SHUCKBURGH, Sir Charles, 2nd Bt. (1659-1705), of Shuckburgh Hall, Warws.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. Nov. 1659, o. s. of Sir John Shuckburgh, 1st Bt., by Catherine, da. of Sir Hatton Fermor of Easton Neston, Northants. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 1675. m. (1) lic. 19 Sept. 1679, Catherine (d. 1683), da. of Sir Hugh Stewkeley, 2nd Bt., of Hinton Ampney, Hants, 1s. 2da.; (2) lic. 26 Oct. 1684, Diana (d. 1725), da. of (Sir) Richard Verney, de jure 11th Ld. Willoughby de Broke, 3s. 8da. (3 d.v.p.). suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 1661.1
Sheriff, Warws. 1685–6.
Jt. master of buckhounds 1703–d.2
The Shuckburgh family had been settled at Shuckburgh since the early 16th century, but claimed connexions with Warwickshire that could be traced back to the reign of Henry II. Sir Charles’s grandfather, the Royalist Sir Richard Shuckburgh†, was elected to the Long Parliament at a by-election in December 1640. At the Restoration, as a mark of Sir Richard’s services, and of his sufferings at Parliamentarian hands, his eldest son John, who had since succeeded him, was created a baronet. Sir John died prematurely the following year and the estate and title passed to his infant son, Charles. Soon after attaining his majority Shuckburgh began to assume the local offices of responsibility natural to his rank in the county, although he was not particularly conscientious in fulfilling them. In 1681 he was added to the Warwickshire commission of the peace, but it was not until 1689 that he first appeared at a quarter sessions, and a further lengthy period of neglect ensued from 1691 until 1696. He was added to the Northamptonshire and Warwickshire lieutenancies in January and July 1683 respectively, and held the shrieval office in 1685–6. In 1684 he contracted a politically advantageous marriage with a daughter of Sir Richard Verney† who, as Lord Willoughby de Broke, was to become one of the county’s Tory leaders. At the Revolution he bestirred himself on behalf of Princess Anne during her progress to Nottingham, attending her from Market Harborough to Leicester at the head of some 50 horse. His tendency to neglect his magisterial duties was in all probability owing to his consuming passion for hunting in which his skills were widely acknowledged. Celia Fiennes provided an intriguing glimpse of his household in the 1690s with its unpretentious domesticity and generous hospitality to passing strangers, such as herself:
we came to a place called Nether Shugar [Lower or Nether Shuckburgh], a sad village, we could have no entertainment; just by it on the top of a steep hill is Shuggbery Hall a seat of Sir Charles Shuggbery’s [Shuckburgh], who seeing our distress, being just night and the horses weary with the heavy way, he very courteously took compassion on us and treated us very handsomely that night, a good supper served in plate and very good wine, and good beds; . . . the house stands within a good park, the deer so tame as to come up near the gate; the house looks very handsome built of brick and stone; very well furnished, though not very rich, but in the general all things were very well as any private gentleman has whatever.3
In 1696 Shuckburgh was one of the prime movers behind the Association in his county. He presented the second Warwickshire Association, which included the signatures of the chief officials in the government of the county, at Kensington on 29 Apr. These activities signify a deliberate move on Shuckburgh’s part towards serious politics and perhaps indicate his hope of a parliamentary seat in the next general election. Having heard in June 1697 that Christopher Tancred*, the master of the harriers, had recently died, the Duke of Shrewsbury, one of the secretaries of state, was keen that Shuckburgh should have the office. When Shrewsbury pressed William Blathwayt*, the secretary at war, to relay this recommendation to the King, he emphasized not only Shuckburgh’s hunting expertise, but also his political worth as a Tory of the kind who could prove useful in the service of the administration:
He is extremely zealous in the interest of the government, and solicited and brought up the Warwickshire Association, signed by many thousand hands, which was not expected from that county; but having the repute of a Churchman and well affected, he has a great power among the loyal Church party there. I know he is very desirous to serve his Majesty in this station, and has sent to me, upon hearing of the other’s death, to offer himself and his hounds to his Majesty’s service.
