BERTIE, Hon. Charles I (c.1640-1711), of Uffington, nr. Stamford, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1640, 5th s. of Montagu Bertie†, 2nd Earl of Lindsey, by his 1st w. Martha, da. of Sir William Cokayne, ld. mayor of London 1619–20, of Rushton, Northants., wid. of John Ramsey, 1st Earl of Holdernesse; bro. of Hon. Peregrine I* and half-bro. of Hon. Henry I*. educ. Westminster; Amersham sch. 1650; M. Temple 1658; MA Oxf. 1665, incorp. Camb. 1667; travelled abroad (France, Spain) 1660–5. m. 2 Sept. 1674, Mary, da. of Peter Tryon of Bulwick, Northants., wid. of Sir Samuel Jones† of Courteenhall, Northants., 1s. 1da.1
Lt. RN 1668; capt. 2 Ft. Gds. 1668–73; envoy extraordinary to Denmark 1671–2, to German States 1680–1; sec. to Treasury 1673–9; commr. Queen Mother’s arrears 1677, appeals on excise duty 1677–9, inquiring into defects of the mint 1678–9; treasurer of Ordnance 1681–99, 1702–5; sec. to c.j. in eyre, south of Trent 1693–7; commr. Million Act 1694.2
Alderman, Stamford 1685–8, Boston 1685–Oct. 1688; conservator, draining and maintaining Deeping Fen 1685; freeman and bailiff, Oxford 1687.3
Asst. corp. to set poor to work 1691, N. W. America trading co. 1691; dir. Greenwich Hosp. 1703–?d.4
Although the last of the Berties to withdraw support for James II, Charles had taken an active part in the Revolution, and by 1690 had re-established himself at court. Most importantly, with the support of his powerful kinsman, the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), he had managed to retain his office at the Ordnance under William and Mary. He had even less trouble in securing his parliamentary seat, having influenced the return at Stamford ever since his purchase of Uffington in 1673. Basking in victory after the Stamford election, he demonstrated strong High Tory principles by gloating over his defeat of a ‘fanatic’, which he thought ‘the greatest service I can do my country’. He also confided his wish for ‘a good Church of England Parliament’. At Westminster Carmarthen confirmed his Tory allegiance, and twice cited him as a Court supporter. He also marked him as an ally in December 1690, and the following April Robert Harley* listed him as a Court man. Unfortunately, his general contribution in this and other Parliaments is obscured by the presence of several kinsmen. None of his family had much of an impact on the first session, but in the second his status as a former secretary to the Treasury argues for his identification as a teller on 3 Jan. 1691 against amending an additional clause of appropriation to the bill to impose double excise duties.5
On the death in June 1691 of William Jephson*, secretary to the Treasury, Bertie lobbied to obtain his old place, but to no avail. This disappointment may have turned him against the Court, and it is tempting to identify him as the ‘Mr Bertie’ who in the ensuing two sessions made a series of recorded speeches during debates on estimates and supply, most of which were critical of government policy.
