TOWNSHEND, Charles (1728-1810), of Honingham Hall, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



17 Dec. 1756 - 1784
1790 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 27 Aug. 1728, o.s. of Hon. William Townshend of Honingham Hall by Henrietta, da. and h. of Lord William Powlett. educ. Eton 1742-5; Clare, Camb. 1747-9. m. 21 Aug. 1777, his cos. Annabella Powlett, da. of Rev. Richard Smyth of Itchen, Hants, 3s. 5da. suc. fa. 1738; cr. Baron Bayning 20 Oct. 1797.

Offices Held

Sec. to embassy, Madrid 1751-5; ld. of Admiralty 1765-70, Treasury 1770-7; PC 20 June 1777; jt. vicy-treasurer [I] 1777-Mar. 1782; treasurer of navy Apr.-Dec. 1783.

Commr. Exchequer loan office 1805, 1808.

High steward, Yarmouth 1808-d.


‘Spanish Charles Townshend’, as he was called to distinguish him from his more famous cousin and namesake, was ousted at Yarmouth in 1784 after sitting on the family interest there for 28 years. A friend of Lord North, under whom he had held office, he was left without a seat and lost ‘a very considerable employment’. On 30 Mar. 1786 he joined Brooks’s Club. In 1790, by a compromise, he regained his seat, after a contest that cost him £1,500. On 11 Mar. 1791 he spoke on the corn bill. He was one of the committee of inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s expenditure in June. He voted with opposition on the Oczakov resolutions, 12 Apr. 1791, and against the Russian armament, 1 Mar. 1792, but was listed ‘doubtful’ on the question of Test Act repeal in 1791. On the death of his political patron in 1792, he regarded himself as a follower of the Duke of Portland.1 He was one of Windham’s ‘third party’ on 10 and 17 Feb. 1793, and in January and February 1794 was one of the junto who met at Burlington House to confer on an offer of support to Pitt’s administration during the war.2 He had been chairman of the select committee to consider the progress of Warren Hastings’s impeachment, 28 May 1793, and that day prevented a discussion of a newspaper libel on the managers. He went over to government with his friends, serving on the secret committee on sedition of 14 May 1794, and on the loan committee, December 1795, and was rewarded, after retiring from Parliament in 1796, with a peerage. He had voted for the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796.

He was anxious to secure a suitable replacement for himself at Yarmouth, after the first choice, his young kinsman Lord Charles Townshend, had not survived the election for a day, and informed Pitt of his wish ‘that you may have as many supporters in this Parliament as you had in the last’, and of his hope that his successor ‘will take the same part that I should have done’. His nominee, Henry Jodrell, was chosen. In 1797, having subscribed £1,000 to the loyalty loan, he opposed the Norfolk petition to secure the dismissal of ministers. In 1802 he refused to compromise with the opposition party at Yarmouth, where he was still active, and in 1806 was an agent in the Townshend family’s abortive negotiations to recover a seat there. On 11 May 1804, he had written to Pitt, complaining that ‘from expensive elections, from a large family, and from other circumstances, not of extravagance, I am now a much poorer man, than I was when I came into office’. He added that Addington had promised him a place six weeks before, and that though this did not bind Pitt, he had supported him in the Lords in the ‘late small majorities’ and hoped the latter part of his life might be made ‘comfortable’.3

Nothing came of this, and although Bayning was mentioned for the lord lieutenancy of the county on the death of his cousin Lord Townshend in 1807, it was awarded to Lord Suffield’s heir. He had to be satisfied with the high stewardship of the borough with which he had been associated for over 50 years. He died 19 May 1810, worth £12,500, but leaving his estate encumbered.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PRO, Dacres Adams mss 5/21; C. J. Palmer, Hist. Yarmouth, 227n; Perlustration of Gt. Yarmouth, i. 321n.
  • 2. Add. 33630, ff. 2, 11, 15; 33631, f. 4; 34448, f. 296; 37873, f. 201; 51706, Pelham to Lady Webster, 16 Jan. [1794].
  • 3. PRO 30/8/184, ff. 60-63; Norf. Chron. 29 Apr. 1797; St. Vincent Letters (Navy Recs. Soc. lv), 375; Add. 37885, f. 194; Dacres Adams mss loc. cit.
  • 4. Norf. RO, Bayning mss, AF 296 176 x 6.