SOMERSET, Charles, Marquess of Worcester (1660-98).

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



26 Mar. 1677 - Jan. 1679
Mar. - July 1679
12 Sept. 1679 - 26 Nov. 1680
Mar. 1681
1685 - 1687
1685 - 1687
1689 - 1695

Family and Education

b. Dec. 1660, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Henry Somerset†, 1st Duke of Beaufort, by Mary, da. of Arthur Capel†, 1st Baron Capell of Hadham, sis. of Hon. Sir Henry Capel*.  educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1677, MA 1682; travelled abroad (Netherlands) 1681.  m. 5 June 1682 (with c.£25–30,000), Rebecca (d. 1744), da. of Sir Josiah Child, 1st Bt.†, sis. of Sir Josiah Child, 2nd Bt.*, half-sis. of Sir Richard Child, 3rd Bt.*, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (2 d.v.p.).  Styled Ld. Herbert of Raglan 3 Apr. 1667–2 Dec. 1682; Mq. of Worcester 2 Dec. 1682.1

Offices Held

FRS 1673.2

Commr. of inquiry, Forest of Dean 1679; steward of crown manors, Rad. 1682–Apr. 1688; member, council in the marches of Wales 1682–9; custos rot. Rad. 1682–9; keeper of the gaol, riding forester and ale-conner, Forest of Dean 1685–9.3

Freeman, E. I. Co. 1682, cttee. 1683–91.4

Freeman, Worcester 1683, recorder 1687–Nov. 1688; common councilman, Brecon and Carmarthen 1686–?Oct. 1688; freeman, Kilkenny 1697.5

Capt. indep. tp. 1685, col. (later 11 Ft.) 1685–7.6


Lord Worcester took a more active part than his father in the Revolution. Probably admitted by his brother-in-law the Duke of Ormond into the secret of the intended invasion, he secured Chepstow Castle before joining the Prince of Orange at Windsor. However, in the Convention he voted in favour of agreeing with the Lords that the throne was not vacant.7

Returned again on his father’s interest as a Tory in 1690, Worcester was marked as such, and possibly as a Court supporter, by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) in an analysis of the new Parliament, and figured on another of Carmarthen’s lists, in December 1690, as a likely supporter in the event of an attack upon Carmarthen in the Commons. By April 1691 Robert Harley* could classify him with the ‘Country’ opposition. Probably by virtue of his East India interests, Worcester was named on 2 Apr. 1690 to the committee ordered to draft a bill on the East India trade: the proprietor of £1,000 of company stock in 1689, he had been a committeeman for seven years. Gradually his alienation from the Williamite regime deepened: as early as February 1690 he was associating with Jacobite loyalists of the colour of the Earls of Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce†) and Clarendon (Henry Hyde†); he visited Clarendon in the Tower in June 1690 and stood bail for him two months later; and in December 1691 he took an active part, following his mother’s directions, in the committee on Ailesbury’s estate bill. According to the confession of a Jacobite agent in 1691, which also implicated Worcester’s chaplain, he and his father had given ‘many assurances’ to conspirators in the exiled King’s interest. He excused his failure to take oaths in April 1692, on the grounds that his ‘sudden’ departure for London had ‘hindered me from doing it regularly in the country’, but in 1694 another Jacobite informer claimed that in March of that year Sir John Knight* had told him that ‘the Duke of Beaufort was altogether for’ King James, ‘and the Marquess of Worcester of late’. Whether because of these dubious connexions and Jacobite sympathies, or because of the ill-health that on 23 Mar. 1695 caused him to be granted leave of absence, Worcester ‘declared he would not stand’ at the next election. He and his father were listed among the ‘trustworthy adherents’ of James II in a French government memorandum of March 1696. However, by November 1697 it was reported that he had been to kiss King William’s hand at Kensington, and that his father was expected shortly to follow suit. Again the influence of his brother-in-law Ormond may perhaps be detected. Worcester was close to his sister, the Duchess of Ormond, being named as a trustee for the property on which her jointure was secured in an abortive private bill of February 1695, and accompanying her on a journey to Ireland in the summer of 1697.8

Worcester died v.p. in a tragic accident ‘in the country’, on 13 July 1698. Travelling ‘in his coach and six horses with his lady and two children, the postilion happening to fall down, the horse ran away violently; on which the Marquess jumped out of the coach, and was run over . . . but his lady and children were saved’. He was buried at Raglan three days later. According to his mother, he left his second son an annuity of £800, and his surviving daughter £10,000, but no will was proved, administration being granted to a creditor. His widow subsequently took as her second husband Hon. John Granville*.9

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Evelyn Diary, iv. 306; Bradney, Mon. ii. 27; HMC Lords, n.s. ix. 2; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, 509.101.3, Case of Mary, Dowager Duchess of Beaufort [c.1710].
  • 2. Recs. R. Soc. 382.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 196; ix. 189; CSP Dom. 1692, pp. 337, 350; 1685, p. 404.
  • 4. Add. 38871, ff. 8–9; HMC 7th Rep. 406.
  • 5. Hereford and Worcester RO (Worcester St. Helen’s), Worcester bor. recs. chamber order bk. 1679–1721, ff. 51, 145; CSP Dom. 1686–7, pp. 42–43; Kilkenny corp. mss, corp. min. bk. 1690–1717, p. 59.
  • 6. HMC Portland, iii. 398.
  • 7. C. S. C. B. Bruce, Life and Loyalties of Thomas Bruce, 130–1; PRO NI, De Ros mss D.638/5, William Wintour to Thomas Coningsby*, [1688].
  • 8. NLW, Kemeys-Tynte mss, Lady to Sir Charles Kemys, 3rd Bt.*, 16 Mar. 1690; 252, Edward Perkins to Thomas Morgan*, 1 Nov. 1695; 253, Francis Catchmay to Sir Charles Kemys, 3rd Bt., 2 Nov. 1695; Add. 22185, f. 13; 38175, f. 157; 28927, ff. 67, 69; Clarendon Corresp. ed. Singer, ii. 302–4, 307, 319, 321, 328; Wilts. RO, Ailesbury mss 1300/789, Sir Henry Capel to Duchess of Beaufort, 4 Dec. 1691; HMC Finch, iii. 322, 344, 365; HMC Downshire, i. 447; Ideology and Conspiracy ed. Cruickshanks, 124; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 309; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 522; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 228.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1698, p. 353; Luttrell, 401; Beaufort mss, Case of . . . Dowager Duchess of Beaufort.