PAGET, Hon. Sir Charles (1778-1839), of Fair Oak, Rogate, Suss.

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

Constituency

Dates

12 June 1804 - 1806
1831 - 6 Mar. 1833
23 May 1833 - 1834

Family and Education

b. 7 Oct. 1778, 5th s. of Henry, 1st earl of Uxbridge (d. 1812), and Jane Champagné; bro. of Hon. Arthur Paget†, Hon. Berkeley Thomas Paget*, Hon. Edward Paget†, Henry William, Lord Paget† and Hon. William Paget†. educ. ?Portsmouth naval acad. to 1790. m. 7 Mar. 1805, Elizabeth Araminta, da. and coh. of Henry Monck of Foure, co. Westmeath, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da. (1 d.v.p.). KCH 19 Oct. 1819; kntd. 3 Dec. 1822; GCH 3 Mar. 1823. d. 29 Jan. 1839.

Offices Held

Entered RN 1790, midshipman 1793, lt. 1797, cdr. 1797, capt. 1797, r.-adm. 1823, v.-adm. 1837; capt. royal yacht 1819-21; c.-in-c. Cork 1828-31, N. America 1837-d.

Groom of bedchamber 1822-37.

Biography

Paget had used his prize money as a naval captain to purchase his Sussex estate and raise a family, and had attended the regent as captain since 1819 of the royal yacht.1 His sense of loyalty to his brothers was strong, and to safeguard their political influence he combined his career as a sailor and courtier with parliamentary duties, travelling to London by ‘regulator’ coach when required and staying at Uxbridge House. In 1820 he was again returned on his brother the marquess of Anglesey’s interest for Caernarvon Boroughs, where he was well liked despite his periodic absences from the House and silent pro-government votes.2

Paget was required on the Royal George, which he brought successfully through severe gales off Dungeness in September 1820, and had little time for parliamentary concerns that session.3 He voted in defence of the Liverpool government’s conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb., and against repealing the additional malt duty, 3 Apr. 1821. A captain of the royal yacht, he played a prominent part in the ceremonies which marked George IV’s sojourn at Anglesey’s mansion, Plas Newydd, on his way to Ireland in August 1821; and he was with the king when news arrived of the queen’s death.4 Relinquishing the command of the Royal George, 27 Dec., he took charge at Portsmouth of his own yacht, Apollo, and was substituted for his brother Edward as a groom of the bedchamber, 30 Jan. 1822. He encountered no opposition at the ensuing by-election, voted as ministers directed, and was said ‘always to have kept himself above the level of a good deal of the Court society and to have been always respected’ as a placeman.5 Commanding the Royal George again that autumn, he encountered a hurricane off Land’s End, of which the king wrote, ‘nothing, I believe, but the undaunted presence of mind, perseverance, experience and courage of Paget preserved us from a watery grave’.6 He was accordingly knighted in December 1822, and promoted rear admiral of the blue, 9 Apr. 1823. He presented the Caernarvon licensed victuallers’ petition against excise licenses, 1 Apr. 1824.7 He had to cancel a dinner engagement with Anglesey and the home secretary Peel the following month because his customary place on the regulator had not been booked.8 Paget (as previously, 23 Mar. 1821, according to Henry Grey Bennet*) divided for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and presented his constituents petitions against it, 18 Apr. 1825.9 A radical publication of that session noted that he ‘attended occasionally and voted with ministers’.10 Never one to delight in his parliamentary duties, in March 1825 he had written to his brother Arthur:

Damn the ... Commons and H. Brougham more especially, whose twitching cursed ugly mug I could with pleasure have basted when after a second night’s debate he chose in the face of almost all his own party to move an adjournment. I only hope the three hours speech he is going to favour the House with will be over before I reach it, which to secure shall first go to see the fool in Belles Stratagem. So, you see my dear fellow, about half my time is on the box of the regulator. I came down yesterday and go up again tomorrow, but I have not quite settled whether I shall return home and go up again, or stay for the oath on Friday.11

Anticipating a dissolution in September 1825, and with his household office worth £1,200 a year secure, he authorized the use of a draft resignation address attributing his decision to differences with his constituents on the Catholic question.12 A local campaign to oust their ally, the pro-Catholic Member for Caernarvonshire Sir Robert Williams, was under way, and Anglesey, aggrieved, wrote to his second son Lord William Paget*, 18 Sept. 1825:

