George Duncan Hancock, soldier of the Republic of Texas, merchant, legislator, and civil leader, was born in Tennessee on April 27, 1809, the son of John Allen and Sarah (Ryan) Hancock. He moved with his family to Alabama in 1819 and was educated there. In 1835 he moved to Texas. At the battle of San Jacinto he served as a private in Capt. William Kimbro's company of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers. He was one of the five men who accompanied Erastus (Deaf) Smith in the destruction of Vince's Bridge. For his military service, which lasted from March 15 through November 15, 1836, Hancock received a total of 1,280 acres in Lampasas County.
Subsequently he worked as a surveyor, locating lands on the frontier. In 1840 he was residing in Bastrop County, where he owned 5,907 acres of real estate, a saddle horse, and a watch. On October 26, 1842, after Adrián Woll's capture of San Antonio, Hancock enlisted in Capt. Bartlett Sims's company of Col. James R. Cook's regiment of the South Western Army, and marched with Gen. Alexander Somervell to the Rio Grande. He returned to San Antonio with Somervell and was discharged on November 21, 1842, thus avoiding the Mier expedition.
In 1843 he opened a highly successful retail store in La Grange, Fayette County, which he later moved to Bastrop and then in 1845 to Austin, where he established himself at the corner of Congress and Pecan (now Sixth) Street. There he was regarded by the editor of the Texas State Gazette (see AUSTIN STATE GAZETTE) as "an experienced merchant of acknowledged good taste in the selection of goods," and as offering "as large and complete a stock...as has ever been brought to the city."
By 1850 Hancock owned assets valued at $40,000 and was residing in an Austin boardinghouse. On September 5 of that year the state legislature granted him, Thomas J. Hardeman, John Rabb, John W. S. Dancy, and nine other men a charter to incorporate the Colorado Navigation Company to promote Colorado River traffic and commerce, and on February 16, 1852, Hancock and six other men were granted corporate rights for the Brazos and Colorado Railroad Company to link Austin and Houston. Hancock was married to Eliza Louisa Lewis, the daughter of Ira Randolph Lewis, on November 2, 1855. In 1861 Hancock, an ardent Unionist like his brother, John Hancock, retired from business.
At the end of the Civil War Hancock was a member of a committee that welcomed Governor A. J. Hamilton to Austin in August 1865, and later that month Hamilton appointed him to the board of trustees of the State Lunatic Asylum (later the Austin State Hospital). In 1866 he was elected to the Eleventh Texas Legislature. In 1872 he served as chairman of a committee formed to keep Austin the capital of Texas.
Hancock died on January 6, 1879, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin. He was survived by his wife, who died on April 27, 1890, and a son, Lewis, who became mayor of Austin. Hancock was an active member of the Texas Veterans Association, which he helped to organize in 1873, and a vestryman at St. David's Episcopal Church. He was also a Mason and in 1852 took an active role in establishing Austin Masonic High School.