SACKVILLE, Charles, Lord Buckhurst (1643-1706).

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



1661 - 4 Apr. 1675

Family and Education

b. 24 Jan. 1643, 1st s. of Richard Sackville, 5th Earl of Dorset, by Lady Frances Cranfield, da. of Sir Lionel Cranfield, 1st Earl of Middlesex; bro. of Hon. Edward Sackville. educ. Westminster 1657-8; travelled abroad (France) 1658. m. (1) June 1674, Mary (d. 12 Sept. 1679), da. of Hervey Bagot of Pipe Hall, Warws., wid. of Sir Charles Berkeley II, 1st Earl of Falmouth, s.p.; (2) 7 Mar. 1685, Lady Mary Compton (d. 6 Aug. 1691), da. of James, 3rd Earl of Northampton, 1s. 1da.; (3) 27 Oct. 1704, Anne, da. of one Roche of Westminster, s.p.; 1s. 3da. illegit. suc. uncle 3rd Earl of Middlesex in Copt Hall estate 1674; cr. Earl of Middlesex 4 Apr. 1675; suc. fa. 27 Aug. 1677; KG 24 Feb. 1692.1

Offices Held

Col. of militia ft. Mdx. Oct. 1660-2, Kent by 1666-?68; commr. for assessment, Kent 1661-3, 1664-74, Suss. 1673-4; dep. lt. Kent 1661-?68; ld. lt. Suss. (jt.) 1670-7, (sole) 1677-Jan. 1688, 1689-d., Som. (jt.) 1690-1; j.p. and custos rot. Suss. 1677-Jan. 1688, 1689-d.; steward, honour of Eagle 1677-d.; high steward, Stratford-upon-Avon 1684-d.; keeper of Greenwich palace 1689-97.

Gentleman of the bedchamber 1670-85, PC 14 Feb. 1689-d.; ld. chamberlain 1689-97; one of the lds. justices 1695-8.

Capt. Duke of Buckingham’s Ft. June-Nov. 1672.

FRS 1699.


Lord Buckhurst derived his courtesy title from a property seven miles from East Grinstead, which had been in the Sackville family since the end of the 12th century. His first ancestor to enter Parliament sat for Sussex in 1361. Thomas Sackville, Queen Elizabeth’s kinsman, received a grant of Knole and was raised to the peerage. Buckhurst’s grandfather, the fourth Earl of Dorset, was a courtier and notable Royalist who was allowed to compound for only £1,500. His father, a Straffordian in the Long Parliament, played no part in the Civil War after its opening months. Buckhurst was returned for East Grinstead in 1661 while still under age and in receipt of only a modest allowance of £70 p.a. But the family interest was so strong that a contest is unlikely.2

Buckhurst’s youth was devoted to the pursuit of pleasure, and he was an inactive Member of the Commons, being appointed to only 28 committees. On 17 June he was added to the committee for the jointure of the third earl’s widow, but his only committee of political importance was for the uniformity bill. He was teller for the election of the Hon. William Russell at Tavistock. He was soon involved in two major public scandals, one a case of manslaughter, the other an example of adolescent exhibitionism. He was listed as a court dependant in 1664. He served as a volunteer in the second Dutch war, which inspired him to his best-known verses, ‘To All You Ladies Now at Land’. He was one of the seven Members sent on 23 Oct. 1667 to ask Prince Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle (George Monck) about the division of the fleet in 1666 and the failure to defend the Medway. About this time he became the protector of Nell Gwyn, and it was generally supposed that the rewards and appointments which he now received were designed to facilitate her transfer to Charles II. The ascertainable facts are substantially as stated in Flagellum Parliamentarium:

Lord Buckhurst with a goodwill parted with his play-wench, and in gratitude is made one of the bedchamber; has the ground of the Wardrobe given him, and £6,000 at three several times.

His name was on both lists of the court party in 1669-71, and on the Paston list of 1673-4. He was regarded as a follower of the Duke of Buckingham, to whom he was related through his mother. During the debate on the removal of Buckingham on 13 Jan. 1674, Buckhurst made his only recorded speech in the Commons:

The Duke has informed you of nothing concerning public affairs, and why will you put him out of all capacity? Though his relation to him were ever so near, or obligations ever so great, would have him answer his accusations; but hear him first.3

After inheriting his uncle’s estate in Essex, Buckhurst was raised to the peerage, and shortly afterwards succeeded as 6th Earl of Dorset. He was absent from the division on the second exclusion bill and took little interest in politics until James II’s attempt to repeal the Test Act and Penal Laws. He was dismissed from his lord lieutenancy, and on William’s landing joined in the demand for a free Parliament. He helped the bishop of London, his brother-in-law, to arrange Princess Anne’s escape. He voted for the transfer of the crown and was made lord chamberlain; but Queen Mary found him ‘too lazy to give himself the trouble of business, so of little use’. He died at Bath on 29 Jan. 1706, and was buried at Withyham. He is perhaps best remembered as a patron of literature. His eldest grandson was returned for East Grinstead in 1734 as a Whig.

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: B. M. Crook


This biography is based on C. J. Phillips, Hist. Sackville Fam. i. 436-93.

  • 1. Slo. 1708, f. 107; Recs. Old Westminsters, ii. 811.
  • 2. Keeler, Long Parl. 331.
  • 3. CJ, viii. 334; Grey, ii. 251.