MOHUN, Charles (1677-1712)

MOHUN (MOON), Charles (1677–1712)

suc. fa. 29 Sept. 1677 (a minor) as 4th Bar. MOHUN

First sat 4 July 1698; last sat 18 June 1712

b. 11 Apr. 1677, o.s. of Charles Mohun, 3rd Bar. Mohun and Philippa, da. of Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey. educ. sch. in Essex.1 m. (1) 1691, Charlotte (d.1705), da. of James or Thomas Manwaring (Mainwaring) and Lady Charlotte Gerard, da. of Charles Gerard, earl of Macclesfield, 1da.; (2) 1711 (owned 1712), Elizabeth (d.1725), da. of Dr Thomas Lawrence, queen’s physician, wid. of Col. Edward Griffin, s.p.2 d. 15 Nov. 1712; will 23 Mar. 1711, pr. 6 Mar. 1713.3

Dep. lt. Devon 1701-?,4 Cornw. 1706-?5

Capt. regt. of horse 1694; col. regt. of ft. 1702-d.; brig. gen. 1705;6 maj. gen. 1708; lt. gen. 1710.

Associated with: Boconnoc, Cornw.; Gerard Street, Westminster7 and Macclesfield House, Westminster.

Likenesses: G. Kneller, oils, Beningborough Hall, NPG 3218.

‘A very violent, hot and passionate person’, the rather paunchy figure captured by Kneller seems to be at odds with a man whose life, according to Macaulay, ‘was one long revel and brawl’.8 Mohun succeeded to the peerage while still an infant as a result of his father’s early death from wounds sustained in a duel some months before. By the time he was 16, he had been tried for murder and was dismissed by John Evelyn as ‘exceedingly dissolute’.9 Yet while Mohun was undoubtedly a violent man, involved in a series of brawls in his early years and who should, arguably, have swung on more than one occasion for murders in which he was closely involved, to concentrate on this facet of his career alone is to do him a considerable injustice. In his later years he proved a competent lieutenant for the Junto in the House, managing committees and acting as teller in a number of divisions. He was also deemed sufficiently useful (and no doubt financially needy) to be considered by Robert Harley, (later earl of Oxford) and Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury, as ripe for poaching from his Junto colleagues and thus as a contender for one of the posts in the remodelled Admiralty commission in 1710. Such potential was ultimately wasted, though, and at the age of 35 Mohun became another statistic in the category of noblemen brought to an early grave by the propensity for settling old scores on the field of honour.

Early years and trial for murder

Mohun succeeded to substantial estates in Cornwall based on Boconnoc, which had been in the family since the late 16th century, but in reality his inheritance comprised a series of crushing debts, and he seems not to have exerted much interest in the area. Mohun’s grandmother held on to the majority of the family estates as her jointure prior to her death in 1692, thereby precipitating a series of lawsuits over rights to various parts of the property.10 Although he was entrusted to the guardianship of the Lincolnshire magnate, Sir Charles Orby, Mohun appears to have spent much of his youth alternating between the various seats of his family in Cornwall and of his grandfather, Anglesey.11 Noted as a minor at a call of the House on 16 Feb. 1678, the following year Mohun was included by Thomas Osborne, earl of Danby (later duke of Leeds) in a list of peers and their likely voting intentions in the proceedings against him, with Danby noting him as both ‘doubtful’ and a minor. A report of March 1684 that Mohun was to accompany Charles Gerard,styled Viscount Brandon (later 2nd earl of Macclesfield) and James Scott, duke of Monmouth, to the campaign in Flanders was presumably a mistake for one of his older kinsmen.12 Despite his marginal interest in Cornwall, in March 1685 Mohun may have been included as a freeman in the new charter for Liskeard (incorrectly transcribed as Lord Bohun) alongside James Mohun (in all probability his uncle). Two years later, in March 1687, Mohun’s mother married again, and it was Mohun’s stepfather, William Coward, who answered the request for a self-assessment from the young peer following the Revolution (Mohun was then at school in Essex). Coward insisted that his charge was ‘so far from having any moneys or personal estate that he has no real estate and the whole real estate being either in jointures or in the hands of mortgagees and others who have incumbrances upon it.’13

In April 1691, Mohun’s sister, Elizabeth, was appointed one of the queen’s maids of honour and, later that year, Mohun further strengthened his ties to the Orby family by marrying Charlotte Mainwaring, stepdaughter of Sir Thomas Orby (her mother’s second husband who seems to have been his guardian’s brother). The new Lady Mohun was also granddaughter to the earl of Macclesfield. The marriage proved woefully unhappy, but the connection was the beginning of a long association with Macclesfield’s heir, Brandon (who was clearly already known to the family). Mohun’s continuing connection with the Orby family may have encouraged speculation that the young peer was sympathetic to the Jacobite cause.14 It is not clear whether the Charles and Thomas Orby investigated for plotting against the government in 1689 were the same men as Mohun’s guardian and father-in-law, but in any case Mohun distanced himself from any suspicion of such an allegiance early on, and for the majority of his life he was a firm supporter of the Revolution and of the Hanoverian succession.15

Over the next few years Mohun lived a rakehell existence. Before he turned 21 he was involved in a series of quarrels and duels, at least two of which resulted in deaths. In December 1692 he quarrelled publicly with John Kennedy, styled Lord Kennedy (heir to John Kennedy, 7th earl of Cassillis [S]). The nature of the provocation is uncertain, but as Kennedy was a kinsman of James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S], (later duke of Brandon) it was an early brush with a family with whom Mohun was to spend much of his adult life at loggerheads. The initial drunken brawl resulted merely in ‘pulling of noses and a cut or two’, but despite the king’s order that the two young men should be apprehended to prevent a duel, Mohun and Kennedy ignored the prohibition. In the subsequent swordplay both were wounded.16

