POWLETT, Charles (c. 1661-1722)

POWLETT (PAULET), Charles (c. 1661–1722)

styled 1675-89 earl of Wiltshire; styled 1689-99 mq. of Winchester; suc. fa. 27 Feb. 1699 as 2nd duke of BOLTON

First sat 16 Nov. 1699; last sat 11 Oct. 1722

MP Hants 1681, 1685, 1689-1698

b. c.1661, 1st surv. s. of Charles Powlett, styled Ld. St John (later 5th mq. of Winchester and duke of Bolton), and 2nd w. Mary, illegit. da. of Emmanuel Scrope, earl of Sunderland; bro. of Ld. William Powlett. educ. G. Inn 1674; Winchester ?1675; travelled abroad (France) 1675-8.1 m. (1) 10 July 1679 Margaret (d.1682), da. of George Coventry, 3rd Bar. Coventry, s.p.;2 (2) 8 Feb. 1683 Frances (d.1696), da. of William Ramsden of Byrom, Yorks., 2s. 2da.; (3) bef. 15 Oct. 1697 Henrietta Crofts (d.1730), illegit. da. of James Scott, duke of Monmouth, and Eleanor, da. of Sir Robert Needham, 1s. KG 1714.3 d. 21 Jan. 1722; will 21 Mar. 1719, pr. Feb. 1724.4

Ld. chamb. to Mary II 1689-94;5 ld. justice [I] 1697-1700;6 commr. for Union 1706; ld. justice 1714,7 1720; ld. chamb. 1715-17; ld. lt. Ireland 1717-19.

Freeman, Lymington 1685, Winchester 1689,8 Southampton 1697, Dublin 1697, Cork 1698, Kinsale 1698, W. Looe 1700; dep. lt. Hants 1689-99; ld. lt. Hants, Dorset 1699-1710, 1714-d.; custos rot. Hants 1699-1710, 1715-d.; warden, New Forest 1699-1710, 1714-d.; v.-adm. Hants and I.o.W. 1692-1710, 1714-d.;9 high steward, Romsey 1697,10 Winchester 1699-d.;11 recorder, St Ives 1700;12 gov. I.o.W. 1707-10. 13

Col. of vol. horse 1690.

Associated with: Hackwood, Hants; Bolton Hall, Yorks.; St James's Square,14 and Dover St., London.15

Likenesses: oil on canvas, after Sir G. Kneller, c.1710, Carisbrooke Castle Museum, I.o.W.

Dubbed ‘the little marquess’ on account of his slight stature, Wiltshire (as he was styled from his father’s accession to the peerage until 1689) was thought by Macky to be ‘of a free and familiar disposition’, though other commentators thought him prickly and easily offended. Jonathan Swift deemed him ‘a great booby’ and Thomas Hearne thought him ‘a most lewd, vicious man, a great dissembler and a very hard drinker.’ A contemporary satire lampooned Wiltshire, his father and his brother, Lord William Powlett, suggesting that:

The two Winchester geese would be just like their dad
Could they tell how to get wit enough to be mad;
In pied coats these bawlers by rights should be clad.16

Pied coats were traditional garb for fools and jesters. While Wiltshire may not have inherited his father’s reputed madness, he undoubtedly acquired the family’s pride and sense of their importance as one of the country’s leading dynasties. He shared his father’s political sympathies, being closely associated with the Whig party from the 1680s and latterly a staunch lieutenant of both the Junto and the duumvirs in the reign of Anne. Despite this relations between the two men were frequently strained.17 The reason for their distance at this point stemmed in part from Winchester’s disapproval of his heir’s exuberant manner of living. A more immediate cause seems to have been his anger at Wiltshire’s over-hasty marriage to Frances Ramsden in 1683 following the death of his first wife only a few months previously. Although the new Lady Wiltshire hailed from an otherwise eminently respectable Yorkshire family, she was deemed an unsuitable match. Her portion was only £5,000, her maternal family, the Palmes, were prominent recusants and (worst of all) she was said already to be expecting Wiltshire’s child.18 By 1686, though, relations between father and son had improved markedly, prompting Winchester to write ‘long may this mutual exchange of love on my side and duty on yours continue, that not only we ourselves, but our posterity also, may find the good effects of it.’19

Marquess of Winchester, 1688 to 1699

The improved understanding between father and son endured over the course of the following few years and Wiltshire agreed willingly to Winchester’s request that he travel to Holland with his brother in the spring of 1688 to join William of Orange’s service. Present in the prince’s invasion force in November, Wiltshire was at the forefront of those driving the acceptance of William and Mary as king and queen.20 At a meeting of Members of Charles II’s Parliaments on 26 Dec. Wiltshire moved the introduction of the association for the defence of the protestant religion and on 7 Feb. 1689 he spoke in the Commons, urging Parliament to settle the succession in favour of the prince and princess.21

Wiltshire’s warm support for the new regime ensured his re-election to Hampshire and early appointment as lord chamberlain to the queen, while his father was given a step up in the peerage as duke of Bolton (after which Wiltshire was styled marquess of Winchester). Although he failed to be appointed to the vacant lieutenancy of Somerset the following year, Winchester was appointed to the Privy Council in June 1690 and in the summer of 1691 he travelled to Flanders to serve as a volunteer during the campaigning season. While abroad, he fought a duel with Richard Lumley, earl of Scarbrough, following a heated argument prompted by Winchester’s questioning Sir John Trenchard’s ‘good service to the government’ (Scarbrough was eager to defend Trenchard’s record). Winchester was disarmed but only slightly injured.22 He appears to have returned to England soon after as he was noted in a newsletter of 23 June 1691 as having visited the incarcerated former minister of James II, Richard Grahme, Viscount Preston [S], along with one Palmes (probably one of his wife’s kinsmen).23 Both men were reported as having offered Preston their assistance in securing his pardon (though a warrant for this had been drawn up the previous month).24 Despite reports circulating in November 1692 that Winchester was to be appointed governor of the Isle of Wight in succession to Sir Robert Holmes, he was disappointed in his ambitions when the post was awarded to John Cutts, Lord Cutts [I], instead.25 Winchester lost his household office by the death of the queen in December 1694 but he was continued in his annual pension of £1,200 and the following year (1695) he was returned for Hampshire again without contest.

