EVERSFIELD, Charles (1683-1749), of Denne Place, nr. Horsham, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. 15 Sept. 1683, o. s. of Nicholas Eversfield† of Charlton Court, nr. Steyning, Suss. by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Nicholas Gildridge of Eastbourne, Suss. m. (1) 21 July 1702, Mary, da. and h. of Henry Duncombe of Weston, Surr., 1s. 4da.; (2) 9 Aug. 1731, Henrietta Maria, da. and coh. of Charles Scarborough of Windsor, Berks., wid. of Sir Robert Jenkinson, 3rd Bt.*, s.p. 2 da. illegit. suc. fa. 1684; uncle Anthony Eversfield† at Denne 1695.1
Paymaster and treasurer of Ordnance 1712–14.2
Eversfield was the representative of the cadet branch of the Eversfield family of Sussex, and inherited from his uncle the estate of Denne and a number of burgages carrying an electoral interest in Horsham. Taking the first opportunity after coming of age, he successfully contested the borough in 1705, when his return was classed as a ‘loss’ by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) and he was also listed as a ‘Churchman’. He voted against the Court candidate for Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705, and was relatively inconspicuous in his first Parliament. Marked as a Tory in a list of early 1708, he was returned again for Horsham in the election of that year. He acted as a teller on 8 Mar. 1709 against the election of the Duke of Marlborough’s (John Churchill†) protégé, Thomas Meredyth*, for Midhurst and voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710.3
In 1710, he was returned for both Horsham and Sussex, choosing to sit for the county, and was classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’. In this Parliament Eversfield achieved a certain prominence as one of the spokesmen for the October Club. On 5 February 1711 he was reported as saying that
unless Mr Harley [Robert*] made further discoveries (which if he pleased he would) they must believe that a great man in the late ministry (meaning [Lord] Godolphin [Sidney†]) and a great man in this (meaning Harley) were to direct this House what they were to do in these matters.
On 17 Feb. the club persuaded the House, against the wishes of the ministry, to bring in a bill to appoint a new commission of accounts, Eversfield being named to the drafting committee. On 19 Feb. he raised the question of the disputed election at Carlisle at the request of the defeated candidate, Colonel Gledhill, and complained that the Whig victor, (Sir) James Montagu I, had written and circulated a letter to promote his election, which Eversfield thought, ‘reflected on her Majesty’s honour’. When the debate was resumed on 14 Mar. Eversfield told in favour of a motion condemning the bishop of Carlisle for circulating Montagu’s letter. On 2 Apr. he was involved in a quarrel with Robert Walpole II*:
Mr Walpole and Mr Eversfield . . . were very near a duel for a thing that happened in the House. A young Member [rose] to speak. Mr Walpole, being very attentive, looked earnestly in his face, for which offence Mr Eversfield told him he was very impudent . . . Mr Walpole went out without returning any answer and Mr Eversfield followed, but their friends interposed and reconciled them without any bloodletting.
On 18 Apr. Eversfield told in favour of surplus revenue raised by the Post Office going to public use. His election on 20 Apr. as one of the commissioners to carry out the provisions of the resumption of grants bill was another success for the October Club, although the subsequent defeat of the bill in the Lords prevented his acting. Divisions within the October Club were highlighted on 28 Apr. in the debate on a report into the arrears of the imprest accountants. Eversfield and other hard-liners wanted Lord Godolphin to be named in an address criticizing the late government, and were against adjourning consideration of the report on the arrears of the imprest accountants (Eversfield acting as a teller on the latter), but on both counts were defeated by more moderate Octobrists. William Pittis dedicated his account of parliamentary proceedings in this session to Eversfield, who was listed among the ‘worthy patriots’ responsible for detecting the mismanagements of the previous administration. Boyer included him among the leaders of the October Club.4
Eversfield was the recipient of Lord Oxford’s (Robert Harley) favour in June 1711 in the form of an office for a friend, but this did not prevent him from challenging the ministry for some months into the next session. On 7 Dec. 1711 it was reported that Eversfield was the only member of the October Club to speak against the Whig motion of ‘No Peace without Spain’, and he added a warning to the government, saying, according to L’Hermitage that: ‘il ne voulait pas insister sur cette clause, sa Majesté n’ayant pas demandé leur avis, mais qu’il était sur qu’aucun membre de la chambre n’entendait par là que les ministres seraient mis à couvert de faire une méchante paix’. When Oxford managed to persuade some October Club Tories to postpone the introduction of an occasional conformity bill, Eversfield refused to acquiesce, and in December joined the Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) in attempting to force through such a bill. The next year, on 25 Jan. 1712, Eversfield was one of the members of the October Club to support the attack on the Duke of Marlborough, which followed the report of the commissioners of accounts’ inquiry into the captain-general’s accounts. On 19 Feb. he told in favour of the expulsion of Marlborough’s secretary, Adam de Cardonnel*, and on 25 Feb. supported Henry Campion’s