ALDWORTH, Charles (c.1677-1714), of Frogmore, Berks. and Somerset House, Westminster
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Family and Education
b. c.1677, o. s. of William Aldworth† of Frogmore by his w. Anne. educ. King’s, Camb. 1693; I. Temple 1695, called 1703. unm. suc. fa. 1700.1
Aldworth’s father held several revenue offices during, Charles II’s reign and was recommended by James II’s agents for election to the proposed 1688 Parliament. In 1687 James II granted him a mansion house called Frogmore in New Windsor, and he later purchased the manor of Shaw in Old Windsor on a 99-year lease. In 1694, when James II was in ‘great need’ of money, William Aldworth was approached for funds by a Jacobite agent. Although Charles Aldworth entered the Inner Temple in 1695, in February 1696 he was granted a pass to go to Holland, from whence he went to the exiled court at St. Germain. In his absence his father fell into financial difficulties, partly over money owed him by the crown, but most of all through being defrauded by an attorney, Sir James Tillie, ‘a villain’ who had also cheated Christopher Vane*.2
Aldworth was still in France when his father died in 1700. The Earl of Manchester, English ambassador at Paris, wrote in December that ‘Aldworth, a man of learning, who has been several years at St. Germain (he went there by the name of St. Bernard), is gone for England; he pretends he has leave from the government’. Aldworth had, in fact, been granted a licence to return on 26 Sept., under the Act of December 1697 for preventing correspondence with James II. Once in England Aldworth petitioned the Commons on 21 Mar. 1701 for his Windsor estates to be exempted from the bill to resume crown grants since 1684. In 1702 he obtained an Act of Parliament to enable him to sell part of his father’s estates in Lincolnshire and Kent, as well as in Berkshire, to pay debts then amounting to £1,262 and provide portions of £4,000 and £3,500 for his two sisters.3
A protégé and correspondent of the Duke of Northumberland, Aldworth was part of the social circle of Queen Anne’s favourite, Abigail, wife of Samuel Masham*. Aldworth also took a keen interest in parliamentary affairs, and was originally intended by Northumberland as the successor to William Paul at Windsor in May 1711. Instead, Masham took the seat himself. Aldworth continued to keep Northumberland apprised of parliamentary events, informing him on 18 Dec. 1711 about events in the Lords, while on the 22nd he recorded that the Commons had made a ‘glorious representation’ upon the peace, that the occasional conformity and land tax bills had passed, and that the Lords had made an address to the Queen to instruct her plenipotentiaries not to come to peace terms without consulting the allies. On the ennoblement of Masham later that month, Northumberland suggested that Aldworth replace him. Aldworth replied that
should the case in truth require the help of money to be spent, though I assure your Grace I have different accounts from Windsor, it is by no means what suits my circumstances. I thank God I have wherewithal to maintain me with comfort and some credit in the world, but to engage myself in debt by elections is what I cannot think of. I have too long felt the heaviness of debts and now I am upon the point of coming out of that very grievous condition, it would be thought madness for one upon uncertainties to venture again to that sea of miseries.
However, despite these sentiments he was returned unopposed on Northumberland’s recommendation.4
Aldworth was an active Member in Parliament, attaching himself to the interest of Lord Bolingbroke (Henry St. John II*). On 9 Feb. 1712 Aldworth acted as a teller against receiving a Quaker petition desiring that they be allowed to affirm, while on 30 Mar. he told for a motion that Philip Bertie* was duly elected for Boston. On 12 Apr. he wrote to Northumberland reporting the day’s debate and regretting that the adjournment seemed to mean that ‘the popery bill’ would be ‘quite dropped’. He acted as a teller on 14 May against a Lords’ amendment to the bill to prevent fraudulent conveyances before elections, for permitting Quakers to affirm, while on 3 June he told for the motion that William Cotesworth was not duly elected for Boston. In the 1713 session Aldworth acted as a teller on 9 May against adjourning the debate on the report of the commissioners of accounts. Aldworth was also a prominent supporter of the malt tax bill, and on the 20th he informed Northumberland of the proceedings in the House on this bill:
a motion was made for tacking the place bill to the malt bill. I thought it necessary to give my reasons as well as vote against it, and we carried it upon a division 160 to 111 and I am told by my friends that what I said was not altogether without weight . . . This day we recommitted a part of the report from the committee to whom the malt bill was committed, laying 8d. per bushel on malt in North Britain, upon a division 125 to 100. The Whigs to a man except Mr Smith were for recommitting.