In spite of the king’s apparent misgivings, Winchester was appointed one of the three lords justices of Ireland in April 1697 along with Henri de Massue de Ruvigny, earl of Galway [I], and Edward Villiers, Viscount Villiers, possibly on the recommendation of John Somers, later Baron Somers, or of Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury.26 The king was not alone in doubting Winchester’s suitability for the task. Even Ben Overton, who had previously been a beneficiary of Winchester’s patronage, feared that he would ‘busy himself the wrong way’ and James Vernon suggested that Somers also thought him ‘pretty incapable of instruction and expects he will make a very indifferent figure in his government’.27 Although John Methuen concluded in July that Winchester ‘exceeds my expectation, and applies himself to business more than I could have expected’, the marquess soon after proved his gainsayers right by falling in with the opposition in Ireland, much to Galway’s consternation.28 Even before he had arrived, he precipitated further difficulties with his father, Bolton, by beginning a liaison with Henrietta Crofts, bastard daughter of the executed duke of Monmouth, dubbed ‘the blazing star of that kingdom’. Reports that he had married his new mistress circulated from August, apparently without having ‘enquired after her fortune’ and in October Winchester confirmed that the pair had indeed married.29 Although Bolton was openly hostile to the match, he was prevailed upon to forgive his son following the king’s personal intervention.30

Winchester’s behaviour in Ireland led to reports within a year of his appointment that he was to be recalled. In 1698 he failed to be returned for Hampshire, in spite of his father’s earlier assurances that he had secured the seat for him. Although Bolton made efforts subsequently to ‘retrieve the election’ and petitions were lodged against both the Hampshire and Andover polls, the family interest proved insufficient to overturn the result.31 In the event the matter was resolved the following February by his father’s unexpected death, and Winchester’s succession to the dukedom and to a seat in the Lords. Almost at once the extent of their difficult relationship was made public when details of the late duke’s will were published. The new duke succeeded to extensive estates in Hampshire, Cornwall and Yorkshire worth an estimated £13,000 per annum, but much of his father’s unentailed property and personal estate (the value of which was estimated at £30,000 per annum) was left to his daughter, Jane, and her husband, John Egerton, 3rd earl of Bridgwater, with the remainder going to his favourite younger son, Lord William Powlett.32 Neither Bolton nor Lord William was named as an executor of his father’s will, Bridgwater being one of three accorded that honour.33 Galway suggested to Shrewsbury that Bolton’s changed circumstances might be used as an excuse to remove him as a lord justice, it being a position beneath his dignity as a duke.34

Duke of Bolton, 1699-1702

The first half of 1699 was dominated by the new duke’s efforts to set his affairs in order. In March he requested leave to return to England. Although he was granted permission in April, his journey was delayed by a month when he fell dangerously sick of a fever. In his absence he attempted through the House of Lords to prevent Bridgwater from proving the late duke’s will but on 29 Apr. 1699 the House ordered that probate should not be stopped and further resolved that no peer might employ his privilege to prevent the proving of a will. Bolton was finally able to quit his post in May.35 The following month he waited on the king. His warm reception encouraged rumours that he was to be appointed to the lord chamberlaincy.36 The same month he was confirmed in post as lord lieutenant of both Hampshire and Dorset and as warden of the New Forest, in succession to his father.37 Bolton declined acting in the commission overseeing the act for raising timber from the New Forest in August 1699, believing it to be unpopular in the country.38 The following month he was compelled to turn his attention to his own troublesome heir, Charles Powlett, styled marquess of Winchester, and later 3rd duke of Bolton, though he balked at sending him abroad, believing him to be too young to benefit from the experience.39

Bolton took his seat in the House on 16 Nov. 1699 after which he was present for more than 70 per cent of all sittings. Although now only very remotely involved in Irish affairs he continued to draw his third of the salary of £6,953 shared between the three justices, to the great resentment of his newly appointed fellow lord justice, Charles Berkeley, 2nd earl of Berkeley, who complained in December about his titular colleague’s behaviour.40 Bolton voted against adjourning to discuss an amendment to the East India Company bill in committee of the whole House on 23 Feb. 1700, and the same day registered his dissent at the resolution to pass the measure. On 8 Mar. he found himself ranked with political rivals such as Thomas Thynne, Viscount Weymouth, and Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, in subscribing the protest at the decision to proceed with a second reading of the divorce bill of Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk. On 4 Apr. he subscribed the protest at the resolution to read the land tax bill a second time, combined as it was with a bill for the forfeited estates in Ireland. On 9 and 10 Apr. he was nominated a manager of the three conferences on the bill. Following the second conference, he subscribed the protest at the resolution to pass the bill without adhering to their amendments.