A few days after the duel with Kennedy, Mohun was caught up in a far more serious affray as one of the participants in the botched kidnapping of the well-known actress, Anne Bracegirdle, and the murder of her fellow actor, William Mountford.17 The principal in this, Captain Hill, succeeded in absconding to Scotland and appears later to have been pardoned, but Mohun was tracked down the following day and taken into custody.18 Although he was bailed shortly after with Brandon and Charles Montagu, later earl of Halifax, standing as his sureties, he was subsequently recommitted on a charge of murder after the coroner’s inquest found against him as well as Hill. On 11 Jan. 1693 he petitioned the House to be bailed and for a speedy trial to be arranged. Two days later, while Mohun sauntered in the antechamber awaiting an answer to his petition, the House ordered him into Black Rod’s custody and then to be committed to the Tower.19 The same day the committee for privileges, chaired by George Savile, marquess of Halifax, convened to discuss precedents for the forthcoming trial, and on 23 Jan. the committee appointed to determine the manner of conducting the proceedings met, chaired by John Egerton, 3rd earl of Bridgwater. The ensuing trial, presided over by Carmarthen (as Danby had since become) as lord high steward, opened on 31 Jan. in Westminster Hall and lasted for the following five days.20 It proved, unsurprisingly, to be a major social event. The king attended incognito and it was said that there was ‘such a glorious appearance of ladies … that it was the fairest trial that ever was seen’. No one argued that Mohun had given the fatal blow; the case against him revolved around the question of whether he should be accounted as culpable as the actual murderer. A series of questions to the judges underscored that this was the principal concern.21 By the standards of the day this was a long trial and according to one commentator it took longer than expected.22 Although it was predicted early on that Mohun would be acquitted, reports suggested that the judges considered him to be culpable, and that both Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, and Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, also thought Mohun guilty.23 In spite of this, the earlier predictions were proved correct and on 4 Feb. the Lords brought in a verdict of not guilty by 69 votes to 14.24 Four peers were fined £100 each for absenting themselves during the trial (though these fines were later rescinded).25 The trial provoked debate as to whether Mohun had been the recipient of special treatment on account of his age and (more particularly) his social standing. The author of one newsletter describing the proceedings was taken into custody for suggesting that the evidence against Mohun had been strong enough to hang a commoner.26 Queen Mary appeared to agree with him. She committed to her diary her opinion that the verdict was unjust and symptomatic of the ‘universal corruption’ at the heart of society.27 At least one peer took a different view and justified his decision to find Mohun not guilty on the grounds that all actors were ‘fiddlers and rogues’. Mohun’s own conduct during the trial was also the subject of comment. One observer considered that he demonstrated precocious skill in his cross-examination of some witnesses. Another reported that Mohun ‘behaved himself so oddly and childishly at his trial, that a near relation of his said he should be taken away and whipped.’28

The true reason for the acquittal is hard to determine. No doubt some peers were uncomfortable at sacrificing one of their own when he was still so young, but Mohun also appears to have been the beneficiary of a concerted effort on his behalf by his Macclesfield kinsmen. An attempt by Mountford’s widow to bring a private prosecution in the King’s Bench by using a process known as appeal of murder provoked ‘great discourse’ and threatened to perpetuate the matter, but when Mohun attempted to petition the House to prevent her from doing so, the Lords refused to act as no appeal had as yet been lodged.29 Later that year it was reported that Mountford’s widow had been advised to drop her prosecution in return for the queen looking favourably upon a parallel suit to secure her father’s pardon, he having been convicted and sentenced to death for coining.30

In addition to the considerable disruption generated by his trial, Mohun also continued to be involved in disputes within his family about the control of the Mohun estates. On 21 Feb. Mohun’s mother presented an appeal to the House, complaining that Mohun had seized lands settled on her for her jointure, relying on his privilege to prevent any action being taken against him. The Lords refused to take any direct action in the matter in hand, but they did respond by drafting a new standing order denying to minors and to the widows of peers recourse to parliamentary privilege while saving their right to claim privilege of peerage.31


In the aftermath of the proceedings against him that spring, Mohun’s health took a turn for the worse, and in October 1693 he was said to be lying dangerously sick at Bath. He had recovered by the spring of the following year when he was commissioned into the cavalry regiment commanded by his patron, Macclesfield (as Brandon had since become). In March he joined Macclesfield in taking part in the Flanders campaign.32 His military experiences offered Mohun new opportunities for getting himself into hot water, and in October 1694 he wounded at least two men following a scuffle in the Pall Mall chocolate house. The cause of the affray was said to have been on account of Mohun having ‘a fancy to the killing of a poor coachman’. He was prevented from doing this by the intervention of Francis Scobell, a Cornish Member, whom Mohun then narrowly avoided murdering in turn ‘for hindering him’.33 Mohun was reported to have regretted this last incident, but at least one observer commented prophetically, ‘I perceive the Lords will have more blood to answer for than Mr Mountford’s by saving the Lord Mohun, for he is far from mending.’34

Mohun seems to have avoided further serious trouble for the next two-and-a-half years, but in April 1697 he was again the subject of press attention following a duel with Captain Bingham in St James’s Park.35 Mohun was also increasingly embroiled in family disputes over the disposition of his depleted estates. The month before the duel with Bingham, the House had considered a dispute between Mohun, his mother and other members of the family arising out of a case in chancery over rights to part of his estate. The case was the result of years of confused management of the estates in the West Country, which had been brought to a head by the death of the 2nd Baron’s widow in 1692. The dowager Lady Mohun and her second husband, Coward, as well as Mohun and his guardians had each subsequently attempted to seize control of the property.36 Although in this case judgment was given in Mohun’s favour, it failed to resolve a broader disagreement within the family that continued to simmer for the remainder of his life.37 Later that year, Mohun was at the centre of yet another brawl that resulted in him fatally stabbing another Captain Hill (not the same as his former colleague) at the Rummer in Charing Cross. Mohun fled the scene, but he was rapidly tracked down to the house of a comrade in arms from the Brest campaign, Edward Rich, 6th earl of Warwick and Holland. Taken before lord chief justice Holt, Mohun was released on bail having called on Warwick, Macclesfield, Colonel Coote and Sir Robert Tyrrell to stand as his sureties;38 (Narcissus Luttrell recorded that the sureties were Warwick, Halifax and Mohun’s cousin, James Annesley, 3rd earl of Anglesey.) The following month the Middlesex grand jury brought in a true bill against him for Hill’s murder and committed him to King’s Bench prison. On 20 Dec., having petitioned the House for his removal from his present quarters, Mohun was handed over to Black Rod once again. On 10 Jan. 1698 he petitioned for a speedy resolution to his predicament and was once more committed to the Tower.39

