CHAPLIN, Charles (1786-1859), of Blankney, Lincs.
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Family and Educationb. 21 Apr. 1786, 1st s. of Charles Chaplin† of Blankney and Elizabeth, da. and h. of Robert Taylor, MD, of Newark-upon-Trent, Notts.; bro. of Thomas Chaplin*. educ. Harrow 1800-5; Christ Church, Oxf. 1805. m. 17 Sept. 1812, Caroline, da. of Hon. Henry Fane† of Fulbeck, Lincs., s.p. suc. fa. 1816. d. 24 May 1859.
Maj. Lindsey regt. Lincs. militia 1809; capt. Lincoln Heath yeoman cav. 1831.
In 1818 Chaplin, who had previously sat for Stamford as the nominee of Lord Exeter, successfully contested his native Lincolnshire, which his father had represented from 1802 until his death in 1816. At the 1820 general election he offered again as a supporter of the Liverpool ministry. Rumours of an opposition came to nothing and according to Drakard’s Stamford News, the Whig Member Anderson Pelham was proposed and seconded by two of Chaplin’s friends, a ‘political anomaly beyond our sagacity to account’. At the declaration Chaplin applauded ministers for checking the ‘daring spirit of insubordination’ and defended the Six Acts by arguing that no ‘loyal freeholder’ would ever fall foul of them. He spoke of the need for agricultural protection, but not at the expense of ‘other classes of society’.1 A lax attender (his wife, Mrs. Arbuthnot’s sister, had been an invalid for almost three years and continued in poor health until at least 1825)2, when present he generally voted ‘with government’, but occasionally took an independent line.3 He voted in defence of their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He paired against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., and voted against parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, and reform of the Scottish electoral system, 2 June 1823. He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb., but for abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 2 May 1822. Addressing a county reform meeting, 19 Apr. 1823, he agreed to present its petition, but declared that he could not support its prayer since reform would not relieve distress. To much barracking, he declared his opposition to reform and denounced the ‘radical’ proposals of Sir Robert Heron* and William Johnson* as the first step towards revolution. At a similar meeting, 26 Mar. 1823, he reiterated his opposition to the ‘unintelligible’ theories of Heron and Johnson, but claimed to have ‘aided reform’ by voting for the disfranchisement of Grampound.4 He was a minority teller against the corn importation bill, 3 June 1822. That November he secured a free pardon for a Lincolnshire poacher from Peel, the home secretary.5 He was in the opposition majority for inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. He paired with ministers against inquiry into chancery delays, 5 June 1823.6 He presented petitions for repeal of the coal duties, 18 Feb., and protection for Lincolnshire wool growers, 24 May, and voted against inquiry into the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith for inciting slave riots in Demerara, 11 June 1824.7 He divided against the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825. He presented petitions against revision of the corn laws, 26, 28 Apr., and attended Lincolnshire agricultural meetings on the issue, 30 Aug., 23 Dec. 1825, when he cautioned the freeholders against petitioning for an increase in the price of corn which would only ‘distress the poorer classes’ and ridiculed Huskisson’s fixation with free trade.8 He voted accordingly, 8, 11 May, and spoke briefly in committee on the warehoused corn bill, 12 May 1826. He presented four petitions for the abolition of slavery, 1 Mar., and endorsed a constituency petition against the reorganization of local government, 18 Apr. 1826.9
At the 1826 general election Chaplin offered again for Lincolnshire. On the hustings he declared himself appalled by the consequences of the commercial panic in the winter of 1825-6 and wished tax reductions could have been larger. He denounced William Jacob’s† report to the board of trade on European grain stocks and underlined the need for protection. As to the ‘abstruse and difficult’ currency question, ‘I do not understand it; and I do not believe that anybody in the last House of Commons did’. He supported the abolition of slavery but deplored ‘ignorant meddling’, which would ruin the planters. In response to Johnson’s cross-examination, he declared his readiness to vote for abolition of the malt tax, but refused to be pledged on any other question and bullied by the county’s ‘independent committee’. He denied that he was a bigot on Catholic relief, asserting that the Irish problem was not a religious one, but the result of unemployment and the ‘evils’ of that country’s civil establishment. He remained opposed to parliamentary reform, though he would never condone a corrupt borough. He was returned unopposed.10
He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. He argued against weekly corn averages, which would throw the agricultural market into the ‘hands of speculators’, 19 Mar., and paired against revision of the corn laws, 2 Apr.11 He was granted ten days’ leave to deal with urgent business, having served on an election committee, 27 Mar. He presented a Lincolnshire coroners’ petition for increased fees, 4 May, and a Horncastle petition for an import tax on foreign wool, 7 June.12 He voted against the Penryn disfranchisement bill, 28 May, and the Coventry magistracy bill, 18 June 1827. He divided against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He presented Lincolnshire petitions against revision of the corn laws, 22, 25, 30 Apr., for import restrictions on wool, 28 Apr., 7 May, and for the circulation of £1 notes, 6 June. He moved the third reading of the Great Grimsby road bill, 6 May, and was in the minority against the provision for Canning’s family, 13 May. Drawing attention to an anomaly in the game bill, 13 June, he contended that the penalties for stealing game ought to be ‘equal to that which we now have for fowls’. He presented a Gainsborough petition for the abolition of slavery, 20 June. He paired against condemning expenditure on Buckingham House, 23 June 1828.13 Chaplin was surprisingly listed by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, as one of the possible movers and seconders of the address in January and was predicted to vote ‘with government’ for their concession of emancipation in late February 1829. He presented multiple hostile petitions from Lincolnshire, 9, 18, 20, 25 Mar., when he came to the defence of the anti-Catholic Member Colonel Sibthorp in a fracas over Lincolnshire’s alleged pro-Catholic sympathies, and divided accordingly, 6, 18, 27, 30 Mar. (as a pair). At a county meeting to petition for repeal of the malt and beer duties, 8 Jan. 1830, he could not accept all the arguments of Heron and Johnson but agreed that further tax reductions were necessary to relieve distress.14 He presented and endorsed the petition, emphasizing the need for inquiry and adequate protection, 26 Feb. He presented one from Louth for agricultural relief, 1 Mar., and others against the sale of beer bill, 12, 13 May, which he voted against, 21 June. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830.