Annoyed at being passed over for the lord lieutenancy of Ireland that spring, Bolton wrote to Shrewsbury in May 1700 to announce his intention of retiring to the country. He felt slighted by ‘the usage I have received’ and complained that ‘though my Lord Nottingham [Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham] is removed … I am so unfortunate that the only thing that remains of him is the impressions that he made in the king of me, to my disadvantage’. He also made clear his irritation with Shrewsbury, pointedly accusing him of not using him ‘with that friendship I did hope’.41 To Somers he griped that he considered Shrewsbury’s ‘great business was to load me with strong assurances of his friendship (which I am persuaded of, if it does not interfere with his designs)’. In spite of their earlier contretemps over the terms of the first duke’s will, in July 1700 Bolton recommended that his brother-in-law, Bridgwater, should put in for the office of lord privy seal, insisting that ‘it would be much quieter than the place you have, and for my own part I protest I cannot think of anybody fit for it but yourself.’42 Bolton was marked ‘x’ in a list of Whig peers that month, along with many of the Junto’s supporters, possibly an indication of his attitude to the new ministry.43 He was able to strengthen the family interest at St Ives when he was elected recorder in succession to John Granville, earl of Bath.44 In November he was one of a number of peers and a crowd of 400, who ‘invited themselves’ to dine with Sir Henry Furnese at Drapers’ Hall.45

In advance of the elections for the new Parliament, Thomas Jervoise approached Bolton for his interest for Hampshire, undertaking to stand with Lord William Powlett, should Bolton’s brother be inclined to contest the seat. Bolton replied to Jervoise’s letter of 28 Dec. the same day to assure Jervoise of his support, but asked that he would join with Richard Chaundler for the county and work for Lord William’s return at Winchester. Bolton’s suggestion that Jervoise join with Chaundler met with unveiled hostility from one local grandee, Sir John St Barbe, who complained that it would ‘not be very much to the reputation of the country to choose a man, who has no estate in it and very little anywhere else, and I think the first of his family that was ever looked upon as a gentleman’. Despite this, Richard Norton, another prominent county figure, promised his interest for Bolton’s candidate, who was accordingly elected with Jervoise.46 Meanwhile, Bolton worked with Somers to promote William Cowper, later Baron Cowper, for the seat at Totnes. Although Bolton insisted on Cowper’s personal appearance ahead of the poll, Cowper pleaded ill health and withdrew his candidature leaving the seat to be carried without a contest by the nominees of Sir Edward Seymour, bt.47

Bolton took his seat in the new Parliament on 6 Feb. 1701, after which he was present on 83 per cent of all sittings. In March he subscribed £3,000 towards the £550,000 loan.48 Named one of the managers of the conference considering amendments to the act for regulating the king’s bench and Fleet prisons on 15 May, on 6 and 10 June he was nominated a manager of the conferences concerning the impeachments of Somers, Edward Russell, earl of Orford, Charles Montagu, Baron Halifax, and Hans Willem Bentinck, earl of Portland. Subsequently, he demonstrated his solidarity with his Junto brethren by voting to acquit both Somers (17 June) and Orford (23 June).

Reported to be earnest in promoting the address at the Hampshire assizes in August, Bolton was expected to set up Norton and Chaundler for Hampshire that winter in opposition to Jervoise.49 One commentator thought that Jervoise would carry the election in any case and feared that Bolton’s actions would force Jervoise into the arms of the Tories; but when Norton resolved against standing, Jervoise and Chaundler were again left free to carry the seats unopposed, presumably with Bolton’s support. At St Ives, John Hawles was returned on Bolton’s interest in place of Overton.50

Bolton took his seat in the new Parliament on 30 Dec. 1701, after which he was present on 81 per cent of all sittings. On 8 Mar. 1702 he was named (along with the majority of peers sitting at the time) one of the managers of a conference to consider the king’s death and the accession of Queen Anne. Bolton reported from the committee considering Etterick’s bill on 25 Mar. and on 4 May he was one of six peers nominated to present an address to the queen demanding the prosecution of the publishers of a report that papers detrimental to the queen had been discovered among the late king’s papers. The following day he reported the queen’s response to the address and on 11 May he reported from the committee considering the publication of The History of the Last Parliament. On 18 May Bolton was named one of the managers of the conference concerning the prevention of correspondence between England and its allies with France and Spain; two days later he was named a manager of the second conference on the same subject and of that concerning the amendments to the bill encouraging privateers. The same month he introduced Richard Chaundler to the queen with the loyal address from the town of Gosport.51 Following the prorogation, local interests were again to the fore when he was involved in a trial at queen’s bench with Seymour over the mayoralty at Totnes. The contest was decided in Seymour’s favour.52

The Parliament of 1702

Bolton returned to the House on 20 Oct. 1702 for the first sitting day of the new Parliament—a Tory landslide—elected in July. He attended three quarters of sittings of its first, 1702-3, session. On 17 Dec. he was nominated one of the managers of the conference on the bill for preventing occasional conformity. In January 1703 he was assessed by Nottingham, as being opposed to the bill. Bolton was nominated a manager of two further conferences concerning the matter on 9 Jan. and on 16 Jan. he voted in favour of adhering to the Lords’ amendments to the penalty clause. Also on 9 Jan. he reported from the committee considering the journal of James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormond relating to Cadiz, as he did again on 18 Jan., on which day he also reported from the committee on Sir Thomas Brograve’s bill. On 19 Jan., he courted the queen’s displeasure by subscribing the protest at the failure to agree with the committee’s amendments to the bill settling a revenue on Prince George, duke of Cumberland, in the event that he should survive her. That day he was also involved in an argument with John Sheffield, marquess of Normanby, necessitating the intervention of the lord keeper to prevent the squabble escalating into a duel. Bolton reported from the committee for Ormond’s journal again on 2 February. He communicated a request that seven witnesses should attend the committee and then reported from the committee once more on 16 February. On 12 Feb. he voted in favour of allowing a copy of evidence to be produced during the deliberations over the case involving an appeal lodged by his Junto colleague, Thomas Wharton, 5th Baron Wharton against Robert Squire.53 Over the ensuing days he took a prominent role both as a manager of a series of conferences held on 17, 22 and 25 Feb. to consider the report of the commissioners for public accounts, and as the chairman of the committee examining the conduct of Sir George Rooke, a matter related (like the enquiry into Ormond) to the unsuccessful attempt to capture Cadiz in August/September 1702.54

