WAGER, Sir Charles (c.1666-1743), of Kilmenath, nr. West Looe, Cornw. and Parson’s Green, London
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Family and Education
b. c.1666, o. s. of Charles Wager, capt. RN, of Deal, Kent by Prudence, da. of William Goodsonn, v.-adm. in Cromwell’s navy, of Ratcliffe, Mdx. m. lic. 8 Dec. 1691, Martha (d. 1748), da. of Anthony Earning of Limehouse, Mdx., s.p. suc. fa. at birth; kntd. 8 Dec. 1709.1
Lt. RN by 1690, capt. 1692, r.-adm. 1708, v.-adm. 1716, adm. 1731; v.-adm. GB 1742; comptroller of the navy 1715–18; ld. of Admiralty 1718–33, first ld. 1733–1742; PC 25 Jan. 1733; treasurer of navy Dec. 1742–d.
Freeman, West Looe 1699, Portsmouth 1710.2
Wager’s father and grandfather had both been naval officers, his father having served in the navies of Cromwell and Charles II until his early death in February 1666, shortly before Wager was born. His mother afterwards married Alexander Parker, a Quaker merchant of the city of London, and it was in this religious community that Wager was raised. By 1690, however, Wager had followed his father into the Royal Navy. In 1692 he was present, as a lieutenant on Admiral Edward Russell’s* flagship, at the battle of Barfleur, and in June of that year Russell raised him to a captaincy. Wager served throughout the rest of the war, though having no opportunities to distinguish himself, and remained on active service until at least 1699. He continued his naval career during Queen Anne’s reign, and in 1703 accompanied Sir George Byng* to negotiate a treaty with the Dey of Algiers. In January 1707 Wager was appointed commander-in-chief of the Jamaica squadron and the following year he attacked a Spanish treasure fleet and captured a galleon carrying gold and silver coins estimated by the local prize agent to be worth £62,000. So great was the prize that distribution of it was held up for some time while the government tried to secure a moiety for the crown. In the following 18 months Wager took a number of other large prizes which enabled him to return to England in November 1709 a rich man, and was knighted in December for his services. He saw no more active service during the Queen’s reign.3
Successful at a by-election for Portsmouth in January 1710, Wager arrived in the Commons in time to vote for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. He was again successful at Portsmouth at the 1710 general election, being classed in the ‘Hanover list’ as a Whig, but on 3 Feb. 1711 he was unseated on petition. On 29 Nov. 1710 he had petitioned for a grant of the royal mines in Jamaica, but though the Queen was willing to accede to this request it was felt that legal opinion was needed, and it appears that no grant was actually made. At around this time Wager purchased an estate at West Looe, and at the 1713 election he was returned for this borough. On 18 Mar. 1714 he voted against the expulsion of Richard Steele, and in the Worsley list and two further comparisons of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments Wager was classed as a Whig. After 1715 he continued to vote with the Whigs and achieved high office in the Admiralty. Wager died on 24 May 1743, and was buried at Westminster Abbey six days later.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. DNB; Westminster Abbey Regs. (Harl. Soc. x), 363–4.
- 2. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 374; info. from Prof. D. A. Baugh.
- 3. DNB; Charnock, Biog. Nav. ii. 437–54; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 208; Burnet, v. 390; Torrington Mems. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xlvi), 112–13, 186; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiii. 33, 161; xxv. 353; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1708–14, pp. 79, 123, 255.
- 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiv. 106.