PRESTON, Sir Charles, 5th Bt. (c.1735-1800), of Valleyfield, Perth.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1784 - 1790

Family and Education

b. c.1735, 1st surv. s. of Sir George Preston, 4th Bt., by Anne, da. of William Cochrane of Ochiltree, sis. of Thomas, 8th Earl of Dundonald [S]; bro. of Robert Preston. unm.  suc. fa. 2 Mar. 1779.

Offices Held

Lt. 26 Ft. 1753, capt. 1759, maj. 1768, ret. 1777.

Commr. of customs 1798- d.


Preston saw service in America before the outbreak of the revolutionary war.1 In 1775 he served under Carleton in Canada, and was in command of St. John’s fort when it was captured by the Americans in November.2Exchanged in 1776, he left the army and returned to Scotland. By the death in 1776 of his brother Patrick, Preston had become the heir of an aged father in precarious financial circumstances, from which the family was rescued by the youngest brother Robert, who returned from India in 1777 with a large fortune. Thereafter Robert seems to have directed the affairs and politics of Charles, whom Boswell, his cousin and close friend, considered ‘a worthy, decent, fine-tempered man’ but of ‘little discernment’.3

Robert was hostile to the Fox-North Coalition. Charles, sharing his brother’s views and almost certainly at his instigation, late in the 1784 election campaign stood for Dysart Burghs and was returned unopposed. In Parliament he supported Pitt, and voted 18 Apr. 1785 for parliamentary reform. There is no mention of his having spoken in the House except when, on 21 Mar. 1785, he as chairman presented the report of the Seaford election committee.4 With waning enthusiasm he voted with Administration on the Regency, but did not receive the Government nomination in the 1790 election and was not returned. Robert told Boswell on 9 Aug. 17905 that Pitt had broken his word to him repeatedly but trusted that he would yet provide for his brother. Charles however received no provision until 1798, when he was appointed to the Scottish Board of Customs.

He died 23 Mar. 1800.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. E. W. M. Macbean, Biog. Reg. St. Andrews Society of New York, i. 139.
  • 2. Scots Mag. 1775, pp. 370, 651-4.
  • 3. Boswell, Private Pprs. xiii. 168; xv. 62.
  • 4. Stockdale, v. 231.
  • 5. Boswell, Private Pprs. xviii. 86.