BAMPFYLDE, Sir Charles Warwick, 5th Bt. (1753-1823), of Poltimore, nr. Exeter, Devon and Hardington Park, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 23 Jan. 1753, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Richard Warwick Bampfylde, 4th Bt.†, of Poltimore by Jane, da. and h. of John Codrington† of Codrington, Glos. and Wraxall, Som. educ. Winchester; New Coll. Oxf. 1770. m. 9 Feb. 1776, Catherine, da. and coh. of Adm. Sir John Moore, 1st Bt., 1s.; 3 ch. illegit. suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 15 July 1776.
Lt. 1 Som. militia 1790, capt. 1795, maj. 1803, lt.-col. 1807-9.
Bampfylde, who was elected to Brooks’s on 7 Feb. 1784, generally voted with opposition in the 1784 Parliament, but he was said to have ‘deserted his own party’ and opposed the repeal of the Test Act, 2 Mar. 1790, in an attempt to preserve his seat for Exeter, where he faced the prospect of a contest at the next general election.1 Neither this gesture nor an estimated expenditure of £8,000 saved him from defeat at the polls and his late bid for the county seat also ended in failure. It was later alleged that a period of frugal living in Monmouthshire in the 1780s had repaired much of the damage which his earlier extravagance had inflicted on his finances, but if Bampfylde’s own lamentations are to be believed the loss of his seat brought him face to face with ruin.2 For three months after the general election he skulked incognito with Messrs. Graham of 6 Lincoln’s Inn, and in October 1790 he appealed to the Duke of Portland and the Prince of Wales to help provide him with a seat as a temporary refuge from his creditors until the pending petition against the Exeter return had been investigated:
My embarrassments ... have imposed upon me a most mortifying and painful seclusion from all society ... My very humiliating situation [is] replete with every possible present inconvenience, and painful privation, and ... with the greatest prospective danger of my personal liberty, even to the extent of my life. It most unfortunately occurs that the nature of the greater part of the pecuniary demands upon me would render a retreat to the Continent as insecure as my remaining in this country ... mine is not a case of common convenience ... the alternative ... is total and immediate ruin with respect to myself, and the consequent loss to the party, of the feeble support, yet strenuous and consistent attachment it has derived from me, through the whole course of my parliamentary life.3
Nothing, it seems, could be done for him and his professed confidence in the outcome of the Exeter petition proved unfounded, but he must subsequently have managed to extricate himself from his financial difficulties, for in July 1795 he offered himself for Exeter at the next general election and two months later was reported to have secured his return.4 He came in unopposed in 1796, retained the seat after a contest in 1802 and enjoyed quiet returns in 1806 and 1807. When his son declined an invitation to stand for the city in 1826 he claimed that Bampfylde’s involvement in Exeter elections had cost over £80,000.5
He voted against government on the Austrian loan, 14 Dec.; the continuance of war, 30 Dec. 1796; the Bank stoppage, 28 Feb., and for Grey’s parliamentary reform motion, 26 May 1797, but is not known to have joined the minority again during the remaining years of Pitt’s first ministry. On 12 June 1799 he spoke against the militia reduction bill and recommended instead the raising of fencibles. He voted for Grey’s motion for inquiry into the state of the nation, 25 Mar. 1801, in support of the Prince of Wales’s financial claims, 31 Mar. 1802 and 4 Mar. 1803, and against the Nottingham election bill, 3 May 1803, but was reported to have sided with the Addington ministry against the Foxite opposition on the renewal of war, 24 May 1803.6 He presented a petition from Middlesex freeholders countering the one lodged by William Mainwaring against the return of Sir Francis Burdett, 7 Dec., but his attempt to have it officially considered by the House was ruled out of order, 13 Dec. 1802.
Bampfylde was listed as a follower of Fox in March 1804, but he did not join in the combined attack on the Addington government and was placed under ‘Addington’ in the ministerial analysis of May 1804. He voted against Pitt’s additional force bill in June, was listed under ‘Fox and Grenville’ in September and as ‘Opposition’ in July 1805, after dividing against government on the Spanish war, 12 Feb., the national defences, 21 Feb., the commission of naval inquiry, 1 Mar., the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 6 Mar., and the Melville scandal, 8 Apr. and 12 June. He was presumably friendly towards the ‘Talents’, but he did not vote for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, or for the motions of April 1807 regretting the ministry’s fall. In the Morning Chronicle of 22 June 1807 he was listed among Members ‘totally unconnected’ with the Portland government, but he is not known to have voted against it and his only recorded votes in the 1807 Parliament were with the Perceval ministry, on the address, 23 Jan., and the Scheldt inquiry, 30 Mar. 1810. The Whigs now calculated on his being one of their partisan opponents in the event of their coming to power. He was invited to rally to an extra-parliamentary meeting of the Friends of Constitutional Reform in March 1811, presumably on the strength of his vote of 1797; but he had already announced his intention of retiring at the next general election.7
On 7 Apr. 1823 Bampfylde, who lived apart from his wife for many years and mentioned three illegitimate children in his will, was shot by one Joseph Morland, his housekeeper’s husband. It appears that Morland, who took his own life after wounding Bampfylde, suspected the 70-year-old baronet of having a sexual liaison with his wife and of having conspired with her to have him imprisoned for an alleged assault. After lingering in agony for nearly two weeks Bampfylde died of his injuries, 19 Apr. 1823.8
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. Devon RO, Bastard mss, handbill [June 1790].
- 2. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 42-43.
- 3. Ginter, Whig Organization, 228-9; Prince of Wales Corresp. ii. 542.
- 4. Oracle, 8 July, 14 Sept. 1795.
- 5. The Times, 19 Apr. 1826.
- 6. Ibid. 26 May 1803.
- 7. Horner mss 5, f. 23.
- 8. PCC 193 Richards; The Times, 9 Apr.; Gent. Mag. (1823), i. 468.