HOTHAM, Sir Charles, 4th Bt. (c.1663-1723), of Scorborough, nr. Beverley, Yorks.

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



15 Apr. 1695 - 1702
1702 - 8 Jan. 1723

Family and Education

b. c.1663, o. s. of Rev. Charles Hotham, rector of Wigan 1653–62, by Elizabeth, da. of Stephen Thompson of Humbleton, Yorks.  educ. Sedbergh sch.; St. John’s, Camb. 1681, BA 1685, MA 1688, fellow 1685–92.  m. (1) 9 Sept. 1690, Bridget (d. 1707), da. of William Gee*, 3s. 7da.; (2) (with £836 p.a.) Lady Mildred, da. of James Cecil†, 3rd Earl of Salisbury, wid. of Sir Uvedale Corbet, 3rd Bt., of Longnor, Salop, 1s. d.v.psuc. fa. 1672, cos. Sir John Hotham, 3rd Bt.† as 4th Bt. 25 Aug. 1691.1

Offices Held

Col. of ft. (later 27 Ft.) 1705; brig.-gen. 1710, half-pay 1713; col. of ft. (later 44 Ft.) 1715; col. 16 Drag. Gds. 1717–18, 36 Ft. 1719; trans. 8 Ft. 1720, R. Drag. Gds. 1721–d.2

Recorder, Beverley 1714–d.3


Hotham’s father, a prominent Nonconformist, was a fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and rector of Wigan until he was ejected after the Restoration. He then went to Bermuda, receiving a stipend of £40 a year as a minister, and it was there that his son Charles was born. Shortly before his father’s death, Charles Hotham was sent to London and placed under the care of his cousin Richard Thompson of Bearbinder Lane, London. His father had wanted him to go into the Church, and he became a good classical scholar at St. John’s and was ordained deacon. However, his physique was more suitable for the military career he later pursued for he was ‘a very large man, athletic, of great personal courage’. He gave up the Church after 1687, when the estates of the elder branch of the Hothams of Scorborough were settled on him. His cousin, Sir John Hotham, 3rd Bt., had crippled the family estates with debts, was childless, separated from his wife and had fled to Holland to evade his creditors. Sir John’s mother, who disapproved of her son’s conduct, offered the succession to her nephew, Hotham, provided he married her niece Bridget Gee, and he complied with all the conditions imposed. The estates he inherited from his cousin in 1691 had been worth over £2,000 p.a., but it was not until 1697 that the third baronet’s debts were paid off. The value of the estates was further reduced by several jointures and legacies.4

These difficulties had temporarily diminished the traditional interest of the Hotham family at Beverley, and in consequence Hotham first stood not for that borough but at a by-election in April 1695 at Scarborough, where his mother’s family had property and an interest. Having been returned unopposed on that occasion, he was also successful after a contest at the general election later that year. Classed as likely to support the Court in the forecast of the divisions on 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, he signed the Association promptly, and in March voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. In the 1696–7 session he was one of several Members who were not excused from being absent on 2 Nov. 1696, and were to be ordered into custody if absent from a call of the House a week later. However, he returned in time to vote on the 25th for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. In the following session, in a debate on disbanding the army on 17 Jan. 1698, when Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., remarked on the great financial profits made by army officers, Hotham ‘answered very bluntly’ that the monies acquired by army officers were ‘more honourably’ spent than Seymour’s own profits had been, a veiled allusion to Seymour’s electoral expenditure. A debate subsequently arose as to whether Hotham’s words should be formally taken down, but it was felt that as a young Member ‘who had not been used to speak’ he might be pardoned. At the close of the debate, however, Seymour was still very angry and the Speaker ordered both of them not to prosecute their quarrel any further. On 4 Apr. Hotham told against a motion for excusing the Tory Simon Harcourt I for being absent without leave. This was the first of many important divisions in which Hotham acted as a teller for the Whigs.5