Bolton took his seat in the House for the 1703-4 session on 9 Nov. 1703 (after which he was present on 63 per cent of all of its sittings). The same month he was again involved in legal action with his brother-in-law before queen’s bench over the terms of his father’s will. Bolton considered the will injurious to his inheritance and was still eager to have it set aside.55 In November Bolton was forecast by Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, as being opposed to the occasional conformity bill in two assessments compiled that month. On 14 Dec. he voted as expected against the bill. Three days later he hosted a dinner attended by seven Whig peers, including Halifax, possibly convened to discuss the queen’s speech on of that day on the Scotch Plot and preparations for an address in reply. As the ramifications of this affair dragged into the new year, Bolton reported on 15 Feb. from the committee appointed to draw up an address concerning the Plot. Having been deputed one of the peers to wait on the queen with the address, he reported her answer the following day. It was presumably to discuss this matter that Bolton dined at Parliament with a group of Whig peers, including Somers, Wharton and Sunderland on the 17th. On 2 Mar. he reported the queen’s answer to the address concerning Boucher, one of those believed to be a French agent. On 21 Mar. he registered his dissent at the resolution not to give a second reading to a rider to the bill for raising recruits for the army, following which he attended a large gathering of Whigs at Sunderland’s house in St James’s Square.56 Bolton was one of three peers commanded to attend the queen with the address relating to linen manufacture on 23 March. The following day he subscribed the protest when the question on whether the information contained in the examination of Sir John Maclean was imperfect was not put. On 29 Mar. he again reported from the committee concerning the Scotch Plot. Bolton was named one of the managers of a conference concerning the public accounts bill on 27 March. On 3 Apr. he reported from a further conference considering the same business.

Continuing disagreements with the Bridgwaters produced a flurry of letters in the summer of 1704. Although both sides expressed their desire to remain on good terms in spite of the ongoing legal tussle and agreed to arbitration, attempts at mediation were unsuccessful.57 Absent at the opening of the new session, Bolton registered his proxy with Sunderland on 26 Oct. 1704. It was vacated by his resumption of his seat on 16 Nov., after which he was present on 69 per cent of all sittings. Bolton was once more active in the House’s business during the session. On 1 Dec. he reported from the committee established to consider the state of the nation in relation to naval affairs. He reported from the same committee on 5 Dec., following which it was ordered to draw up an address to be presented to the queen for her instructions to the Tory Admiral Rooke to be laid before the House. Bolton reported the address the following day (6 Dec.) and was ordered to present it to the queen. Bolton maintained his committee activities into the new year. On 15 Feb. 1705 he reported from the committees for the bills for Hugh Nanney bill and Crowe and on 28 Feb. from the committee considering Wick’s bill. On 27 and 28 Feb. he was also one of those named to manage the two conferences held concerning the Aylesbury men. The following day (1 Mar.) he reported from the committee considering the state of the nation and on 7 Mar. he was again named a manager of a conference concerning the Aylesbury men. On 12 and 13 Mar. he was named one of the managers of the conferences concerning amendments to the militia bill. Although he does not seem to have been named one of the managers of the conference on a group of naturalization bills, he also reported the effects of this on 12 March. The following day he reported from the committee appointed to draw up the state of proceedings in relation to the Aylesbury men, following which he was ordered to wait on the queen to determine when the House should wait on her with an address, reporting back on the 14th.58 Bolton was noted a supporter of the Hanoverian succession in an analysis produced around early April 1705.

The Parliament of 1705

Preparations for the elections expected in 1705 had begun in earnest early in 1704 with Sir John St Barbe advising Jervoise to be cautious before announcing his resolution to stand again for Hampshire. St Barbe understood that Bolton was contemplating setting up a kinsman, Norton Powlett of Amport, and that Chaundler would not stand again. Bolton meanwhile collaborated with Jervoise to keep out Thomas Lewis and any others ‘of that principle’.59 He joined with Somers, Wharton, Charles Seymour, 6th duke of Somerset, and Evelyn Pierrepont, earl of Kingston in lobbying Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd earl of Shaftesbury to allow Shaftesbury’s brother, Maurice Ashley, to contest Wiltshire in the forthcoming election.60 In July he was one of several Whig grandees to be given rough treatment by a mob during the elections at Salisbury, following the failure of James Harris to carry the seat, despite the support of Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury.61 Bolton enjoyed greater success in Hampshire, where his brother Lord William Powlett was returned for Winchester. In September, after the elections, Bolton played host to the queen and Prince George at Hackwood. The same month his daughter, Lady Frances Powlett, was married to John Mordaunt, Lord Mordaunt, heir of his father’s old associate, Charles Mordaunt, 3rd earl of Peterborough, a match sanctioned by neither set of parents.62 Bolton’s relationship with his new son-in-law appears to have been (unsurprisingly) difficult, for at the beginning of 1708 Mordaunt complained to a correspondent that, ‘if the duke of Bolton had had half my father’s good nature I had been set right some months ago.’63

Bolton took his seat in the new Parliament on 25 Oct. 1705 (after which he was present on just over 70 per cent of all sittings). In November, he assisted the ministry in helping to ward off the attempt by John Thompson, Baron Haversham, to embarrass the ministry by inviting the Electress Sophia to England.64 Forewarned of Haversham’s intentions, the ministry was able to offer an alternative proposition, which was acceptable to the majority of Haversham’s Tory allies. Bolton registered his proxy with Orford on 1 Dec., perhaps because he wanted to go to Hampshire to ensure that adequate preparations had been made to secure the return of his heir, Winchester, at the Lymington by-election (7 December). He returned to the House before the election, on 6 Dec., when, unsurprisingly, he was among the majority who voted for the motion that the Church was not in danger under the current administration. He was then named as one the managers of the series of conferences held on 7, 11, 14 and 17 Dec. as a result of the resolution. On 7, 11 and 19 Feb. 1706 Bolton was named a manager of the conferences on the regency bill. On 28 Feb. he was nominated to the committee appointed to draw up reasons for a conference on a bill relating to the will of Edward Conway, earl of Conway; on 2 Mar. he was nominated a manager of the subsequent conference. On 11 Mar. he was named a manager of the two conferences held concerning Sir Rowland Gwynne’s Letter to Stamford (Thomas Grey, 2nd earl of Stamford) justifying the ‘Hanover motion’ of the previous November. Bolton was present on the last day of the session, 19 Mar. 1706.