At the 1830 general election he offered again, but came under fire from the independents, who tried to get up an opposition. On the hustings Richard Healy of Laughton, one of their leaders, attacked him for his failure to vote for either repeal of the malt tax or protection for wool growers. In reply Chaplin, who claimed that he had gone to London specifically to vote for abolition of the tax, argued that the case for repeal as a measure of relief had been exaggerated. When he found government reducing taxation by £3,500,000 ‘he would not oppose them’ or be a party to the ruin of fundholders. He defended the revised corn laws and the prohibition of small notes, but said he would have no truck with ‘wild and visionary schemes of reform’. He was returned unopposed, dismissing the independents’ attack as a ‘run at my pocket’.15 He was branded as a ‘friend to things as they are’ by the People’s Book and listed by ministers among their ‘friends’, but he was absent from the division on the civil list which brought them down, 15 Nov. 1830.16 He presented a petition against slavery, 17 Nov. 1830, and one for reduced fire insurance duty, 7 Mar. 1831. He was granted ten days’ leave owing to the death of a relative, 9 Mar., but was present to vote against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. Fearful of the expense and certainty of a contest at the ensuing general election, he declared his intention of not offering again, 25 Apr. 1831.17
Thereafter Chaplin, who took an active interest in the progress of the Fordingham drainage bill in the Lords and regularly corresponded with Gilbert John Heathcote* and his successor as county Member Charles Anderson Pelham, continued to exercise political influence on the strength of his landed estates.18 The division of the county by the Reform Act cut his interest in half, but according to a local obituarist, the elections for the Southern division were still ‘settled in his drawing room’. He would not be coaxed out of retirement, however, telling a Sleaford Conservative meeting in 1837 that ‘if he had been fond of a seat in the House, he would have had reason to complain of the reform bill; but it gave him the opportunity of seeing more of the Lincolnshire farmers, and he had been happier ever since’. He was ‘extremely popular’ as a landowner and sportsman and was said to be as ‘forward with his purse as he was first in the field’.19 Yet he was dictatorial on the bench and a terror to poachers and others who defied him. On one occasion his interpretation of the law was challenged by a London attorney, whereupon Chaplin thundered, ‘Young man, you are evidently a stranger in these parts, otherwise you would know that my word is law’.20 He maintained an extensive stud and devoted much time to the management of the Great Northern Railway, of which he was a director.21 He died, a ‘fine old English gentleman’, in May 1859.22 By his will, dated 10 Jan. 1855, he devised the bulk of his property to his nephew Henry Chaplin (1840-1923), who was created Viscount Chaplin in 1916.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Authors: Simon Harratt / Philip Salmon
- 1. Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 25 Feb., 17, 24 Mar.; Drakard’s Stamford News, 24 Mar. 1820.
- 2. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 15, 329-30, 375, 425-6.
- 3. Black Bk. (1823), 19; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 456.
- 4. Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 26 Apr. 1822, 21 Mar., 2 Apr. 1823.
- 5. Add. 40352, f. 258.
- 6. The Times, 7 June 1823.
- 7. Ibid. 19 Feb., 25 May 1824.
- 8. Ibid. 27, 29 Apr.; Boston Gazette, 6 Sept.; Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 30 Dec. 1825.
- 9. The Times, 2 Mar., 19 Apr., 13 May 1826.
- 10. Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 16, 23 June 1826.
- 11. The Times, 20 Mar., 4 Apr. 1827.
- 12. Ibid. 5 May, 8 June 1827.
- 13. Ibid. 26 June 1828.
- 14. Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 15 Jan. 1830.
- 15. Ibid. 13 Aug. 1830.
- 16. [W. Carpenter], People’s Bk. (1831) 212.
- 17. Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 29 Apr.; Stamford Herald, 29 Apr. 1831.
- 18. Lincs. AO, Ancaster mss 3 ANC9/13/3, 7.
- 19. R.J. Olney, Lincs. Politics, 95; Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 27 May 1859.
- 20. E. Tempest Stewart, Henry Chaplin (1926), 11.
- 21. N.R. Wright, Lincs. Towns and Industry, 122-4, 129.
- 22. Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 27 May 1859.