VAN, Charles (d.1778), of Llanwern, Mon.
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Family and Education
1st s. of Charles Van of Llanwern by his 2nd w. Elizabeth Samson of Henbury, nr. Bristol. m. Sept. 1754, Catherine, da. of Thomas Morgan, sis. of Thomas, Charles, and John Morgan, 1s. d.v.p. 4 da. suc. fa. 6 Jan. 1755.
Van’s marriage into the influential family of Morgan of Tredegar seems to have stimulated his parliamentary ambitions, but it was against their advice that he contested Glamorgan in 1756. Sir Charles Hanbury Williams wrote from St. Petersburg:1
Nothing has surprised me more than the flights of young Mr. Van ... Good God! If old Van was to hear that his son stood for a county and kept thirteen bay coach horses, he would rise out of his grave to disinherit him.
Van was heavily defeated. In 1765 he stood again for Monmouthshire, but was forced to withdraw when the Morgans gave their interest to his rival. His chance came in 1772 when, following the death of Thomas Morgan, there was no member of the family of age to sit for their borough of Brecon. Charles Gould, who had also married a Morgan, refrained from pressing his claim to the seat when he saw Van ‘bent upon obtaining it’;2 and Van was returned unopposed.
In general Van was a supporter of North’s Administration, but opposed them over the royal marriage bill and voted for making Grenville’s Election Act permanent, 25 Feb. 1774. He was an extreme anti-American and carried his support of British authority to an absurd extent. ‘I think Boston ought to be exemplarily punished’, he said on 23 Mar. 1774, during the debate on the Boston port bill. ‘I therefore do not think this bill will answer the purpose. We should make a requisition and if that was not complied with—Delenda est Carthago.’ On 15 Apr. 1774 he advocated setting on fire the forests of Massachusetts to facilitate punitive operations. And here are reports of two of his later speeches. 4 Feb. 1778:
Mr. Van in a long speech caused much mirth in the beginning, and entertained the House with a long comparison between Britain and Rome, America and Carthage, and concluded with asserting that whatever Opposition might be individually without, they were as a party rank idiots within doors. He compared some of their leaders to Hannibal and predicted their fate to be similar to that famous general’s, who vowed to the destruction of Rome and fell in the impious attempt.
And 24 Feb. 1778: ‘Mr. Van closed the debate, and kept the House in a continual laugh during the whole course of his speech.’3 He died 3 Apr. 1778.