Charles Bragge Bathurst

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1812-23

1754 - August 13, 1831

Charles Bragge Bathurst (1754-1831) Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1812-23. He was known as Charles Bragge until he inherited an estate from his Bathurst maternal uncle in 1804, whereupon he changed his surname to Bathurst. From a Gloucestershire gentry background, he was educated at New College, Oxford and called to the Bar, after which he was lucky enough to marry Charlotte Addington, Sidmouth’s sister, in 1781 when they were both unknowns. He then used his brother-in-law’s increasing eminence to fashion a political career, entering Parliament in 1790 at the invitation of the Duke of Beaufort when Addington was already Speaker and becoming a Privy Councillor with the lucrative office of Treasurer of the Navy in 1801 when Addington became Prime Minister.

After a year as Secretary at War in 1803-4, he was given the Mastership of the Mint during the Ministry of All the Talents, when Sidmouth needed to be placated, then finally achieved admission to the Cabinet under Liverpool, when Sidmouth again attained high office. One of the more right-wing ministers, he favoured the slave trade before 1807 and was a staunch opponent of Canning, who had written of him during Addington’s ministry in 1801: ‘When his faltering periods lag … /Cheer, oh cheer him, brother Bragge.’1

However, George III liked him, saying he had ‘never met with any man more ready in business’2. He was a modestly competent, if pedantic, defender of Liverpool’s government in the Commons and became Commissioner for Building New Churches under Liverpool’s scheme of 1818. He was appointed President of the Board of Control on an interim basis in December 1820 when Canning relinquished that office, although Liverpool wrote to the King that this ‘cannot be agreeable to him’. He was finally forced out by Canning and failing health in February 1823.

[1] Dr John Styles, Memoirs of the Life of the Rt Hon. George Canning (London: Thomas Tegg, 1828) Vol. 1, p. 285.

[2] Thorne, The History of Parliament.

© 2020 Martin Hutchinson