Bolton wrote to the elector of Hanover (later George I) in April 1706, assuring him of his zeal for his service and recommending to him the bearer of the letter, Halifax. In June the elector returned the compliment, thanking him for his letter and assuring him that: ‘your good intentions for the interests of my family were already known to me, by your past conduct … I am not ignorant neither of the influence which you possess in England, nor how much you deserve it.’65 Bolton returned to the House on 3 Dec. 1706, after which he was present on 70 per cent of all sittings. On 16 Dec. he reported from a committee to draw up an address to the queen for settling the titles of John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, on his family in perpetuity; the day afterwards he reported the queen’s answer to the address and two days later he reported from the committee of the whole appointed to consider Marlborough’s bill. On 30 Dec. Bolton introduced three of his colleagues, who had been granted promotions in the peerage to marquessates: Robert Bertie, 4th earl of Lindsey, now marquess of Lindsey, Henry Grey, earl of Kent, now marquess of Kent, and Kingston, now marquess of Dorchester.

On 3 Feb. 1707 Bolton dined with a number of Whigs at the Arlington Street home of Hugh Cholmondeley, earl of Cholmondley; he did so again on the 6th at Somerset’s with a number of Whig notables. On 15 Feb. he was one of a sizeable party of the Whig elite gathered at the Queen’s Arms and on 24 Feb. he was listed among a number of prominent peers dining at Wharton’s. All of these meeting probably concerned the Union with Scotland or related matters such as the bill for the security of the Church of England.66 That month he was at last rewarded with the governorship of the Isle of Wight, which offered him powerful influence in the island’s three constituencies, though he appears to have found entrenched interests there which proved difficult to challenge.67 He attended on just three days of the brief nine-day session of April 1707.

Bolton took his seat in the House when the next (1707-8) session began on 23 Oct. 1707, after which he was present on 69 per cent of all sittings. On 19 Dec. he reported from the committee appointed to draw up an address of thanks to the queen for her speech (which had said that she intended to pursue the war vigorously). He continued to be a prominent manager in the House. In December he took charge of the enquiry into the convoy system precipitated by the complaint of a number of merchants concerned by the losses they had incurred at sea and reported from the committee established to hear the merchants’ grievances on 29 Jan. and 7, 16, 17 and 25 Feb. 1708. The result of the inquiry was a stinging indictment of the admiralty and in particular Commodore Kerr. The same month (February) Bolton was one of seven peers chosen by ballot to examine William Gregg, the clerk of Robert Harley, the future earl of Oxford, suspected of treason, and he reported the select committee’s resolutions on 18 March.68 That same month, Bolton, Halifax and Somers offered their assurances to William Nicolson, bishop of Carlisle, that an amendment to the Church bill, introduced by John Sharp, son of John Sharp, archbishop of York, making provision for appeals from local visitors, which intimately concerned Nicolson in his feud with his dean, Francis Atterbury, the future bishop of Rochester, would either be over-ruled or withdrawn.69 In about May 1708, Bolton was classed as a Whig on a marked copy of a printed list.

The Parliament of 1708

Parliament was dissolved in April 1708, and new elections held during May. In early preparations for the election the Hampshire gentry had been in some uncertainty as to how Bolton would employ his interest. Charles Norton in December 1706 had suspected that the duke intended to support Chaundler again, though he had been assured by another source that this was not the case.70 In the event, Chaundler swapped seats with the marquess of Winchester: Chaundler was elected at Lymington and Winchester for the county seat. Bolton’s activities in Dorset during the election, especially at Poole, caused some resentment to Shaftesbury, who complained to Somers of the duke’s disregard for him. Bolton’s interference seems to have been part of a broader effort by the Whig leadership to influence nominations in the county.71

Bolton returned to the House on 16 Nov. 1708, and was present on 68 per cent of all sittings of the 1708-9 session. The following month he was present at a Junto conclave attended by Somers, Wharton, Orford and Sunderland as well as by a number of Scottish peers, relating to the recent election for Scottish representative peers.72 On 21 Jan. 1709 he voted to bar Scots peers holding British peerages from voting in the election for Scots representative peers. On 24 Jan. Bolton hosted a dinner attended by Charles Bennet, 2nd Baron Ossulston, John Sydney, 6th earl of Leicester, and Henry Clinton, 7th earl of Lincoln, again possibly related to the Scottish peerage election.73 Two days later he acted as one of the tellers on the motion to adjourn during further discussion of the question of the Scots peers: the motion was defeated by 51 votes to 40, with Bolton apparently acting as teller for the majority. On 3 Mar. he dined with Ossulston and Lincoln again and on 23 Mar. he served as one of the tellers on the question whether to resume the House from committee of the whole considering the bill to improve the Union.74 On this occasion the motion was rejected by 42 votes to 23, with Bolton apparently telling for the minority.

