TOWNSHEND, Lord Charles Patrick Thomas (1769-96), of Rainham, Norf.

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



1796 - 27 May 1796

Family and Education

b. 6 Jan. 1769, 4th s. of George Townshend, 1st Mq. Townshend, by 1st w. Lady Charlotte Compton, da. of James Compton, 5th Earl of Northampton; bro. of Lord John Townshend* and half-bro. of Lord James Nugent Bernando Boyle Townshend*. educ. Edinburgh 1786; L. Inn 1786, called 1793. unm.

Offices Held

Lt. Hon. R. Clive’s ind. co. Ft. 1793; lt. 88 Ft. 1793; lt.-col. 118 Ft. 1794.


Lord Charles Townshend joined the Whig Club, 16 Nov. 1790. He succeeded his kinsman and namesake to a seat for Yarmouth, unopposed, on the family interest, 25 May 1796. He attended the election with his brother Frederick, who had been confined, insane, two years before and, according to the mayor Sir Edmund Lacon, himself ‘behaved insanely’: the day before the election, he was ‘so much deranged’ that his friends feared for his prospects. After the election he ‘talked wildly after dinner’ and his friends urged a speedy departure. He travelled to London in a post-chaise with Lord Frederick and was found dead on arrival, killed by a bullet which had entered the roof of his mouth. Lord Frederick was arrested, but the jurors at the inquest found insufficient evidence against him. Gerald Wesley, a friend of the deceased, was convinced that Lord Frederick had killed his brother, being ‘quite mad’, but refused to believe that the deceased was, as he ‘never showed any symptoms of it before’, and preferred to believe that Lord Charles had been violently drunk at Yarmouth. But this was denied at the inquest and Lord Frederick’s incoherent account of the affair suggested a kind of suicide pact, after a discussion on religion.

C. J. Palmer, Hist. Yarmouth, 227n; Annual Reg. (1796), 21-22; True Briton, 28, 30, 31 May 1796; Camden mss C266/3.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne