PERCEVAL, Charles George, 2nd Baron Arden [I] (1756-1840).

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



28 Nov. 1780 - 1790
1790 - 1796
1796 - 1802

Family and Education

b. 1 Oct. 1756, 3rd s. of John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont, being 1st s. by 2nd w. Catherine, da. of Hon. Charles Compton (cr. Baroness Arden [I] 23 May 1770); bro. of Hon. Spencer Perceval*. educ. Harrow 1771-4; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1774; L. Inn 1777. m. 1 Mar. 1787, Margaretta Elizabeth, da. of Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson, 6th Bt., of Uckfield, Suss., 6s. 3da. suc. mother as 2nd Baron Arden [I] 11 June 1784; cr. Baron Arden [UK] 28 July 1802.

Offices Held

Ld. of Admiralty Dec. 1783-Feb. 1801; registrar of ct. of Admiralty and of ct. of delegates Aug. 1790-d.; PC 20 Feb. 1801; master of Mint Apr. 1801-July 1802; commr. Board of Control May 1801-Oct. 1803; ld. of bedchamber May 1804-1812, (Windsor) 1812-20.

Ld. lt. Surrey 1830-d.


Arden, a lord of the Admiralty in Pitt’s administration, had to look for another seat in 1790, his erstwhile patron the 2nd Duke of Northumberland having deviated from Pitt. He was found one on Lord Warwick’s interest. Soon afterwards he was re-elected on his appointment as registrar of the court of Admiralty, an office to which he had held the reversion since 1764. In 1798 it netted him in fees over £8,000.1 In the House, he regularly moved the navy estimates between 1792 and 1800 and dealt in and spoke only on Admiralty business in that period. On 18 Apr. 1791 he voted for the abolition of the slave trade, with Pitt: like him he was listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791. The premier once devised his budget after dinner at Arden’s house.2 He disliked the uncertain expense of Warwick elections and in 1796 transferred to Totnes on the Bolton interest. His sponsor was evidently Henry Dundas*, his personal friend. An offer had previously been made to bring him in for Penryn by Sir Francis Basset* and Honiton had also more recently been suggested for him.3 He voted for Pitt’s assessed taxes, 4 Jan. 1798, having subscribed £10,000 to the loyalty loan for the year before. He moved the adjournment after the election of the new Speaker, 11 Feb. 1801. Addington made him successively a privy councillor, master of the Mint and a commissioner for Indian affairs. (He was re-elected at Totnes, 27 Feb. 1801, before the King was well enough to ratify his appointment.) Shortly before the dissolution of 1802 he was the King’s messenger to the House; a month later he was made a British peer, a promotion already agreed to by Addington in November 1801.4 He shed his offices one by one and became a courtier on Pitt’s return to power in 1804.

Arden subsequently figured largely as the champion of his younger brother Spencer Perceval, chancellor of the Exchequer from 1807 and prime minister from 1809 until 1812. He had always been his provider and confidant; they had married sisters. Early in 1807, Arden was go-between for Lord Sidmouth with his brother when Sidmouth contemplated concerted opposition to the Catholic bill. The brothers’ solidarity was put to the test by opposition attacks on Arden’s Admiralty sinecure, to which his brother had the reversion. The Whig chancellor Lord Henry Petty had pointed out in February 1807 that it was one of two substantial English places held in reversion that had escaped abolition. As a peer Arden thwarted Henry Bankes’s bid to abolish reversions, 4 Aug. 1807, by reference to the royal prerogative and, when the Commons sent it back in March 1808, again led the successful opposition to it, evoking the conflict of 1641. This was in defiance of the ministry, who sought a compromise and consented to a suspension of grants in reversion, but further attempts by Bankes to make the Lords swallow abolition were frustrated: he had to be satisfied with a temporary suspension act (1812).5 After his brother’s assassination, a bid by Henry Martin to abolish Arden’s sinecure was defeated in the Commons by 65 votes to 27, 19 June 1812. Martin claimed that Arden received £30,000 fees and £7,000 p.a. interest on securities invested in him. The attack was revived next session and on 21 May 1813 Castlereagh carried by 80 votes to 14 his amendment by which its abolition was postponed until Arden’s death. Thus amended the bill passed the House on 8 July. Arden died 5 July 1840.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Debrett (ser, 3), xvi. 531, 532.
  • 2. Pellew, Sidmouth, i. 89.
  • 3. PRO 30/8/108, f. 183; 111, f. 418; SRO GD51/1/200/17, 18.
  • 4. Colchester, i. 233, 252; E. Suff. RO, Tomline mss, Rose to bp. of Lincoln, 27 Nov. 1801.
  • 5. D. Gray, Perceval, 151-8.