At the 1698 election Hotham endeavoured to get his father-in-law, William Gee, elected at Beverley, where Sir Charles had been re-establishing an interest during the previous years. Although Gee was defeated, Hotham himself was returned unopposed at Scarborough. A comparison of the old and new Commons classed him as a member of the Court party, though this classification was queried in a supplementary list. Although Hotham was not very active during this Parliament, James Vernon I* reported that on 1 Feb. 1699 a motion for an address of thanks to the King for assenting to the disbanding bill was ‘moved by Sir John Mainwaring [2nd Bt.], as the day for considering it was by Sir Charles Hotham’. Hotham was afterwards appointed to the committee to draw up the address. In the following session he moved ‘for a supply just after the King’s Speech was read’ on 16 Nov. 1699, a motion which created ‘some’ debate. In an analysis of the House into interests in 1700 he was classed as an adherent of the Junto. A lengthy illness at this time may account for his lack of activity in Parliament.6

Returned unopposed once more for Scarborough at the first 1701 election, Hotham became more active in Parliament. On 9 Apr. it was suggested that he was in favour of censuring Sir Bartholomew Shower for remarks on the Partition Treaty, though those Members sitting near Hotham said he had not spoken a word. He told on the 15th against the motion that the Whig Thomas White II* was not duly elected for East Retford. The following month he told in favour of adjourning consideration of the report on the Lichfield election (10 May), against a motion of censure against the Whig Earl of Stamford for the destruction of trees in Enfield Chase (26th), and in favour of declaring the Whig Lord William Powlett* as elected for Winchester (28th). On 10 June he told against a motion that the Tory Robert Sacheverell* was elected for Nottingham. In the results of the ballot for commissioners of accounts declared on the 17th, Hotham was among eight defeated candidates, with a meagre tally of 20 votes. During the summer his involvement in Yorkshire electoral politics came to the fore, as he corresponded with the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†), of whom Hotham was considered to be an adherent, and Viscount Irwin (Arthur Ingram), his fellow Member for Scarborough, about supporting the latter’s decision to contest the next county election, and the need for Irwin to write to Scarborough corporation in order to ensure the election of William Thompson II* alongside Hotham. On 21 Sept. he wrote to Irwin asking him to promote the Yorkshire address in favour of the war against France, commenting:

The King of France his declaring the pretended Prince of Wales King of England puts new life and ferment into our King, who has ordered Lord Manchester to depart the kingdom of France without taking any manner of leave. He has likewise sent orders hither that Monsieur Poussin depart this kingdom within 24 hours after notice, which will be given him today or tomorrow. Our address is very much approved of, and the greater the number of hands will make it more valuable. I perceive very great opposition is made against it in your Riding by some gentlemen who will show themselves as zealously against your lordship, as against the address. Pray therefore be pleased to use your interest to get what hands you can to it in your own neighbourhood, especially about Leeds and Halifax.

As the second 1701 election approached, Hotham pleaded with Irwin to ensure his affairs were in order prior to the first day of the new Parliament:

if we lose our Speaker we shall lose everything, and England into the bargain. This is the last time that affords an opportunity of exerting ourselves . . . How matters stand at court I dare not mention for fear of accidents which some time attend letters. I will only say if we do but show ourselves with vigour, and with their assiduity, we have gained our point for ever, and shall have it in our power to make the nation happy.7

At the election Hotham stood at Beverley and Scarborough. At the former borough his interest was sufficient to get William Gee returned, while Hotham himself lost out by only four votes. However, he secured a seat once again at Scarborough, on this occasion in a contested election. Early in the 1701–2 session Newcastle wrote to Hotham expressing the need for the Whig party to ‘attend the committee of elections, for on that all seems to depend, and I wish others’ zeal would make them as careful in that particular, as I am sure yours will’. As with Hotham’s earlier concern over the Speakership, it would appear that Newcastle’s concern on this occasion was for the election of Sir Rowland Gwynne to the chair of the elections committee. On 5 Jan. 1702 Hotham acted as a teller against a Tory motion for hearing at the bar a petition from the Kentish Petitioner and Whig, Thomas Colepeper, relating to the Maidstone election, while on the 20th he told in favour of voluntary oath in the bill to further secure the King’s person. On the 31st, following a proposal by James Vernon I for the employment of 10,000 marines ‘to annoy France’, Hotham ‘spoke well of the necessity of them and the advantage’. He acted as a teller on 5 Feb. for an amendment to the oath in the bill to further secure the King’s person, while on 5 Mar. he told against an amendment to the cider bill and on the 27th in favour of a second reading for the bill for appointing commissioners for a union with Scotland.8

