MANNERS, Lord Charles Henry Somerset (1780-1855), of Belvoir Castle, Leics.
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Family and Education
b. 24 Oct. 1780, 2nd s. of Charles Manners†, 4th Duke of Rutland, by Lady Mary Isabella Somerset, da. of Charles Noel Somerset†, 4th Duke of Beaufort; bro. of Lord Robert William Manners*. unm. CB 1815, KCB 20 Apr. 1838.
Cornet, 10 Drag. 1798, lt. 1799, capt. 1800, maj. 1808; lt.-col. 23 Drag. 1811, 3 Drag. 1812-25; brevet col. and a.d.c. to Prince Regent 1817; maj.-gen. 1825, lt.-gen. 1838; col. 3 Drag. 1839-d.; gen. 1854.
In November 1801 it was believed that the Duke of Rutland might propose his brother Lord Charles Manners, then a captain in the Prince of Wales’s regiment, for Cambridgeshire at the next election. Lord Hardwicke was sceptical: ‘I think considering all things, he will judge wisely to bring him in for the town’. An alternative was Leicestershire, but there was no immediate prospect there. In fact, a by-election for Cambridgeshire preceded the dissolution and Manners stood, only to be narrowly defeated by Sir Henry Peyton. ‘Lord Charles’, wrote Charles Yorke*, ‘though not so shy as Sir Henry, did not turn out, in the least, a better orator.’ Almost at once, Manners began an active canvass, to which Yorke ascribed his superiority in the poll at the general election two months later.1 He was subsequently unopposed until 1826.
Manners voted on 4 Mar. 1803 for inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s finances. His family enjoyed Pitt’s friendship, and although he did not otherwise oppose Addington he was listed a Pittite in 1804. He had reservations about a political life, as he explained to his brother, 11 July 1804:2
I have ever candidly acknowledged that there are great conveniences attending a seat in Parliament to a person in my situation, and I consider it at times a most excellent amusement. I have ever hinted and sometimes openly told you that my views looked to a different pursuit in life. The field, not the senate, has always been the scene in which I have wished to be brought forward, and though your partiality the other day induced you to flatter me and say that there was no reason why I might not take a forward part in politics in the House, still, your good sense and observation ... no doubt hinted to you that the six valuable years which I have trifled away without anyone to direct me in any useful study, are not to be recovered without a greater degree of application than I am inclined to bestow ... The opposition my wishes have met with has not persuaded my mind to recede. I have not promised to give up the point, and my heart being fixed, I must still make the attempt to reconcile my friends to it. Of the reluctance I have hitherto experienced on the part of my family to approve of my plan, I am sure I shall always, as I now do, consider it to be a most unfortunate opposition.
Manners voted against the Grenville ministry on the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr., and the American intercourse bill, 17 June 1806.
His wish for a military life was realized in 1808 when he served in the Peninsula campaign, and a year later, as a.d.c. to Lord Chatham, in the Walcheren expedition. He voted with government throughout against the censure on the expedition, January-March 1810. His distaste for politics remained: on 19 Dec. 1809 he had informed his brother:3
I shall hope there will be no very great necessity for me to comply with the wishes Mr Perceval has expressed for a full attendance at the opening of the sessions. Indeed, the more deeply I dip in politics ... the more I dislike them. But besides that, I think your interest will show itself sufficiently at that time.
On 30 Mar. 1810 it would appear that Perceval had to intervene to prevent the Manners pack from going off hunting before the critical division.4 Manners, duly listed ‘against the Opposition’, returned to the Peninsula. While at Cadiz, 7 Aug. 1811, he visited the Cortes,
where the right hon. gentlemen were haranguing one another as they do at St. Stephens. But they appeared much less riotous and better dressed than the Members of our hon. House. Each member receives five dollars a day, and they take pretty good care to pay themselves before they give any to their starving soldiers or any other branch of the public service.5,
He took part in the battles of Salamanca and Vittoria and commanded a cavalry brigade at Toulouse. His horsemanship was legendary:
Having one day unexpectedly come upon a French cavalry picket, they gave chase until a brook was reached, which Lord Charles, in the Melton fashion, immediately cleared, taking off his hat, and bidding the Frenchmen (who were so surprised as not to fire until too late), ‘Adieu, Messieurs!’6
In his absence, his mother had been pressing the Prince Regent to do something for him. In March 1812 Perceval offered him the treasurership of the Household, at the Prince’s command. He declined it, so he informed his brother on 18 Mar., ‘upon the sole ground of the necessity of vacating my seat’. Apart from the risk of facing the county, which had ejected his colleague Charles Yorke on a similar vacancy, he added:
But you must be aware that I never did look to any situation not immediately connected with my profession ... your brothers should be exempt from the possible imputation of supporting an administration in consequence of receiving a douceur for it. It is nonsense for me to talk of independence in Parliament, but it certainly is more agreeable to be dependent on the opinions of a brother than the will of a minister.7
After his return from the Continent, Manners continued to support government. He voted against inquiry into the Regent’s expenditure, 31 May 1815, and for the augmentation of the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment, 29 June and 3 July 1815. On 6 Mar. 1816 he paired until the property tax debate of 18 Mar., when he joined the hostile majority against the government. His brother had informed Arbuthnot at the Treasury the day before:
My brother Charles was I understand informed of the necessity under which he is placed of bending to the wishes of his constituents and of voting against the property tax. The aversion to it in the county of Cambridge is so great as to have left him no option.
When Lord Liverpool protested, the duke gave him the same explanation, but there was no objection made to the premier’s plea for support thenceforward.8 Manners, who is not known to have made any speeches in the House, voted with government on the civil list, 6 and 24 May 1816, and for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817. He voted against Catholic relief, 9 May 1817, as he had allegedly done on 24 May 1813. In March 1818 he paired and illness kept him away from the early session of 1819, but he appeared to vote against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819. In 1820, if a contest materialized, he wished his brother to withdraw him in Cambridgeshire, but the duke would not hear of it.9 He died 25 May 1855.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: M. H. Port
- 1. Add. 35393, ff. 31, 54, 104; 35701, ff. 163, 176.
- 2. Rutland mss.
- 3. Ibid.
- 4. Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lonsdale, 31 Mar. .
- 5. Rutland mss.
- 6. Gent. Mag. (1855), ii. 89.
- 7. Prince of Wales Corresp. viii. 3130; Rutland mss.
- 8. T.64/260, Bentinck to Arbuthnot, 6 Mar., Rutland to same, 17 Mar. 1816; Add. 38262, f. 323; 38573, f. 84.
- 9. T.64/260, Manners to Arbuthnot, Tues. [10 Mar. 1818]; CJ, lxxiv. 124, 254; Rutland mss.