MARSHAM, Hon. Charles (1777-1845), of The Mote, nr. Maidstone, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 22 Nov. 1777, o.s. of Charles Marsham†, 3rd Baron Romney, by Lady Frances Wyndham, da. of Charles Wyndham†, and Earl of Egremont. educ. Eton 1789-95; Christ Church, Oxf. 1795. m. (1) 9 Sept. 1806, Sophia (d. 9 Sept. 1812), da. and h. of William Morton Pitt*, 1s. 4da.; (2) 9 Feb. 1832, Hon. Mary Elizabeth Townshend, daughter of John Thomas Townshend*, 2nd Visct. Sydney, wid. of George James Cholmondeley, 1s. Styled Visct. Marsham 22 June 1801-11; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Romney 1 Mar. 1811.
Capt. W. Kent supp. militia 1798, maj. 1803, lt.-col. commdt. Bearsted and Malling regt. 1809-11.
Marsham, the son of a former Member for and the incumbent lord lieutenant of Kent, was returned unopposed for Hythe on a vacancy which neatly coincided with his coming of age. He apparently gave silent support to government until his defeat there in 1802. According to Joshua Wilson, his election for Downton a year later on Lord Radnor’s interest took place ‘without any previous knowledge on his own part’.1 Listed under ‘Pitt’ in March 1804, he voted against the Addington ministry in five of the six recorded divisions, 10-25 Apr. He was classed ‘Pitt’ in Rose’s September 1804 list, but voted against government on the Melville scandal, 8 Apr. and 12 June 1805, and was listed as ‘doubtful Opposition’ in July. He was one of the Members unsuccessfully proposed by Whitbread for the committee of inquiry into Melville’s conduct, 25 Apr., and was appointed a manager of his impeachment, 26 June 1805. In this capacity, and as chairman of two Middlesex election committees (3 Feb. 1804 and 19 Feb. 1805) he acquired ‘a reputation for research’ and the character of ‘a man of business’.2 In his only known speech on matters other than that of the Middlesex election, 2 May 1805, he advocated leniency towards the proprietor of the Oracle, in custody for libel against the House over the Melville affair, although he did not think that ‘every printer should be allowed to appoint himself a censor’ of their proceedings. Mrs Calvert noted in 1805 that Marsham ‘has a good benevolent countenance, without much animation, but is too fat for a young man’.3
He opposed Ellenborough’s seat in the cabinet, 3 Mar., and did not vote on the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr., but nevertheless received the support of the ‘Talents’ at the general election of 1806. On 14 Aug. Matthew White, the sitting Member for Hythe, told Lord Hawkesbury that Lord Grenville had ‘pointedly requested me not to create an opposition to Lord Marsham’s views of a seat’ there.4 He easily headed the poll in a contest at Hythe and was afterwards considered a suitable candidate to contest Kent with William Honywood*. Although his father had lost his county seat in a coalition with the same family in 1790, Marsham attended the county meeting, expressed his willingness to partner Honywood ‘to preserve the peace of the county’, and asserted that ‘in independence of principle he would yield to no man’; but after the show of hands went against him, he withdrew from the contest.5 He was a member of the finance committee, appointed 10 Feb. 1807. Lord Braybrooke reported that Marsham voted with the Portland ministry against Brand’s motion condemning their pledge on Catholic relief, 9 Apr., and added that on this issue his father too was ‘quite wrong’.6
He retired from Hythe in 1807 and made no further attempt to enter the House. Despite his marriage in 1806 to an heiress ‘with a fortune of £60,000 and an estate of £12,000 per annum, independent of the estates of her father’,7 this decision may well have been dictated by the decline in his family’s fortunes. In February 1808 Farington heard that they were ‘esteemed to be proud and associate little with their neighbours’; in May his father resigned the lord lieutenancy, and on his death in 1811 he was said to be ‘very poor’ and to have been ‘forced to retire altogether from public life with a very insufficient income for his rank’.8 As a peer, Marsham was not a prominent politician. He died 29 Mar. 1845.