Bolton was present at a feast hosted by Halifax at the end of May 1709, which was attended by a number of Whig grandees.75 That summer he sought Marlborough’s assistance in procuring the release of his younger son, Lord Henry Powlett, later 4th duke of Bolton, who had quit his commission in the Navy to join the army in Portugal only to be taken prisoner of war.76 Marlborough undertook to do what he could on the boy’s behalf.77 Bolton was able to congratulate Marlborough on another of victory at the end of the summer (at Malplaquet) and followed it up shortly afterwards by recommending his eldest son, Winchester, to the duke, who was ‘very desirous of being under your command in the army. And as there is now several regiments vacant, he is in hopes that you will give one of them to him.’78

Bolton took his seat in the House for the 1709-10 session on 21 Nov. 1709, after which he was present on two-thirds of all sittings. His attention was concentrated initially in Hampshire, where there was a by-election caused by the accession to the peerage of Henry Bentinck, 2nd earl of Portland. Although Bolton had promoted both his son Winchester and Portland (then Viscount Woodstock) in the election of the previous year in opposition to Jervoise, he now undertook to ensure Jervoise’s return and assured him in a letter of 29 Nov. that any trouble made by a Mr Powlett (possibly his kinsman Norton Powlett) would not cause Jervoise too much harm.79 Jervoise was returned unchallenged. The new year found Bolton actively engaged in the prosecution of Dr Henry Sacheverell. On 14 Mar. 1710 Bolton reported from the committee appointed to search for precedents of impeachments in relation to the trial, but he was forced to concede when tackled on the matter by Nottingham that the committee had not been able to discover all of the original papers.80 On 16 Mar. he was one of several peers to speak against Nottingham’s motion for each article to be voted on separately.81 The next day he turned his attention to less divisive matters when he reported from the committee for the bill to explain part of the act prohibiting the exportation of corn. He then dined at the House with Ossulston, Lincoln and a number of other peers.82 Three days later he voted Sacheverell guilty of the charges against him and, following Sacheverell’s plea in response to the guilty verdict that the impeachment was invalid on a minor technicality, he moved to adjourn to discuss Sacheverell’s objections, which were then dismissed out of hand.83

In spite of his central position as a Junto lieutenant and his activity within the House, Bolton considered himself poorly served by his friends. On 5 Apr. 1710 he complained to Marlborough at being overlooked (once more) for a garter and more particularly at the manner in which Marlborough had employed his interest on behalf of John Campbell, duke of Argyll [S], and earl of Greenwich, for the honour instead. Fulminating that ‘I own I could never have thought that my Lord Marlborough would have interposed to give me so great a mortification as this’, Bolton concluded bitterly that he hoped Marlborough would not find himself similarly ‘deceived in your new friends’.84 A fortnight later he had recovered his equilibrium sufficiently to congratulate Adam de Cardonnel on the successes of the new campaign and to offer Marlborough his service.85

Bolton wrote again to congratulate Marlborough on 6 July 1710 on the taking of Douai, renewing his pleas for Marlborough to use his influence to secure Lord Henry Powlet’s release.86 The same day he rejoiced at Cowper’s recovery and the ‘great benefit those that wish well to England have in your being the administration, which I wish may long continue and thereby disappoint the enemies to this queen and government.’87 Bolton’s optimism proved misplaced. In September, following the reconstruction of the ministry by Robert Harley, he was put out of his offices along with the greater part of his allies, though it seemed for a while that he might remain in post as custos rotulorum for Hampshire as a result of an administrative oversight.88 Bolton’s successor as lord lieutenant and warden of the New Forest, Henry Somerset, 2nd duke of Beaufort, reported to Harley that ‘everything has a good face here, and every face full of joy, to see themselves delivered from the management of the duke of Bolton’.89 Beaufort later complained of the ruinous condition in which Bolton had left parts of the New Forest estate.90 The duke of Somerset, however, specifically denied that he had agreed to Bolton’s dismissal or to Beaufort’s appointment.91 Bolton was not the only member of his family to come under fire with the Whigs’ loss of power. In October Hugh Speke recommended to Harley that John South (a member of the Irish Commons) should be removed as a revenue commissioner in Ireland, a post he held through the interest of his wife, Bolton’s mother-in-law, Eleanor Needham.92 Unsurprisingly, when Harley analysed the Lords on 3 Oct. 1710, he classed Bolton as an opponent of the new ministry.

The Parliament of 1710 and after

In advance of the elections in the autumn of 1710, Bolton had been approached by his steward, Thomas Coward, who was eager to secure one of the seats at Totnes.93 Bolton appears to have offered his backing to Spencer Cowper instead, only for him to be defeated by the sitting members, Francis Gwyn and Thomas Coulson, standing on the Seymour interest. Bolton suffered similar setbacks in Hampshire, where his heir, Winchester, failed to be returned for the county, and at Winchester where Lord William Powlett faced such a spirited challenge that he declined to contest the seat.94 He was also unsuccessful at Westminster where he (and a number of other Whig notables) offered his backing to General James Stanhope, the future Earl Stanhope, who despite such high-profile support was driven into third place.95

Bolton took his seat in the new Parliament on 27 Nov. 1710, after which he was present on 58 per cent of all sittings that (1710-11) session. On 23 Dec. he registered his proxy with Somers, which was vacated by his return to the House on 12 Jan. 1711, and the same day he subscribed the protest at the resolution to censure the conduct of the ministers for approving an offensive war in Spain. Speaking on behalf of his former colleague, Galway, who had been prominent as one of the commanders during the campaign, Bolton informed the House that Galway was too sick to appear in person to answer the charges against him.96 On 3 Feb. he subscribed two further protests at the resolutions to agree with the investigating committee that the two regiments on the Spanish establishment had been poorly supplied and that the failure of the ministers to supply the troops amounted to a neglect of the service. He entered two more dissents on 8 Feb. first at the resolution to retain the phrase ‘and the profusion of vast sums of money given by Parliament’ in an address to the queen concerning the war in Spain and second at the resolution to present the resulting representation to the queen. Bolton acted as one of the tellers for the division over whether to allow counsel to be heard in the cause Greenshields v. the Edinburgh magistrates on 1 March. The motion to allow counsel to proceed was passed by a majority of more than 30. Bolton registered his proxy with Somers again on 25 Apr., which was vacated on 7 May, after which he continued to attend until 12 June.