On 11 June he presented a bill to make two prize ships free, and told for the bill’s second reading, while on the 12th he intervened in the debate on the commercial treaty with France to contradict the assertion by Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Bt.*, that the opposition were attacking the treaty because they knew its success would spell their downfall. According to the Hanoverian envoy, Aldworth declared:
qu’il croyoit plutôt que la faction étoit croissante et, que si on n’employoit pas des remèdes bientôt d’une manière efficace elle seroit fort dangereuse, qu’on voyoit que la faction n’estoit pas encore ruinée, puis qu’elle avoit été capable de séduire tant de gens et produire tant de petitions contre le traité le plus avantageux qu’on eut jamais vu.
On the 16th he told against a motion for a second reading of the bill for continuing the Acts for the use of the Quaker affirmation, and on the 18th voted for the French commerce bill. In July he told in favour of reading a committee report on the bill for regulation of the land forces. Returned for New Windsor in a contested election in 1713, Aldworth acted as a teller on 5 Mar. 1714 in favour of hearing the Caernarvon Boroughs election case at the bar. In April he told against a resolution to confine the right of election at Brackley to the corporation and resident burgesses (20th), and against a motion that Sir John Anstruther, 1st Bt.*, had been duly elected for Anstruther Easter Burghs (29th). Aldworth spoke in the debate on 12 May in favour of the schism bill, and was appointed to the drafting committee. The following month he acted as a teller on 24 June against an amendment to the Earl of Ranelagh’s (Richard Jones*) estate bill, and on the 29th against a motion to recommit the resolution that Hon. Benedict Leonard Calvert* had been duly elected for Harwich. Boyer recorded that on 13 Aug. Aldworth supported Horatio Walpole II’s motion that the committee on the bill for support of the King’s Household be instructed to include a clause for payment of the arrears owing to the Hanoverian troops. Aldworth was said to have stated on that occasion that
for his part he had formerly been against that payment, because he had been given to understand in that very House, that the troops were deserters: but that he had since been informed that they were hired to fight, and had served well as long as there was fighting: and if, when they came in sight of the enemy, they who had hired them, would not suffer them to fight, he did not see the reason why they should be called deserters.
He was classed as a Tory in the Worsley list.5
Aldworth intended on standing for re-election to the 1715 Parliament, writing to the corporation of Windsor on 8 Sept.:
I had long resolved not to serve any more in Parliament, a trouble and attendance I could hardly discharge as I ought, making a conscience of my duty, without neglecting too much my private affairs, which I am certain my true friends would not desire. It is with great pleasure I hear of the good inclinations of the town, shown in their dutiful address and hope Windsor will ever be represented by true Churchmen, faithful asserters of the constitution and dutiful subjects to the King.
However Aldworth was not to live long enough to contest the election. His death appears to have been due to his being ‘a young rash gentleman’ who had been ‘so indiscreet as publicly to drink the Pretender’s health, which drew upon him several unlucky quarrels’. On 21 Sept. Aldworth met at St. James’s a Colonel Chudleigh of the foot guards, whom Aldworth had previously berated for drinking the health of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†). Some bystanders expressed ‘their wonder that a man who had publicly drunk the Pretender’s health’ should appear at the King’s palace, which provoked a quarrel and a duel with Chudleigh, in which Aldworth was killed. Another report stated that Aldworth ‘was insulted’ by Chudleigh, who accused him of being a Jacobite, and that Aldworth’s death in the duel was ‘no great wonder, for he had such a weakness in both his arms that he could not stretch them, and this from being a child, and is supposed not to be a secret to’ Chudleigh. Aldworth was buried at St. George’s chapel, Windsor, on 28 Sept. His executor was his friend Sir Constantine Phipps, late lord chancellor of Ireland. With the deaths of Aldworth’s two surviving sisters, both unmarried, the line died out.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iv. 173–4; ser. 3, v. 111–14.
- 2. PRO 30/50/12, 15–17, 20, 29; Berks. RO, Braybrooke mss D/EN/E10; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, i. 500; CSP Dom. 1696, p. 34; 1699–1700, p. 87.
- 3. Regs. St. George’s Chapel, Windsor ed. Poyser, 210; 7th Duke of Manchester, Court and Soc. Eliz. to Anne, ii. 122; Cole, Mems. 265; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 123; HMC Lords, n.s. v. 208; Braybrooke mss D/EN/E10, L5.
- 4. Braybrooke mss D/EN/F23/2, Aldworth to [Northumberland], 18, 22 Dec. 1711; W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 60.
- 5. G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 93, 255, 280; Braybrooke mss D/EN/F23/2, Aldworth to [Northumberland], 20 May 1713; NSA, Kreienberg’s despatch 12 June 1713; Boyer, Pol. State, v. 388; vii. 461; viii. 155–6; Chandler, v. 41; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 122, 130, 137.
- 6. Braybrooke mss D/EN/F23/2, Aldworth to William Bigg, 8 Sept. 1714; Boyer, 262–3; Add. 22220, f. 126; Reg. St. George’s Chapel, 213, 222, 226.