POWLETT, Charles, Mq. of Winchester (1685-1754).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



7 Dec. 1705 - 1708
1708 - 1710
1715 - 12 Apr. 1717

Family and Education

b. 3 Sept. 1685, 1st s. of Charles Powlett, M.P., and Duke of Bolton, by his 2nd w. Frances, da. of William Ramsden of Byram, Yorks.; bro. of Lord Harry and half-bro. of Lord Nassau Powlett. educ. Enfield. m. (1) 21 July 1713, Lady Anne Vaughan (d. 20 Sept. 1751), da. and h. of John Vaughan, M.P., 3rd Earl of Carberry [I], s.p.; (2) 20 Oct. 1751, Mrs. Lavinia Beswick, said to be da. of a lt. in the navy, actress, known as Lavinia Fenton, by whom he had had 3 illegit. s., s.p. legit. cr.Lord Pawlet of Basing, 12 Apr. 1717. suc. fa. as 3rd Duke 21 Jan. 1722; K.G. 10 Oct. 1722.

Offices Held

Gent. of the bedchamber to Prince of Wales 1714-17; gov. Milford Haven and v.-adm. of S. Wales 1715-33; ld. lt. Carm. 1715-33, Glam. 1715-33, Hants 1722-33, 1742-d., Dorset 1722-33; col. R. Horse Gds. 1717-33; warden of the New Forest 1722-33, 1742-d.; P.C. 1 June 1725; gov. I.o.W. 1726-33, 1742-6; capt. of gent. pensioners 1740-2; lt.-gen. 1745; high steward, Winchester.


Powlett was returned in 1715 as a Whig for Carmarthenshire, where he had acquired an interest through his first wife. When the Whig party split in 1717 he adhered to the Government, resigning his place with the Prince’s household in return for a peerage and the colonelcy of the Royal Horse Guards. The death of his father, the second Duke of Bolton, made him one of the principal landowners in Hampshire, controlling one seat at Winchester, one at St. Ives, and, in alliance with a local family, the Burrards, two at Lymington. From 1722-33 and 1740-6 he was the electoral manager for the Government in Hampshire, described as ‘that noble person with whom his Majesty has thought proper to entrust the care of the country’.1

In 1733 Bolton was dismissed from all his offices for voting against the excise bill.

The Duke of Bolton [Hervey writes] was at this time governor of the Isle of Wight, ranger of the New Forest, and had a regiment, yet with all this the Duke of Bolton was not satisfied. For, being as proud as if he had been of any consequence besides what his employments made him, as vain as if he had some merit, and as necessitous as if he had no estate, so he was troublesome at court, hated in the country, and scandalous in his regiment. The dirty tricks he played in the last to cheat the government of men, or his men of half-a-crown, were things unknown to any colonel but his Grace, no griping Scotchman excepted. As to his interest in Parliament by the Members he nominally made there, these were all virtually made by the Court, as they were only made by him in consequence of the powerful employments he held from the Court.

In 1740 he made his peace with Walpole, who gave him a seat in the Cabinet, though ‘without a right to it from his office of captain of the band of pensioners’.2 At the same time he was given a pension of £1,200 increased to £2,000 in 1742, as compensation for his failure to secure the post of master of the Ordnance.3 In 1746 he was again dismissed from his offices, except his lord lieutenancy, for adhering to Granville.4

During 1746 Bolton failed in an attempt to extend his electoral influence by ousting the Burrard interest from the Lymington corporation. In 1750, he unsuccessfully applied to Newcastle for the office of master of the horse.5 On the death of his first wife in 1751 he married Lavinia Fenton, with whom he had lived since he fell in love with her on seeing her as Polly Peachum in the ‘Beggar’s Opera’ in 1728. His devotion to her is commemorated in the family pew at Wensley in Yorkshire, an exact replica of the box from which he first saw her.6 He died 26 Aug. 1754.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Lady Sundon, Mems. i. 218.
  • 2. Hervey, Mems. 175-6, 925.
  • 3. HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 140; Cal. Treas. Bks. and Pprs. 1739-41, p. 567; 1742-5, p. 136.
  • 4. R. Lodge, Private Corresp. Chesterfield and Newcastle, 111.
  • 5. Bolton to A. Stone, 19 June 1747, Add. 32711, f. 413; to Newcastle, 2 Sept. 1750, Add. 32722, f. 287.
  • 6. Ex inf. Lord Bolton.