VERNON, Charles (1719-1810), of the New Forest, Hants.

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



30 Nov. 1768 - 1774

Family and Education

b. 1719, 3rd s. of James Vernon, M.P., of Great Thurlow, Suff. by Arethusa, da. of Charles Boyle, Lord Clifford of Lanesborough; bro. of Francis Vernon and nephew of Edward Vernon.  m. s.p.1

Offices Held

Ensign 2 Ft. Gds. 1737, lt. 1744, capt. and lt.-col. 1753; col. army 1761; maj.-gen. 1765 (ante-dated to 1762); lt.-gen. 1772; gen. 1783; lt. of the Tower May 1763- d.


When in 1710 Charles Vernon’s grandfather was turned out of the secretaryship of state, Charles’s father received a commissionership of Excise. This he retained till 6 Apr. 1756 when, nine days before his death, he resigned it against a pension for Charles of £300 p.a.; which Charles continued to draw at least till 1802, and most probably till his death in 1810—a century of benefits at public expense.2

Charles Vernon was connected with Lord Townshend who returned him for Tamworth.3 In a letter from Chase Price to the Duke of Portland, 18 July 1765, he appears as ‘political emissary of Lord Townshend’s’, sent to dissuade Charles Townshend and Granby from joining the Rockingham Administration; and a description is supplied of him (which, as most of Chase Price’s character sketches, combines insight into other men’s character with a certain projection of his own):

He is brother of Lord Orwell’s with whom he has long quarrelled, is remarkable for strong passions and an active mind supplying a deficiency of ability with industry, intrigue, and acrimony, unforgiving in his nature, low and cunning in his pursuits, the first from the worst temper and disposition I ever met in any man, the last from prodigious selfishness. But he is more remarkable still in his hatred to the Duke of Cumberland.

Having made the desired impression on Charles Townshend’s ‘weather cock disposition’, Vernon went to Granby,

with whom he had long been upon the same footing as with my Lord Townshend and operated upon his mind ... through ... a jealousy of the Keppels, and an engagement with Grenville.

Some time after 1774 Vernon presented a memorandum to the King4 recounting his services and disappointments, and asking for ‘some further mark of his Majesty’s royal favour’. In 1764 he was to have been appointed colonel of the 54th Foot ‘then vacant’, but ‘some circumstances ... happened at that time which rendered his continuance in the army so uneasy to him, as to make him wish to retire’. The King approved, and Vernon was to be placed in ‘a permanent situation ... equivalent in value to that he had given up his pretensions to’. But only the lieutenancy of the Tower was vacant,5 and he was allowed to continue aide-de-camp to the King to make up some of ‘the deficiency in value’; this he lost upon a promotion of general officers in which he was not included. ‘His case appearing a very hard one to Lord Granby and his other friends, application was made to his Majesty by them,’ to have him appointed a groom of the bedchamber. ‘Since which period General Vernon underwent a constant and severe attendance during the whole of the last Parliament, from which he suffered greatly in his health.’ There is no record of his having ever spoken in the House, and his name appears in one single division, on Grenville’s Act, 25 Feb. 1774, naturally on the Government side.

He died 3 Aug. 1810.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), iv. 206.
  • 2. T52/47/538-9; T52/59/455; T38/229; T52/66/15; T38/230.
  • 3. Wm. de Grey to Townshend, 3, 26 Nov.; John Willington to Townshend, 30 Nov. 1768; Townshend mss, nos. 81, 93, 206, Tamworth Pub. Lib.
  • 4. Fortescue, iii. 533-4.
  • 5. It seems difficult to reconcile the facts as given in Vernon’s memorandum with extant records. The colonelcy of the 54th Foot was held by John Parslow 1760-70, and does not appear to have been vacant in 1764; and the warrant of Vernon’s appointment at the Tower (Add. 36132, f. 340) is dated 31 May 1763. That of Lord Townshend as lt.-gen. of the Ordnance (ibid. f. 320) is dated 6 May, and there was probably a connexion between the two appointments.