proposal that Marlborough repay the 2.5 per cent he had retained on the army’s pay. Harley needed the support of the October Club to secure the peace and to this end ministerialists co-operated when members of the club, led by Eversfield, accused the allies of not bearing their fair share of the burden of war: on 4 Feb. Eversfield spoke in the debate on the treaties with the allies and on 5 Feb. was a teller for the motion that the Dutch had failed to provide a full quota of forces. On 7 Feb. he was a teller in favour of passing the Scots toleration bill and also told on 12 Feb. against putting the question of giving further consideration to the Queen’s Speech. On 21 Feb. he led the club’s attack on supply, ostensibly to the surprise of Secretary St. John (Henry II*), who blamed the need for more funds on the commitments made by the Godolphin administration and the failures of the allies. The growing accord between the October Club and the ministry was hastened by the defection of a minority to form the pro-Hanoverian March Club, which expressly excluded Eversfield from membership on the grounds that at one meeting of the October Club he had introduced Secretary St. John and Chancellor of the Exchequer Robert Benson*. Despite this, on 21 Apr., a day St. John was absent from the House, Eversfield was one of the proponents of the October Club’s measure of tacking a bill to inquire into crown grants onto a supply bill, thereby endangering the latter. In early April a memorial defending the allies’ record was printed in the Daily Courant, reportedly provoking Eversfield to utter threats of violence against the newspaper’s proprietor. On 8 May he told for the Tories in the Steyning election dispute, and on the same day moved that John Houstoun* be given leave of absence. On the peace, Eversfield became one of the ministry’s defenders and on 28 May spoke and told against the Whig motion condemning Ormond’s failure to take offensive action against the French in Flanders. He also, on 10 June, supported John Hungerford’s motion to censure the Four Sermons of Bishop Fleetwood of St. Asaph, which criticized the ministry. Eversfield’s reward came in June 1712, when, as part of the ministry’s policy of buying off the October men, he was appointed treasurer of the Ordnance.5
Before the next session, Eversfield was wounded in a duel with Lord Lumley (Richard*) but had recovered in time to help the Court with the passage through the House of the French commerce bill, for which he voted on 18 June 1713. In 1713 Eversfield once more contested Horsham successfully. On 9 Mar. 1714 he was named to the drafting committee for a bill to curb wool smuggling, the result of a local petition. On 15 Apr., during the debate on the Court motion that the Protestant succession was not in danger under the present government, he fulminated against both the Barrier Treaty and the allies. He also spoke in the debate on the committee’s report the next day. A few days later, on 24 Apr., he was reported to be suffering from smallpox and was probably absent for the rest of the session. He was marked as a Tory on the Worsley list and on two other analyses comparing the Parliaments of 1713 and 1715.6
The accession of George I and the consequent change in the political climate threatened Eversfield’s career: it was reported in August that he was courting the favour of the Dukes of Somerset and Argyll, and would not support his 1713 electoral partner, the Jacobite Tory Henry Campion: ‘he declares he will keep his place if he can, and that he will not stir for Campion’s election in the county of Sussex. Campion and he have had some high words upon that account.’ However, Eversfield lost both parliamentary seat and office, and was threatened with prosecution for the recovery of £6,000 which he retained from the Ordnance. His accounts were finally passed in August 1718. Returning to the Commons in 1721, he changed his allegiance entirely and became a supporter of the Whig ministry. He died 17 Jan. 1749, leaving a substantial part of his estate, real and personal, to his natural daughters, Henrietta and Charlotta Forman.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne
- 1. Suss. Gens. Horsham, 96; ‘Steyning par. reg. baptisms, 1565–1925’ (Soc. of Geneal. trans.), 57.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvi. 336; xxix. 189.
- 3. W. Albery, Parl. Hist. Horsham, 42, 46–47.
- 4. G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 342, 358; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 72, 77; Huntington Lib. Q. xxxiii. 159, 160, 161; Boyer, Pol. State, i–ii. 170; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 1010, 1014; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 512–13; NSA, Kreienberg despatch 1 May 1711; HMC Var. viii. 251; Pittis, Present Parl.
- 5. Add. 70197, Eversfield to Oxford, 5 June 1711; 17677 EEE, ff. 391–2; Kreienberg despatches 11 Dec. 1711, 22, 29 Feb., 1, 22 Apr., 30 May, 13 June 1712; Bull. IHR, xxxiii. 225; BL, Trumbull Add. mss 136, Ralph Bridges* to Sir William Trumbull*, 25 Jan. 1711/12; Szechi, 106–8; Huntington Lib. Q. 165, 166–9; Scots Courant, 8–11 Feb. 1712; Letters of Burnet to Duckett ed. Nichol Smith, 6.
- 6. Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 25 Oct. 1712; Chandler, v. 41; Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 15 Apr. 1714; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, ff. 95–96; HMC Portland, v. 430.
- 7. Swift Corresp. ed. Williams, ii. 121; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxix. 189, 248, 268, 303, 307, 339, 749; xxx. 1, 403, 560; Gent. Mag. 1749, p. 44; PCC 74 Greenly.