BURRELL, Sir Charles Merrik, 3rd Bt. (1774-1862), of Knepp Castle, Suss. and Valentine House, Barking, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - 4 Jan. 1862

Family and Education

b. 24 May 1774, 1st s. of Sir William Burrell, 2nd Bt., of Deepdene, nr. Dorking, Surr. by Sophia, da. and coh. of Sir Charles Raymond, 1st Bt., of Valentine House, Barking; bro. of Walter Burrell*. educ. Chigwell sch.; Westminster 1785; St. John’s, Camb. 1791-5. m. 8 Aug. 1808, Frances Iliffe, illegit. da. of George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont, 3s. 1da. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 20 Jan. 1796.

Offices Held

Dir. Sun Fire Office 1798.

Lt. Suss. militia 1795, capt. 1796, maj. 1802, lt.-col. commdt. (Bramber and Lewes batt.) 1809.


Burrell was returned for Shoreham without a contest in 1806, with the support of his future father-in-law the 3rd Earl of Egremont. Writing to Lord Grenville, the Duke of Norfolk professed to be ‘unacquainted’ with Burrell’s ‘political attachment’, but he was in the minority against the ministry on the Hampshire election petition, 13 Feb. 1807, and listed ‘adverse’ (after being transferred from a ‘doubtful’ list) to the abolition of the slave trade. His support of the Whig candidate at the ensuing county election was due to his brother’s quarrel with John Fuller*. He himself was the favourite in the contest for Shoreham in 1807 and faced no other in this period. In June 1807 Lord Grenville’s brother was satisfied that he was ‘decidedly hostile’ to them.1

Indeed he seldom opposed the Portland ministry. In his maiden speech, 19 May 1808, he criticized, on behalf of the agricultural interest, the indulgence shown to the sugar planters in prohibiting distillation from grain. George Hibbert reproached Burrell for implying that the sugar lobby was over represented in the House, as compared with the corngrowers, 23 May. On 17 Mar. 1809 he criticized Perceval’s resolution in extenuation of the Duke of York’s conduct because it implied censure of Wardle, the duke’s accuser in the House—which Perceval denied. On 25 Apr. he was in the minority for inquiry into charges of ministerial corruption. On 24 May he called for inquiry into Lord Burghersh’s rapid military promotion.

On 27 Sept. 1809 the Duke of Richmond, suggesting to Burrell’s father-in-law that it might be advisable to start him for the county at the next election, substituting his brother Walter Burrell for Shoreham, added, ‘To show his independence he would now and then vote against you and me but I should think not on material points’. He put it another way, 11 Feb. 1810, writing of ‘Sir Charles, who, to show his independence, will sometimes vote contrary to his opinion because his friends vote so’.2 As if to illustrate this, Burrell voted with Perceval’s ministry on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, against them on the Scheldt inquiry, 26 Jan. and 5 Mar., but with them on 30 Mar. The Whigs had listed him ‘hopeful’. He spoke only against distillation from sugar, 22 Feb., and as a critic of the home staff costs in the army estimates, 1 Mar. He criticized Burdett’s conduct ‘from first to last’, 10 Apr., but voted for parliamentary reform on Brand’s motion, 21 May. He next appeared on 8 Apr. 1811 in defence of the southern canal bill and next day complained of the iniquity of deducting their prize shares from naval officers’ pay ‘merely for the sake of popularity’. He was also present on 24 June 1811 and defended corporal punishment in the army on 1 July. On 9 July he defended the bank-note bill.3 On 28 Jan. 1812 he raised the question of the inadequate salaries of the inferior servants of the royal household, which they supplemented by extorting fees from visitors. He voted for the offices in reversion bill, 7 Feb., and for the strengthening of the civil list committee, to which he was named, 10 Feb. He defended Wellington’s reputation against Burdett, 22 Feb. Two days later he was in the majority against McMahon’s sinecure, as also in the minority against his Regency appointment, 14 Apr. He voted for sinecure reform on 4 May. He spoke in favour of a monument to Perceval’s memory, 20 May. On 22 June he spoke and voted against Catholic relief in the absence of guarantees for the protestant establishment. He advocated a tax on hothouses and greenhouses instead of on farm horses, 30 June.

