HUTCHINSON, Charles (1636-95), of Owthorpe, Notts.
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Family and Education
bap. 15 June 1636, 3rd s. of Sir Thomas Hutchinson† of Owthorpe by 2nd w. Katherine, da. of Sir John Stanhope of Elvaston, Derbys.; half-bro. of Col. John Hutchinson†. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1653. m. 19 Dec. 1663, Isabella, da. and coh. of Sir Francis Boteler† of Hatfield Woodhall, Herts., 7s. (5 d.v.p.) 2da.1
Commr. recusancy fines, Notts., Derbys., Lincs. 1688.2
Guardian, Plumptre Hosp. 1693–d.3
Commr. of public accts. 1694–5.
The Hutchinsons were a minor branch of an ancient Yorkshire family which had settled at Owthorpe, Nottinghamshire, at about the turn of the 15th century. Hutchinson’s father served as sheriff in 1620 and represented the county of Nottinghamshire in three Parliaments. His elder half-brother John Hutchinson was appointed parliamentary governor of Nottingham during the Civil War, succeeded his father as Member for the county, and sat in judgment on Charles I. His brother was imprisoned at the Restoration and died in captivity in September 1663, whereupon Hutchinson purchased the family seat from his sister-in-law and her eldest son. Nothing much is known about Hutchinson’s activities in the next two decades, but he seems, wisely, to have kept a low profile and married the daughter of a Cavalier. The Exclusion crisis seems to have marked his entry into politics for he contributed to the subscription organized for the Whig candidates at the county election of September 1679 and was indicted for riot at the Nottingham mayoral election of 1682 following the surrender of the borough’s charter, and was subsequently fined 200 marks along with such staunch Whigs as William Sacheverell* and Richard Slater*. Like them, he collaborated with James II, being appointed a j.p. and commissioner to inquire into recusancy fines in March 1688. Although not actually in arms in 1688, he contributed weapons and horses to the forces of the Earl of Devonshire (William Cavendish†) and at Nottingham signed the declaration in favour of William of Orange. He remained on the bench until his death.4
In the 1690 election he was returned unopposed for Nottingham with Slater. Before the new Commons met, an assessment by the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classed him as a Whig. For a newcomer to the House, he quickly made his mark in the Chamber. On 27 Mar. he spoke in the committee of supply in favour of discovering what the royal revenue was before any decision was taken to settle it on the King. He was clearly against an over-generous supply, asking whether extravagant grants could be ‘good either for a good or a bad Prince’, and noting that royal financial security could be the prelude to the destruction of ‘our liberties’. His prominence in the House was soon reflected in his appointment on 2 Apr. 1690 to a committee to draw up a bill on the East India trade. On 29 Apr. he intervened in the debate on the abjuration oath, presumably in its favour when he argued that ‘eloquence must not help oath’. On 8 May he acted as a teller against the passage of the bill reversing the judgment of quo warranto against the city of London. The Whigs opposed this bill because it restored the corporation to the status quo of 1683, and not earlier, a principle, which if applied to Nottingham, would leave the Tories unpunished in the eyes of the local Whigs. On the following day he acted as a teller for an adjournment motion after the House had received a report from the committee on the bill to vest the £500 forfeitures in the King. This was lost because the House wished to rectify the irregular manner in which the bill had been reported by the chairman. On 14 May 1690, in a debate on preserving the peace of the nation, he showed his antipathy to the Tories in general, and to Carmarthen in particular, by moving to have the Journals searched for precedents for ‘I think those under impeachments in former Parliaments, not fit to be near the King’, another account suggesting that he was for putting ‘the question about Shales’, for his misconduct as a victualling commissioner. In April 1691 Robert Harley* classed him as a Country supporter. His local political alignment is revealed in a letter to him from Nottingham corporation which instructed him to inform their lord lieutenant, the Earl of Kingston, that the Tories were disarming those citizens most loyal to the King under false pretences and to inform him that they were ready to reveal to him the really disaffected elements in the town, meaning the Tories. Clearly, Hutchinson had not cut himself off from his allies in the struggles of the early 1680s, the implications of which were not to be fully worked out until the grant of a new charter in 1692.5