Incarceration seems to have done nothing to dampen Mohun’s spirits and in February the governor of the Tower, Robert Lucas, 3rd Baron Lucas, informed the House that he had been forced to confine Mohun to his chambers because he was ‘so exceeding rude that he could not tell how to deal with him’.40 Still without a date set for his trial, Mohun petitioned the House once more at the beginning of March. On 3 Mar. Sir Christopher Wren informed the Lords that it would take 16 days to ready Westminster Hall for the occasion. Although the House then ordered that scaffolds should be erected, a meeting of the treasury commissioners shortly after took exception to Wren’s quotation for the cost of making the hall ready and insisted that he limit himself to a budget of £500 at the most.41 On 15 Apr., with the trial still in the planning stages, Mohun was successful in seeking his release from the Tower on bail on the grounds of ill health, a plea that was confirmed by his physician who testified that Mohun had suffered some form of apoplectic fit. Once again, Warwick undertook to be one of his sureties, joined by Orby, Thomas Windham and James Mohun as the other guarantors.42 By this time it was widely reported that Mohun would escape a further trial. Believing that the evidence against him would at most only secure a conviction for manslaughter, it was thought that such a result would not justify the estimated £3,000 it was thought the trial would cost.43 In June a warrant was drawn up pardoning Mohun for Hill’s murder, and on 4 July Mohun, by then 21, presented himself at the House on the penultimate day of the session with his pardon from the king along with his summons to attend. He was admitted accordingly to his place on the barons’ bench.44

Mohun’s second brush with the hangman failed to curb his excesses. Along with Warwick he continued to provide the gossip sheets with plentiful instances of lurid bad behaviour, such as ‘their leading of some thousands of people, who heartily cursed them for it, out of Fleet Street, to see them shit in a saw-pit.’45 Mohun was absent at the opening of the new Parliament and towards the end of October he was involved in yet another fatal brawl. Having spent the evening in company with Warwick and a few companions, the two peers ended the night engaged in a duel acting as seconds to Captain Coote (probably the son of Mohun’s former guarantor, Colonel Coote) against three other members of the party. In the fray Coote was killed and French (his opponent) seriously injured.46 Mohun and Warwick fled the scene and absconded to France.47 There they indulged in a series of brawls that resulted in Mohun being run through in one quarrel. In February 1699 both peers were ejected from Calais following an attempted rape.48

By the close of the month they were back in England but Mohun delayed surrendering himself into Black Rod’s custody (as his companion had done), being advised by his friends to await the result of Warwick’s trial for Coote’s murder.49 On 20 Mar. Mohun petitioned the House once more, explaining that he had decided not to hand himself in, being unable to stand the costs and fearful for the consequences for his health of a lengthy imprisonment in the Tower. Four days later he capitulated and surrendered himself. On 28 Mar. Warwick stood trial. It rapidly became apparent that the crown’s case was that although Warwick and Mohun had ostensibly acted as Coote’s seconds, the whole affair had been prearranged with the aim of killing Coote.50 Proof for this theory not being forthcoming, Warwick was convicted of Coote’s manslaughter while Mohun was acquitted after it was accepted that he had not played any role in the engagement save trying to part the combatants.51 Reprieved for a third time, Mohun took his seat in the House once more on 31 Mar., after which he was present on 14 of the remaining days in the session (17 per cent of the whole). On 24 Apr. he informed the House of a report that a French squadron with 20,000 troops on board was at Dunkirk and on the point of launching an invasion, and on 3 May he was nominated one of the managers of the conference for the bill on paper duties.52

Mohun was sick again during the summer following the close of the session and was thought once more to be in some danger of losing his life. The news was greeted by at least one correspondent with little sympathy, the writer confiding, ‘I believe you will be of my mind that his death will be no loss to the nation.’53 Having rallied once more, Mohun took his seat in the new session on 16 Nov. 1699, after which he was present on 82 per cent of all sitting days. On 23 Feb. 1700 he voted against adjourning into a committee of the whole to discuss the bill for continuing the East India Company as a corporation and later the same day he subscribed the dissent at the resolution to pass the measure. The following month, in the wake of the proceedings in the divorce case brought by Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk, it was reported that Mohun was one of several peers also contemplating divorce. Although one observer reported that ‘the town believes Lady Mohun virtuous’, elsewhere it was gossiped that early on in the marriage she had been seduced by Mohun’s uncle, probably James Mohun.54 It was certainly the case that by the time of Lady Mohun’s death, drowned during a crossing to Ireland in company with one of her ‘gallants’, Mohun and his baroness had long ceased to cohabit.55 If Mohun had serious intentions of pursuing a divorce, he took it no further at this time. For the remainder of the session he appears to have focused his attention on the land tax bill instead. On 4 Apr. Mohun subscribed the protest against the resolution to pass the bill, and on 9 and 10 Apr. he was nominated one of the managers of a series of conferences concerning the measure.56 On 10 Apr. he subscribed a further protest at the resolution not to insist on the Lords’ amendments to the land tax. Following the close of the session, he was included on an annotated list of Whig lords, noting him as a likely supporter of the new ministry.

Mohun attended the prorogation day of 24 Oct. 1700, before taking his place in the House at the beginning of the new Parliament on 6 Feb. 1701, after which he was present on over 90 per cent of all sitting days. On 17 Feb. he was appointed one of the managers of the conference considering the Lords’ address to the king, and on 12 May he acted as one of the tellers for the division over whether to agree to the motion to reverse a decree in the cause Farrell v. White. On 4 June he served as a teller for the motion whether to pass the new Deal fresh water bill, which was carried by 26 votes, and the following day he acted as teller once more in the division whether to reverse a decree in the case Grosvenor v. Coy. Named one of the managers of the conferences concerning impeachments on 6 and 10 June, Mohun reported from two committees on 12 June, and on 24 June he was one of four peers nominated to inspect the balloting glass and determine which members of the House had been selected to act as commissioners for the union. The same day he was one of the tellers in the division whether to adjourn the House during discussion of the report of the commissioners for public accounts. The same month Mohun voted in favour of acquitting the Junto peers, John Somers, Baron Somers, and Edward Russell, earl of Orford.

