COLE, Sir Christopher (1770-1836), of Penrice Castle, Glam.
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Family and Education
b. 10 June 1770, 6th s. of Humphrey Cole, gent., of Marazion, Cornw. by Phillis, da. of Francis Maugham. m. 28 Apr. 1815, Lady Mary Lucy Fox Strangways, da. of Henry Thomas, 2nd Earl of Ilchester, wid. of Thomas Mansel Talbot (d.1813) of Margam and Penrice, Glam., s.p. Kntd. 29 May 1812; KCB 2 Jan. 1815.
Midshipman RN 1780, lt. 1793, cdr. 1800, capt. 1802; commanded yacht Royal Sovereign 1828; col. marines 1830-d.
Captain Cole, ‘pleasant, with unaffected and naval manners’, served with distinction in every theatre of the war against France, but particularly in the Far East; his conquest of the Banda isles from the Dutch in August 1810 was praised in the House by Perceval as ‘an exploit to be classed with the boldest darings in the days of chivalry’.1 He gave up active service in 1814, duly honoured, and married his old flame, now the widow of Thomas Mansel Talbot of Margam, who had a considerable interest in Glamorgan. The estate was in trust for its young heir, Christopher Talbot, and this was the direct cause of Cole’s entry into Parliament.2 On the death of the county Member Benjamin Hall in 1817, there was no obvious contender to succeed him, and the leading interests, frightened by the appearance of the opportunist John Edwards, appealed to Cole to save the day for respectability. ‘The conqueror of Banda’, as he was styled, obliged and was returned unopposed. At the ensuing election, however, his supporters were divided and, rather than fight the wealthy Edwards, he withdrew. His friends raised a fund to enable him to fight Edwards in 1820, when he was successful. In 1830 he made way for his stepson Christopher Talbot, as his critics had always predicted he would.
Cole made no mark in Parliament in 1817-18; his only known votes were against a motion critical of government’s employment of informers, 5 Mar. 1818, against Sumner’s amendment critical of the additional grant to the Duke of Clarence, 15 Apr. (Cole’s brother was the duke’s domestic chaplain), and, on the other hand, in favour of Tierney’s motion on the resumption of cash payments by the Bank, 1 May. At his first election he had said ‘I am not rich, but I am rich enough to be independent; and it is my chief pride, that whatever I do possess has never cost a poor man a tear, nor my country a farthing’.3 He did not speak in the House before 1820. Cole died 24 Aug. 1836.