RAINSFORD, Charles (1728-1809).

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



15 Dec. 1772 - 1774
1 Feb. 1787 - Dec. 1788
1790 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 3 Feb. 1728, 2nd s. of Francis Rainsford by Isabella, da. of William Bale of Foston, Derbys.  m. (1) Elizabeth (d. 27 Jan. 1781), da. of Edward Miles, 1s. 2da.; (2) 16 Feb. 1789, Anne Cornwallis, da. of Sir More Molyneux of Loseley Park, Guildford, Surr., s.p.

Offices Held

Cornet 3 Drag. 1744; ensign 2 ft. Gds. 1745, lt. 1751, capt. and lt.-col. 1761; col. army 1774; gov. Chester 1776-96; maj.-gen. 1777; col. 44 Ft. 1781- d.; lt.-gen. 1782; gen. 1796; gov. Tynemouth 1796- d.

Equerry to the Duke of Gloucester 1766-1780.1


Rainsford’s father, an alderman of Maldon, ‘had formerly a great share in the management of that borough’, wrote Lord Rochford to the King, 2 Nov. 1773, ‘and ... acted there upon my interest’.2 Rainsford was therefore no stranger to Maldon; but if ever there was a mere stop-gap, he was one. Rochford’s nephew and heir, for whom the seat was intended, was born in 1754. The young man’s father, R. S. Nassau, was ‘in so very a nervous bad state of health that he cannot possibly undertake to come into Parliament’, wrote Rochford to the King, 1 Nov. 1773. ‘... I am therefore looking out for such a person who will undertake at being brought in now, at my expense, to resign it to my nephew at the general election.’3 Bamber Gascoyne, when consulted, suggested Rainsford; and thus explained his choice to his friend John Strutt on 4 Nov.:4

I could not think it proper or reasonable to make any friend of ours a stalking horse for Ld. Rochford for two sessions, and I was jealous that any person of fortune should take it on his side, lest they should grow too sturdy for us. The Colonel is a creature of the Duke of Gloucester, no fortune, Lord Rochford qualifies him.

And in a second letter, apparently of the same day: ‘Rainsford cannot be of consequence enough to hurt us when elected, and Lord Rochford dare not, cannot, and from my soul I don’t believe he means to be, deceitful.’ Rainsford obtained the Duke of Gloucester’s permission to stand; and after much anxious manoeuvring and a strenuous canvass, in which Gascoyne was very active,5 was returned by an ample majority at a cost of about £1,200 to be covered from secret service money. Gascoyne wrote to Strutt, 21 Dec.: ‘I will learn from Robinson as to the payment but I am apt to think the whole will be paid as promised.’

Over Grenville’s Election Act, 25 Feb. 1774, Rainsford voted with Administration, as also presumably on other occasions. He did not apparently speak in the House. In the survey made at the end of the Parliament, Robinson did not even class him—he was not to continue in Parliament.

Rainsford, who was a friend of the Percy family,6 was returned in February 1787 by Lord Lovaine for Bere Alston, but vacated the seat early in December 1788: presumably owing to differences over the Regency bill—Lovaine sided with Pitt, but Gloucester and Northumberland with the Opposition. ‘Lord Lovaine has separated himself from the Duke of Northumberland, in consequence of which Rainsford has vacated’, wrote W. W. Grenville to Lord Buckingham, 17 Dec. 1788.7

Rainsford died 24 May 1809.8

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Add. 23646-7; Walpole, Last Jnls.
  • 2. Fortescue, iii. 22.
  • 3. Fortescue, iii. 21.
  • 4. Strutt mss.
  • 5. See his letters to Strutt, especially that of 9 Nov.
  • 6. Letters to him from Hugh, 2nd Duke of Northumberland, Add. 23668.
  • 7. Buckingham, Courts Cabinets Geo. III, ii. 64.
  • 8. A great mass of Rainsford’s military papers and correspondence is in the British Museum, Add. 23644-80; also some papers on free-masonry, magnetism, and ‘alchymical processes’, Add. 23675-6.