TOWNSHEND, Hon. Charles (1725-67), of Adderbury, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1747 - Nov. 1756
14 Dec. 1756 - 1761
1761 - 4 Sept. 1767

Family and Education

b. 27 Aug. 1725, 2nd s. of Hon. Charles Townshend (afterwards 3rd Visct. Townshend, d.1764) and bro. of Hon. George Townshend. educ. Clare, Camb. 1742; Leyden 1745-6; L. Inn 1742, called 1747. m. 18 Sept. 1755, Lady Caroline Campbell, da. and coh. of John, 2nd Duke of Argyll [S] and 1st Duke of Greenwich, wid. of Francis Scott, Lord Dalkeith and mother of Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch [S], 2s. d.v.m. 1da. She was cr. 19 Aug. 1767, Baroness of Greenwich.

Offices Held

Ld. of Trade June 1749-Apr. 1754, of Admiralty Apr. 1754-Dec. 1755; treasurer of the chamber Nov. 1756-Mar. 1761; sec. at war Mar. 1761-Dec. 1762; first ld. of Trade Feb.-Apr. 1763, paymaster gen. May 1765-July 1766; chancellor of the Exchequer July 1766-d.


Returned for Yarmouth in 1747 at the age of 21, Charles Townshend lost no time in pressing his claim for promotion. In April 1748 he told his father that he hoped to relieve him of part of the burden of maintaining him by acquiring ‘a creditable post at the board of Trade’, or, better still, at the Admiralty, which ‘would strengthen and establish immovably’ the Townshend interest at Yarmouth. In December he asked Pelham for a seat on the Admiralty board,1 but had to content himself with the board of Trade, where he ‘distinguished himself on affairs of trade and in drawing plans and papers’.2 He moved the Address on 16 Nov. 1749. On 8 Mar. 1753, in a debate on Jamaica, he argued in favour of making the island bear the cost of its own defence works, maintaining that it was wrong that the mother country should be sacrificed to the interests of the colonies.3 He attacked Hardwicke’s clandestine marriage bill two months later, when Horace Walpole describes him as

a young man of unbounded ambition, of exceeding application, and, as it now appeared, of abilities capable of satisfying that ambition ... His figure was tall and advantageous, his action vehement, his voice loud, his laugh louder ... He spoke long and with much wit, and drew a picture, with much humour ... of his own situation as the younger son of a capricious father, who had already debarred his son from an advantageous match.4

Horace Walpole concluded that Charles Townshend ‘seemed marked by nature’ to become one of the leaders of the Government of his country. Thus before the end of his first Parliament he had developed and displayed the views and qualities which produced the disastrous Townshend duties a few months before his premature death, 4 Sept. 1767.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. HMC Townshend, 363, 366-7.
  • 2. Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, i. 340.
  • 3. AECP Angl. 436, ff. 10-15.
  • 4. Walpole, loc. cit.