At the most ticklish moment, when a false movement might produce a contest, if not endanger the representation of the borough of Caernarvon, my brother Charles chooses to withdraw himself. This I consider very selfish, and very ill timed, and very unkind, inasmuch as it [faces] me with the risk of an immense expense merely to save himself the occasional journey to Caernarvon, where I generally take him, and a few trips from Fair Oak Lodge to London by regulator coach.13

By the dissolution in May 1826, arrangements were in place to bring William in for Caernarvon Boroughs and Sir Charles, who had recently suffered a ‘violent palpitation of the heart’, authorized the use of a resignation address similar to that of the previous autumn, and concentrated on his duties at court.14

Shortly after the death in November 1827 of his third son Horatio, a midshipman on the Talbot, which saw action at Navarino, Paget was appointed commander-in-chief at Cork, liaising with Anglesey as the Wellington ministry’s Irish lord lieutenant.15 The duke of Clarence, as lord high admiral, demanded that Paget should replace Sir George Cockburn*, with whom he had quarrelled, as a member of his council in July 1828 and ‘if possible, be returned to Parliament before the session is concluded’, but Wellington rejected the proposal.16 Paget gave strong personal support to Anglesey following his dismissal from Ireland for adopting policies which Wellington considered too independent and conciliatory, and officiated at his leave-taking, 22 Jan. 1829; but he retained his command at Cork, whence he welcomed the passage of Catholic emancipation and congratulated Anglesey on his speeches in the Lords.17 In May 1829 he publicly defended Anglesey’s daughter Lady Agnes Byng against the slanderous attacks of James Smith Barry, for which the Protestant extremist Gerard Callaghan* was ultimately held responsible.18 Before the dissolution in 1830 Anglesey asked Paget to stand again for Caernarvon, where the debt-ridden William had proved highly unpopular. He initially agreed and a canvass of the leading gentry showed that his personal standing remained high, giving him a fair prospect of success against the Ultra William Ormsby Gore*.19 However, fears that Thomas Assheton Smith II* of Vaenol would capitalize on his absence in Ireland and Portsmouth, where he had to attend a court martial, and news of gentry defections (4 July) induced him to request Anglesey’s permission ‘to withdraw from Caernarvon and abstain from coming into Parliament’, which was granted, 7 July.20 He had explained that he needed his household salary and could not be expected to vote against his brother Berkeley or the king, nor could he support ‘Wellington and his present cabinet, after, not only their outrageous treatment of you, but their utter incompetence to conduct the affairs of the nation’.21 Hopes of using the election machinery already in place to return another candidate proved illusory and to counteract the ‘considerable dissatisfaction’ caused by his retirement and Ormsby Gore’s unopposed return, Paget wrote personally to his leading supporters ‘with something like an explanation accompanied by an expression of thanks’.22

Early in 1831 Paget tried to further his errant nephew William’s naval career (he secured him the commands of the Pearl, Winchester and North Star) and to heal the breach between him and his father.23 Anglesey had returned to Dublin as the Grey ministry’s Irish viceroy, and Paget briefed him on the role the navy might play in containing an Irish rebellion.24 His political and household obligations were no longer in conflict and at the dissolution following the ministerial reform bill’s defeat Anglesey wanted him for both county Louth, where his candidature had been requested in 1829, and Caernarvon Boroughs.25 Without him the Pagets stood little chance of regaining the latter, for which he announced his candidature from the Semiramis in Cork harbour, 24 Apr.26 He carried Caernarvon ‘gallantly’, but the contest against Ormsby Gore proved costly and difficult.27 Paget’s call for parliamentary reform, lower taxes, and the ‘king and constitution’ had popular appeal, but he had lost gentry support, and suffered by arriving late because of his naval duties.28 Learning during the campaign that Anglesey’s eldest son Lord Uxbridge* was likely to be made a peer, so vacating the Anglesey seat to which Sir Richard Bulkeley Williams Bulkeley* aspired, he wrote in confidence to the marquess:

If Sir Richard Bulkeley Williams ... feels a disposition to come forward for the county, there can be no doubt that with your support he would carry it, and my conviction is, that you would, looking both to the present and the future, do well to give him your interest, provided he will engage to return any friend or relative of yours for Beaumaris. If that arrangement is made, and I am beat at Caernarvon, I would not object to come in for Beaumaris; but on the other hand, if you will not let go the county I must at once candidly and honestly tell you that no inducement could engage me to come forward. The various things which are required of me even as a Member for a borough are only undertaken by me on the present occasion to meet your anxious wish that I would do so. But I too well know what will be required of me as the representative of this county (in which I am a stranger, and very unpopular on account of my steady support of the Catholic question) to offer myself, and this very day Holland Griffith has denied me his support, giving the above reasons for his doing so, the conceding of which question he conceived has been the primary cause of this fatal reform bill being brought forward.29