Shortly after the close of the session, Mohun accompanied his patron, Macclesfield, on the embassy to Hanover.57 Although one of Mohun’s companions, John Toland, was at pains to recommend Mohun’s ‘exemplary’ behaviour during the embassy, in September Cary Gardiner reported rumours of Mohun having been involved in killing another man. If there was any foundation to the rumour no further action seems to have been taken.58

Mohun returned to England in October.59 The following month his prospects were transformed by Macclesfield’s sudden death and his succession to the vast majority of his patron’s personal estate.60 Luttrell reckoned Mohun’s windfall to be worth £20,000, though another reporter estimated it as being worth as much as £51,000.61 Mohun joined the new earl, Fitton Gerard, 3rd earl of Macclesfield, acting as chief mourner at his former patron’s funeral later that month, before taking his seat at the opening of the new Parliament on 30 December.62 Shortly after it was rumoured that Mohun was set to succeed Algernon Capell, 2nd earl of Essex, as colonel of a foot regiment; Essex was said to be busy attempting to secure the command of the yeomen of the guard. The report was confirmed in February.63 Present on 89 per cent of all sitting days in the session, early on there were soon indications of problems relating to Mohun’s succession to the Gerard estates. On 7 Jan. 1702 he informed the House that one of his servants, Thomas Shepherd, had been arrested on a charge of trespass at Macclesfield’s suit. On 19 Jan. Mohun acted as one of the tellers for the division over whether to agree to the House’s resolution concerning Fuller’s books, and on 6 and 10 Feb. he was named one of the managers of the conferences concerning the bill of attainder against the Pretender. On 16 Feb. he acted as teller again on the motion whether to resume the House from a committee of the whole considering the bill for punishing perjury, and on 21 Feb. he reported from the committee of the whole considering the mutiny bill. In common with the majority of peers present in the House, Mohun was named a manager of the conference following the death of King William and accession of Queen Anne on 8 Mar., and on 9 May he was entrusted with the proxy of George Nevill, 13th Baron Abergavenny, which was vacated by the close. Abergavenny had been one of a select group of peers summoned to Macclesfield’s home to witness the reading of the second earl’s will and to oversee the proper disbursement of Macclesfield’s papers.64

The reign of Anne 1702 to death

Mohun’s change of fortune looked likely to be of short duration as, within weeks of the queen’s accession, it was rumoured that he was one of four new colonels likely to be removed from their commands.65 The expected dismissal failed to transpire. He took his seat in the new Parliament on 20 Oct. after which he was present on over 80 per cent of all sitting days. On 19 Nov. he joined Thomas Wharton, 5th Baron (later marquess of) Wharton, in seconding a motion proposed by Charles Boyle, 2nd earl of Burlington, on behalf of William Lloyd, of Worcester, and on 9 Dec. he acted as one of the tellers (presumably for those in favour of the resolution) on the motion to enable the Lords to sign the declaration on tacking, which was carried by 17 votes.66 The death of Macclesfield that month left Mohun in possession of the remainder of the vast majority of the Gerard estate.67 Macclesfield’s death ended one source of dispute over the Gerard property but ushered in the opening of a long-running legal dispute between Mohun and a number of claimants, among them Hamilton, who claimed the manor of Gawsworth in Cheshire in right of his wife. A report at the close of December that Hamilton was to be granted an English earldom and that he was to take the title of Macclesfield, was perhaps an early indication of the favour with which Hamilton’s suit was viewed by the new regime. Despite this, the result of one action in chancery early the following year was a decree in Mohun’s favour.68

Prior to the Christmas recess Mohun had been appointed one of the managers of the conference concerning the bill for preventing occasional conformity and in January 1703 he was estimated a likely opponent of the bill in a forecast compiled by Nottingham. Named a manager of a further conference concerning the measure on 9 Jan., on 16 Jan. Mohun voted in favour of adhering to the Lords’ amendment to the bill’s penalty clause. Three days later Mohun subscribed the protest at the resolution not to agree with the committee in omitting a clause from the bill for settling a revenue on Prince George of Denmark, duke of Cumberland, specifying that the prince could serve as a member of the Privy Council and sit in the House in the event of his outliving the queen. On 16 Feb. he acted as a teller for the division on whether to read the bill to establish a qualification for members of the Commons a second time (which was rejected by two votes) and the following day he served as one of the tellers on the question whether to agree to the motion concerning Admiral Sir George Rooke as well as being named one of the managers of the conference concerning the commissioners of public accounts. The same day he reported from the committee nominated to draft an address to the queen thanking her for her great care in not granting further licences to French immigrants and for her proclamation to apprehend those already present in the country without licence. Mohun had previously moved for an address to be presented to the queen requesting such an order from her.69 Mohun was nominated one of the managers of two further conferences concerning the same business on 22 and 25 Feb., and on 26 Feb. he was a teller once more for the motion to adjourn from discussion of Whitaker’s accounting bill (which resulted in a tied vote).

