WHITAKER, Charles (c.1642-1715), of the Inner Temple, London, and Ipswich, Suff.

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



1695 - 1698
Dec. 1701 - 1705

Family and Education

b. c.1642, 1st s. of Charles Whitaker, of Windsor, Berks., under-sec. of state 1660.  educ. New Coll. Oxf. matric. 5 Apr. 1661, aged 19, BA 1664; M. Temple 1666; G. Inn 1667, called 1668; I. Temple 1673, bencher 1692.  m. lic. 20 June 1670, Anne Hale of Windsor, Berks., 2s. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. 1666.1

Offices Held

Foreign opposer in Exchequer 1666–1702; serjeant-at-law 1700, King’s serjeant 1700–2; c.j. Cardigan, Carmarthen and Pembroke 1708–11.2

Recorder, Ipswich by 1694–1704, Apr.–May 1707.3


Whitaker’s father had been almost ruined for his support of the Royalists during the Civil War, but he had been compensated at the Restoration with a life appointment as foreign opposer in the Exchequer court. Whitaker himself, a practising lawyer, inherited this office on his father’s death in 1666. By 1690 he was settled at Ipswich which he unsuccessfully contested in the election of that year. Chosen as recorder, he was instrumental in securing the purge of Tories from the Suffolk commission of the peace in August 1694. Following these changes Whitaker was returned for Ipswich in a contested election in 1695. From the outset he was an active Member, and in December 1695 and January 1696 he managed a private estate bill through the House. He was listed as likely to support the Court in a forecast for the divisions on the proposed council of trade on 31 Jan. 1696, and he signed the Association promptly. In February he reported on and carried up another private estate bill (10th, 13th). In March he voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s., and also reported on a petition of West Indies merchants (2nd) and another private estate bill (9th), and reported on and carried up the bill for ease of jurors (2nd, 9th). On the 17th he was granted leave of absence. In the 1696–7 session he spoke on 13 Nov. 1696 against the argument that Sir John Fenwick† had not been given enough notice ‘to prepare to make his answer’. Not surprisingly, on the 25th, Whitaker voted in favour of the attainder of Fenwick. On 18 Dec. he reported on and carried up a private estate bill, while on 2 Jan. 1697 he brought in a bill to better enforce the payment of debts by goldsmiths. In February he reported on and carried up a private bill relating to a marriage settlement (6th) and a private estate bill (22nd). He was granted leave of absence on 10 Mar. but was back in the House by 15 Apr. when he acted as a teller in favour of passing the bill to prevent counterfeiting of coin. In the 1697–8 session he was particularly concerned with a bill for preventing abuses in weights and measures, and on 9 Mar. 1698 he acted as a teller in favour of committing it. In this session he also reported on and carried up another private estate bill (27 Jan.), and reported on a bill to make Colchester canal navigable (18 Mar.). He was granted leave of absence on 18 and 29 Mar., on the latter date for 21 days, though he was back in the House by 19 Apr. when he acted as a teller against a motion to agree with an amended clause, from the committee on the bill for regulating elections, for setting a £200 qualification for non-resident borough freemen.4

Whitaker was defeated at Ipswich in 1698, and in a comparative analysis of the old and new Commons he was listed as a Court supporter ‘left out’ of the new Parliament. He did not contest the first 1701 election, but was returned in a contest at Ipswich in the second 1701 election. On that occasion he was classed as a ‘gain’ for the Whigs by Lord Spencer (Charles*), while Robert Harley* also listed him as a Whig. During this Parliament Whitaker was granted leave of absence on 7 Mar. and 9 Apr. 1702. He was returned for Ipswich in 1702, this time unopposed, and in the same year he surrendered his office of foreign opposer to his eldest son. Whitaker was now much less active in the House, and was granted leave of absence on 22 Dec. 1702 and 18 Dec. 1703. At the beginning of the 1704–5 session he was listed as a probable opponent of the Tack, and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704. Meanwhile, opposition to him was building up at Ipswich and in September 1704 he was dismissed from his recordership for neglecting his duties, for retaining in his own hands various charters, deeds and books belonging to the town, and for obstructing the bailiffs in the discharge of their duty. His inactivity in Parliament was marked by further leave of absence granted on 16 Dec. However, in February 1705 he reported on and carried up a private estate bill (2nd, 8th). He did not stand at Ipswich in the 1705 election, but in 1707 he brought a successful action at Queen’s bench to be restored as the town’s recorder. This triumph was short-lived, however, since he was reappointed in April and dismissed again in May. He was defeated in the 1708 election. In the same year he was appointed chief justice of Carmarthen with a salary of £300 p.a. Removed by the Tory administration in June 1711, he took no further part in public life and died on 19 June 1715, aged 73.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1714–19, p. 192.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 716; xxii. 272; xxv. 296; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1714–19, p. 192; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 19 June 1708; Boyer, Anne Annals, x. 217.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1699–1700, p. 397; Bohun Diary ed. Wilton Rix, 122.
  • 4. Cal. Comm. Comp. 1577; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1714–19, p. 192; Bohun Diary, 122; Chandler, iii. 37–38; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 1015; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 115.
  • 5. Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1714–19, p. 192; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 564; Bohun Diary, 122; G. R. Clarke, Ipswich, 72–77.