CAESAR, Sir Charles (1653-94), of Bennington, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. 22 Feb. 1653, 2nd but o. surv. s. of (Sir) Henry Caesar. educ. St. Catharine’s, Camb. 1668-71; M. Temple, 1669. m. 3 Nov. 1672, Susanna (d. 29 Mar. 1693), da. and h. of Sir Thomas Bonfoy, Dyer, of Hammersmith, Mdx., 3s. 1da. suc. fa. 1668. Kntd. 4 Oct. 1671.1
Commr. for assessment, Herts. 1673-80, 1689-90; j.p. and dep. lt. Hunts. Apr. 1688-d., Herts. ?Oct. 1688-d.
Caesar was knighted during Charles II’s visit to Cambridge University in 1671. But according to the antiquary Chauncy he ‘declined all public employments ... and affected not the Roman party nor their proselytes’. He was reported to have given £100 towards the renewal of the Hertford charter in 1678, and in the following February he was returned for the borough with Sir Thomas Byde. Marked ‘honest’ on Shaftesbury’s list, he was inactive in the first Exclusion Parliament, in which he was appointed only to the committee for the habeas corpus amendment bill, and abstained in the division on the exclusion bill. On the evening of the dissolution he went to Hertford, but, as he told William Hale, found three other candidates already in the field ‘soliciting their interests there. I offered them my service, but whether I shall go on to make an interest there I am not fully resolved’. His dilemma was solved by Hale’s withdrawal from the county election, leaving Caesar to defeat the exclusionist Byde, despite the efforts of the intriguer Sir Robert Peyton to smear him as a supporter of the Duke of York. As knight of the shire in the second Exclusion Parliament he was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges and to that to inquire into Peyton’s conduct. The Earl of Essex and the Earl of Salisbury (James Cecil) recommended Silius Titus for the county in 1681, but a gentry meeting resolved upon Caesar and Hale, who were returned. He left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament.2
Caesar is unlikely to have stood in 1685, but as a moderate and sober Anglican he was appointed to local office in 1688. He regained his seat in the Convention, but he was not active, being appointed to only 11 committees, including those to inquire into the authors and advisers of recent grievances, and to consider the bill to prevent excessive election expenses. He was teller against the Tory candidate in the Mitchell by-election, and, as one of the committee to bring in a bill for restoring corporations, supported the disabling clause. But he was defeated by the Tory Ralph Freman at the next general election. He died on 13 Aug. 1694 and was buried at Bennington. Chauncy described him as
very regular in his life and orderly in his family. ... He was very generous to all whom he employed, but seldom pardoned a slight to his person, or a contempt of his business. ... He would not contract any friendship or acquaintance with any he thought scandalous, and abhorred those who would purchase the favour of their prince with the price of the rights of the people. He would not willingly quarrel with his neighbours, nor spare any cost or charge to obtain his point.
A benefactor of his college in his will, he also left generous sums to his younger sons and £3,500 to his daughter, as well as annuities during their minorities. His son Charles, a zealous Jacobite, sat for either borough or county from 1701 to 1741 with three short intervals.3
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: E. R. Edwards / Geoffrey Jaggar
- 1. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 286-7; St. Catharine’s, Camb. Adm. Reg.; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 34.
- 2. Chauncy, Herts. ii. 82; L. Turnor, Hertford, 115; Grey, viii. 140; Add. 33573, f. 127; Herts. RO, D/ELw/F29/4, James to Sir Jacob Wittewronge, 2 Feb. 1681.
- 3. Chauncy, ii. 82; CJ, x. 395-6; Clutterbuck, ii. 86; W. H. S. Jones, Hist. St. Catharine’s, Camb., 248, 386; PCC 189 Box.