Somewhat surprisingly after this energetic start to Hutchinson’s career, he was less active in the next two sessions. On 24 Nov. 1691 he reported from the committee appointed to inspect the laws relating to the provision of the poor, and introduced a bill for the better explanation of two former Acts. He then managed the bill through the House. On 18 Nov. he had revealed his commitment to preserving the liberties of the subject by speaking in favour of the third reading of the bill for regulating treason trials. On 27 Nov., in a debate on the East India trade, he supported those criticizing the old company, a consistent theme in his parliamentary career. On 11 Dec., when the House returned to the treason trials bill, he spoke against accepting the Lords’ amendment which provided for the whole House to be summoned upon the trial of a peer. His commitment to economy in government expenditure can be seen on 15 Dec. when, in a debate in the committee on supply, he spoke against a resolution that the additional pay for two regiments of foot guards should be continued for a further year. On 18 Dec. he was again to be found among the speakers in a committee of the whole criticizing the East India Company. On 4 Jan. 1692 he supported the request of the informer William Fuller for protection for two witnesses to travel to England to give evidence in support of his alleged discovery of a plot. On 13 Jan. he spoke against the amendments suggested by the Commons to overcome the impasse with the Lords over the treason bill, noting that the common man was in need of greater protection than the peer, and that under the old method the Lords had acquitted Lord Delamer (Henry Booth†) contrary to the wishes of the Court. He was prepared, however, to amend the bill to suit the Lords’ objections ‘if they will give us something in amends, as quit their judicial power in cases of appeal from decrees in courts of equity’. Although the Commons amended the clause against Hutchinson’s wishes, it was rejected by the Lords. On 22 Jan., after the House had voted Sir Basil Firebrace* guilty of bribery in the Chippenham election, he opposed successfully the motion that the House should not print their vote as it would ‘blast’ the offender’s reputation. On 28 Jan. he reaffirmed his concern for economy, moving at the second reading of the bill setting a poll tax that a clause be added to apply all salaries, fees and perquisites of offices in excess of £500 p.a. towards financing the war. Later the same day he spoke against accepting an amendment from the Lords to the bill establishing the commission of accounts by which they added four nominees of their own. On 6 Feb., Hutchinson supported a motion by Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., for an address to the King to dissolve the East India Company since legislation regulating the trade could not be completed by the end of the session. On 10 Feb. 1692, according to order, he presented a clause to the committee of the whole on the poll tax bill which exempted Quakers from paying a double rate and substituted a solemn declaration in place of swearing an oath, which was incorporated in the bill. On 12 Feb. he attempted to secure the same concession for Quakers at the third reading of the bill vesting the forfeited estates in the King and Queen, but this time the clause was rejected by 66 votes to 63. Not surprisingly, given his advocacy of the Quakers’ cause, he spoke first in favour of committing the Quakers’ affirmation bill on 22 Feb., which was rejected by 103 votes to 73. On the same day, he supported a move to examine Fuller in prison since he was too ill to attend the House, and was duly chosen by the Commons to undertake that task. The following day he opposed the motion that the Commons should examine Fuller’s testimony without giving more time for witnesses to appear. After the House had heard Fuller’s evidence, Hutchinson and two other Members were deputed to bring two witnesses mentioned by Fuller to the House, but they could not be found.6
Despite his persistent espousal of measures designed to limit the power of the executive, Hutchinson’s commitment to the regime was not doubted by the government, a view confirmed by his appointment as a deputy-lieutenant for Nottinghamshire in May 1692. In the 1692–3 session Hutchinson continued to show that he was one of the more active Members. On 17 Nov. he spoke in favour of bringing in a bill to establish a new East India Company and was then given leave to appear at the bar of the King’s bench to give evidence against Fuller. On 5 Dec. he argued against giving a second reading to the bill to make perjury and subornation of perjury in capital cases a felony on the grounds that ‘it would discourage witnesses in criminal cases’, thereby implicitly rejecting the Tory attempt to stamp out informers such as Fuller. On the same day, Hutchinson supported the petition of the Quakers to be allowed to make a solemn affirmation instead of an oath, but this was rejected without a division. On 18 Nov. he was named to draft the bill to extend the patent for convex lights, but his only managerial act was to present to the House on 7 Dec. a bill to regulate proceedings in the Crown Office which eventually passed into law. On 12 Dec., in the first speech to the committee of the whole to give advice to the King, he moved that ‘Lord Nottingham [Daniel Finch†] and the Cabinet Council might give an account why there was not timely orders and necessary sent for the descent’, a matter which was temporarily shelved in favour of a committee to consider how the army abroad could best be provisioned, to which Hutchinson was appointed. On 14 Dec. he spoke for committing the bill for the preservation of ‘their Majesties’ sacred persons and government’. On 19 Dec. he spoke in the debate on the bill to regulate the East Indian trade. On 20 Dec. he supported the motion for returning the thanks of the House to Admiral Edward