At the 1702 election Hotham did not contest the Scarborough election, and was instead returned unopposed alongside Gee. On 23 Dec. he told against a clause in the place bill, while on 13 Feb. 1703 he voted for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. In the next session he acted as a teller on 7 Dec. against the occasional conformity bill, on 20 Jan. 1704 against an amendment to the West Riding registry bill, and on the 24th in favour of putting off consideration of the resumption bill. On 17 Mar. he told against a motion that condemned the lords of the Treasury for the mismanagement of public money. In the 1704–5 session Hotham was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack. On 14 Nov. he acted as a teller against introducing the occasional conformity bill, while on the 28th he told against the Tack, and was listed as voting against it. On 16 Jan. 1705 he told in favour of committing the bill for union with Scotland.9

In 1705 Hotham’s house at Scorborough was completely destroyed by fire, which considerably damaged his fortune. He then embarked on his military career, raising a regiment in Yorkshire, which was placed on the establishment, subsequently obtaining army commissions for two of his sons. At the 1705 election he was re-elected for Beverley, having reached an accommodation with Sir Michael Warton*, who represented the other leading interest in the borough. Thereafter these two men shared control of Beverley’s parliamentary representation, though at substantial financial cost. Classed as a placeman and somewhat incongruously as a ‘High Church’ courtier in 1705, Hotham told on 25 Oct. in favour of the Court candidate as Speaker. In November he acted as a teller for a motion to refer the petition of the Tory Sir George Warburton, 3rd Bt.*, to the elections committee (10th), and in favour of hearing the Coventry election petition at the bar (13th), which was perceived as an action that would be favourable to the defeated Whig candidates. He told on 6 Dec. in favour of a motion that the Tory Richard Goulston* was not duly elected for Hertford, and on the 8th in favour of the resolution that those who sought to insinuate that the Church was in danger under the present administration were enemies of the Queen, the Church and the kingdom. On the 19th he told for the second reading of the regency bill, and spoke in the ensuing debate concerning the comments made by the Tory Charles Caesar about Lord Godolphin (Sidney†). On 17 Jan. 1706 he told on the Whig side in the East Retford election case. He supported the Court in the proceedings on the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill on 18 Feb.10

After Hotham had joined an expedition led by Lord Rivers (Richard Savage*) to Spain and Portugal, he informed Robert Harley*, in August 1706, that he had ‘no expectation of waiting on you and the rest of my friends the ensuing session of Parliament’. At this time he was also one of several colonels charged by Lord Treasurer Godolphin with using for their own purposes the money allocated for clothing. Hotham’s expectations of prolonged absence from Parliament would appear to be confirmed by his lack of any committee appointments or tellerships during the next two sessions. In 1708 he was classed as a Whig in two separate analyses of Parliament before and after the election in that year, in which he was returned for Beverley once more. He had returned to Westminster by January 1709, when he was teller on the 18th in favour of an amendment for restricting the right of election at Abingdon to those inhabitants paying scot and lot, a motion that favoured the Whig candidate, and on the 29th against adjourning consideration of the Orford election case, which was resolved in favour of the Whigs. Later in the session he supported the naturalization of the Palatines.11

In the summer of 1709 it was rumoured that Hotham was prepared to sell his colonel’s commission, though by winter it was clear that he had no desire to sell his regiment, ‘for he makes more of it in one year than he could sell it for’. However, in November there was much talk about Hotham’s behaviour in the Spanish campaigns. James Craggs II* informed James Stanhope* that

Mr Walpole tells me he [Hotham] has no leave to be here [London] . . . and some think you will be likely to break him at a court martial in Spain for the scandalous practices in his regiment. I do think it would give you a great deal of popular credit and I can not believe our great ones would be angry at it.

