RALEIGH, Sir Charles (1651-98), of Rectory House, Downton, Wilts.

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



1685 - 1687
1689 - c. May 1698

Family and Education

bap. 23 Sept. 1651, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Gilbert Raleigh† of Rectory House, Downton by Elizabeth, da. of James Goddard of South Marston, Wilts.  educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. 1669.  m. 8 Oct. 1672, Frances (d. 1723), da. of Robert Ernle, servant of Queen Catherine of Braganza, of Whitehall, Westminster and Chalbury, Dorset, 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 3da.  suc. fa. 1675; kntd. 1 Aug. 1681.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Salisbury 1680–4, Oct. 1688–?d.2

Sub-commr. prizes, Portsmouth 1689–?d.3


Raleigh was a Dissenting sympathizer who twice sat for his family’s safe seat at Downton in James II’s reign, and the success of the Revolution and his own preferment thereafter confirmed him as a Court Whig. Returned unopposed for Downton on his own interest in 1690, he was listed as a Whig by the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). He appeared as a Court supporter in Robert Harley’s* list of April 1691, and was included in no less than five lists of placemen in the following two years by virtue of his sub-commissionership of prizes. As none of these lists refers to a household office, it is unlikely that he was the Charles Raleigh who served as a gentleman of the privy chamber. In his first recorded speech in this Parliament, on 21 Jan. 1692, he seconded a motion from Sir John Guise, 2nd Bt., to adjourn the report of the conference over the Lords’ amendments to the treason trials bill. He spoke again on 10 Nov., seconding a proposal to print Dr Manningham’s sermon to the House. In this session he was appointed to drafting committees to prepare bills extending the life of the patent for convex lights (18 Nov.), and punishing mutiny and desertion (16 Dec.). He acted as a teller on 15 Feb. 1693 in favour of an additional clause to the bill to prevent the decay of trade, which would exempt packers and itinerant wool traders from the legislation. Grascome classified him as a placeman and a member of the Court party, and even though his request in August 1693 for a vacant commissionership of prizes was, like earlier requests for promotion, ignored, he remained loyal to the government. In stating his claims he had said, ‘I am sure there has been none more ready to serve their Majesties than myself, as far as lending money and giving my vote for it in the House’, and in 1694 he made at least one further loan. In the penultimate session of the 1690 Parliament, during which he figured on another list of government supporters, he entered a complaint of breach of privilege after an incident arising from a local dispute over his ownership of a mill (29 Jan. 1694), and on the following 9 Feb. he was a teller against a motion to revive all committees. Three days later, however, he was granted a fortnight’s leave, ‘his lady being very ill’. In the last session he was named to draft a prisons bill (4 Dec. 1694). On 16 Apr. he was again forced to claim a breach of privilege in the dispute over his mill.4

Returned with (Sir) Charles Duncombe in 1695, unopposed but not without effort, he was forecast as likely to support the Court in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, and signed the Association. Despite a view expressed in February 1696 by ‘some in town’ that he ‘is never like to come up [for] another sitting’ he was listed as having voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. In the following session, he was named to the committee to draft a poor relief bill (31 Oct. 1696), and on 25 Nov. voted in favour of the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. He was given leave of absence on 16 Feb. 1697 for an indefinite period to recover his health.5

Although as late as February 1698 it was apparently his intention to stand for re-election he did not in fact live to see the dissolution. On 9 Mar. he was given leave again and the Post Man reported on 5 May that he ‘died some days ago, in the coach, as he was going down into the country’. He had written his will only days before, on 28 Apr., leaving the rents of his freehold properties to his mother and £10 to Thomas Hoby*, who was named as guardian to his three daughters. An inventory taken very shortly afterwards revealed assets of some £4,600, including £2,000 in Bank stock (at least £800 of which was owed to Thomas Erle*) and £1,000 in Exchequer annuities, which had been bequeathed to his daughters in equal shares. He was buried on 9 May. In 1699 his widow married Francis Cole, a defeated candidate at Downton in 1701.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: D. W. Hayton / Henry Lancaster


  • 1. Info. from Mr Michael Hickman; Misc. Gen. et Her. ser. 5, ix. 110–11, 176, 203; IGI, London; PCC 130 Lort.
  • 2. Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 477, 480, 487.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 172.
  • 4. Luttrell Diary, 147, 217; CSP Dom. 1693, p. 263; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 637, 649.
  • 5. Wilts. RO, Radnor mss 490/909, Lady Ashe to John Snow, 26 Feb. 1695[–6].
  • 6. Radnor mss 490/909, Lady Ashe to Snow, 20 Feb. 1697[–8]; Post Man, 3–5 May 1698; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xlii. 307–12; PCC 130 Lort; Misc. Gen. et Her. 176; Wilts. N. and Q. ii. 91.