MIDDLETON, Sir Charles, 1st Bt. (1726-1813), of Barham Court, Kent
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Family and Education
b. 14 Oct. 1726, 2nd s. of Robert Middleton, collector of customs at Bo’ness, Linlithgow by Helen, da. of Charles Dundas of Arniston, Midlothian; cos. of Henry Dundas. m. 21 Dec. 1761, Margaret, da. of James Gambier, warden of the Fleet prison, 1da. (who m. 21 Dec. 1780, Gerard Noel Edwards). cr. Bt. 23 Oct. 1781; Baron Barham, with sp. rem. to his da., 1 May 1805.
Entered R.N. 1741; Lt. 1745; capt. 1758; r.-adm. 1787; v.-adm. 1793; adm. 1795.
Comptroller of the navy 1778-90; first commr. of the board for enquiring into the state of the woods, forests, and land revenues of the Crown 1787, and of the board for revising the civil affairs of the navy 1804-6; ld. of Admiralty 1794-5, first ld. 1805-6.
A distinguished naval commander and administrator, a keen reformer and an Evangelical, connected with Wilberforce and Henry Dundas, Middleton was returned for Rochester on the Government interest. He voted with Pitt on parliamentary reform, 18 Apr. 1785; on the Duke of Richmond’s plan of fortifications, 27 Feb. 1786; and during the Regency crisis 1788-9. Seven interventions of his in parliamentary debate are reported, almost all on subjects connected with the navy (on navy bills, on fortifying the docks, on sheathing ships with copper, etc.). His speech on 12 June 1788, about overcrowding in slave ships, touched upon another cause about which he felt strongly—see also his defence of a clergyman active in the anti-slavery movement, 21 May 1789, Middleton’s last reported speech. On 30 Mar. 1786 he spoke against the bill to disfranchise voters employed in naval and Ordnance yards—an important section of his own constituents.1 Still, on 24 Sept. 1789 he wrote to Pitt about ‘the impropriety of my representing a borough so intimately connected with the civil department of the navy as Rochester’.2 Pitt’s distant cousin and Middleton’s nephew by marriage, William Morton Pitt, had offered to nominate Middleton for Poole should he himself stand for the county, and Middleton was inclined to accept. William Pitt replied, 30 Oct. 1789:3 ‘It will give me great pleasure to see you a candidate for Poole, in case Mr. M. Pitt should stand for the county as he now proposes.’ But although Morton Pitt was returned for Dorset, Middleton did not contest Poole—a difficult borough, for which there was a multiplicity of candidates. He did not stand again for Parliament, and died 17 June 1813.