In advance of the session of 1711-12, Bolton was present for the prorogations of 13 and 27 Nov. 1711. Bolton took his seat in the new session on 7 Dec. 1711, and was present on 46 per cent of all its sittings. On the 7th he presumably backed the ‘No Peace without Spain’ amendment to the address. The same day he attended a dinner at the Queen’s Arms in company with Wharton, William Cavendish, 2nd duke of Devonshire and a number of other Whig peers, as he did the following day.97 On the 8th he was noted as having been in favour of presenting the address complete with the ‘No Peace without Spain’ amendment. On 12 Dec. Bolton raised the question of James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S], sitting in the House by his British peerage of Brandon. The matter was scheduled for consideration on the 20th.98 On the day before it came on, Bolton was forecast by Oxford as wishing to prevent Hamilton from taking his seat, and the following day he voted as expected in favour of barring Scots peers with post-Union British titles from sitting in the House. On 31 Jan. 1712, Bolton spoke in the debates over the complaint made to the House about the sermon preached the previous day by Charles Trimnell, bishop of Norwich, suggesting that the sermon could not be judged unless it was ordered to be printed, which those opposed to the views expressed in the sermon refused to sanction.99 Bolton received Ossulston’s proxy on 28 Feb. 1712, and on 7 Mar. registered his own with Charles Mohun 4th Baron Mohun. His proxy was vacated by his resumption of his seat on 24 March. Bolton seems to have indulged in welcome distraction at Newmarket in late April and early May where his horse ‘Jacob’ was scheduled to race against Godolphin’s ‘Vendosme’ on 2 May.100 He returned to the House shortly after and on 28 May he voted in favour of addressing the queen to overturn the orders restraining James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormond, from pursuing an offensive campaign against the French.

Bolton attended the prorogations of 8 July 1712, 13 Jan. and 3 Mar. 1713, and was in place for the beginning of the much-postponed last session of this Parliament on 9 Apr. 1713. He was present on 58 per cent of all its sittings. On about 13 June Bolton was estimated by Oxford as likely to be opposed to confirming the eighth and ninth articles of the French commercial treaty. On 29 June he moved that the House would consider whether their privileges had been invaded by the queen’s message to the Commons that she be enabled to raise £500,000 on the civil list, which led to the appointment on the 30th of a committee to consider the method and manner of demanding supplies by the crown.101

Following the dissolution on 16 July, Bolton undertook to do what he could to assist Stanhope, who was eager to contest Andover at the forthcoming election, but he confessed that he thought it unlikely that he would be able to carry it for him.102 His doubts proved prescient and both seats there were carried by Tories backed by Beaufort. Bolton was similarly unsuccessful in securing his heir a seat, with Winchester again defeated in the county. Lord William Powlett secured a rare success for the family with his re-election at Lymington. No doubt still smarting from these reverses, Bolton took his seat in the new Parliament on 16 Feb. 1714 (of which he attended 86 per cent of all sittings) and on 5 Apr. he seconded Wharton’s motion for a reward to be offered for anyone apprehending the Pretender. He then reiterated his commitment to the Hanoverian succession by moving for an address to be drawn up for the Pretender to be taken dead or alive if he landed in Britain or Ireland. This later had to be amended following legal advice that anyone convicted of killing the Pretender would be guilty of murder.103 At the end of May or beginning of June Nottingham predicted that Bolton would oppose the schism bill. On 3 July Bolton again received Ossulston’s proxy, which was vacated by the close of the session.

Bolton attended just five days of the brief 15-day session that met in the wake of the queen’s death. Although he was soon after restored to the lord lieutenancy of Hampshire, he was less successful in obtaining places for his kinsmen: his recommendation that his brother-in-law, Henry Crofts, be appointed a groom of the bedchamber was unsuccessful and he complained to the king of his discontent with what had been done for his sons, particularly for ‘unhappy’ Harry.104 Despite this, Bolton himself flourished under the new regime and shortly after the king’s accession he at last acquired his cherished garter.105 Details of the final part of his career will be considered in detail in the second phase of this work.

Bolton died of pleurisy at his home in London on 21 Jan. 1722. In his will he made provision for his duchess and three sons, Winchester, Lord Henry and Lord Nassau Powlett, and named Richard Chaundler, Thomas Gibson (probably the future member for Marlborough and Yarmouth) and his brother, Lord William Powlett as executors. He was succeeded as 3rd duke of Bolton by his oldest surviving son, Winchester, who had previously been summoned to the Lords as Baron Pawlet of Basing.


