MASON, Charles (d.1739), of Rockley, Salop.
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Family and Education
2nd s. of Thomas Mason of Rockley and Church Stoke, Salop. m. Mary Harnage, 1s. suc. fa. 1705.
Ensign, Lord Herbert of Cherbury’s regt. of Ft. 1689; jt. comptroller of the mint 1696-1701; receiver gen. and paymaster of transports 1707-8.
Charles Mason belonged to one of the leading families of Bishop’s Castle. His uncle, Sir Richard Mason, his cousin Sir William Brownlow, and his elder brother Richard Mason, had all served for it and he himself represented it in eight Parliaments. A staunch but disreputable Whig, he left his first post under a cloud and the second owing the Crown nearly £6,000. When a writ of extent on his estates was issued to compel him to pay, he turned it to his own advantage by using it to prevent a private creditor foreclosing on mortgages of £7,700, whilst by successive stays of Exchequer process he enjoyed the rents of his estates.1 In 1715 Mason particularly aroused the animosity of the Harleys, who complained of his ‘villainous roguery’, alleging him to be unqualified because his lands were under extent, and suggesting that Lord Coningsby, their arch-enemy, had paid his election expenses.2 Re-elected after a contest, he voted with the Government. In 1722 the Duke of Chandos, who had bought the Harleys’ Shropshire property, would do nothing to prejudice Mason’s election, but would not join interests with him, writing:
By what I hear he’ll have a difficult task, for I fear he is not much prepared with ‘unum necessarium’,3
which was money. He was defeated, but on petition it was stated, four years after the election, that
most of these [voters] thus bribed were tenants to the petitioner and always in his interest, and that in general, they declared, they would have voted for the petitioner but for the sitting Member’s money.4
He was awarded the seat, but lost it in 1727, after which he did not stand again. In 1728, when a double return from Montgomery was before the elections committee, he gave evidence to the committee against the right of the freemen of the outboroughs to vote at parliamentary elections, from his experience as a Member for the borough, 1705-8. In his evidence he
said nobody would be for their right of voting but who was for a popish prince, because those boroughs were under the influence of the Duke of Powys, a papist; this was resented and a debate on censuring him and Mr. Earle, the chairman, ordered to reprimand him, which he did and said the committee did not proceed with so much severity as he deserved in commiseration of his miserable circumstances.5
He died in 1739.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: J. B. Lawson
- 1. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 7, 135-6; xxiv. 51, 54; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1697-1702, p. 424; 1720-8, p. 417; Cal. Treas. Bks. and Pprs. 1729-30, p. 411.
- 2. HMC Portland, v. 505, 663.
- 3. To Capt. Oakely, 8 Mar., to Mr. Wollaston, 22 Mar. 1722, Chandos letter bks.
- 4. CJ, xx. 682.
- 5. Knatchbull Diary, 18 Mar. 1728.