Hotham appears to have avoided any disciplinary action, and was in Parliament for the 1709–10 session. On 10 Dec. he acted as a teller against the Tory Charles Coxe* being declared returned for Cirencester, while on 25 Jan. 1710 he told for a motion that the town clerk of Beaumaris be taken into custody for refusing to obey an order of the committee of elections to allow the agents of the Whig (Sir) Arthur Owen II* (3rd Bt.) to examine the borough’s charters and other papers. Hotham voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell later in the session. Although it was suggested that Sir Michael Warton might endeavour to turn Hotham out at Beverley at the 1710 election, Hotham retained his seat, being classed as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’. During his absence on military service abroad his estates had been badly administered by his father-in-law, leading to falling rent rolls and increased debts. He attempted to recoup these losses by a second marriage, which failed following the death of their infant son, Hotham being allowed only £200 a year out of his wife’s estates. Moreover, he had lost horses and baggage at the siege of Alicante in 1710 and petitioned repeatedly for compensation. His financial problems were compounded when his regiment was disbanded in 1712 and he was placed on half-pay in 1713, in which year the commissioners of accounts reported that at the battle of Almanza in 1710 Hotham’s regiment had been short of six companies on the muster roll. It was also reported that in that year 1,710 men had been counted twice in the regiments of Hotham and another colonel. It is not clear to what extent these reports signify that Hotham was using his regiment as a means for extracting money illegally from the Treasury, though there is little doubt that he used the army as a means of supplementing his income.12

Re-elected for Beverley in 1713, Hotham voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele. Hotham was granted a month’s leave of absence on 21 May. He was noted as a Whig in the Worsley list and in two later lists, which compared the 1715 Parliament with its predecessor. After the Hanoverian succession he raised a new regiment of foot, which saw action during the Jacobite rising in 1715, when Hotham reported from Newcastle that ‘the greater part of the inhabitants are in the Pretender’s interest’. His army career prospered steadily thereafter, the value of his rentals increased, and he built a magnificent house for himself at Beverley at a cost of £7,000. He died on 8 Jan. 1723, and was buried on the 20th at South Dalton. By his will Hotham’s principal heir was his eldest son, Charles, who was sole executor. The will specified that ‘whereas I have already given my younger son Beaumont Hotham his future, I recommend him to the care and kindness of my eldest son’. Hotham also made provision for a marriage portion of £2,500 for his daughter Philippa. A similar provision was made for his youngest daughter Charlotte, with a £2,000 portion. He also left £20 to the poor of Beverley.13

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, iii. 263–4; P. Roebuck, Yorks. Baronets 1640–1760, p. 80.
  • 2. Boyer, Anne Annals, iv. 9; ix. 415; Boyer, Pol. State, iv. 68, 70; Roebuck, 77.
  • 3. Roebuck, 77.
  • 4. A. M. W. Stirling, The Hothams, 117–25; Roebuck, 72–76, 79.
  • 5. A. Rowntree, Scarborough, 97; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 34.
  • 6. Hull Univ. Lib. Hotham mss DDHO/13/4, Hotham to [Warton], 30 Aug. 1698; Bosville mss DDBM/32/2, Hotham to Bridget Bosville, 31 Aug. 1700; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 259; Cocks Diary, 37.
  • 7. Cocks Diary, 90; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Copley mss DD38 Box H–J, poll for election of commrs. of accts. [1701]; Speck thesis, 188; W. Yorks. Archs. (Leeds), Temple Newsam mss TN/C9/72, Hotham to Irwin, 28 Aug., 23 Sept., 13, 22 Nov. 1701; HMC Var. viii. 84–85.
  • 8. Add. 70501, f. 43; HMC Portland, ii. 182; Hotham mss, DDHO/13/4, Newcastle to Hotham, 7 Jan. 1702; W. A. Speck, Birth of Britain, 30; Cocks Diary, 197.
  • 9. Roebuck, 76.
  • 10. Ibid. 75, 79, 81; Boyer, Anne Annals, iv. 9; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 265; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 20, 28, 32; Cam. Misc. xxiii. 52.
  • 11. Boyer, v. 309; vi. 25; HMC Portland, iv. 324; HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 449; Roebuck, 78.
  • 12. Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/0139/33, Horatio Walpole II* to Stanhope, 26 June 1709 N.S., Craggs to same, 11 Nov., 9, 23 Dec. 1709; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 128; HMC Portland, iv. 575; Roebuck, 77–80; Boyer, Pol. State, iv. 70; HMC Lords, n.s. x. 48.
  • 13. Roebuck, 77, 81; Stowe 748, f. 108; Borthwick Inst. York, wills, Prerog. ct. Feb. 1723.