SACKVILLE, Charles, Earl of Middlesex (1711-1769).
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Family and Education
b. 6 Feb. 1711, 1st s. of Lionel, 1st Duke of Dorset, by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Gen. Walter Colyear (bro. of David, 1st Earl of Portmore [S]); bro. of Lord George Sackville. educ. Westminster 1720-8; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1728; Grand Tour. m. 30 Oct. 1744, Hon. Grace Boyle, da. and h. of Richard, 2nd Visct. Shannon [I], s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Duke of Dorset 10 Oct. 1765.
Ld. of Treasury 1743-7; master of the horse to the Prince of Wales 1747-51; P.C. 10 Feb 1766; ld. lt. Kent 1766- d.
Until 1747 Lord Middlesex was a regular Government supporter; then he joined the Prince of Wales, and remained in opposition after the Prince’s death in 1751. He had been on bad terms with his father, and though a partial reconciliation had been effected in 1752 Dorset refused to provide him with a seat in Parliament at the next general election. In 1754 Middlesex contested Queenborough, Rochester, and Westminster; but only at Queenborough was he a serious candidate: at Rochester he did not appear on polling day, and at Westminster (where he stood no chance anyway) gave up after the first day’s poll. It was only in the last years of Dorset’s life that the reconciliation between father and son became really complete.
In 1761 Middlesex was suggested as a possible candidate for Kent should Robert Fairfax retire. Sir George Oxenden, an old Kent Whig, who in 1734 had stood for the county on a joint interest with Middlesex, wrote to Newcastle 1 Feb. 1761:1
For God’s sake no Middlesex. He has not been visible in Kent these twenty years, no habitation in the county, not any acquaintance or character, and an unheard of man, except that his father had discarded him from house and home.
Lord George Sackville acknowledged that
his motive in urging his father to set up Lord Middlesex was that Lord Middlesex is totally unknown in Kent, that unless he stand and so be acquainted with the gentlemen in the county, at the Duke of Dorset’s death he will come a cipher to the head of the family and the family interest will be lost.2
In the end Fairfax did not retire, and Middlesex was returned for the family borough.
Middlesex was classed in Bute’s list as ‘doubtful’, and voted against the peace preliminaries. In each of the three divisions on general warrants of February 1764 he voted with the Opposition. James Harris included him in the group attached to Lord George Sackville who had deserted Grenville’s Administration on this issue. But it seems that Middlesex did not acknowledge his brother’s lead. On 2 Mar. 1764 Lord Hyde told Grenville that Middlesex ‘may become well disposed to the King’s service and to you personally, but thinks he has been neglected, and will either resent or forget it ... according to the usage he may now meet with’.3‘He has never been in a system of Opposition’, wrote Hyde, 3 Apr.,4 ‘but wishes to have such a declaration of a favourable intention from his Majesty as will justify to himself his adherence to the friends of Government. He is not impatient of place or employment.’ Precisely what he asked of Grenville at their meeting on 11 Apr. is not certain, but the next day Hyde reported that Middlesex ‘seemed perfectly happy’.5 He voted with Administration on Meredith’s motion on general warrants, 30 Jan. 1765; and in July was classed by Rockingham as ‘doubtful’. But in the Lords he generally acted with the Rockingham Whigs.
He died 6 Jan. 1769.