PASTON, Charles, Lord Paston (1673-1718), of Oxnead Hall, Norf.

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



16 Jan. 1699 - 1700

Family and Education

b. 29 May 1673, 1st s. of William Paston†, 2nd Earl of Yarmouth, by his 1st w. Charlotte, illegit. da. of Charles II and wid. of James Howard (gds. of Theophilus, 2nd Earl of Suffolk).  educ. Eton 1686–c.1690.  m. lic. 31 Aug. 1711, Elizabeth Pitt, 1da.1

Offices Held

Guidon and eldest maj. 3 Life Gds. 1694–1704; col. of ft. Mar. 1704–Nov. 1710; brig.-gen. Jan. 1710.

Freeman, Southampton, 1693, Thetford 1698; v.-adm. Norf. 1700–d.2


Despite the fact that the Revolution had destroyed his father’s position at court, Paston was pleased with his own prospects when he wrote to his grandmother from Eton in July 1689 to share with her the ‘joyful news’ that he was to go up to Cambridge. Two things remained for him to do: to work hard at his studies and to

behave myself so dutifully towards my masters and so civilly with everybody else that I may leave a good name behind me . . . I am very sensible the world will judge by my behaviour in my young years what I will be when I am a man, so that if there were extraordinary exceptions against my temper and carriage at school that ill character of me would be sufficient to ruin the good fortune I promise to myself either by the marriage your ladyship manages for me or by anything else, for I know my birth and quality will be but a vain thing unless it be adorned with virtue and piety. I confess I have not so seriously reflected upon this as I ought to have done, but I am fully resolved to make a very good use of the time I am to stay here and so to reconcile myself forthwith with God and man that I may carry away with me blessings of heaven and the good wishes of all sober people.

Probably on account of his father’s financial difficulties, Paston neither went up to Cambridge nor contracted the intended marriage: Lord Yarmouth was said to ‘live very obscurely, and yet increase his debts’, which were numerous. Paston did, however, stand for Norfolk in the 1690 election, in all likelihood joining with his father’s former political enemy Sir Henry Hobart, 4th Bt.*, on the Whig interest. He came bottom of the poll, far adrift of Hobart who was also defeated. While Yarmouth continued to refuse the oaths to William and Mary, Paston found his way to court, and in January 1694 ‘kissed the King’s hand in order to his coming into favour’. He may have obtained his entrée through his half-sister, Stuarta Howard, who was in love with Lord Portland. Paston himself remained close to Portland: in August 1696 there was a rumour that he had married Portland’s daughter; and in 1698 he attended the Earl on his embassy to Paris. It may have been Portland who obtained for him his army commission in 1694, and who helped his father at last to return to court in November 1696.3

Paston stood for the county again in 1698, with Hobart, and again received fewest votes, though this time he was not so far behind his partner; and when Sir Joseph Williamson vacated his seat for Thetford Paston was chosen in his place, possibly on Williamson’s recommendation. In July 1700 he quarrelled with Portland over the latter’s remarriage, Paston taking up the cause of Stuarta Howard, who thought herself jilted. He was dissuaded from issuing a challenge by his friend Lord Cutts (John*), though rumours persisted that a duel had been fought and Portland wounded. Soon afterwards Luttrell reported that Paston was to marry Portland’s daughter. At the following election, there being no opportunity at Thetford, Paston once more – and for the last time – came bottom of the poll for the county.4

In April 1705 it was reported in a newsletter that ‘Lord Paston, being arrested by some bailiffs . . . at Arundel Buildings, made his escape when the bailiffs were attacked by a mob, which had emerged after they had broken down a door to reach Paston’. It was also reported later that year, apparently wrongly, that Paston had married a daughter of the 5th Lord Brooke (Fulke Greville†) in 1705. In 1708 Humphrey Prideaux wrote that Lord Yarmouth ‘hath vast debts . . . his goods have been all seized in execution and his lands extended . . . he hath scarce a servant to attend him or a horse to ride abroad upon’. Paston sold his regiment in 1710; he was in receipt of a pension by 1716, and was twice given ex gratia payments from George I’s civil list, to meet ‘his present necessities’. He died v.p. on 15 Dec. 1718 at Gravesend, Kent, where he had lived with his wife Elizabeth Pitt, ‘the daughter of a porter and an applewoman’, by whom he had a daughter.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Eton Coll. Reg. 1441–1698, p. 258; St. Benet (Harl. Soc. Reg. xxxix), 97.
  • 2. Southampton RO, Southampton bor. recs. SC3/1, f. 245; HMC Var. vii. 148.
  • 3. Add. 36988, ff. 264–5; Prideaux Letters (Cam. Soc. n.s. xv), 165; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 256; iv. 98, 233; The Gen. n.s. xviii. 36–37; HMC Hastings, ii. 302–3; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 138.
  • 4. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 158–9, 164; CSP Dom. 1698, pp. 400–1; Correspondentie ed. Japikse, ser. 1, ii. 116–17; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 365; Luttrell, iv. 675.
  • 5. Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 21 Apr. 1705; Yorks. Arch. Soc. (Leeds) Copley mss, box H–J, newsletter 23 June 1705; Prideaux Letters, 200; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxix. 700; xxx. 494; xxxii. 86; R. W. Ketton-Cremer, Norf. Portraits, 55.