Paget secured a narrow victory at the poll,30 and presented a pro-reform petition from Bangor, a contributory designate of Caernarvon, 25 June. He divided for the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, and regularly until early August for its details. He paired to unite Rochester, Chatham and Strood, 9 Aug., and against giving borough electors county votes, 17 Aug. He divided for the bill’s third reading, 19 Sept., and passage, 21 Sept. He had recently consulted Anglesey’s son-in-law the duke of Richmond, the postmaster-general, about a petition from the Petersfield area against ‘changing the line of the Portsmouth mail’.31 A medical certificate supported his successful application for a month’s leave because of illness, 23 Sept., but he went to the House to divide for Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831. He voted for the revised reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, steadily for its details, and for its third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He was on board the Emerald cruising at the mouth of the Shannon early in May;32 but he returned to vote for the address requesting the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May. Alarmed at the prospect of Wellington returning to office and a dissolution, he wrote to Anglesey, 11 May, of his

repugnance to again coming in to Parliament and to entreat you to absolve me from doing so. I could not support the duke’s ... government and I cannot afford to lose my groomship of the bedchamber, which of course I should have to resign if I did not vote for the new government.33

When the crisis passed, he paired for the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, and against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish measure, 1 June. He divided with government on Portugal, 9 Feb. and military punishments, 16 Feb., and paired with them on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12, 16 July 1832.

Paget failed to attend Caernarvon’s reform celebrations after the bill was enacted.34 Realizing that Caernarvon would be hard to hold, the Plas Newydd agents asked him to lobby the chancellor of the exchequer for lower duties on coal, metal ores and slate, 30 June 1832.35 Claiming to be ‘ignorant of and inefficient in all matters concerning the interests of the place and above all a perfect noodle if there is any matter to be brought forward in the House connected with the trade and general interests of the Principality’,36 he asked Richmond, who was in London, to deal with Caernarvon business.37 Anticipating that his opponents at a forthcoming dinner to Ormsby Gore would draw unfavourable comparisons between the ‘placeman’ and the ‘local’ Member, he issued a letter in July claiming:

Though I may not possess the power of advocating the interests of my constituents by my set speeches in the House ... I shall, nevertheless, so long as I have the honour of being their representative, prefer voting in support of their local interests to any other consideration whatever’.38

He consistently rejected proposals to bring his sons into Parliament, fearing that it would disrupt their careers, but remained party to family discussions on post-reform representation, campaigned against Wellington’s son Lord Douro* in Hampshire, and reluctantly agreed to stand for Caernarvon Boroughs at the 1832 general election.39 His non-residence and delayed and perfunctory personal canvass augured against his return, and only a direct approach from Anglesey in Dublin, following Plas Newydd’s surprise victory at Caernarvon’s bailiwick elections, prevented him from standing down.40 His opponents tried to dissuade Nonconformists from being ‘bribed’ to support him because he opposed colonial slavery and had allegedly voted to abolish Irish tithes, and claimed that a vote he had reputedly cast for the Irish education bill was one ‘to expel the Bible from Ireland ... in utter defiance of the principles and feeling of his Protestant constituents’. His victory (later upheld on petition) was described by The Times as a triumph against ‘a combination of pseudo-aristocrats and ultra-radicals’.41

Paget stood down at the dissolution in 1834 and retired from the household in 1837 to command the fleet in North American and West Indian waters. He accompanied Lord Durham to Canada in 1838 and died of yellow fever at sea off Jamaica in January 1839. He was buried in Bermuda.42 His will, dated 20 June 1836, was proved under £25,000. In it he asked his executors (his brothers Berkeley and Edward, and friend John Frederick Fitzgerald, formerly de Roos) to repay his debts and become guardians of his children, and entrusted the Fair Oak estate with its stock and household contents to his widow (d. 1843) for life.43

