HERBERT, Hon. Charles (1774-1808).

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



24 Feb. 1806 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 5 July 1774, 2nd s. of Henry Herbert, 1st Earl of Carnarvon, by Lady Alicia Maria Wyndham, da. of Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont; bro. of Henry George Herbert, Lord Porchester* and Hon. William Herbert*. m. 9 July 1800, Hon. Bridget Augusta Byng, da. of John, 5th Visct. Torrington, 1da.

Offices Held

Midshipman RN 1790, lt. 1793, cdr. 1794, capt. 1795.


Herbert entered the navy at an early age and was in command of the Resource in the West Indies in 1794. He owed his promotion a year later to his father’s ‘never-ceasing importunities and remonstrances’. He subsequently informed the House, 16 Mar. 1807, that he knew all the West Indian islands and had been to Haiti. He appears to have damaged his prospects early in 1802 by leaving his ship before peace was concluded, against Lord St. Vincent’s express wish; but a year later, St. Vincent was prepared to overlook this ‘desertion’ and although he doubted if he could do anything for Herbert afloat, thought he might find him employment ashore. Not long afterwards, he was captain of a convoy to the West Indian fleet.1

As soon as the Grenville ministry was formed in 1806, Herbert was returned by his kinsman the 11th Earl of Pembroke for Wilton. His elder brother Lord Porchester, his father and his younger brother William were drawn to the support of the new government and his wife was the ‘favourite niece’ of Mrs Windham, the cabinet minister’s wife.2 Herbert first spoke on 21 Mar. 1806, when he criticized the election treating bill for its probable disfranchisement of farflung electors, whose travel expenses had to be paid to induce them to vote. Like Windham, he was an opponent of the abolition of the slave trade and on 10 Feb., 16 and 17 Mar. 1807 resisted it on the grounds that it would ruin the West Indian colonies and commercial prosperity, without substituting good for evil: in his own experience, ‘the sway of the whites was mild, but the tyranny of the blacks was really a whip of scorpions’. He prophesied disaster if the slaves were emancipated: he thought them as happy as the European peasantry. On 20 Feb. 1807, ‘Captain’ Herbert approved the Irish Catholic seminary at Maynooth. He voted against the Portland ministry, 9 Apr. 1807, like his brothers. On 21 and 22 Apr. he was a spokesman for (Sir) Christopher Hawkins* on the report of the Penryn election committee and unsuccessfully moved the prosecution of one of the local malefactors.

Herbert was displaced by Lord Pembroke at the dissolution of 1807, in favour of his uncle and namesake. It seems that Sir Christopher Hawkins may have considered returning him for Grampound, but the plan fell through.3 A year later he was reported to have deserted his family to go as a ‘land volunteer’ to the Peninsula. On 12 Sept. 1808 he was drowned with a companion after their boat overturned in Gijon harbour.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Windham Pprs. i. 313; St. Vincent Letters (Navy Recs. Soc. lv), 256, 361; (lxi), 340; Dillon Narrative (Navy Recs. Soc. xciii), 21; Markham Corresp. (Navy Recs. Soc. xxviii), 431. In these sources some confusion has arisen between Herbert and a namesake.
  • 2. HMC Fortescue, viii. 33.
  • 3. Grey mss, Tierney to Howick, 20 May 1807.
  • 4. HMC Fortescue, ix. 212; Gent. Mag. (1808), 861.