BARRINGTON, Sir Charles, 5th Bt. (c.1671-1715), of Barrington Hall, Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



23 Feb. 1694 - 1705
1713 - 1715

Family and Education

b. c.1671, 2nd s. of Thomas Barrington (1st s. d.v.p. of Sir John Barrington, 3rd Bt.†, of Hatfield Broad Oak), by Lady Anne Rich, da. and coh. of Robert, 3rd Earl of Warwick. educ. Felsted sch.  m. (1) 20 Apr. 1693, Bridget (d. 1699), da. and h. of Sir John Monson of Broxbourne, Herts., s.p.; (2) 23 May 1700, Lady Anna Marie Fitzwilliam (d. 1717), da. of William, 1st Earl Fitzwilliam, of Milton, Northants., s.psuc. bro. as 5th Bt. 26 Nov. 1691.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Maldon 1695, alderman 1701–d., bailiff 1702, 1706, 1710, 1714; freeman, Colchester 1700; v.-adm. Essex 1702–5, 1712–15.2


Despite a relatively long parliamentary career Barrington remains a somewhat faceless backbencher, ‘a courteous affable gentleman’ with a partiality for venison, ‘as much esteemed as any in the county he lived in’, and ‘a constant stickler for the High Church party’. His family laid claim to being ‘knights before English was in England’, and to have been converted to Christianity by St. Augustine. The Barringtons’ subsequent devotion to the Church was symbolized by the occupation of the Priory, a house attached to the east end of Hatfield Broad Oak parish church, though the structure was in such bad condition by the late 17th century that it had to be pulled down. Barrington’s ancestors had been active Parliamentarians, and were related to both Oliver Cromwell and another leading Parliamentarian family in Essex, the Mashams. Sir Charles attended school locally, and it is very unlikely that he would have been old enough to have been the cornet of the same name listed for Ossory’s regiment in 1685. In February 1694, three years after succeeding his brother to the baronetcy, he stood and was successful at a by-election for the county. Barrington’s eagerness to enter Parliament at this time may have been due to a wish to safeguard the passage during the 1693–4 session of a bill enabling him to settle a jointure on his first wife, though it had already received its second reading before the election, and was granted the Royal Assent on 23 Mar. 1694.3

Barrington stood again at the 1695 general election, ‘set up by the gentlemen’ of the county and the Church party, and headed the poll. He was listed in January 1696 among those Members likely to oppose the Court on the proposed council of trade, and although on 8 Feb. was given leave of absence, he had returned by 27 Feb. to take the Association. Barrington nevertheless voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† on 25 Nov. 1696, possibly indicating a sympathy for the supporters of the exiled James that is also suggested by his possession, and perhaps even authorship, of a manuscript tract written in the aftermath of the Revolution and called ‘Second Thoughts’. He appears to have been totally inactive in the final session of the 1695 Parliament, but again contested the county in July 1698 on the Church interest. Listed as a Country supporter, he was also marked in August 1698 as likely to oppose a standing army. On 16 Feb. 1699 he acted in a local matter by presenting a private bill for the sale of an Essex estate, and subsequently reported it on 9 Mar. from committee. Described in a newspaper as being worth £6,000 p.a., he married again in 1700 and sought to renew private legislation to make provision for his second wife and any possible offspring. On 11 Apr. a bill to that effect was presented to the House, and passed rapidly through its three readings, receiving the Royal Assent on 12 June. Barrington had been listed in February among those likely to support the Court in agreeing with the committee of supply’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’, but his loyalties are difficult to pinpoint at this stage and another categorization of MPs marked him as of an unknown, or possibly opposition, interest.4

Barrington again secured a county seat in December 1701, and was at his most active in the ensuing session. On 27 Jan. 1702 he pursued local interests when he acted as teller in a debate over the Maldon election, in which agents of Irby Montagu* were found guilty of bribery and corruption. On 17 Feb. 1702 he acted as teller for the noes on a motion to proceed with consideration of forfeited estates in Ireland, activity perhaps explained by his family’s connexions there, and by the fact that his grandfather, Sir Thomas Barrington†, had been a large purchaser of forfeited estates earlier in the century. A week later, on 24 Feb. 1702, he acted as teller for those against a motion that the house adjourn during its debate on the Coventry election, with the result that the officials who had supported the Whig Henry Neale’s* candidature by ‘illegal means’ were punished. Barrington may have been prompted to act on the side of the Tory Sir Christopher Hales, 2nd Bt.*, in this dispute because they had both been blacklisted as opponents of the preparations for war during 1701. On 26 Feb. Barrington was among those who voted for the motion vindicating the Commons’ impeachment proceedings against William’s ministers, and on 5 Mar. he acted as teller on a motion that the House agree to an amendment on the malt tax bill. Perhaps as a reward for his industry on behalf of the Tories during the session he was appointed by the new ministry as vice-admiral of Essex.5