After the close of the session, Mohun stood proxy to George Lewis, elector of Hanover (later King George I) at his installation as knight of the Garter.70 In June his attention was taken up with further legal proceedings surrounding the Macclesfield inheritance. On this occasion the case went Hamilton’s way when Macclesfield’s will was declared void on account of Macclesfield’s failure to enter the reversal of his attainder in the court’s records, thereby leaving the property in the hands of the crown.71 Subsequent proceedings in Queen’s Bench later in the year also served to make Mohun’s case seem ‘dubious’.72

Mohun returned to the House for the new session on 9 Nov. 1703, after which he was present on just over three-quarters of all sitting days. Early in the session he was again forecast as a likely opponent of the occasional conformity bill in a list drawn up by Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland. The assessment was replicated in Sunderland’s second forecast later in November, and on 14 Dec. Mohun was, unsurprisingly, one of those to vote against the measure. Besides this, Mohun’s attention was again taken up with his own affairs. He lost no time in lodging an appeal against the decree overturning Macclesfield’s will, which handed an estate worth £3,000 per annum to the crown.73 No doubt eager to secure the assistance of his colleagues in the House, Mohun joined a number of peers attending a dinner at Sunderland’s London residence in December and, the following month, after deliberation of the matter had been delayed on numerous occasions by Hamilton’s absence in Scotland, he was successful in securing the reversal of the chancery decree concerning part of Macclesfield’s personal estate, though no further progress was made in the main action.74

Mohun’s efforts to cultivate support for his legal action may explain his presence at a series of Whig entertainments held during the session, noted by Charles Bennet, 2nd Baron Ossulston (later earl of Tankerville). On 9 Feb. 1704 Mohun was present at one such dinner in company with Ossulston, Abergavenny and others, and two days later he attended a dinner hosted by Henry Herbert, Baron Herbert of Cherbury. On 22 Feb. he dined again with Ossulston, Abergavenny and Herbert in Black Rod’s chambers, and on 16 Mar. he dined once more in company with Abergavenny. On 24 Mar. Mohun subscribed the protest at the resolution not to put the question whether the information contained in Sir John Maclean’s evidence was imperfect. Three days later he joined Ossulston, Essex and Charles Montagu, 4th earl (later duke) of Manchester at a party at the Queen’s Arms.75

Mohun took his seat at the opening of the new session on 24 Oct. after which he was present on just under 80 per cent of all sitting days. He was again the recipient of Abergavenny’s proxy on 20 Nov. (which was vacated on 4 Dec.) and two days later he was also entrusted with that of Charles Mildmay, 18th Baron Fitzwalter, which was vacated on 1 Feb. 1705. On 11 Dec. he proposed inhibiting the importation of Scots wool into England or Ireland. Three days later he moved a vote of thanks to John Churchill, duke of Marlborough and on 15 Dec. he again spoke out against the occasional conformity bill.76 On 20 Dec. he reported from the committee for the act vesting the estate of Charles Howard, 4th Baron Howard of Escrick, in trustees to be sold for the payment of debts: a subject with which Mohun was no doubt more than familiar. Between 27 Feb. and 7 Mar. Mohun was named one of the managers of three conferences considering the case of the Ailesbury men, and on 13 Mar. he was named a manager of two further conferences, considering the amendments to the Jacob Pechels naturalization bill and the amendments to the militia bill. The same day (13 Mar.), Mohun was entrusted with Orford’s proxy, which was vacated by the prorogation.

Mohun was reported to have resigned his colonelcy later that month, supposedly piqued at his failure to be promoted to the rank of brigadier (an omission that was rectified two years later).77 In April he was (unsurprisingly) listed as a supporter of the Hanoverian succession. Active in the elections in Cheshire over the summer on behalf of the Whig candidates, Mohun took his seat two days into the new Parliament on 27 Oct. 1705, and on 29 Oct. he was again entrusted with Orford’s proxy (which was vacated on 12 November). Absent for ten days in mid November, Mohun was excused at a call of the House on 12 Nov., but he resumed his place on 19 Nov. and on 23 Nov. he was entrusted with the proxy of John Lovelace, 4th Baron Lovelace. Lovelace’s proxy was vacated on 15 Jan. 1706. Named a manager of three conferences considering the resolution that the Church of England was in no manner of danger between 7 and 14 Dec., on 16 Feb. 1706, Mohun again received Orford’s proxy, which was vacated three days later. Rallying to Wharton’s assistance, Mohun was foremost among a group of peers who moved that the Parton harbour bill should be thrown out after hearing evidence by counsel for the bill in the House on 22 February. Wharton had vowed to oppose the measure as part of a broader dispute within the borough of Cockermouth.78 On 25 Feb. Mohun reported from the committee considering the act for vesting a mortgage belonging to Humphrey Courtney in trustees to be sold for the payment of debts.

In April Mohun was successful in securing a favourable judgment in a parallel action with Lady Henrietta Orby, who also had a claim on part of the Macclesfield estate, but concentration on his various legal suits to the exclusion of his other responsibilities began to cause comment. At the beginning of June Sidney Godolphin*, earl of Godolphin, complained to Marlborough that Mohun was avoiding his duty as a serving officer, noting with disgust, ‘here is Major General Harvey [Daniel Harvey], and my Lord Mohun, a brigadier walking in St James’s Park and every day in the chocolate house, while both their regiments are serving abroad.’79 Although Marlborough agreed that the two men ‘ought to be ashamed’ and sought to assure Godolphin that he had ‘no partiality’ for Mohun, he conceded that although ‘If I were in Lord Mohun’s circumstances, no law suit should be an excuse for my staying from my command; but it being for his whole estate, it might look hard to punish him for it.’80

Mohun returned to the House for the new session on 22 Oct. after which he was present on approximately 58 per cent of all sitting days. On 6 Feb. 1707 he was one of a large party at the London home of Charles Seymour, 6th duke of Somerset, and on 3 Mar. he acted as one of the tellers for the division which saw the successful passage of the first enacting clause of the union treaty.81 On 11 Mar. he was once more entrusted with Orford’s proxy (which was vacated by Orford’s resumption of his seat on 24 Mar.), and two days later he acted as one of the tellers for the division over whether to agree to the proposed amendment to the Fornhill highways bill. The following day (14 Mar.) he was also entrusted with the proxy of the Tory peer, James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormond, which was vacated by Ormond’s return to the House on 25 March.

