LYTTELTON (LITTLETON), Sir Charles (c.1629-1716).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1629, 7th but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Thomas Lyttelton, 1st Bt., of Hagley Hall, Worcs. by Catherine, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Crompton of Driffield, Yorks.; bro. of Sir Henry Lyttelton, 2nd Bt. m. (1) Catherine (d. 26 Jan. 1663), da. of Sir William Fairfax of Steeton, Yorks., wid. of Martin Lister of Thornton, Yorks., 1s. d.v.p.; (2) lic. 23 May 1666, aged 36, Anne, da. and coh. of Thomas Temple of Frankton, Warws., maid of honour to Queen Catherine of Braganza, 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 8da. Kntd. c. Apr. 1662; suc. bro. as 3rd Bt. 24 June 1693.1

Offices Held

Lt. (royalist) 1648; lt.-gov. of Jamaica 1662-4; maj. of ft. Admiralty Regt. 1664-5, lt.-col. 1665-8, col. 1668 (Duke of York’s Ft. 1673-85, Prince George’s Ft. 1685-9), brig. Nov. 1688; gov. Harwich and Landguard Fort 1667-72, 1673-80, Sheerness 1680-90.2

Cup-bearer 1650-?55, May 1660-75; asst. R. Adventurers into Africa 1664-6, 1668; jt. agent for Jamaica 1682-?89.3

Freeman, Harwich 1671, sub-commr. for prizes 1672-4; commr. for assessment, Harwich 1677-9, Surr. 1689, dep. lt. Kent 1682-?89, alderman, Bewdley 1685-1706, j.p. Kent Feb. 1688-9, Worcs. July 1688-9, ?1700-d.4


Too young to fight in the Civil War, Lyttelton first saw service in the siege of Colchester in 1648. He was made cup-bearer to the King in Scotland in 1650, but by 1655 he was back in England and imprisoned in the Gatehouse. Hence he was unable to take part in Penruddock’s rising, but in August 1659 he and his brothers made an unsuccessful attempt on Shrewsbury, after which he attended the King in France. At the Restoration he was given £500, and knighted shortly before sailing for Jamaica as lieutenant-governor. For most of the time he was acting governor, but his brother, wife and infant son all fell victim to the climate, and in 1664 he returned to England and became a professional soldier. He was ‘very industrious in his own person’ in building fortifications at Harwich, and soon came to be regarded by the corporation as a friend at Court. He served aboard the fleet in 1673 and commanded the English forces at Bruges in 1678. At the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament he described himself as ‘trying to creep in at Harwich’; but the Admiralty had other ideas. Lyttelton was transferred to Sheerness early in 1680, and, on the death of Francis Barrell, Sir Francis Clerke was confident that Lyttelton would succeed him as Member for Rochester, but the writ was never issued. As joint agent for Jamaica, he presented a loyal address in 1683.5

Lyttelton was returned for Bewdley, four miles from his brother’s favourite residence at Upper Arley, on the day that the new charter was received in 1685, doubtless unopposed. He was a moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament, serving on seven committees, of which the most important were to recommend erasures in the Journals and to examine the accounts of the disbandment commissioners. He was on garrison duty during Monmouth’s rebellion, but in the autumn he was transferred to Somerset to replace Percy Kirke. On 7 Oct. he described to Lord Hatton (Christopher Hatton).

the violence of our predecessors to the country in all kinds, both as to the persons as well as the goods, such as I have scarce known practised at any time in our former Civil Wars, and which I cannot but believe we shall hear more of when the Parliament meets. ... The country looks, as one passes, already like a shambles.

Nevertheless Lyttelton cannot have opposed the Court in the second session, as he kept his regiment. Early in 1688 he inherited the Sheen estate of Henry Brouncker,

to whom he had no manner of relation but an ancient friendship contracted at the famous siege of Colchester forty years before. It is a pretty place, a fine garden and well-planted, and given to one worthy of them, Sir Charles being an honest gentleman and a soldier. ... He is married to one Mrs Temple (formerly maid of honour to the late Queen), a beautiful lady, and has many fine children, so that none envy him his good fortune.

Lyttelton complied with all the lord lieutenant’s questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, and was approved as court candidate for Bewdley. He served James to the last, even after his eldest son had gone over to William, and his regiment was deemed so hostile to the new regime that it was disbanded in February 1689, Lyttelton declaring himself ‘quite weary of serving any longer, and very willing to resign’. Nevertheless he took the oaths as governor of Sheerness, where he remained till July 1690. He surrendered his commission at the sacrifice of £500-£600 a year on the grounds that his business would not permit the constant attendance required in wartime, but really because (as he said): ‘I began to find myself pressed to sign an address of renouncing my late master, which (however I had sufficiently done in effect) would have been so odious an ingratitude I despised any advantage to oblige me to’. The confession of Lord Preston (Sir Richard Grahme) in the following year implicated Lyttelton, while governor, in correspondence with St. Germains, but no action was taken against him till 1696. He seems to have been soon released, and by the end of the reign he was on the Worcestershire commission of the peace. He died on 2 May 1716 aged 87. His only surviving son sat for the county as a Whig from 1721 to 1734.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Nash, Worcs. i. 493; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 136; CSP Col. 1661-8, pp. 83, 106.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1672-3, p. 263; 1679-80, pp. 128, 380; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxiii), 100, 157.
  • 3. Cal. Cl. SP, ii. 84; CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 4; CSP Col. 1681-5, p. 308.
  • 4. S. Dale, Harwich and Dovercourt , 224; CSP Dom. 1671-2, p. 484; 1682, p. 527; 1685, p. 138; Univ. Birmingham Hist. Jnl. i. 112, 113, 126.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1655, p. 575; 1661-2, p. 178; 1667, p. 16; 1668-9, p. 271; 1678, p. 131; 1679-80, p. 380; 1680-1, p. 68; 1687-9, p. 275; Cal. Cl. SP. iv. 236, 312-13, 350, 389, 396, 460; Williamson Letters (Cam. Soc. n.s. viii), 36; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 171; Luttrell, i. 246.
  • 6. Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxiii), 60, 130, 157, 222, 223; Evelyn Diary, iv. 575-6; Nash, i. 501; HMC Finch, iii. 342.