|“||Once he gets his mind set on something, it takes a devil's shoulder to shift him.||„|
|~ Charles Poldark about George|
George Warleggan is the primary antagonist of Winston Graham's Poldark novels, and its TV adaptations.
He was portrayed by Ralph Bates in the 1975 series and by Jack Farthing in the 2015 series.
George is a greedy and ruthless banker who seeks to buy out the copper mines in Cornwall and turn the industry into a monopoly controlled by the Warleggans, at the expense of anyone who stands in his way, including the Poldarks. He manipulates Francis Poldark (cousin of Ross Poldark, George's archrival) by befriending him only to bankrupt him through a gamble at the hands of his cousin Matthew. George later regains Francis' trust by returning what he lost in exchange for the name of the shareholders investing in Ross's smelting company. Because many of Ross's shareholders bank with the Warleggans, George calls in their debts, essentially bankrupting them and putting a stop to Ross's mine operations. He even attempts to have Ross hanged due to his role in his cousin's death as well as his suspected involvement with smuggling operations. After he fails to do so, George begins taking up fighting lessons out of fear that Ross will come for him.
He also attempts to woo Elizabeth, Francis's wife and Ross's first love. Elizabeth is essentially the one person George truly cares about, showing several signs of not wanting to hurt her in his pursuits, even willing to defy his uncle, Cary Warleggan, when he threatened to have her entire family thrown onto the streets if their debts were not paid. After an accident that claims Francis's life, George officially proclaims his love for her and eventually weds her. George steps in as Geoffrey Charles' stepfather, but wants him out of his way, so he starts by hiring a governess named Morwenna, Elizabeth's cousin, to accompany him. This only causes him further strife, particularly with Morwenna's relationship with a destitute and less-educated Drake. He gets them both away by sending Geoffrey Charles to boarding school and forcibly marrying Morwenna to the loathsome Reverend Osborne Whitworth, a member of a powerful family George has consistently tried seeking an alliance with.
Despite being the primary villain, he frequently acts more humane and honorable than his uncle Cary or his lawyer and henchman Tankard. However, those courtesies do not extend to Ross; with the exception of Julia's death, all of Ross's misfortunes are both carefully calculated by George and a source of contentment for him. His one true pride and joy is his "son" Valentine, whom he supposedly had with Elizabeth. However, after crossing Aunt Agatha one time too many (and before indirectly causing her death), she bitterly tells George he is not the father. Though it cannot be proven, George comes to the conclusion that the child is Ross's, furthering his animosity towards Ross and the entire Poldark family. However, his jealously and suspicion spirals out of control to the point where he irrationally attacks those closest to Ross, such as his brother in law Drake. Elizabeth puts a stop to it, threatening to leave George if his entire life would revolve around making Ross miserable. George finally relents, tearfully promising Elizabeth he would stop.