Mohun attended four days of the brief nine-day session of April 1707 before taking his seat in the new Parliament on 23 Oct. 1707, of which he attended 52 per cent of all sitting days. The following spring Mohun sought permission to sell his regiment to Colonel James Dormer, though he was at pains to assure Marlborough that his request was not on account of ‘any dislike to the service and that I shall always be as much your humble servant as if I continued in the service.’82 Unsurprisingly, the request met no opposition from either of the duumvirs. Godolphin recommended that ‘he were better out of the army than in it’ while Marlborough endorsed warmly Mohun’s recommendation of Dormer, who he thought ‘a very good officer’.83 It was later reported that Mohun was compensated with £3,000 for the command.84

Following the close of the session, Mohun was noted a Whig in a printed list of the Parliament of Great Britain (though the annotation may have been appended some time later in response to the Sacheverell trial). Despite his assurances to Marlborough, Mohun appears to have become disheartened at his failure to benefit more obviously from his support for the Junto and duumvirs, and in December 1708 it was reported that in common with a number of the erstwhile supporters, ‘Somerset and Lord Moon [sic], are outrageous against the Junto.’85

It was, thus, apparently with some disgruntlement that Mohun returned to the House two days after the opening of the new Parliament on 18 Nov. 1708. Present on three-quarters of all sitting days, on 17 Jan. 1709 he reported from the committee considering the petitions of four Scots peers disputing the returns in the election for the representative peers. Four days later (21 Jan.) Mohun voted in favour of permitting Scots peers in possession of British titles to vote in the elections for Scots representative peers (also acting as one of the tellers for the division), and on 1 Feb. he reported from the committee nominated to calculate the numbers of votes entered for those Scots peers standing for election. Despite his apparent irritation with the Junto, Mohun’s adherence to the Hanoverian succession and to the Whig cause in general remained undiminished, and in March he moved for the removal of the Pretender from French dominions to be included in the address to the queen.86 The following month, on 3 Apr., he was noted among a number of other peers present at an entertainment hosted by Somerset and ten days later he reported from the committee of the whole considering the bill for the relief of non-commissioned officers as fit to pass.87

Mohun returned to the House at the beginning of the new session on 15 Nov. 1709, after which he was present on just over 70 per cent of all sitting days. Between 10 and 11 Jan. 1710 he reported from two sessions of committees of the whole considering William Hayward’s bill, which was adjudged fit to pass with amendments. Prominent in the business surrounding the trial of Dr Sacheverell during the session, Mohun acted as a teller in three votes relating to the proceedings (on 25 Feb., 14 and 16 Mar.) as well as chairing the committee appointed to examine the riots that had erupted in London in the wake of the opening of the trial, from which he reported on 2 March. During the subsequent debates he become embroiled in a heated exchange with Hamilton and on 20 Mar., unsurprisingly, found the doctor guilty of the charges laid against him.88 The following day he served as a teller again for the motion to bar Sacheverell from holding a benefice for three years. On 1 Apr. he acted as a teller again for the division over whether to reverse a decree in the cause Hammersmith Inhabitants v. Bishop of London.

Mohun’s well-known dissatisfaction with the Junto was no doubt the reason for his inclusion in one of Harley’s memoranda in July 1710 of those he hoped might join his new ministry. In October, although he assessed Mohun as a possible opponent, Harley continued his efforts to secure Mohun’s services, employing first the renegade Whig, Henry Mordaunt, 3rd earl of Peterborough, and then Mohun’s former mother-in-law, Lady Charlotte Orby, as intermediaries. Mohun explained to William Cowper, Baron (later Earl) Cowper, that he had been informed he might expect ‘any preferment he would choose if he would come into them’ and, perhaps more alluring still, that the new ministry had offered him the prospect of a satisfactory end to the ongoing legal battle with Hamilton. Despite this, Mohun remained unwilling to enter directly into measures with Harley, undertaking only that, ‘while they acted the interest of his country, he was already with them; if they should do otherwise, nothing should make him assist them.’89 Nevertheless, the new ministry continued to cultivate Mohun, and in November Shrewsbury informed Harley that he had secured the queen’s consent for Mohun to be one of the new Admiralty commissioners, provided he was not made first lord.90

Mohun took his seat at the opening of the new Parliament on 25 Nov. 1710, after which he was present on 44 per cent of all sitting days. Absent for a few days between 29 Nov. and 4 Dec. Mohun covered his absence by registering his proxy with Ormond. Mohun spent the Christmas recess at Epsom thereby missing an attempt made by Richard Savage, 4th Earl Rivers, to call on him, presumably with a view to discerning how Mohun was likely to behave in the forthcoming debates on the peace.91 Mohun resumed his place on 2 Jan. 1711. On 11 Jan. he subscribed the protests at the resolution rejecting the petitions of the commanders in the Spanish campaign, Charles O’Hara, Baron Tyrawley [I] and Henry de Massue, Viscount Galway [I] desiring time to answer, and at the resolution that blamed Tyrawley, Galway and their fellow general James Stanhope, the future Earl Stanhope, for the defeat at Almanza. The following day, having voiced his concerns at the motion to censure the ministers responsible for approving the offensive in Spain on the grounds that, ‘he knew not who was meant by the ministry’, that ‘the advice of an offensive war was, at that time, no ill advice’ and finally ‘because he would be just to all mankind and not censure anybody that gives his opinion to the best of his understanding’, he subscribed the protest when the resolution to censure the ministers was carried.92 On 5 Feb. he acted as one of the tellers for the division whether to read the general naturalization bill a second time, and the same day he was entrusted with Wharton’s proxy. The proxy was vacated ten days later and on 10 Feb. Mohun also received that of John Ashburnham, 3rd Baron Ashburnham, which was vacated on 13 February. Mohun received Wharton’s proxy again on 2 Apr., which was vacated on 16 April. Absent for the last three weeks of the session, on 8 June Mohun registered his own proxy with Henry Clinton, 7th earl of Lincoln.

During the summer relations between Mohun and Hamilton reached a new low point and in August there were reports of a ‘mighty noise’ concerning the two over their ongoing legal dispute.93 Having attended the two single sitting days of 13 and 27 Nov., Mohun took his seat at the opening of the new session on 7 Dec., on which day he received the proxy of Banastre Maynard, 3rd Baron Maynard, which was vacated by the session’s close. Present on over three-quarters of all sitting days in the session, on 22 Dec. Mohun was also entrusted with the proxy of Maurice Thompson, 2nd Baron Haversham. The same month he was included by Nottingham in a list of peers who were perhaps expected to co-operate against the ministry’s peace policy, and on 8 Dec. he was listed among those thought to be in favour of presenting the address containing the no peace without Spain motion. Aside from these great issues, the session was dominated by Mohun’s continuing efforts to secure the Macclesfield inheritance from his rival Hamilton. On 19 Dec. he was noted among those expected to oppose moves to permit Hamilton to take his seat in the House as duke of Brandon, and the following day he voted to bar Scots peers holding post-union British titles from sitting in the Lords.

