BENNET, Charles, Lord Ossulston (1716-67).
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Family and Education
b. 6 Sept. 1716, 1st s. of Charles Bennet, 2nd Earl of Tankerville, by Camilla, da. of Edward Colville, butcher and grazier, of Whitehouse, Northumb. educ. Winchester 1729-32. m. 23 Sept. 1742, Alicia, da. and coh. of Sir John Astley, 2nd Bt., of Patshull, Staffs., 3s. 2da. suc. fa. as 3rd Earl 14 Mar. 1753.
Ensign 3 Ft. Gds. 1734; capt. 24 Ft. 1739; maj. Cottrell’s Marines 1741; capt. and lt.-col. 1 Ft. Gds. 1743-9.
Ossulston took part in the expedition to the West Indies in 1740 and was present at the siege of Cartagena. In his absence his father, Lord Tankerville, asked the Duke of Newcastle to find him a seat, but was unsuccessful. He subsequently complained that Ossulston was ‘so unmindful of me, that I give very little attention to any promotion or success he meets with’.1
At the general election of 1747 Lord Tankerville contemplated putting Ossulston up for Northumberland, but with only a ‘broken fortune’2 he was alarmed at the ‘prodigious expense’ of a contest ‘without any certainty of success’, and asked Newcastle for a ‘government borough for £1,000’ in the event of failure. In the end, as Ossulston was not there ‘to go round the country’, Tankerville decided to wait till the death of one of the sitting Members, which was likely to occur soon, as he was in a bad state of health.3 When Ossulston was put up for the vacancy he was reported by a local Whig to be unpopular as ‘a stranger in the country and a military gent and son of a peer’, who ‘though lord lieutenant of the county, deserted it so shamefully in the time of danger [the 1745 rebellion] and who himself seems to have nothing said in his favour but that he is a Whig set up by the Whig party, who I wish had made choice of a man of more merit’.4 On the appearance of an opponent Tankerville wrote to Newcastle: ‘Twill be a very expensive contest ... I have ... saved better than £3,000, which shall very heartily go in the cause but as that will not be sufficient I hope the King will be so good as to grant me his assistance and support on this occasion’.5 Ossulston was returned by the sheriff, though his opponent had a majority,6 but on petition the House of Commons was informed by a Member that ‘Lord Ossulston being out of order and unable to attend had authorised him to acquaint the House that, upon a consideration of all the circumstances of the election and return, he would give the House no further trouble’.7 He was then unseated.
Soon after his father’s death in 1753, he applied unsuccessfully to Newcastle for the rangership of the parks.8 He next wrote to Pelham, 16 Aug. 1753:
My father having left such heavy legacies my affairs require an immediate assistance either by place or otherwise. I have already shown my principles by preventing an opposition for the county of Northumberland, which I assure you was chiefly owing to me, and should think myself very ill used after serving, to have no return. If there is no place vacant, the thing that would be convenient to me now to pay away is a thousand pounds. If I am so happy to succeed in this affair, you may be assured I shall be ready at all times to serve you. I must beg you will favour me with a positive answer to this; any other, or a delay, I shall construe as a peremptory denial, and shall then determine some affairs accordingly.
On Pelham’s refusal he replied, 18 Aug.:
I have gained great experience in a short time and most heartily thank you for the early lesson you have taught me. Be assured I shall not fall into the same snare again. The next time I ask anything I will make choice of a better advocate, and though I should not have been above receiving a favour conferred in a handsome manner, yet I am not so low or mean-spirited but to resent an injury.9
In 1756 Newcastle obtained for him a secret service pension of £800 per annum.10
He died 27 Oct. 1767.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. 24 Mar., 5 Aug., Add. 32697, ff. 74, 390.
- 2. Walpole to Mann, 12 Aug. 1746.
- 3. 4, 9 June 1747, Add. 32711, ff. 273, 345.
- 4. E. Hughes, N. Country Life in 18th Cent. 266-7.
- 5. 1 Jan. 1748, Add. 32714, f. 1.
- 6. Tankerville to Newcastle, 28 Feb. 1748, ibid. f. 278.
- 7. CJ, xxv. 743.
- 8. Newcastle to Pelham, 14 July 1753, Add. 32732, f. 298.
- 9. Newcastle (Clumber) mss.
- 10. Namier, Structure, 222, 442.