Barrington was again returned at the 1702 election, though the only information about his activities in the first session relates to his having voted on 13 Feb. 1703 with the Tories to extend the time for taking the oath of abjuration. On 10 Jan. 1704 he acted as teller for those who opposed a second reading of the wine duties bill, possibly in defence of his county’s trade. In the middle of March he was listed as a supporter of the government’s actions in the Scotch Plot. Until this time his career had attracted relatively little attention, but his support for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704 did not escape his Whig opponents in Essex who soon began meeting to discuss ways to oust him at the next general election. Perhaps in order to counter this threat Barrington became busier in protecting his and his locality’s interests in the Commons. On 23 Feb. 1705 he acted as teller for those who wished to grant certain exemptions from the ban on the importation of French wine, and a week later one Edmund Theobolds, who had evidently been active in the Whig campaign to discredit Sir Charles in preparation for an election, was found guilty of ‘false and scandalous reflections’ on the knight of the shire and of ‘misrepresenting his voting and acting’ in Parliament to the freeholders. This did not, however, prove enough to stave off defeat at the polls in May, though it was reported that Barrington’s defeat was only achieved ‘by a great deal of foul play from the fanatic party’. As proof of the vituperativeness of the campaign a tailor was prosecuted in July for having told one of Barrington’s voters that Sir Charles was ‘a traitor to the Queen and the country’.6

Barrington’s vote for the Tack and the loss of his seat meant political eclipse. He was replaced as vice-admiral of Essex, and removed from the commission of the peace in Hertfordshire, though not in his own county. This experience seems to have been a sobering one, for he appears not to have sought re-election in 1707 or 1708, and devoted his energies instead to his parish, improving the fabric of the church and refurbishing almshouses. Although it was reported in April 1710 that he would stand, Child seems to have been unable to persuade Barrington to carry through his resolve at the polls in October, even though there was a surge of support for the Tories, Boyer reporting that ‘both the Church men might have been chosen’. Perhaps encouraged by seeing the Tories once more in power and by his restoration to the post of vice-admiral, Barrington decided to stand again for election in July 1713. His campaign was successful. Listed as a Tory on the Worsley list, he may well have been a follower of Bolingbroke (Henry St. John II*), since he was approached in February 1714 by one patronage-seeker trying to reach the secretary, though his genealogy also linked him to Nottingham (Daniel Finch†). After the prorogation of Parliament on 25 Aug. 1714, following Anne’s death, he sent a letter to the Essex freeholders soliciting votes, but the dissolution was not announced until 15 Jan. 1715, and although Dyer suggests that he had intended to stand as a candidate, Barrington died two weeks later, on 29 Jan. 1715. He left no direct heirs, and his sizable estate was divided between his cousin John Barrington and a son of his sister Anne, wife of Charles Shales, the Queen’s goldsmith.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Mark Knights


  • 1. VCH Essex, ii. 535–6; viii. 167; Morant, Essex, ii. 505.
  • 2. Essex RO, Maldon bor. recs. sessions bks. D/B3/1/24, ff. 64, 149, 155, 187, 201, 215, 235, 237, 267, 272, 303, 317, 326; Oath Bk. of Colchester ed. Benham, 234; Boyer, Pol. State, iv. 372; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 550.
  • 3. Fitzwilliam Corresp. ed. Hainsworth and Walker (Northants. Rec. Soc. xxxvi), 73; Boyer, ix. 155; VCH Essex, ii. 243–4; viii. 167; Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. i. 251; Vis. Essex ed. Howard, i. 87; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 76; Colchester Public Lib. mss E324/241, ‘A True and Exact Cat. of the . . . Freeholders that voted for Sir Charles Barrington’, 1694; W. Suss. RO, Shillinglee mss Ac.454/1138, [Yardley] to Sir Edward Turnor*, 12 Feb. 1694; Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 378.
  • 4. Bramston Autobiog. 391; Shillinglee mss Ac.454/833, Manyon to Turnor, 14 Oct. 1695; Egerton 2651, ff. 200–3; Essex Review, xxx. 41; Post Boy, 28–30 May 1700; Bodl. Ballard 10, f. 35.
  • 5. A. Barrington, The Barringtons, ch. v; Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. ii. 38.
  • 6. Essex Review, xx. 177; Fitzwilliam Corresp. 174; Essex RO, Q/SR524/1–2, recognizances, 12 May 1705.
  • 7. Luttrell, v. 567; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 176; VCH Essex, viii. 179, 181–2; BL, Trumbull Alphab. mss 54, Ralph Bridges to Sir William Trumbull*, 3 Apr. 1710; Add. 70421, Dyer’s newsletter, 26 Oct. 1710; 5853, f. 106; Egerton 2651, f. 206; Jnl. Brit. Stud. vi(1), p. 50; R. Walcott, Pol. Early 18th Cent. 56; Essex Review, xxxi. 3; Boyer, ix. 155.