Early the following year Mohun was successful in securing the House’s leave for him to insist on his privilege during the continuing legal action with Hamilton, and it was with a noticeably generous spirit that he granted Peter Minshull and his family (who were engaged in parallel suits with Mohun over part of the Macclesfield estate) further time to respond to his petition to overturn a chancery decree that had been awarded in their favour.94 On 26 Feb. 1712 he acted as one of the tellers for the division on whether to agree to the Commons’ amendment to the episcopal communion (Scotland) bill. On 11 Feb. and again on 25 May he received Lincoln’s proxy (vacated respectively on 13 Feb. and 30 May), and on 7 Mar. he also received that of Charles Powlett, 2nd duke of Bolton, which was voided by Bolton’s resumption of his seat on 24 March. A few days later, on 29 Mar., Mohun was entrusted with the proxy of John Sydney, 6th earl of Leicester, and on 1 Apr. he was entrusted with Bolton’s proxy once more (vacated by Bolton’s return to the House on 12 May). On 19 and 20 May he acted as teller for two divisions concerning the commitment and passing of the grants bill, though the latter failed after the votes were tied at 78 each, and on 28 May he subscribed the protest at the resolution not to address the queen to request her to order an offensive war against France. Mohun subscribed a final protest on 7 June at the resolution not to amend the address on the queen’s speech relating to the peace. The reasons for both these protests were obliterated from the Journal.

Amidst the increasing antagonisms caused by the legal actions over the Macclesfield estate, there were also signs that Mohun’s temper was beginning to give way. In March Peter Minshull, hoping to achieve redress from the Lords, complained to Oxford of the ‘violence and manifest injustice’ he had been subjected to both by ‘the late lords Macclesfield and present Lord Mohun’ in his efforts to settle the issue.95 On 28 May, following an angry exchange between John Poulett, Earl Poulett and Marlborough, during the debate on the ‘restraining orders’ Mohun was employed by the latter to convey a challenge to Poulett, though in the event Poulett declined to fight.96 The same day, unsurprisingly, Mohun divided with those in favour of demanding that the queen order her commanders on the continent to resume offensive operations.

Having failed to resolve their dispute in the course of the session or during the months following the prorogation in June, in November 1712 Mohun and Hamilton tried once more to reach some form of settlement. On 13 Nov. a meeting between the two men and their lawyers descended into an acrimonious argument after Hamilton cast doubt upon the credibility of one of Mohun’s witnesses, only for Mohun to respond in kind that his man was quite as honest a man as the duke himself. The result was yet another challenge and on the morning of 15 Nov., having spent the night before carousing in a bagnio, Mohun along with his second, General George Maccartney, arrived at Hyde Park for his long-awaited confrontation with Hamilton. The result was a notoriously brutal and swift affair with neither of the principals apparently interested in wasting time with parrying. Mohun appears to have suffered a fatal stab wound almost at once. In the subsequent enquiries, there was some dispute as to whether it was Mohun himself or Maccartney who then dealt Hamilton a mortal blow. Some reporters claimed that Maccartney butchered Hamilton after Mohun’s death, but it seems likely that it was Mohun who succeeded in stabbing his enemy through the chest while he was on the floor with Hamilton leaning over him.97

In the aftermath of the duel, some commentators, with Swift in the vanguard, claimed that the affair had been ‘a whiggish contrivance’ to prevent Hamilton from taking up his post as ambassador in Paris.98 Many thought that Maccartney was most to blame for the final resort to violence, though his friend, Charles Lennox, duke of Richmond, with whom he sought refuge after the duel protested in a letter to the duchess of Portsmouth ‘I do not understand why, because the duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun killed each other because they could not agree, it should be a matter of state importance.’99 The practical result of the affray was to perpetuate the legal wrangling over the settlement of the Macclesfield estate. The dispute was further complicated by Mohun’s own will, in which he left all, bar £1,000, to his widow and former mistress, Elizabeth ‘Duck’ Griffin, marriage to whom he had only recently owned. He left £1,000 to his ‘pretended’ daughter, Elizabeth Mohun, and a £100 annuity to Jeremiah Thompson, steward of his Cheshire estates.100 Mohun was interred close to his father in an unmarked grave at St Martin-in-the-Fields. His widow later married Colonel Charles Mordaunt, one of Peterborough’s nephews. In the absence of a male heir, the barony of Mohun became extinct.


