TALBOT, Charles (1685-1737), of Castell-y-Mynach, Glam.
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Family and Education
bap. 22 Dec. 1685, 1st s. of William Talbot, bp. successively of Oxford, Salisbury and Durham, by his 1st w. Katherine, da. of Richard King of Upham, Wilts., alderman of London. educ. Eton c.1700; Oriel, Oxf. 1702; I. Temple 1707, called 1711; L. Inn 1719, bencher 1726. m. c. June 1708,1 Cecil, da. and h. of Charles Mathews of Castell-y-Mynach and gt. gd.-da. and h. of David Jenkins of Hensol, Glam., 5s. suc. fa. 1730; cr. Baron Talbot of Hensol 5 Dec. 1733.
Fellow of All Souls, Oxf. 1704; solicitor-gen. 1726-33; P.C. 29 Nov. 1733; lord chancellor 1733-d.
Charles Talbot came of a Worcestershire family descended from the 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury. The son of a Whig bishop, he was at first destined for the church but on the advice, it is said, of Lord Chancellor Cowper, he turned to the law. In his early days he went the Oxford circuit, also practising in the court of Chancery. He was brought in at a by-election at Tregony in 1720, but removed in 1722 to Durham, where he was returned at the top of the poll on the interest of his father, the newly translated bishop of that diocese. In Parliament he consistently supported the Administration, speaking frequently on the constitutional and legal aspects of business before the House. His first recorded speech was in October 1722, when he seconded the nomination of Spencer Compton as Speaker. In the following March he supported the motions to bring in bills of pains and penalties against the bishop of Rochester and his associates. After his promotion to solicitor-general in 1726 he formed a strong legal team for seven years with his friend Sir Philip Yorke, the attorney-general. Re-elected unopposed for Durham in 1727, he spoke at length in February 1730 against a merchants’ petition, sponsored by John Barnard, to lay open the East Indies trade by redeeming the funds of the East India Company, observing that
the question was whether the Parliament should take away the privileges purchased by the Company. That by the perusal of the Acts it seemed to him a perpetuity of trade was granted them, but he would not declare it positively as his opinion ... As to laying the trade open, it is visibly the sense of all nations that an East India trade cannot be carried on but by a company.2
In April 1733 he strongly upheld Walpole’s objections to hearing the city of London’s petition against the excise bill by counsel. On the death of the lord chief justice, Lord Raymond, followed by the resignation of the lord chancellor, Lord King, both in 1733,
Sir Philip Yorke and Mr. Talbot were destined to succeed them. But ... these two morsels without any addition were not enough to satisfy these two cormorant stomachs ... Sir Philip Yorke, being first in rank, had certainly a right to the chancellor’s seals; but Talbot, who was an excellent Chancery lawyer and knew nothing of the common law, if he was not chancellor would be nothing. Yorke therefore, though fit for both these employments, got the worst, being prevailed upon to accept that of lord chief justice, on the salary being raised from £3,000 to £4,000 a year for life, and £1,000 more paid him out of the chancellor’s salary by Lord Talbot. This was a scheme of Sir Robert Walpole’s, who ... was always fertile in expedients and thought these two great and able men of too much consequence to lose or disoblige either.
Hervey describes him as having
as clear, separating, distinguishing, subtle, and fine parts as ever man had ... no man’s were more forcible. No one could make more of a good cause than Lord Hardwicke, and no one so much of a bad one as Lord Talbot. The one had infinite knowledge, the other infinite ingenuity; they were both excellent but very different ... both great pleaders, as well as upright judges; and both esteemed by all parties, as much for their temper and integrity as for their knowledge and abilities.3
He died 14 Feb. 1737.