During the session of 1692–3, it was reported that Bertie, an experienced diplomat, had agreed to be sent as envoy to Denmark ‘on condition he would be back by next summer’. However, although nominated to the post, he remained in this country. In November 1693 he was appointed secretary to his half-brother James, 1st Earl of Abingdon, the chief justice in eyre south of the Trent, with an annual salary of £500. Considering the discomfort which his family had caused the Court in recent sessions, this office highlighted the government’s eagerness to secure his support. In the fifth and sixth sessions of Parliament he, in common with his kinsmen, was far from conspicuous, his only certain activity resting with a leave of absence granted on 8 Feb. 1694. His responsibilities at the Ordnance may well have forced him to neglect the House, and political analysts generally viewed him as a placeman, most notably Samuel Grascome, who in his list of 1693–5 classed him as a Court supporter as well. His name also appeared on a list drawn up in 1694–5 by Henry Guy*, who was possibly identifying likely allies in preparation to defend himself against attack at Westminster.6
Re-elected for Stamford in 1695, in December Bertie expressed concern for the position of his mentor Carmarthen (now Duke of Leeds), hoping that his affairs would ‘sleep this session’. Alongside other followers of Leeds he was forecast in January 1696 as a probable opponent of the Court in connexion with the proposed council of trade, but signed the Association, and in March voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. However, the following November he joined with other ‘Leeds Tories’ in voting against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. In the spring of 1697 Abingdon was removed as chief justice in eyre, which dismissal probably terminated Bertie’s lucrative secretaryship. Yet, despite differences with the increasingly Whig-dominated ministry, and the virtual exclusion of Leeds from the conduct of affairs, he retained his place at the Ordnance, his name appearing on lists of placemen and Court supporters in the summer of 1698. Residual tension between him and the Court was suggested by another political analyst, who forecast that he would oppose a standing army.7
Bertie’s stance on disbandment in the ensuing Parliament is unclear, although he did not appear in the ranks of government supporters on that key issue. Tribute was paid to his standing in the House in February 1699 when he gained specific exemption from a proposed place bill. On this occasion Country Whig Member Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt., sarcastically recalled Bertie’s refusal to betray the recipients of secret service money under Charles II, as proof of his being ‘a very honest gentleman’, but such past loyalty did not secure him in office for much longer. In June 1699, with the formal departure of Leeds from the government, he was himself replaced at the Ordnance. Although now openly in opposition, he was not entirely out of favour and in September 1699 his petition for the renewal of a lease of Deeping Fen in Lincolnshire was granted, with a 48-year extension. In the course of the second session he was identified as in the ‘interest’ of Lord Carmarthen, and may have demonstrated estrangement from the Court by acting as teller on 10 Apr. 1700 in favour of addressing the King to remove Lord Chancellor Somers (Sir John*) from the Privy Council.8
Returned as usual for Stamford in February 1701, Bertie was noted as likely to support the Court over the committee of supply’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. Aside from an information concerning Ordnance accounts, his only definite action in that Parliament lay with a local measure of obvious personal import, a bill to drain Deeping Fen. More significantly, on 14 Feb. he may have told against a motion in support of the administration and its commitment to the peace of Europe. He may then have gone on the offensive against the King’s former Whig ministers, since a Bertie was appointed on 1 Apr. to the committee to impeach the Earl of Portland, and told on 14 Apr. in favour of the motion that Lord Halifax (Charles Montagu*) was guilty of a high crime and misdemeanour. Charles Bertie was certainly on the attack on 29 Apr., lambasting government bribery, despite having previously ‘given near £100,000 to corrupt Members’, as Cocks acidly remarked. He was subsequently blacklisted as having opposed preparations for war, and at the second election of 1701 not only secured Stamford for the Tory interest, but also helped Sir Justinian Isham, 4th Bt.*, to gain a victory in Northamptonshire. In the ensuing Parliament he voted for the resolution of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of the Whig lords.9
