GRANVILLE (GRENVILLE), Charles, Lord Lansdown (1661-1701).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



19 Nov. 1680

Family and Education

bap. 31 Aug. 1661, 1st s. of John, 1st Earl of Bath by Jane, da. of Sir Peter Wyche, merchant, of London; bro. of John Granville. educ. travelled abroad 1676-8. m. (1) lic. 22 May 1678, Lady Martha Osborne (d. 11 Sept. 1689), da. of Sir Thomas Osborne, 1st Duke of Leeds, s.p.; (2) 10 Mar. 1691, Isabella, da. of Henry de Nassau, 1st Lord of Auverquerque, Count of Nassau, master of the horse to William III, 1s. summ. to Lords in his fa.’s barony as Lord Granville, 16 July 1689; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Bath 22 Aug. 1701.1

Offices Held

Gent. of the bedchamber 1683-5, 1692-3; envoy extraordinary to Spain 1685-9.2

Freeman, Plymouth 1684, Bodmin, Liskeard, Plympton Erle and Tintagel 1685; commr. for assessment, Cornw. 1689; jt. ld. lt. Devon and Cornw. 1691-3; j.p. Cornw. by 1701-d.3


Lord Lansdown’s ancestors can be traced back in the west country to the 12th century, and first sat in Parliament in 1388. He derived his courtesy title from the battle in which his grandfather, the royalist hero Sir Bevil Granville, was slain. His father fought for the King in both wars, and was constantly engaged in royalist plots. As a kinsman of George Monck he played a key role in the Restoration and was raised to the peerage. Throughout the remainder of the period, as lord lieutenant of Cornwall and warden of the stannaries, he managed the court interest in the local elections. He became a close friend and follower of Lord Treasurer Danby, whose daughter Lansdown married at the age of 17.4

Lansdown was first returned to Parliament in 1680, still under age, at a by-election for Launceston on the family interest. Doubtless a court supporter, he was appointed to no committees and made no speeches in the second Exclusion Parliament, and he did not stand in 1681. In the following year he left his wife, whom he had detected in an intrigue with her brother-in-law, William Leveson Gower, and went abroad. He served with distinction in the Imperial army against the Turks, and in January 1684 he was honoured with the title of Count of the Holy Roman Empire, which Charles II ordered to be registered in the Office of Arms. On his return to England in May he applied unsuccessfully for the regiment formerly commanded by Lord Ossory (Thomas Butler). He was given leave to serve under the Prince of Orange, ‘who has been kind to him, and given him hopes of the first regiment of the King’s subjects in the service of the States’. This, however, does not seem to have materialized, and in November Charles appointed him envoy extraordinary to Spain. The appointment was confirmed by James II when he succeeded to the throne, but before he left for Madrid he was elected knight of the shire. He was named to the committee of elections and privileges, but embarked for Spain on 13 May. He was recommended in his absence as court candidate for the county or for Launceston in 1688, but he did not return to England till the following March, delivering up his credentials to James at St. Germains on the way. Like his father, he accepted the new regime. He helped to carry William’s train at the coronation, and was called up to the House of Lords a few months later.5

Lansdown’s continued matrimonial difficulties led to a breach with Danby, and after 1690 he and his father were both reckoned among the Whig peers. In October he was only prevented from fighting a duel with Danby by the intervention of the King’s guards. In 1692 he was appointed joint lord lieutenant of Cornwall and Devon with his father to help strengthen their defences. But in the following March he

petitioned his Majesty for his arrears due on his embassy to Spain formerly, and, pressing more than ordinary for it, [he] was checked by the King, on which he resigned his place of the bedchamber to the King ... [and that of lord lieutenant of Cornwall and Devon.

Lansdown succeeded to the earldom in 1701, but shot himself a fortnight later on 4 Sept. He was buried with his father at Kilkhampton. Luttrell wrote that ‘’tis said he had been melancholy for some time past’, but the coroner’s court returned a verdict of accidental death. His only son, the last of the senior branch of the family, died of smallpox at the age of 19 on 17 May 1711.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 559.
  • 2. CSP Dom. Jan.-June 1683, p. 155; 1685, pp. 102-3; Luttrell, i. 507; ii. 343; iii. 65.
  • 3. J. Wallis, Bodmin Reg. 169; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 1, p. 281; CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 66, 87; 1691-2, p. 231; 1693, p. 98; Luttrell, ii. 397; iii. 62; R. Granville, Hist. Granville Fam. 356; J. Maclean, Trigg Minor, i. 216; iii. 207.
  • 4. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 190-7; Granville, 26, 31, 55.
  • 5. Browning, Danby, i. 449; Add. 29577, f. 503; CSP Dom. Jan.-June 1683, p. 137; 1684-5, pp. 6, 100-1, 221; 1685, p. 288; 1689-90, p. 34.
  • 6. Luttrell, ii. 118; iii. 62, 65; v. 86-87.