WILLS, Charles (1666-1741).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



29 Dec. 1718 - 25 Dec. 1741

Family and Education

bap. 23 Oct. 1666, 1st s. of Anthony Wills of St. Gorran, Cornw. by his w. Jenofer. unm. K.B. 17 June 1725.

Offices Held

Ensign, Col. Thomas Erle’s regt. of Ft. 1689; capt. 19 Ft. 1691; maj. Col. Thos. Saunderson’s regt. of Ft. 1694, lt.-col. 1697, half-pay 1698; lt.-col. 36 Ft. 1701; adjt.-gen. to Earl of Peterborough in Spain 1705; col. 30 Ft. 1705-16; brig.-gen. 1707; maj.-gen. 1709; lt.-gen. 1715; col. 3 Ft. 1716-26, 1 Ft. Gds. 1726-d.; gen. 1730; gen. comdg. the Ft. 1739.

Gov. Berwick-upon-Tweed 1715, Portsmouth 1718; lt.-gen. of the Ordnance 1718-d.; P.C. 9 May 1719.


After a distinguished military career culminating in the surrender to him at Preston of the rebel army in 1715,1Wills was returned by the Duke of Bolton for Totnes, which he continued to represent till his death. In a loyal address in 1727 the Totnes corporation boasted that

our borough now sends to your senate, a Wills; who as he has been the scourge of perfidious rebels at home, will, we doubt not, on occasion, with like courage and success, vanquish and confound all your Majesty’s faith-breaking enemies abroad.2

Wills, who in 1722 was said to have been a follower of Lord Cadogan’s,3 voted consistently with the Administration. In September 1726 it was reported that he was about to become a peer and in September 1739 he seems to have expected to be made a field marshal, but neither promotion was in fact conferred,4 perhaps owing to ‘the remarkable passages which happened at the review of the footguards’ in July 1737, when the King told ‘Gen. Wills that he lied, who thereupon turned his horse about and rode off the field’.5 He died 25 Dec. 1741 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Shirley Matthews


  • 1. C. Dalton. Geo. I’s Army, i. 59-70.
  • 2. The Totnes Address Versified. To which is annex’d the Orig. Address (7th ed. 1727), p. 10.
  • 3. HMC Portland, vii. 329.
  • 4. Pol. State, xxxii. 300; Dalton, i. 69.
  • 5. Stuart mss 201/40.