Burrell was on the Treasury list of supporters after the election of 1812, in which his brother Walter was chosen for the county. He remained hostile to Catholic relief throughout. He defended the vice-chancellor bill, 22 Feb., and voted for the sinecure reform bill, 29 Mar. 1813. On 27 May, in a speech which he claimed was ill reported he reverted to his criticism of the beggarly wages of the menial royal servants. He was named that day to the civil list committee. He was a critic of the auction duties bill, 2 July. He supported agricultural protection, 6 June 1814; thought reform of antiquated apprentice laws would reduce unemployment, 9 June; was equally prepared to support protection of manufactures, 6 July, and on the same day paid tribute to the Duke of York’s services as commander-in-chief of the army. He rebuked the Lords for their reluctance to do away with offices in reversion, 19 July. He inclined to the case of Charles Palmer* and his fellow officers against their colonel, 18 Nov. 1814. On 25 Apr. 1815 he secured an address to the Regent to pay his household servants better, hinting that he might do so out of the droits of Admiralty. He was in the minority on the civil list, 8 May, and opposed the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment bill throughout, 28 June-3 July. He also urged that an estate, rather than a house, be the gift of the nation to the Duke of Wellington at that time.

Burrell indicated to ministers at a meeting at Castlereagh’s in February 1816 that he could not support the renewal of the property tax.4 On 23 Feb. he justified a petition from Steyning to that effect in the House and on 29 Feb. advised ministers to pledge themselves against renewal. He admitted that some of the petitions were ill-informed, 5 Mar., but voted in the majority against it. He had also been in the minorities against the army estimates and Household troops, 28 Feb. and 11 Mar. He opposed the cheese duties bill as discriminating in favour of one branch of the agricultural interest, 5 Apr. On 25 Apr. and 6 May he voted with opposition for retrenchment, though he opposed Milton’s motion of 13 May alleging the unconstitutional use of the military to protect the House against the mob, and was cheered when he said that he would welcome further protection. On 12, 14 and 20 June he again voted with opposition, acting as teller against the farm horse tax. He voted for Admiralty retrenchment, 25 Feb. 1817. He failed to obstruct Col. Wood’s proposal to amend the Game Laws, 4 Mar., and commented on attempts to reform the Poor Laws, 27 Feb., 7 Mar. He ridiculed a petition from Horsham for parliamentary reform, 7 Mar., because electors there also chose Members for Shoreham and Sussex. He commended his old friend Charles Williams Wynn for the Speaker’s chair, 2 June 1817. He voted for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June, and for its mode of operation on 5 Mar. 1818. He remained a critic of Game Law reform, 9 June 1817, 18 Feb., 6 May, and disliked the conviction of offenders reward bill, 4 May 1818. Although he was at the ministerial meeting to justify the ducal marriage grants in April, he did not vote on the question.

Burrell’s conduct was equally independent in the Parliament of 1818. He voted for the reduction of the Admiralty board, 18 Mar., with opposition on the case of Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar., and against the salt duties, 29 Apr. 1819. He was a spokesman for equalizing coal duties throughout the country, 5 Mar. But he voted with ministers against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May. He was in the minority against the navy estimates, 2 June. That session he drew attention to himself as never before, in a bid to reform the borough of Penryn. Having on 26 Feb. obstructed the issue of a new writ there, he obtained a review of the evidence of corruption hinted at in the report of the election committee, 8 Mar. Next day he obtained leave for a bill to prevent the corruption by extending the franchise. He secured its passage on 22 June, too late in the session for it to proceed, but revived it on 7 Dec. It was eventually postponed until the next Parliament. On 16 Dec. 1819 Burrell dismissed Robert Owen’s plan for the employment of the poor as visionary and was particularly critical of the hopes held out for them in turning to ‘spade husbandry’. In his view, agricultural protection would solve most of their problems.

Burrell was a notable agricultural improver. William Cobbett knew of him as ‘a mild, just and very considerate man, by no means greedy, but the contrary ... a man very much beloved by his tenants or at least deserving it’. He died Father of the House, 4 Jan. 1862.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Fortescue mss, Norfolk to Grenville, 4 Nov. 1806; Fremantle mss, box 46, Buckingham to Fremantle, 16 June [1807].
  • 2. NLI, Richmond mss 61/333, 69/1256.
  • 3. Prince of Wales Corresp. viii. 3091.
  • 4. Grey mss, Ossulston to Grey, Sat. [24 Feb. 1816].
  • 5. Cobbett’s Rural Rides ed. Cole, i. 146-8; Gent. Mag. (1862), i. 368.