On the accession of Anne, Bertie was reappointed to his old office at the Ordnance, and wrote a letter of thanks to the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), acknowledging his key role in securing him such preferment. Revelling in his restored favour, at the election of 1702 he again aided the Northamptonshire Tories, assuring them that he was ready to ‘bring all my guns with me from the Tower to level the ambition of that malevolent party’. In the first session of the Parliament he was one of the Members who thanked Dr Whincop for preaching to the House, and demonstrated Tory allegiance by voting on 13 Feb. 1703 against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill to extend the time for taking the Abjuration. As a trustee for a royal estate given to the Duke of Leeds, in the next session he was probably the Charles Bertie who petitioned the House on 25 Jan. 1704 to ensure that the property would not be affected by the resumption bill, and a Bertie acted as a teller on 7 Feb. against the House going into committee on that bill. Also in the 1703–4 session, he was listed by Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) as likely to support the Court in connexion with the proceedings envisaged on the Scotch Plot. In the next session he sponsored a private estate bill, and, having been forecast in October as a probable supporter of the Tack, duly voted for this High Tory measure on 28 Nov. 1704. At the end of this Parliament he lost his office, on which Dyer commented: ‘the reason of the remove of this good old royalist is not said nor nobody knows but the Queen and one or two more, unless it be that for which the justices of the peace should have been removed’. Support for the Tack was almost certainly the immediate cause, as inferred by at least one observer, and Bertie himself was philosophical about his dismissal, reflecting, ‘I am all obedience and resignation to her Majesty’s pleasure and doubt not but she has pitched upon a more able successor than myself’.10
The Tack did not undermine Bertie’s standing at Stamford, however, and after his return he was classed as ‘True Church’ in a list of 1705. He voted against the Court candidate for Speaker on 25 Oct., and his strident Anglicanism may have prompted him to speak on 8 Dec. in the debate about the dangers facing the Church. During the session of 1707–8 he was identified as a Tory, and in the succeeding Parliament he supported Robert Harley’s plan to force the renewal of peace negotiations by withholding supply, writing on 28 Aug. 1709, ‘the country longs for peace and thinks Tournai and its citadel are a dear bargain for six million a year, and the Dutch to reap the benefit thereof’. He opposed the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell and, after his tenth consecutive success at Stamford in 1710, was classed as a Tory on the ‘Hanover list’.11
Bertie died on 22 Mar. 1711, in his 71st year, having suffered for nine months from a ‘bad stomach’. He was buried at Uffington, where his monument paid tribute to the ‘unspotted reputation’ with which he had served Stamford for over 30 years. His seat in Parliament predictably passed to his son Charles, who represented the borough until 1727. Bertie’s will testified to his political connexions and motivation, since he left £100 to the Duke of Leeds ‘as a small instance of my gratitude and obligations’, and expressed hope that his posterity would be ‘firm and constant in the profession and practice of the true Protestant religion as established in the Church of England’.12
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Perry Gauci
- 1. Collins, Peerage, ii. 19; Recs. Old Westminsters, i. 83; HMC Ancaster, 425; HMC Lindsey, 269–70, 275–372; The Ancestor, ii. 181.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1673, p. 529; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 486, 609, 663, 1204; vi. 158; x. 552; Br. Dipl. Reps. 1509–1688 (R. Hist. Soc.), 38, 150; H. Tomlinson, Guns and Govt. 225–6.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 39, 50; HMC Lords, i. 310; Oxford Council Acts (Oxford Hist. Soc. n.s. ii), 191.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1690–1, pp. 422, 527; 1703–4, p. 463.
- 5. F. E. D. Willis, Hist. Uffington, 43; Univ. Illinois, Misc. Eng. docs. Bertie to Edward Hubbard, 2 Mar. 1690.
- 6. Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/059/2, Robert Yard* to Alexander Stanhope, 6 Dec. 1692, 31 Jan. 1693; Luttrell, iii. 231.
- 7. Rutland mss at Belvoir Castle, letters and pprs. xxi, Bertie to Ld. Rutland, 7 Dec. 1695.
- 8. Cocks Diary, 6; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiv. 56; xv. 173.
- 9. Cocks Diary, 104; Northants. RO, Isham mss IC 2718, Bertie to Isham, 17 Nov. 1701.
- 10. Add. 61283, f. 161; 17677 AAA, f. 213; Isham mss IC 2723A, 3712, Bertie to Isham, 27 July 1702, 16 May 1705; HMC Portland, iv. 190; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/8, James Lowther* to Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*, 24, 27 Mar., 28 Apr. 1705.
- 11. Cam. Misc. xxiii. 48; Lincs. AO, Monson mss MM 7/12/136, Bertie to Sir John Newton, 28 Aug. 1709.
- 12. Boyer, Pol. State, i. 267; Sloane 4077, f. 84; Willis, 47–48; PCC 99 Auber.