of the late Elizabeth Warleggan and the guardian of Trenwith until Geoffrey Charles Poldark was of age.
He had two children, Valentine and Ursula Warleggan. Valentine's biological father was Ross Poldark, and George doubted Valentine's parentage for years. He was known for scheming and bullying, and for being the arch-rival of Ross.
He was born into a family who prized wealth and craved status but had a lower class background. His grandfather was a mere blacksmith in St. Day. Nicholas and Cary became bankers, and Nicholas founded Warleggan Bank.
George and Ross Poldark attended school together and began a life-long rivalry. They had zero patience for each other because their ideals were mismatched. Ross had the wealth and status George wanted but he never prized it, and George strived to ruin Ross and his family because he thought he was undeserving of what he had.
George became a successful banker when he left school to work for Warleggan Bank, but his wealth would only get him so far. Ross was one of the few people who would not give in to George's bullying. George knew that his life would be easier without Ross around to stand in his way.
George became known for his schemes and was unafraid of being cruel to achieve his goals. He and Cary would manipulate and ruin people financially, having no sympathy for doing so. George was a force of power, both socially and financially. He strived to higher and better himself when he became bored of the level of power he had by seeking a better one.
1783 - 1790
Having created a high status for himself in the financial business, George was disappointed when Ross came home from the Revolutionary War because he thought he was dead. He and Cary attended Francis and Elizabeth Poldark's wedding and have a frank discussion about whether he and Cary should have "purchased" Elizabeth for George instead, but agreed the Poldark family were worthless beyond their name and they could easily ruin them financially.
George and Cary later bankrupted Lord Bassett by calling in the debts he owned their bank, and caused him to kill himself. George was worried it wouldn't look good if their customers were killing themselves, but Cary was less concerned. He later attended a ball, where he teased Francis because Elizabeth and Ross were dancing, and he pointed out they still had feelings for each other. The next day, he saw Elizabeth and Ross walking together and told Francis.
In December, George and the Warleggan family attended a dinner at Trenwith for the holidays. They joked about Ross and his marriage to Demelza Carne. He and Cary tried to ruin him and his cousin Francis Poldark as they set out on a venture to create a new mine.
George bought shares in Wheal Leisure and set about encouraging smelting companies to sell copper at a lower price. He spoke with Francis Poldark when the latter was drunk in the hope of learning the names of the people in partnership with Ross. He then demanded that they pay their debts, leading the mine into ruin.
George later tried to find where mine owners including Ross, were creating their own smelting company, which he manages to close by outbidding them. He celebrated by buying a ship which sunk, leading to the death of his cousin. Having heard how Ross went to the beach to save people, he manipulated events by claiming Ross and his friends were wrecking illegally, not just salvaging. George then had Ross arrested.
1791 - 1793
Ross was approached by Elizabeth Poldark who hoped George might be able to help Ross. However, George continued trying to manipulate the trial by bribing people to tell false tales about him and that night. When Jud Paynter betrayed him, giving testimony that let Ross go free, he tried to kill him by sending his servants Tom Harry and Tankard after him.
George then brought new and increased shares in Wheal Leisure which gave him a say in the running of the mine. Ross then gave up on the mine, selling half of his shares because he was unhappy with George's involvement.
When Francis Poldark died at Wheal Grace, he left his wife and son in debt. Ross sold his remaining shares and paid his debt to George, giving the money to Elizabeth. George had another idea in mind. He began to manipulate Elizabeth in the hope of marrying her. He and his uncle thought it would be in their best interests by marrying into a family of status. George gave Elizabeth money and charmed her, something only Agatha Poldark noticed.
When George started to get closer to Elizabeth, he and Agatha would often argue and he treated her in a cruel manner. Ross was unhappy to hear of Elizabeth's plan to marry George, who had since proposed to her. She accepted because of the financial security it would bring her, and they were married.
1794 - 1799
George moved into Trenwith and changed the management of the estate, such as forcibly stopping the villagers from walking through the land, which led to a short riot. He was happy when Elizabeth announced her pregnancy, but was unaware that the child's true father might be Ross.
George continued to change things at Trenwith which upset Agatha and his stepson, Geoffrey Charles, whose name he wanted to change from Poldark to Warleggan but he was rejected. He was delighted at the early birth of his son and heir, Valentine who he thought looked like him in blind love. However, Valentine's biological father was Ross, unbeknown to George at the time, and many thought he looked like Ross.
He brought Morwenna Chynoweth to Trenwith to be Governess to Geoffrey Charles. He and Elizabeth argued about the choice he made without her, because he wanted her to teach him and detach him from Elizabeth in time for him to start at boarding school the next year.
As he continued to change things at Trenwith, he continued to treat Agatha in a cruel manner which was noticed by Ross. He then made an agreement with Ross - he would leave him be provided he had a care for Agatha and his nephew. George agreed to the delight of him and Elizabeth. George continued to do well for himself, becoming a magistrate and opening his own bank.
George was deeply grieving Elizabeth and missed her company and warm presence. His sorrow for losing her caused him to see hallucinations of Elizabeth, believing that she was there in front of him and he could talk to her. He was ignoring Valentine until told by an hallucination of Elizabeth to at least say goodnight to their son, but when Valentine later showed George a picture of Elizabeth he shouted at him to never show it again.
He was no longer happy living at Trenwith because it reminded him of Elizabeth, and he took Valentine and Ursula to live in Cardew for a while. Ross and Geoffrey Charles spoke to George there, in an effort to persuade George to fund Geoffrey Charles' education. George laughed and declined but when Ross asked what Elizabeth would want for her son, he got angry and shouted at Ross to leave.
Cary introduced George to Ralph Hanson, who had a business deal for George. He needed new investment in his mahogany business based in Honduras, because Ned Despard's freeing of slaves had caused financial losses. George was unconcerned about using slave labour and was persuaded to invest, because it would expand the Warleggan empire internationally.
Ralph introduced George to Cecily Hanson, and Cary told George to consider a marriage to her. But George's mind continued to deteriorate and his near unstable state of mind was beginning to concern Cary. George began speaking to Elizabeth in front of Cary and he told George he was delusional. George argued back.
In London, he spoke to Ralph again about their impending investment. Ralph advised George that demand now beat supply and they would be searching new areas using slave labour. George was again unconcerned about using the slave trade, and agreed both he and Ralph would win in the investment. He was soon Knighted by King George III, but had envisioned Elizabeth helping him get dressed for the Knighthood.
He was later taking a walk when Ross saw him and stopped to speak. Ross was a friend of Ned Despard, and brought up George's investment in Ralph Hanson. George ignored Ross until he asked him to consider investing in Geoffrey Charles' education again because it's what Elizabeth would want. George snapped and told Ross he was nothing to Elizabeth. George explained that Ross' inability to let Elizabeth go, and his own suspicions about Valentine had hounded her into an early grave. He told Ross to take a share of the blame, like he had.
George and Cary head to sign their investment papers for Ralph. Ross and Ned had caused a new danger to their investment, and he told George and Cary was was time to ruin them by calling them Jacobean and a danger to the Crown. George goes to sign the paper but heard Elizabeth asking if this was what he wanted. He began talking to her and doubting how the investment was high, but the reward unguaranted. Ralph asked to who they are talking to.
Cary covered it up by stopping George signing their investment, telling Ralph he to confer and gain confidence. He later took George back to Trenwith and George told Elizabeth about the good news in front of a concerned Cary. George had told Valentine before he left Cornwall that he was going to find Elizabeth and bring her home, but when he got back, Valentine was confused when he couldn't see her.