CHEYNE (CHENEY), Charles (1625-98), of Chesham Bois, Bucks. and Chelsea, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



5 Mar. 1666
1695 - 30 June 1698

Family and Education

b. Oct. 1625, 4th but 1st surv. s. of Francis Cheyne of Chesham Bois, being 3rd s. by 2nd w. Anne, da. of Sir William Fleetwood of Great Missenden, Bucks.; bro. of William Cheyne. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1640; L. Inn 1642; travelled abroad (Spain, Italy) 1643-50. m. (1) 1654, Lady Jane Cavendish (d. 8 Oct. 1669), da. of William Cavendish 1st Duke of Newcastle, 1s. 3da.; (2) lic. 8 June 1688, Isabella (d. 9 July 1714), da. of Sir John Smythe of Bidborough, Kent, wid. of John, 1st Earl of Radnor, s.p. suc. fa. 1644; cr. Visct. Newhaven [S] 17 May 1681.

Offices Held

J.p. Bucks. 1652-3, Mar. 1660-85, Westminster 1665-Feb. 1688, Mdx. by 1680-?87, commr. for assessment, Bucks. Jan. 1660-80, Mdx. Aug. 1660-80, 1689-90, militia, Bucks. Mar. 1660; dep. lt. Bucks. c. Aug. 1660-?87, Mdx. 1689-96; commr. for corporations, Bucks. 1662-3.1

Commr. of customs 1675-87, inquiry into the Mint 1677-9.2


Cheyne’s ancestors acquired the Buckinghamshire manor of Drayton Beauchamp in 1364 and first represented the county under Richard II. The family seems to have avoided involvement in the Civil War, though Cheyne’s long residence in Roman Catholic countries was made the grounds for an accusation of Popery in 1650. He certainly returned with a pronounced taste for the baroque, but his religious and political affiliations were no bar to his nomination as j.p. in 1652. He probably never took the oaths to the Commonwealth, and was removed even before his marriage to the daughter of a leading Cavalier exile. With her dowry he was able to purchase a valuable estate in Chelsea; but he made no response to Mordaunt’s appeal for funds for the exiled Court in 1659. In the following year he was returned for Amersham, two miles from his principal residence at Chesham Bois. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was appointed only to a private bill committee, but doubtless supported the Court.3

Cheyne is not known to have stood in 1661, when the dominant Drake interest regained control of Amersham. He may have been occupied in the development of his Chelsea property, to which he had just added the manorial rights. He sued out a pardon in 1663, and was returned for Marlow at a by-election in 1666. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 137 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in seven sessions, acted as teller on five occasions, and made 33 recorded speeches, many of them on financial matters. It may be presumed that he was not well disposed to Sir Henry Bennet, whom he had recently been obliged to dissuade from usurping the title of Lord Cheyne. After the fall of Clarendon he was added to the committee to consider the miscarriages of the war. He was sent to the Lords on 10 Dec. 1667 to desire a conference on freedom of speech in Parliament. He opposed unsuccessfully the adjournment of the debate on woodmongers till after Christmas. Sir Thomas Osborne included him among the Members who might be engaged for the Court by the Duke of York and his friends. He was teller against the adjournment of the supply debate on 2 Mar. 1670, and in the following month was sent to the Lords to desire a conference on the conventicles bill. His parliamentary activity reached a peak in the next session. He was appointed to the committee to examine the accounts of the navy. He spoke in favour of deferring all other business until the bill for punishing the assailants of Sir John Coventry had passed both Houses, and was appointed to the committee. He helped to manage a conference on the growth of Popery on 3 Mar. 1671, and acted as teller against a proviso on behalf of Roman Catholics who had borne arms for the King or lost their estates in consequence of their loyalty. He was particularly concerned with the bill to prevent fraudulent cattle sales at Smithfield, which he carried to the Lords, later returning to request a conference. He took the chair for the game preservation bill, and acted as teller against the Putney Bridge bill, which might have subjected his Chelsea property to an imposition. He spoke in favour of the conventicles bill on 5 Apr. On 8 Feb. 1673 he moved for a bill to naturalize foreign Protestants. Two days later, he supported a motion asking for the withdrawal of the Declaration of Indulgence, and he was appointed to the committee to prepare an address accordingly. In the same month he spoke for the bill for the ease of Protestant dissenters. He strongly attacked the marriage of the Duke of York to Mary of Modena, and moved for a call of the House in October to make sure that all Members had taken the Test. On 31 Jan. 1674 he opposed the removal of Buckingham and Lauderdale.4

Cheyne was one of the court caucus who met to concert parliamentary measures at Lord Treasurer Danby’s in the spring of 1675, when he and Sir Edward Dering spoke repeatedly against Danby’s impeachment. He was appointed to the committees on the bill to prevent the growth of Popery (27 May), and to prevent Papists from sitting in Parliament (23 Oct.). His support of the Court was rewarded in December, when he and Dering were both appointed commissioners of the customs, at a salary of £1,200 p.a. He was classed as an official in 1675, and a government speaker. Sir Richard Wiseman hoped in 1676 that he would ‘endeavour to merit that favour the King hath showed him’ and take particular care of Henry Monson in the lobby. However, he became much less active in Parliament than before, and his silence was unfavourably noted on the working lists. In the spring of 1677 he was appointed to the committee on the bill to recall the King’s subjects in French service, and he moved for the supply by way of an 18 months’ tax. He was classed as ‘thrice vile’ by Shaftesbury at this time. In 1678, when he was again classed as a court supporter, he moved (15 Mar.) for the Lords concurrence with the Commons address for an immediate declaration of war against France, and on 28 May he asked the House to proceed with measures for disbanding the army. Although not included in the opposition list of the ‘unanimous club’ he did not sit in any of the Exclusion Parliaments, and was granted a Scottish peerage in 1681.5

In February 1685 Cheyne was suspended as commissioner of the customs for expressing doubts about the legality of continuing to levy customs after the death of Charles II before any parliamentary re-grant, but he was reinstated. The crown purchased from him in 1687, for £1,869, 21 acres of meadowland on which Chelsea hospital was eventually built. In the same year he retired as commissioner of the customs, but was granted out of the customs of Berwick-upon-Tweed a pension of £1,200 p.a., which ceased with the Revolution. He was a follower of Danby, now Lord Carmarthen, in the 1690 Parliament, and refused the Association in 1696. He died on 30 June 1698 and was buried at Chelsea.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Leonard Naylor / Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 2/452.
  • 2. HMC Lindsey, 172-4; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 751, 986; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 53; 1691-2, p. 163;
  • 3. VCH Bucks. iii. 219, 341; T. Faulkner, Chelsea, i. 328-9; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 1370; Cal. Cl. SP. iv. 157; CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 61.
  • 4. Clarendon, Life, ii. 358-9. CJ, ix. 40, 130, 215, 227, 229, 236; Dering, 47, 112, 119, 156; Grey, i. 420; ii. 25, 191, 373.
  • 5. Dering Pprs. 63; Add. 28091, f. 35; Grey, v. 248; vi. 27.
  • 6. HMC Ormonde, n.s. vii. 322; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 22; 1686-7, p. 368; Luttrell, i. 329; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1262, 1321, xxi. 287; HMC 11th Rep. VII, 152.