BERKELEY, Charles (1599-1668), of Bruton, Som.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Education
b. 14 Dec. 1599,1 1st s. of Sir Maurice Berkeley* of Bruton, and Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Killigrew I* of Hanworth, Mdx., bro. of John†.2 educ. Eton 1613; Queen’s, Oxf. 1615.3 m. 6 Sept. 1627, Penelope (bur. 29 Apr. 1669), da. of Sir William Godolphin* of Godolphin, Cornw., 6s. (2 d.v.p.) 9da. (7 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. 1617;5 kntd. 26 Aug. 1623;6 suc. s. Sir Charles† as 2nd Visct. Fitzhardinge of Berehaven [I] 3 June 1665.7 d. 12 June 1668.8
Dep.-lt. and col. militia horse, Som. 1625-37;9 commr. Forced Loan, Som. 1627,10 swans, Western circ. 1629, sewers, Som. 1629, 1634, 1641, 1660, Bedford level 1662, Lea valley 1663;11 ranger, Cranborne Chase, Dorset 1637-c.45;12 commr. assessment, Som. 1641-2, 1660, 1663-5, Westminster 1661,13 array, Som. 1642;14 j.p. Som. 1643-5, Mdx., Westminster and Som. 1660-d.,15 custos rot. Som. 1660-d.;16 commr. contributions (roy.), Som. 1643, accts. 1644,17 oyer and terminer, Western circ., London and Mdx. 1660-d., the Verge 1662, Som. and Bristol 1664;18 freeman, Portsmouth, Hants 1661;19 commr. loyal and indigent officers, London and Westminster 1662,20 highways and sewers 1662-3,21 gaol delivery, Newgate 1664.22
On his father’s death in 1617, Berkeley was still a minor, and therefore his mother and maternal grandfather purchased his wardship, which cost them £800.27 In March 1621, having recently come of age, he entered Parliament as knight of the shire for Somerset following a by-election caused by the untimely death of Sir Henry Portman; but he left no trace on the surviving records of this or the next two Parliaments.28 In August 1623, while the king was on summer progress, he was knighted at Beaulieu, home of the 3rd earl of Southampton.29 At the next general election, in 1624, he was returned for Bodmin on the recommendation of his uncle Sir Robert Killigrew*; and a year later he was elected for Heytesbury, 17 miles to the north-east of his home. He had presumably by this time already been introduced to (Sir) Thomas Thynne*, the borough’s main patron, with whom he later collaborated in the management of Selwood Forest.30 In October 1625 Berkeley offered ‘most magnificent entertainment’ to Charles I on his journey to Plymouth, and became a gentleman of the privy chamber extrordinary.31
Re-elected for Heytesbury in 1626 and 1628, Berkeley was named to a private bill committee concerning the sale of a Somerset manor (1 Mar. 1626), and to a select committee to draft an arms bill (14 March). On 17 Mar. he was also added to the committee of a bill concerning ecclesiastical courts.32 On 10 Apr. 1628 he was allowed to go home ‘for special occasions’, possibly in connection with a suit brought by Arthur Duck* for his failure to supply a curate for the chapel of Wyke Champflower.33 In the course of the proceedings it was alleged that certain recusants in the area had been shielded by the Berkeleys; there is no reason to suppose that Berkeley himself was anything other than a loyal Anglican, but his brother John was later suspected of Catholicism.
Berkeley was employed in the disafforestation of Selwood, near Bruton, from 1629 onwards.34 He seems to have held a reversion to the lieutenancy of the forest by this time, but he surrendered it for £1,000 in 1636.35 He was sufficiently apt to this kind of work that he was appointed ranger of Cranborne Chase by the 2nd earl of Salisbury (William Cecil*) in the following year.36 Like Sir Robert Phelips* and other leading Somerset gentlemen, Berkeley petitioned against the alleged over-rating of Ship Money.37 He sat in the Short Parliament for Bath, but is not known to have stood again the following November. An active royalist in the civil war, he was taken prisoner at Gloucester in 1642, suffered heavy losses to his estate, and eventually compounded on the Exeter Articles in 1646.38 After the death of his second son, a royal favourite, in 1665, the latter’s title of Viscount Fitzhardinge passed to Berkeley under a special remainder. He himself died of apoplexy on 12 June 1668, and was buried at Bruton.39 In his will, dated 1 Dec. 1666, he left £2,000 each to his two unmarried children, and appointed his wife sole executor.40 The viscountcy passed in turn to two other sons, both of whom sat in the Commons: Maurice represented Wells in 1661 and subsequently sat four times for Bath; and John served for Hindon and then Windsor throughout the 1690s.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. CP, v. 409.
- 2. Vis. Som. ed. Weaver, 6.
- 3. Eton Coll. Reg. comp. W. Sterry, 25; Al. Ox.
- 4. CP, v. 409.
- 5. C142/366/170.
- 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 182.
- 7. CP, v. 408-9.
- 8. Ibid. 409.
- 9. T.G. Barnes, Som. 1625-40, pp. 116, 317.
- 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145.
- 11. C181/4, ff. 2, 21, 172v; 181/5, f. 205; 181/7, pp. 26, 148, 223.
- 12. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 296.
- 13. SR, v. 66, 156, 219, 335, 467, 539.
- 14. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 15. Q.S. Recs. ed. E.H. Bates Harbin (Som. Rec. Soc. xxviii), p. xx; C220/9/4; C193/12/3.
- 16. C 231/7 p. 58.
- 17. Docquets of Letters Patents 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 75, 194.
- 18. C181/7, pp. 8, 67, 68, 141, 298, 435, 444, 508.
- 19. Portsmouth Recs. ed. R. East, 356.
- 20. SR, v. 382.
- 21. C181/7, pp. 143, 198; Tudor and Stuart Procs. ed. Steele, i. 405.
- 22. C181/7, p. 295.
- 23. C115/108/8632.
- 24. HMC Portland, iii. 222; HMC Pepys, 242.
- 25. PC2/54, f. 57; PC2/60, f. 171.
- 26. CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 250; 1667-8, p. 436.
- 27. WARD 9/162, f. 270; Sales of Wards ed. M.J. Hawkins (Som. Rec. Soc. lxvii), 86.
- 28. Som. Manors ed. H.C. Maxwell Lyte (Som. Rec. Soc. extra ser.), 379.
- 29. J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, iii. 903.
- 30. Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxiii. 283.
- 31. C115/108/8632.
- 32. Procs. 1626, ii. 158, 279, 307.
- 33. CD 1628, ii. 397; C78/455/9; Som. Manors (Som. Rec. Soc. extra ser.), 379.
- 34. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 534.
- 35. CSP Dom. 1635-6, p. 175.
- 36. HMC Hatfield, xxii. 296.
- 37. Barnes, pp. 218, 297.
- 38. HMC 4th Rep. 296; HMC 5th Rep. 69, 72; HMC Portland, i. 144; D. Underdown, Som. in Civil War and Interregnum, 44; CCC, 1339.
- 39. CP, v. 409.
- 40. PROB 11/328, f. 3.