HAWTHORNE, Charles Stewart (c.1760-post 1831), of Ringheads Castle, co. Down and Bellcamp House, co. Dublin.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1802 - 1806
1812 - 2 Feb. 1815

Family and Education

b. c.1760, 3rd s. of Steele Hawthorne of Downpatrick, co. Down. educ. Glasgow Univ. 1781; M. Temple 1782, called [I] 1788. m. 1791, Miss Caddie of Downpatrick.

Offices Held

Commr. inquiry [I] 14 Mar. 1807-14; first commr. of excise [I] Feb. 1815-Jan. 1823.

Capt. commdt. Downpatrick yeoman inf. 1803.


Hawthorne came of Downpatrick merchant stock. Having become an Irish barrister, he was the first of his family to sit in Parliament when he was returned, on his own interest and in opposition to the established patron Lord de Clifford, in 1802. The Castle concluded that he would be guided by Lord Castlereagh.1 He certainly supported Addington’s government. On 28 July 1803 he spoke in favour of the Irish insurrection bill, paying tribute to Lord Hardwicke’s government of Ireland; on 2 Dec. he likewise supported the suspension of habeas corpus in Ireland, hinting that while he favoured Catholic claims, the moment was not ripe. On 7 Dec. he brought up the report of the committee for the Irish martial law continuation bill. On 7 Mar. 1804 he ventured to call Windham to order in a debate on coercion in Ireland. He supported the Irish linen duties, 3 Mar., but objected to the grocers’ licensing tax, 7 Mar., and the tea and other indirect duties, 29 June 1804, 15 Mar. 1805. At the same time he denied that Ireland had not benefited fiscally under the Union. He was a member of the Irish finance committees of 1803, 1805 and 1806.

Hawthorne had gone into opposition to Pitt’s second ministry, allegedly because he had not obtained the appointment of secretary to the Board of Control, which he had solicited from Castlereagh.2 He voted against Pitt’s additional force bill in June 1804, being then considered an Addingtonian. By September, however, he was reckoned a Pittite and again after Addington’s reconciliation with Pitt in December. He voted against the censure on Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, but, after sitting on the committee to investigate the 11th naval report, with the majority for his criminal prosecution, 12 June. He had spoken and voted for the Catholic petition, 14 May, despite its poor prospects. He was still listed a Pittite in July, though he expressed his satisfaction with Lord Sidmouth’s withdrawal that month. There was an odd rumour that autumn that he was about to vacate his seat in favour of Castlereagh which, though nothing came of it, was branded by Sidmouth’s friends as ‘defection’.3

Hawthorne went on to support Lord Grenville’s administration in 1806, and made himself useful as a committee chairman. He welcomed the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, which had ‘completely failed’, 17 Apr. 1806, and on 30 Apr., when he was teller for the second reading of the repeal, explained that although he had at first opposed and subsequently rallied to the measure, it could not be shown to have worked: in his most ambitious speech, he took issue with Castlereagh on the statistical proofs. He was ready to reiterate his arguments on 6 May, but the House would not hear him. (Ironically in 1808 he published a pamphlet maintaining that Addington’s defence measures had been the best.) Government noted at the time that Hawthorne wanted ‘provision’ and was unlikely to retain his seat.4 In April Lord Grenville considered him for a place on the Irish commission of inquiry, but preferred a nominee who was not in Parliament. He failed to obtain a place at the linen board in June.5 He did not feel strong enough to contest Downpatrick at the ensuing general election, ceding his seat for the time being to Edward Southwell Ruthven. Thereupon the Irish secretary suggested that he be brought into Parliament to assist Sir John Newport.6 Nothing came of this, but in December 1806 on the Hon. William Herbert’s* vacating his place on the commission of inquiry, Hawthorne was earmarked to succeed him and did so shortly before the ministry fell. He again abdicated his pretensions at Downpartrick at the election of 1807.

In 1812 Hawthorne regained his seat, defeating a member of the government, John Wilson Croker. Despite this and the support of Lady Downshire, who was in opposition, he maintained that he was a supporter of Lord Liverpool’s administration, which included his friend Sidmouth. The latter recommended him to the viceroy if not for the civil under-secretaryship, at least for the Irish treasury board.7 Although Hawthorne again voted for Catholic claims on 2 Mar. 1813, his general conduct bore out his claim. He spoke, as chairman of the committee, in favour of the finance plan, 26 Mar. 1813, of the Irish distillers bill, 17 June 1813, and of the spirits intercourse bill, 24 June 1814. In the light of his experience as a commissioner of inquiry, he supported Newport’s motion for the reform of fees in the courts of justice, 28 June 1814. He appears to have had a prominent part in drawing up the report of the Irish commissioners in that year and to have irritated the Irish law officers by the castigatory tone he adopted.8

Hawthorne’s duties, as well as his wife’s ill health had reduced his parliamentary attendance in 1813, and when the Irish commission was dissolved he wished for provision out of Parliament.9 Sidmouth was his intermediary with government, describing him, for all his ‘faults and temper’, as ‘a well informed, diligent, and honourable man’, but was informed in October 1813 that either the Irish treasury or revenue boards would require his remaining in Parliament and there was no question of Hawthorne’s succeeding Lord Castlecoote as chief commissioner of customs per saltum, as he had suggested.10 By the autumn of 1814, Hawthorne was in Brussels, probably hard up, and Sidmouth professed ‘anxious solicitude’, based on ‘friendship and justice’, to serve him. The viceroy admitted his eligibility to head the excise board but, knowing Hawthorne’s ‘sense of dignity, his love of place and his love of power’, thought his want of popularity ‘the only objection’. Yet Hawthorne succeeded Marsden to that appointment, vacating his seat in February 1815.11 He felt unable to be of service to government in the ensuing by-election. Sidmouth had to restrain him from pressing his claims for a baronetcy.12 At the excise board, he had to be dissuaded from ‘introducing new schemes until he was firmly seated in his authority’ and he was thought by under-secretary Gregory to be both impatient and heavy going. By 1823 he was applying for his pension for his services at the excise board, and when last heard of in February 1831 he was still pestering Lord Sidmouth.13

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Add. 35723, f. 65.
  • 2. Add. 35715, f. 76.
  • 3. Sidmouth mss, Sidmouth to J. H. Addington, 23 July, Ellenborough to Sidmouth, 4 Oct. 1805.
  • 4. Spencer mss, Irish list, May 1806.
  • 5. HMC Fortescue, viii. 75, 81; NLS mss 12910, p. 224.
  • 6. HMC Fortescue, viii. 409.
  • 7. NLI, Richmond mss 74/1789, 1790, 1810; Add. 40280, f. 66.
  • 8. Add. 40182, f. 140; 40199, f. 283; 40212, f. 77; 40226, f. 289.
  • 9. Add. 40182, f. 52; 40226, f. 263.
  • 10. Add. 40182, ff. 65, 72; 40285, f. 65.
  • 11. Add. 40189, ff. 63, 153, 158, 175, 206, 214; 40287, f. 207.
  • 12. Add. 40190, f. 21; 40288, f. 27; Sidmouth mss, Sidmouth to Hawthorne, 5 May 1816.
  • 13. Add. 40200, ff. 25, 239, 253; 40354, ff. 243-5; Pellew, Sidmouth, ii. 289-91.