Indeed, particularly at election times, Shuckburgh’s energetic support of the Tory interest extended into Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire. The King’s approval of Shuckburgh’s appointment seems to have accorded well with popular choice, and accordingly the warrants were prepared. However, to Shrewsbury’s embarrassment, it soon afterwards transpired that Tancred was in fact alive and well, and so Shuckburgh was forced for the time being to set aside his hopes of advancement. At the 1698 general election he stood for the county. On the news that Shuckburgh had been returned unopposed on 3 Aug., James Vernon I* commented to Shrewsbury: ‘People have good hopes of Sir Charles Shuckburgh, he being so much your Grace’s friend’. These early ministerial expectations were not to be fulfilled, however. In a comparative analysis of the old and new House of Commons drawn up around September, he was classed as a supporter of the Country party. Similarly, in the first session, he was considered a likely opponent of the Court on the standing army question. From the early months of the new Parliament, Shuckburgh firmly identified himself with the Country Tories. On 28 Feb. 1699 Vernon wrote with evident disappointment: ‘If your Grace has heard that Sir Ch[arles] Sh[uckburgh] is deep in with the other party I wish I could not confirm it, but I think they are very sure of him in all votes.’ The previous day Shuckburgh had been one of those who vexed the ministers by voting for the East India Company’s application for a bill sanctioning its continued existence and operation until the expiry of the 21-year term allowed under its 1693 charter. On 25 Mar. Vernon reported that the King ‘took particular notice’ of Shuckburgh’s appearance with those who presented the Commons’ address urging William to disband his Dutch guards. Three days later he stuck by his party in a division in the committee of the whole on the supply bill for disbanding the army. It is impossible, however, to say whether Shuckburgh’s anti-Court behaviour at this time was related to his disappointment of office in 1697.4
In late December 1700 the absence of his fellow Member, Sir John Mordaunt, 5th Bt., left Shuckburgh with the burden of preparation for the January 1701 election. It was a task felt all the more acutely since the veteran Whig Sir Richard Newdigate, 2nd Bt.†, put up his son, and Shuckburgh feared this would result in the expense of a poll. His attitude to such expenditure was somewhat tight-fisted for he concluded his progress report of 28 Dec. to Mordaunt: ‘remember that we poll in the town hall where we may have our scaffolds for nothing’; he also spent rather less than Mordaunt on drink for the freeholders. In January 1701, however, the Newdigates withdrew and the election proceedings were concluded with the maximum economy. In the course of the next session Shuckburgh appears to have temporized his earlier anti-Court attitudes. He was marked, for example, as one who was likely to support the Court in a supply resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’; and he was teller for the Court side in a question on 5 May approving a ways and means resolution to apply a surplus £100,000, originally intended for the King’s household expenses, towards the discharge of public debts. At the November 1701 election, Shuckburgh entertained thoughts of retiring from Parliament, but reports of renewed Whig activity by the elder Newdigate galvanized him into action, ‘for I think in honour we can’t lay it down this time’. He also busied himself in the Northamptonshire election on behalf of the Tory candidates, Sir Justinian Isham, 4th Bt.*, and Thomas Cartwright*, who were under considerable pressure from the Whigs. In Warwickshire, however, Whig threats of a contest came to nothing. He was classed as a Tory by Robert Harley* in the new Parliament, and was included in the ‘white list’ of supporters of the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the Commons’ proceedings the previous session in the impeachments of the King’s Whig ministers.5
Shuckburgh put himself forward for re-election in the summer of 1702, this time without qualm. He even promised John Grobham Howe*, who was standing for Gloucestershire, that he would lead a detachment of 70 outvoters to poll in that county provided no opposition was mounted in his own. It was a promise which, in the absence of serious rivals, he was presumably able to fulfil. Inevitably, it was through his prowess in the hunting field that he soon became, as a Whig rival wrote of him, ‘much known at Court and . . . intimate with the Prince’; in June 1703 he was appointed master of the buckhounds. He was granted a fortnight’s leave of absence on 3 Feb. 1704, and the following month was listed among those thought likely to support Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) in the event of a parliamentary attack on him over the Scotch Plot. Serious illness prevented Shuckburgh from attending most if not all of the next session. His condition was so critical that he completed and signed his will on 25 Nov., describing himself as ‘being sick and weak in body’. He was thus prevented from attending the Tack division on 28 Nov. for which he was uncharitably branded as a ‘Sneaker’ in a subsequently published analysis of the 1705 Parliament. In March 1705 he was sufficiently recovered to be concerning himself with the problems of the approaching election and worrying about the expense of a poll. On this occasion, for the first time in his political experience, the Whigs launched a bitter and determined campaign, and in the resulting three-cornered contest it was he rather than Mordaunt who was the main target of opposition. But in spite of the heavy odds thought to be against him, Shuckburgh achieved first position in the poll, outstripping his Whig opponent, George Lucy, by a considerable margin.6
Just over three months later, however, on 2 Sept., Shuckburgh died suddenly of apoplexy while on a visit to Winchester. Lord Digby (William*), a former Member for Warwick, assumed that Shuckburgh would have voted ‘for our countryman’, William Bromley II*, in the approaching vote on the Speakership, but Harley’s assessment of him to Lord Godolphin (Sidney†) probably yields the more accurate view of Shuckburgh’s political personality at the time of his death: ‘I am afraid the Queen’s service will have a loss in him, for such men as he have a turn of doing for the advantage of the Queen’s service more than twenty others.’7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. Mar. Lic. Vicar-Gen. (Harl. Soc. xxx), 6; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 66–67.
- 2. Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 306; info. from Prof. R. O. Bucholz.
- 3. A. Hughes, Pol. Soc. and Civil War in Warws. 1620–1660, pp. 128–9; Warws. Recs. viii. pp. xvii, lii; ix. p. xxi; CSP Dom. Jan.–June 1683, p. 2; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxiii), 119; Compton mss at Castle Ashby, 1096, James Glasford to Ld. Northampton, 19 Mar. 1694–5; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 477; Journeys of Celia Fiennes ed. Morris, 116.
- 4. Warws. Recs. ix. p. xxv; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 477, 481, 483, 496; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 296; ii. 147, 271; Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss 47/150, 161, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 28 Feb., 25 Mar. 1699; G. Holmes and W. A. Speck, Divided Soc. 156.
- 5. Warws. RO, Mordaunt of Walton Hall mss CR1368/iii/34, 35, 36, 37, 42, 45, Shuckburgh to Mordaunt, 28 Dec. 1700, 17, 20, 29 Nov. , Newdigate to same, 26 Nov. 1701; CR1368/iv/43, 46, William Clerke to same, 13 Feb. 1705[–6], George Lucy to same, 1 Dec. 1701.
- 6. Mordaunt mss CR1368/iii/9, 38, William Bromley II to Mordaunt, 23 June 1702, Shuckburgh to same, 19 May ; Add. 61496, f. 85; Luttrell, v. 306; PCC 255 Gee; Northants. RO, Isham mss IC 2749, Hon. Charles Bertie II* to Sir Justinian Isham, 15 May 1705; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 226.
- 7. Luttrell, v. 588; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 23; HMC Bath, i. 74.