WOLSELEY, Charles (1741-1808).
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Family and Education
b. 25 Oct. 1741, 2nd s. of Sir William Wolseley, 5th Bt., by his w. Ann Fieldhouse. unm.
Cdr. R.N. 1760; capt. 1761; r.-adm. 1790; adm. 1799.
Wolseley was appointed to his first command in 1760, but after the end of the war seems to have been unemployed till 1780. At the general election of 1774 he contested the expensive borough of Milborne Port on the Medlycott interest in conjunction with Temple Luttrell, standing in opposition to the Administration, whose American policy they both deplored in their election statements.1 The Public Ledger stated in 1779 that Wolseley ‘was intimately connected with the Luttrells, and at great expense brought by them into Parliament’; and it seems improbable that he himself was in a position to pay Medlycott’s price. After the poll three returns were made, and the election of Wolseley and Luttrell was not confirmed by the House till 10 Feb. 1775. In Parliament Wolseley’s first reported vote was with the Opposition on Wilkes, 22 Feb. 1775, but according to the Public Ledger he ‘soon abandoned’ Luttrell and the Opposition ‘to attach himself to the ministry’. He does not appear in any other minority list between 1775 and 1778, the only ones extant; after that he voted regularly with Administration till he left Parliament. He was anxious to obtain office, and on 27 May 1778 wrote to a friend, Eleazar Davy:
At present my matters are in a state of uncertainty. A few days must now decide my fate and I certainly must either go to sea or be better employed elsewhere. In times like these it is not proper to be idle and I am fully determined, should I not be able to succeed, to try my fortune once more on the wide ocean.
A month later he was given a secret service pension of £600 p.a. He wrote again on 1 Dec. 1778: ‘I believe I shall soon be appointed as there is a vacancy now offers, but cannot as yet ascertain the fact.’ He was disappointed; but the secret service pension was continued till he left Parliament. He was equally unsuccessful in his marriage plans; apparently dismissed as a fortune hunter, he wrote to Davy on 21 Dec. 1778 that he could not concentrate on politics ‘since my mind is at present wholly absorbed by that noblest of passions All Mighty Love’.2
In 1780 he was appointed to command a ship in the East Indies, and did not stand at the general election. He seems also to have been promised a diplomatic post, and in 1781, when this did not materialize, was given a pension of £500 a year ‘to repay him for expenses and losses by his not going abroad to Munich’. This was continued at least till August 1783, but on his return to England that summer he found his affairs so embarrassed that he was forced to go abroad for some time. He ascribed his misfortunes to ‘a series of ill-luck and confiding too much to ministers’.3
Wolseley died 10 Apr. 1808.