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott

Notes

  • 1. Oxford DNB.
  • 2. UCNW, Plas Newydd mss i. 202, 203; N. Wales Gazette, 9, 16 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. Rev. E.C. Paget, Mem. Hon. Sir C. Paget (1913 edn.), 84.
  • 4. N. Wales Gazette, 9, 16, 23 Aug. 1821.
  • 5. Paget, 85; Plas Newydd mss i. 204-8; Caernarvon Advertiser, 9, 16, Feb. 1822.
  • 6. Paget, 82, 91.
  • 7. The Times, 2 Apr. 1824.
  • 8. Add. 40365, f. 94.
  • 9. HLRO, Hist. Coll. 379, Grey Bennet diary, 44; The Times, 19 Apr. 1825.
  • 10. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 479.
  • 11. Add. 48405B, f. 123.
  • 12. G.I.T. Machin, 'Catholic Emancipation as an Issue in North Welsh Politics, 1825-1829', Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymmrodorion (1962), 85-86; Paget, 86.
  • 13. Plas Newydd mss i. 215 (copy).
  • 14. Ibid. i. 221-6, 317, 318; Ll. Jones, 'Sir Charles Paget and the Caern. Boroughs, 1830-32', Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. xxi (1960), 86-87; Paget Brothers ed. Lord Hylton, 312; Add. 48405B, f. 127.
  • 15. Paget, 88, 92.
  • 16. Wellington mss WP1/941/11, 14; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 197.
  • 17. PRO NI, Anglesey mss D619/32/A/3/8, 61; Dublin Evening Post, 13, 17, 22 Jan. 1829.
  • 18. Anglesey mss 32/A/3/126; Dublin Evening Post, 7 May 1829; Mq. of Anglesey, One Leg, 222-3.
  • 19. Plas Newydd mss i. 376, 379, 386, 388-91, 393, 394, 397, 402-5, 407, 409, 411, 422, 425, 426, 430, 432, 488, 494.
  • 20. Ibid. i. 394, 395, 398, 410, 433, 439, 443, 444.
  • 21. Ibid. i. 466.
  • 22. Add. 38758, f. 198; 51568, Anglesey to Holland, 17 July; Plas Newydd mss i. 441, 446, 474, 476, 478, 480, 486, 488, 449, 494, ii. 218; Chester Courant, 20 July, 10 Aug. 1830.
  • 23. Sir James Graham mss (IHR microfilm XR 80), 1 bdle. 4, Graham to Smith Stanley, 6 Jan. 1831; Lord William Paget mss (held privately at Plas Newydd) 7M/644G/3/124, 130, 153, 154 (1 and 2), 156 (1 and 2).
  • 24. Anglesey mss 32G, p. 14.
  • 25. Ibid. 32/A/3/1/214, 218, 219; Plas Newydd mss i. 565.
  • 26. Plas Newydd mss i. 567, 568; Caern. Herald, 30 Apr. 1831.
  • 27. Add. 51568, Anglesey to Holland, 3 May; Anglesey mss 27B/15, 18; Caern. Herald, 7, 14 May; Seren Gomer (1831), 191; Jones, Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. xxi. 91-94.
  • 28. Plas Newydd mss i. 572, 578, 583, 585, 591-3, 595, 635; vii. 289.
  • 29. Ll. Jones, 'Edition of Corresp. of 1st mq. of Anglesey relating to General Elections of 1830, 1831 and 1832 in Caern. and Anglesey' (Univ. of Liverpool M.A. thesis, 1956), 507.
  • 30. Chester Chron. 20 May 1821.
  • 31. W. Suss RO, Goodwood mss 1520, ff. 132, 149; 1450, f. 127.
  • 32. Ibid. 648, f. 85; Paget, 88.
  • 33. Ibid. 1435, f. 138; Jones, thesis, 515.
  • 34. Plas Newydd mss iii. 3673.
  • 35. Ibid. i. 618; iii. 3585, 3659-61, 3666, 3667; Jones, Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. xxi. 92-95.
  • 36. Plas Newydd mss iii. 3539.
  • 37. Goodwood mss 1459, f. 504; 1521, f. 206.
  • 38. Caernarvon Herald, 14 July 1832; Plas Newydd mss iii. 3588.
  • 39. Plas Newydd mss i. 73; iii. 3589, 3592, 3593, 3596, 3675; vii. 307; Goodwood mss 1436, ff. 362, 370, 371; 1460, f. 123.
  • 40. Plas Newydd mss ii. 366; iii. 3576, 3578, 3580, 3606, 3610, 3612, 3620, 3623, 3568-70, 3625, 3629, 3633, 3705, 3736.
  • 41. N. Wales Chron. 18, 25 Sept.; The Times, 19 Oct., 15 Dec. 1832, 5 Jan. 1833; Jones, Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. xxi. 97-98; T.M. Bassett, 'Y Bedyddwyr yng Ngwleidyddiaeth Sir Caernarfon, 1832-1868', Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. (1981), 129-34; Plas Newydd mss vii. 309-22.
  • 42. Gent. Mag. (1839), i. 657; Paget, 103.
  • 43. PROB 8/232; 11/1915/525.

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