HANBURY WILLIAMS, Charles (1708-59), of Coldbrook, Mon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



6 Mar. 1735 - 1747
1754 - 2 Nov. 1759

Family and Education

b. 8 Dec. 1708, 4th s. of John Hanbury of Pontypool, Mon., and bro. of Capel Hanbury. educ. Eton 1720; Grand Tour (Belgium, Switzerland, Italy) 1724-6. m. 1 July 1732, Lady Frances Coningsby, da. and coh. of Thomas Coningsby, M.P., 1st Earl of Coningsby, 2da. K.B. 20 Oct. 1744.

Offices Held

Paymaster of marines 1739-46; ld. lt. Herefs. 1742-7; high steward, Leominster 1744-d.; envoy, Dresden 1747-9, 1751-5, Berlin 1750-1; ambassador, St. Petersburg 1755-7.


Hanbury Williams came into the fortune of his godfather, Charles Williams, a rich Smyrna merchant, whose name he assumed.1 Succeeding to his father’s seat in March 1735, he made his first reported speech against a place bill, 22 Apr.2 At the opening of the next session he was chosen to second the Address by Walpole, who in 1737 proposed him for a complimentary mission to the new King of Naples with £4,000 as expenses, but was thwarted by the Duke of Newcastle’s telling the King that the British minister at Florence could do the job for £500.3 In 1739, after moving the address4 on the Spanish convention, he was again disappointed, this time of the secretaryship to the lord lieutenant of Ireland, which Walpole gave to his own private secretary, Henry Legge. ‘Where am I to hide myself if Mr. Legge is preferred to me?’ he wrote to his friend, Henry Fox.

My services in Parliament are of a longer date than his, even in his private capacity to Sir Robert ... He has had £600 per ann. all this while; I never one shilling for all my expenses of all sorts that attend serving for a county. Thus it stood till this post (as I thought), but now he is removed to £2,000 per annum for the above mentioned services, and I, who had a promise of it, am where I was, left to serve on as a volunteer, and in not near so good a way of preferment as I was three years ago, when Mr. Walpole first dragged me out of the character of a country gentleman to make a ... of me.

Appeased with the office of paymaster of marines, worth £2,000 a year, he is not recorded as speaking again in Parliament, for which he thought he had no talent. Owing to illness he was absent from the divisions on the chairman of the elections committee and the Westminster election in December 1741.

On Walpole’s fall Hanbury Williams was in danger of losing his place to one of Pulteney’s followers. Asking Fox to

take the matter high, but not too high. Paint the effect of my going out of this office and my interests in the counties of Monmouth, Brecknock, Hereford, Glamorgan, and Carmarthen,

he poured out a stream of vitriolic anonymous lampoons on Pulteney. In spite of his parliamentary inactivity he retained his place till 1746, when he met with a series of misfortunes: his friend Thomas Winnington died; a parliamentary inquiry disclosed that his deputies in the paymaster’s office, one of them a former factotum of his, had been speculating with the official balances; and as a result of one of his lampoons he was threatened with a crop of duels, which he avoided by retiring to the country, at the cost of exposing himself to charges of showing the white feather.

He had innumerable enemies [writes Horace Walpole], all the women, for he had poxed his wife, all the Tories, for he was a steady Whig, all fools, for he was a bitter satirist, and many sensible people, for he was immoderately vain.5

Deciding to go abroad, he was appointed envoy to Dresden. At the general election next year he exchanged constituencies with his brother, Capel, but was defeated, remaining out of Parliament till 1754. He continued to hold diplomatic posts till 1757, when he returned to England in a state of mental derangement, dying insane 2 Nov. 1759.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Ilchester & Langford-Brooke, Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams, 25-26.
  • 2. Harley Diary.
  • 3. Hervey, Mems. 829-30.
  • 4. Coxe, Walpole, ii. 515.
  • 5. Ilchester & Langford-Brooke, 45, 46, 58, 59, 95-101; Coxe, iii, 583, 586; Corresp. H. Walpole (Yale ed.), xxx. 312-13.