FOX, Charles (1660-1713), of Chiswick, Mdx. and Farley, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



8 Dec. 1680
26 May 1685
9 July 1701
Dec. 1701
31 Aug. - 21 Sept. 1713

Family and Education

b. 2 Jan. 1660, 3rd s. of (Sir) Stephen Fox by 1st w. educ. travelled abroad (Italy, Germany, Holland, France), 1676-8. m. 1679 (with £6,000) Elizabeth (d.1703), da. and h. of Sir William Trollope, 2nd Bt., of Casewick, Lincs., s.p.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Wilts, 1679-80, Mdx. 1689, Lincs. and Wilts. 1689-90; freeman, Salisbury 1680, Portsmouth 1684; j.p. Wilts. 1682-June 1688, Oct. 1688-d.2

Paymaster of the forces (sole) 1682-5, (jt.) 1702-5; jt. receiver-gen. and paymaster [I] 1690-8.3


Fox was born at Brussels just before the Restoration, named after Charles II who acted as his godfather, and naturalized in 1670. Both his elder brothers were then dead, and in 1676 he was sent on a tour of the Continent under the charge of Dr Younger, later dean of Salisbury. On his return he was married to a Lincolnshire heiress ‘who brings with her (besides a great sum) near, if not altogether, £2,000 p.a.’, though in fact her guardian, Sir Robert Carr, defaulted on part of her portion. The Water Eaton estate, near Cricklade, was settled on him on this occasion, and he probably first stood for the borough at the first general election of 1679. He was not successful, and in the autumn he contested Eye on the interest of his brother-in-law, the 3rd Lord Cornwallis. After a double return had been decided in his favour, he took his seat in the second Exclusion Parliament, still under age. He left no trace on its proceedings, but probably voted with the Court. It was rumoured that he would contest Downton in 1681, but nothing came of it. He was given the lucrative office of paymaster-general in 1682 under the supervision of his father; but he was corpulent and easy-going, and never achieved eminence in either administration or politics.4

Fox stood again for Cricklade in 1685, and was seated on the merits of the return. Apart from one short break in 1701, he represented this borough or Salisbury for the rest of his life. ‘His modesty made him backward in attempting set speeches’, but as a committeeman he was moderately active in James II’s Parliament, with seven committees, including those to examine the disbandment accounts, to estimate the yield of a tax on new buildings, and to reform the bankruptcy law. He was much disturbed by the employment of Roman Catholic officers in the army, and was advised by his friends to absent himself from Parliament in order not to displease the King by voting to discuss grievances before supply.

But, the day being come on which the question was to be put, he found such a concern growing upon him for the cause of the Church ... that, moved by the impulse of his conscience, he could not be easy till he went to the Speaker’s chamber. His coming thither occasioned his friends to be again importunate with him to withdraw himself. ... But hearing the debates arising in the House, he could no longer contain himself, but went into it, even after the question was put (a thing that was unusual, but then allowed), and carried it ... by his single vote; for which he was reprimanded by King James, and dismissed from his valuable employments.

The paymastership, which some valu ed at £9,000 p.a., though his father reckoned the net annual income at £3,164, was given to Lord Ranelagh (Richard Jones). But Fox was allowed to kiss the King’s hand in the following January, and in 1688 the royal electoral agents, who correctly expected him to be re-elected, hoped that he might ‘go right’ on James’s ecclesiastical policy.5

In the Convention Fox voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, and he was again moderately active. He was appointed to 17 committees, acted as teller in four divisions, and made two recorded speeches. On 14 June 1689 he strongly denied the old charg9ange that his father had offered bribes from the secret service fund to Members of the Cavalier Parliament. When the naval victuallers were ordered into custody on 23 Nov. he came forward as security for Sir Richard Haddock, and on 5 Dec. he was teller for the successful motion for their release on bail. A member of the committee on the bill for restoring corporations, he acted as teller for disabling James II’s regulators when the measure reached the floor of the House.6

A high-church Tory, Fox was far more of a party man than his father, though he regularly voted for supply under William III and Anne. He was dismissed in 1696 for voting against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick and again under Anne for voting for the Tack. He died at Chiswick in his father’s lifetime on 21 Sept. 1713, considerably indebted, and was buried at Farley.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. G. S. Fox-Strangways, Earl of Ilchester, Life of Henry Fox, 1st Lord Holland, i. 12-14; C. Clay, Public Finance and Private Wealth, 267 8.
  • 2. Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 477; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 367.
  • 3. Clay, 270.
  • 4. Ilchester, i. 14; Denizations and Naturalizations (Huguenot Soc. xviii), 105; Clay, 267-9; Evelyn Diary, iii. 219, 248; Wilts RO, Radnor mss 1084, Ashe to Snow, 29 Jan. 1681.
  • 5. Mems. of Sir Stephen Fox (1717), 77-78; Reresby Mems. 399, 401-2; Ellis Corresp. i. 14.
  • 6. Grey, ix. 309, 444; CJ, x. 302, 323.
  • 7. Clay, 270-5.