  • 1 CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 372.
  • 2 CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 197.
  • 3 HMC Portland, v. 502.
  • 4 TNA, PROB 11/595.
  • 5 CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 12.
  • 6 CSP Dom. 1697, pp. 129, 132.
  • 7 London Gazette, 31 July-3 Aug. 1714.
  • 8 HP Commons, 1660-90, iii. 279.
  • 9 Add. 61450, f. 199.
  • 10 CSP Dom. 1697, p. 525.
  • 11 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 254; London Gazette, 30 Aug.-3 Sept. 1705.
  • 12 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 98.
  • 13 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 135.
  • 14 London Top. Rec. xxix. 56.
  • 15 PROB 11/595; Daily Courant, 28 Mar. 1713.
  • 16 HP Commons, 1690-1715, v. 186.
  • 17 HP Commons, 1660-90, iii. 279.
  • 18 BL, Verney ms mic. M636/37, A. Nicholas to Sir R. Verney, 16 Apr. 1683, C. Gardiner to same, 16 Apr. 1683, J. Stewkeley to same, 23 Apr. 1683, Sir R. to J. Verney, 23 Apr. 1683.
  • 19 N. Yorks. RO, Bolton Hall mss, ZBO VIII, 0616.
  • 20 Beinecke Lib. OSB mss 1, series II, box 4, folder 189.
  • 21 HP Commons, 1660-90, iii. 279.
  • 22 Add. 70015, f. 101; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 246.
  • 23 WDA, Henry Browne ms. 89, W. North to Browne, 23 June 1691 (Gregg’s trans.).
  • 24 CSP Dom. 1690-91, p. 388.
  • 25 Verney ms mic. M636/46, J. to Sir R. Verney, 23 Nov. 1692.
  • 26 CSP Dom. 1697, p. 132.
  • 27 HP Commons, 1690-1715, v. 44, 186.
  • 28 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 491.
  • 29 CSP Dom. 1697, pp. 293, 419, 431, 441; Verney ms mic. M636/50, A. Nicholas to Sir J. Verney, 10 Aug. 1697.
  • 30 Bolton Hall mss ZBO VIII, Bolton to Winchester, 29 Oct. 1697.
  • 31 Ibid. Bolton to Winchester, 29 Apr. 1698.
  • 32 Bodl. Carte 228, f. 288.
  • 33 PROB 11/451.
  • 34 HP Commons, 1690-1715, v. 187.
  • 35 CSP Dom. 1699-1700, pp. 86, 115, 137, 139-40, 143-4, 159, 181.
  • 36 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 522.
  • 37 CSP Dom. 1699-1700, p. 211.
  • 38 UNL, Portland mss PwA 1498.
  • 39 HEHL, EL 8993-4, 8998.
  • 40 Berkeley Castle Muns. (BCM), select bks. 35 (J), pp. 58-59.
  • 41 HMC Buccleuch, ii. 651.
  • 42 HEHL, EL 8977.
  • 43 Eg. 3359, ff. 37-38.
  • 44 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 98.
  • 45 Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 712.
  • 46 Hants RO, Jervoise mss, 44M69/G2/207-8, 210, 214.
  • 47 Herts. ALS, DE/P/F99; HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 156.
  • 48 Carte 228, f. 394.
  • 49 Add. 40775, f. 61.
  • 50 Surr. Hist. Cent. 371/14/01/1; HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 98, 228.
  • 51 London Gazette, 14-18 May 1702.
  • 52 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 183.
  • 53 Nicolson, London Diaries, 204.
  • 54 Add. 70075, newsletter, 26 Jan. 1703.
  • 55 Add. 70075, newsletter, 18 Nov. 1703.
  • 56 PH, x. 170-2.
  • 57 HEHL, EL 9005-8.
  • 58 Beinecke Lib. Osborn Coll. Biscoe-Maunsell newsletters, 17 Mar. 1704.
  • 59 Hants RO, Jervoise mss, 44M69/G2/237/1, G2/237/5.
  • 60 TNA, PRO 30/24/20/87.
  • 61 HMC Portland, iv. 213.
  • 62 Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 593.
  • 63 Add. 61292, ff. 26-27.
  • 64 HMC Portland, ii. 191.
  • 65 Stowe 222, f. 442.
  • 66 PH, x. 173-4.
  • 67 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 135; HP Commons, 1660-90, ii. 238, 257.
  • 68 Christ Church, Oxf., Wake mss 17, f. 186.
  • 69 Nicolson, London Diaries, 462.
  • 70 Hants RO, Jervoise mss, 44M69/G2/248/8.
  • 71 PRO 30/24/22/1/59-60; 30/24/22/4/318-19.
  • 72 NLS, ms 14415, ff. 168-9.
  • 73 PH, x. 174.
  • 74 TNA, C104/113, pt. 2.
  • 75 Add. 61459, ff. 168-9.
  • 76 Add. 61293, f. 23.
  • 77 Add. 61391, f. 90.
  • 78 Add. 61367, f. 36; 61293, f. 25.
  • 79 Hants RO, 44 M69/G2/264/3.
  • 80 Holmes, Trial of Dr Sacheverell, 214.
  • 81 State Trial of Dr Henry Sacheverell ed. B. Cowan, 204.
  • 82 PH, x. 175.
  • 83 Holmes, Trial of Dr Sacheverell, 225; State Trial of Dr Henry Sacheverell, 76.
  • 84 Add. 61367, f. 137.
  • 85 Add. 61284, f. 127.
  • 86 Add. 61293, f. 27.
  • 87 Herts. ALS, DE/P/F56.
  • 88 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 625; Wentworth Pprs. 140; Add. 70289, f. 48.
  • 89 HMC Portland, iv. 599.
  • 90 Add. 70257, Beaufort to Oxford, 3 Aug. 1713.
  • 91 HMC Portland, iv. 592.
  • 92 Add. 70316, H. Speke to Harley, 9 Oct. 1710.
  • 93 Hants RO, 11 M49/E/B3/3.
  • 94 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 155-6, 229, 256.
  • 95 HMC Portland, ii. 218.
  • 96 Wentworth Pprs. 176.
  • 97 PH, x. 176-7.
  • 98 Haddington mss at Mellerstain, letters 4, Baillie to Montrose, 13 Dec. 1711.
  • 99 Wentworth Pprs. 261.
  • 100 Post Boy, 22-24 Apr. 1712.
  • 101 Wentworth Pprs. 340.
  • 102 Kent HLC (CKS), Stanhope mss U1590/c9/28.
  • 103 Wentworth Pprs. 364-5, 372; Add. 22221, ff. 105-8.
  • 104 HMC Portland, v. 483; Hants RO, 11 M49/F9, F10.
  • 105 HMC Portland, v. 502.