HANCOCK, Charles (1643-1717), of Church End, Twyning, nr. Tewkesbury, Glos., and Plaistow, Essex

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1698 - 1700

Family and Education

b. 13 Mar. 1643, 2nd s. of William Hancock of Norton, Bredon, Worcs., sheriff, Worcs. 1665, being o. s. by his 2nd w. Catherine Mayle of Tewkesbury.  educ. M. Temple 1661, called 1668.  m. 1668, Judith (d. 1728), da. and coh. of Richard Baugh of Twyning, s.p.1

Offices Held

Mayor, Tewkesbury July–Oct. 1686, alderman and common councilman July 1686–7.2


Hancock’s family had been settled at Twyning since the late 16th century. As a younger son from his father’s second marriage, Hancock was put to the law and qualified as a barrister. His marriage in 1668 inaugurated a longstanding personal feud between himself and his elder brother’s in-laws, the Dowdeswells of nearby Bushley in Worcestershire, which was not without political overtones. Richard Dowdeswell†, who drew up Hancock’s marriage settlement, had blackmailed him into accepting a bond making him liable to pay £3,000 to his daughter’s children by Hancock’s older brother should he himself die without issue, and had led Hancock into believing that this punitive arrangement had received his father’s blessing, but had sworn him never to mention it to his father. Two years later Hancock did finally confide the whole matter to his father, who denied all knowledge and ‘expressed very great anger and indignation against Mr Dowdeswell and abhorred the injustice of it’. Nothing more was done, although Hancock’s bitterness remained, and many years later he recounted the affair in his will in the hope of preventing any attempt to execute the bond against his wife, who had borne him no surviving issue.3

The strained relationship between the two families was not helped by their differing party-political allegiances. The Dowdeswells were Whigs, while Hancock was a staunch Tory. He was appointed a deputy-lieutenant in Gloucestershire in June 1685 and the following year was nominated mayor under Tewkesbury’s remodelled charter. In 1687–8 he gave negative answers to King James’s ‘three questions’ and was removed from the corporation. In standing for Tewkesbury in 1698 he probably represented the local Tory interest and may have had backing from the Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset†). Returned without opposition alongside his Whig kinsman Richard Dowdeswell*, he was soon afterwards listed as a supporter of the Country party and noted as a likely opponent of a standing army. He was instrumental in the initiation of a bill on 17 Dec. for the better preservation of game, guiding its passage through the House until it became bogged down in committee in February 1699. In April he reported from three separate committees which had examined complaints of arrears of pay due to the troops of several regiments, and in the next session, on 15 Jan. 1700, he and another lawyer, William Thursby, moved for a bill for establishing a special court to determine arrears and other complaints against army officers. In the election of January 1701 he was active in support of the Tory campaign for Gloucestershire, but was himself defeated at Tewkesbury when another Whig joined forces with Dowdeswell. After this setback he made no further attempts to get into Parliament. He died on 29 Mar. 1717 and was buried at Twyning.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Vis. Worcs. ed. Metcalfe, 53; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxix. 260–1; Bigland’s Colls. (Glos. Rec. Ser. v), 1359; PCC 137 Whitfield.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1686–7, p. 41; J. Bennett, Tewkesbury, 383.
  • 3. PCC 137 Whitfield.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 189; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 242; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, 503.1.2, Hancock to Beaufort, 1 Jan. 1700[–1]; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. 260–1.