Russell* for his great services in the previous naval campaign, a manoeuvre designed to counteract a move by the Lords to vindicate Nottingham’s conduct after La Hogue. On 31 Dec. he spoke in favour of the bill to prevent the export of gold and silver on the grounds that measures had to be taken to keep specie circulating in the country and that incentives to melt down coins for export as bullion had to be removed. On 2 Jan. 1693, at the second reading of the bill for raising the militia he moved that ‘the committee might take care therein to provide that militia men when they lie out at quarters might not be exacted upon’. On 3 Jan. Hutchinson again evinced his concern for religious minorities, this time the Catholics, by moving (unsuccessfully) in the committee of the whole on the land tax bill that if they took the oath of allegiance to William and Mary, they might be excused taking the oath of supremacy and thence from double taxation. On 10 Jan., on the same bill, he returned to his theme of economy by tendering a clause that no fees should be taken by any officer of the Exchequer from any receiver-general in passing their accounts with the exception of the ancient fees allowed by the barons of the Exchequer. Hutchinson’s clause was aimed primarily at the auditor of the Exchequer (Sir Robert Howard*) but was rejected by the House. On the following day, in a debate on the resolutions from the committee of the whole on giving advice to the King, he was instrumental in dividing the first resolution into two parts, thus allowing some Members to criticize the administration of naval affairs without treading on the royal prerogative. Thus, the first resolution advising the King to constitute an Admiralty of persons of known integrity and experience in maritime affairs was negated by 135 votes to 112 with Hutchinson acting as a teller for the majority, while the second that all orders for the management of the fleet should pass through the Admiralty commissioners passed without a division. The second resolution criticized Nottingham’s conduct as secretary of state whereas the defeat of the first vindicated the predominantly Whig commissioners. On 23 Jan. he acted as a teller against a motion that Burnet’s Pastoral Letter, arguing that William was King by conquest, be burnt by the hangman. On 26 Jan. he acted as a teller against an amendment to a resolution from the committee of ways and means that an additional 2s. be levied on every gallon of aquavitae and brandy. On 28 Jan. he defended the Lords’ triennial bill, speaking in favour of January 1694 as a terminal date for the present Parliament by remarking, ‘I hope the Lords send down this bill on no ill reasons, and I think that we, by negligence and late attendance, seem weary of our own sitting’. Hutchinson was not unaware that new elections were likely to favour the Whigs. On 2 Feb., at the second reading of the triennial bill, he noted in his support for the measure that
the best of kings was not against limiting the prerogative, as in Edward III’s time, when the laws for annual Parliaments were made. The corruption of the pensioner Parliament was by long sitting. I think none can be against this bill, but such as doubt of being chosen again, and others also that are unwilling to spend money.
On 20 Feb. he spoke in favour of the bill for taking and stating public accounts. On 25 Feb. he spoke in favour of addressing the King to dissolve the East India Company, as legislation had again been obstructed during the session. At the report stage of the bill to review the poll tax, on 4 Mar., he offered a clause to restrain officials (particularly in the Exchequer) from taking fees from receivers-general apart from those ancient fees allowed by the barons of the Exchequer, which was accepted although a very similar one had been rejected on the land tax bill. On 8 Mar. he supported Hon. Goodwin Wharton’s* suggestion that William Culliford*, an Irish revenue commissioner, having absented himself from the Commons while being accused of misdemeanours, should not be protected by the privilege of the House. Grascome’s analysis of 1693 (extended to 1695) classed him as a Court supporter.7
In the 1693–4 session Hutchinson continued to cut an influential figure in the Commons. On 18 Dec. he defended the use of the term ‘holden’ in the Lords’ bill for frequent Parliaments against some of the more extreme proponents of triennial legislation, noting that it had been current for 300 years and dismissing the criticism that Members would not attend annual sessions. On 23 Dec. he acted as a teller in favour of a short adjournment over Christmas, normally the preferred option of the Court. He took an important part in the debates in the committee of the whole on 26 Jan. 1694 after the King’s refusal of the Royal Assent to a place bill. He condemned the ‘false councillors’ that had advised its rejection and added that
the nature of the bill was to take off scandal, to show the world that we give our votes, and do not sell them. Our own actions have given occasion hereto, by carrying on the bill in former sessions with fondness of it, but in this we were very cool. It may give the King occasion to think that we know not what to do; that the Members of this House are so made, for their ingenuity and skill to manage us, rather than their offices which they either mind not, or know little of.