  • 1 Chatsworth, Halifax collection B.82.
  • 2 Add. 70318, petition of Elizabeth Mohun, 25 Mar. ?1713.
  • 3 TNA, PROB 11/536.
  • 4 CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 251.
  • 5 Ibid. 1705-6, p. 126.
  • 6 Dalton, Army Lists, v. 17.
  • 7 Add. 22267, ff. 164-71.
  • 8 TNA, PROB 18/32/114; Macaulay, Hist. of England,v. 2268.
  • 9 R.S. Forsythe, Noble Rake, 15; Evelyn Diary, v. 129.
  • 10 CSP Dom. 1688, pp. 226-45.
  • 11 V. Stater, High Life, Low Morals, 37; Forsythe, 12; HMC Lords, ii. 519; Add. 18730, ff. 57, 85, 100, 109.
  • 12 Bodl. Carte 232, f. 141.
  • 13 PA, HL/PO/JO/10/3/187/49; SCLA, DR 37/2/Box 98/31 Chatsworth, Halifax collection B.82.
  • 14 Forsythe, 15n.
  • 15 CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 11.
  • 16 Hatton Corresp. ii. 187; Verney ms mic. M636/46, J. to Sir R. Verney, 10 Dec. 1692; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 628-9, 636.
  • 17 Hatton Corresp. ii. 187; HMC Portland, iii. 509.
  • 18 Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 638; Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, Box 2, folder 110, Yard to Poley, 13 Dec. 1692.
  • 19 Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 11.
  • 20 Bodl. Carte 79, f. 475; CSP Dom. 1693, p. 14.
  • 21 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, Box 3, folder 113, Yard to Poley, 31 Jan. 1693; Add. 75375, ff. 25-26; Hatton Corresp. ii. 188-9; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 477.
  • 22 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, Box 3, folder 114, Yard to Poley, 3 Feb. 1693.
  • 23 Hatton Corresp. ii. 188-9; Verney ms mic. M636/46, J. to Sir R. Verney, 2 Feb. 1693; Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, Box 3, folder 113, Yard to Poley, 31 Jan. 1693; Macaulay, v. 2268.
  • 24 State Trials, xii. 1048-9.
  • 25 Add. 70081, newsletter, 4 Feb. 1693.
  • 26 HMC Portland, iii. 513.
  • 27 Queen Mary Mems. 59.
  • 28 Bodl. Tanner 25, f. 7.
  • 29 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, Box 3, folder 114, Yard to Poley, 7 Feb. 1693; TNA, SP 105/58, f. 151.
  • 30 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 207; CSP Dom. 1693, p. 375.
  • 31 HMC Lords, iv. 366; LJ, xv. 241.
  • 32 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 197, 281-2.
  • 33 Ibid. 381; Verney ms mic. M636/47, A. Nicholas to J. Verney, 9 Oct. 1694; Bodl. Carte 79, ff. 645, 647.
  • 34 HMC Portland, iii. 558.
  • 35 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 207.
  • 36 PA, HL/PO/JO/10/3/187/49-53.
  • 37 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 199.
  • 38 Ibid. 278, 296; HMC Portland, iii. 592.
  • 39 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 296, 303, 321, 329.
  • 40 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 44, f. 40.
  • 41 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 350-1; CTB, 1697-8, pp. 68-74.
  • 42 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 368.
  • 43 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 44, ff. 11-12, 84.
  • 44 CSP Dom. 1698, p. 294.
  • 45 Whole Life and History of my Lord Moon, and the Earl of Warwick (1711).
  • 46 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 445; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 410.
  • 47 CSP Dom. 1698, p. 435.
  • 48 Bodl. Carte 228, ff. 270, 281.
  • 49 Ibid. f. 289.
  • 50 TNA, E192/15/15.
  • 51 HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 360-1; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 500.
  • 52 Bodl. Carte 228, f. 303.
  • 53 HMC 2nd Rep. viii. vii. f. 11.
  • 54 Verney ms mic. M636/51, C. Gardiner to Sir J. Verney, 12 Mar. 1700.
  • 55 Forsythe, 17-20.
  • 56 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 636.
  • 57 Ibid. v. 67.
  • 58 Forsythe, 114-15; Verney ms mic. M636/51, C. Gardiner to Sir J. Verney, 11 Sept. 1701.
  • 59 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 105.
  • 60 Verney ms mic. M636/51, C. Gardiner to Sir J. Verney, 13 Nov. 1701.
  • 61 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 106-7; HMC Cowper, ii. 446.
  • 62 Post Boy, 25 Nov. 1701.
  • 63 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 17 Jan. 1702; Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 44, f. 161; CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 512.
  • 64 TNA, PROB 18/26/48.
  • 65 Add. 7073-4, newsletter, 18 Apr. 1702.
  • 66 Nicolson, London Diaries, 129.
  • 67 Add. 70073-4, newsletter, 29 Dec. 1702.
  • 68 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 253, 263.
  • 69 Nicolson, London Diaries, 198.
  • 70 Add. 70075, newsletter, 13 Mar. 1703.
  • 71 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 307; Add. 70075, newsletter, 12 June 1703.
  • 72 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 360.
  • 73 LJ, xvii. 331-3; Add. 70075, newsletter, 20 Nov. 1703.
  • 74 TNA, C104/116, pt. 1; LJ, xvii. 335-6, 340-1, 361-5; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 385; Add. 70075, newsletter, 29 Jan. 1704.
  • 75 TNA, C104/116, pt. 1.
  • 76 Nicolson, London Diaries, 250, 252, 253-4.
  • 77 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 533.
  • 78 Nicolson, London Diaries, 383; HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 125.
  • 79 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. i. 576.
  • 80 Ibid. ii. 590.
  • 81 HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 20.
  • 82 Add. 61134, f. 65; Add. 61291, ff. 177-8.
  • 83 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. ii. 963, 972.
  • 84 HMC Portland, iv. 490.
  • 85 Add. 72488, ff. 40-41.
  • 86 Ibid. 52-53.
  • 87 TNA, C104/113, pt. 2.
  • 88 Holmes, Sacheverell, 222; Add. 15574, ff. 65-68.
  • 89 Cowper Diary, 47.
  • 90 HMC Bath, i. 200.
  • 91 HMC Portland, iv. 648.
  • 92 Timberland, ii. 327.
  • 93 SRO, Hamilton mss GD406/1/10123.
  • 94 LJ, xix. 366, 370-1, 372-3, 375-6, 395-6.
  • 95 Add. 70203, Peter Minshull to Oxford, 15 Mar. 1712.
  • 96 Bodl. Rawl. A 286, ff. 413-16.
  • 97 Lancs. RO, DDKE/acc.7840 HMC/1137, F. Cholmondeley to George Kenyon, 15 Nov. 1712; Add. 36772, ff. 18-19; Bodl. Ballard 36, f. 144.
  • 98 Swift, Works ed. Davis, vi. 198-9; Bodl. Ballard 36, f. 145.
  • 99 Add. 72496, ff. 25-26; A Duke and his Friends ed. earl of March, i. 22-24.
  • 100 Add. 70321, petition of duchess of Hamilton etc. 6 Mar. 1713; Add. 70318, petition of Hon. Elizabeth Mohun, 25 Mar. 1713; Wentworth Pprs. 285.