NORTON, Hon. Charles Francis (1807-1835), of Wonersh, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 4 Feb. 1807, 3rd s. of Hon. Fletcher Norton† (d. 1820), bar. of exch. [S], and Caroline Elizabeth, da. of James Balmain, commr. of excise; bro. of Hon. George Chapple Norton*. m. 29 Dec. 1831, Maria Louisa, da. of Maj.-Gen. Sir Colin Campbell, lt.-gov. of Portsmouth, 1s. 1da. d. 20 Oct. 1835.

Offices Held

Ensign 52 ft. 1826, lt. 1827, capt. 1831.

Biography

No details of Norton’s education have been found, but his upbringing would have been in Edinburgh, where his father’s legal appointment had taken him. Every Sunday Fletcher Norton, a devout Anglican, treated his family to ‘a sermon selected from the works of the best of the English and Scotch divines’.1 At the age of 13 Norton received a one-seventh share of the residue (valued at £7,438) of his father’s estate, and he subsequently joined the army; his regiment was stationed in Nova Scotia during the period of his service.2 At the general election of 1831 he offered for Guildford, where his eldest brother, who had succeeded an uncle as 3rd Baron Grantley, possessed an interest. Whereas his brother was strongly opposed to the Grey ministry’s reform bill, Norton campaigned as a supporter of the measure and was returned with another reformer after a four-cornered contest.3

He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and steadily for its details, except the inclusion of Guildford in schedule B, which he opposed by vote and in his only recorded speech, 29 July 1831. He argued that the town’s population was ‘respectable and increasing’ and supported its petition to retain two Members by expanding the boundary, the case for which he regarded as unanswerable. He voted for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He was in the minority for O’Connell’s motion to swear in the 11 members of the Dublin election committee, 29 July, but voted with ministers to prosecute only those found guilty of bribery, 23 Aug. On 5 Nov. he was granted the precedence afforded to the younger sons of peers by letter patent. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill (by which Guildford kept both its Members), 17 Dec. 1831, steadily for its details and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted for the address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May, and against the Conservative amendment for increased Scottish county representation, 1 June. He voted against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., was absent from the division on this issue 12 July, but voted with ministers, 16 July. He divided with them on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. 1832. He stood again for Guildford at the general election later that year, but was defeated by one of his Conservative rivals from the previous contest.

Norton resumed an active military career, the prospects for which had not been harmed by his marriage in 1831 to the daughter of Sir Colin Campbell, then lieutenant-governor of Portsmouth, his regimental depot. His wife, according to Benjamin Disraeli†, was ‘more beautiful even than the three [Sheridan] sisters’, one of whom, Caroline, had married his brother George. In the conflict attendant on Caroline’s unhappy union it appears that Charles Norton, along among his family, ‘brought his influence to bear always on the side of conciliation and peace’.4 He became assistant military secretary to his father-in-law, following the latter’s appointment as governor of Nova Scotia, and it was there that he died suddenly in October 1835, ‘in consequence of drinking cold water, whilst over-heated in the pursuit of moose deer’. Administration of his estate was granted to his widow, and the personalty was finally sworn under a paltry £450.5 His son, Charles Grantley Campbell Norton (1835-1921), also pursued an army career.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Howard Spencer

Notes