This contribution to the debate was clearly in keeping with the sentiments of the Commons and he was consequently appointed to the committee to draw up an address to the King, stressing how rare it was for a monarch to veto a bill aimed at redressing grievances. The following day he was appointed to the committee to moderate the final paragraph of the address. Following the King’s reply, he took a leading part in the debate on 1 Feb. on the Commons’ response. He spoke, as one of many Members dissatisfied with the King’s answer, noting that ‘unless you keep the love of the people (whose money you have freely disposed of) by securing to the people what the King promised at first, good correspondence with the King cannot be’. In April he was elected in 5th place with 122 votes in the ballot for commissioners of accounts. Although a supporter of the Court on some issues, his prominent role in attacks on the executive and zeal for retrenchment made him amply qualified for the post. Indeed, Francis Gwyn* felt that Hutchinson’s acceptance of such a low salary was ‘a great piece of self denial’. That he fitted in well with the prevailing ethos of the commission is vouchsafed by a number of cordial letters he sent to its leading light, Robert Harley. He was noted as having between £500 and £2,000 invested in the Bank of England.8
Despite his new duties, Hutchinson continued to play an active role in the Commons, being named to various committees including that to prepare the address of condolence to the King on the death of the Queen, later advising Nottingham corporation to send up a similar tribute. On 13 Feb. 1695 he acted as a teller for a resolution from the committee of ways and means for a duty on leather which passed by 155 votes to 150. The Commons passed a favourable verdict on his first year as a commissioner of accounts by re-electing him on 21 Mar., in equal fourth place, with 142 votes. On 16 Apr. he acted as a teller, at the report stage of the bill for raising the militia, for rejecting a clause that receivers of trophy money should give an account of it for the previous three years. A ten-year term and a £40 penalty were then added before the whole clause was thrown out without a division. On the following day he acted as a teller in favour of putting the question that Henry Guy* be expelled for bribery. His status in the House was reflected by his election, in 16th place with 84 votes, to the committee to examine Sir Thomas Cooke*. On 27 Apr. Hutchinson was appointed to the committee to impeach his old enemy the Duke of Leeds (as Carmarthen had now become). On 2 May he acted as a teller against the third reading of a bill from the Lords to reverse the attainder of Jacob Leibster.9
A letter to the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) in March 1695 showed Hutchinson acting with other local Whigs in forwarding an address to the Duke of Shrewsbury’s office, and in the summer of that year he appears to have been active in reporting to the lords justices concerning the obstructions faced by the local officials in charge of the duties on births, marriages and burials. Re-elected for Nottingham in October 1695, he ‘fell sick burgessing’ and died on 3 Nov. before the new Parliament assembled. His sudden death was described as ‘surprising and unwelcome’ in a letter from the secretary of the commissioners of accounts to Harley. The latter probably concurred in that assessment, for Hutchinson was an indefatigable campaigner for certain aspects of the Country platform, such as place bills and frequent Parliaments, as well as such undeniably Whiggish ideals as toleration for religious minorities. Most of his will, written in December 1694, was taken up with his subscriptions to the Bank of England.10
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. J. T. Godfrey, Notes on St. Mary’s Reg. 19; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. n.s. v), 64, 106; Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 347; IGI, London.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1806.
- 3. J. Bramley, Hist. Plumptre Hosp. 21.
- 4. The Gen. ii. 305, 307; Clutterbuck, 346; [Bull. I] HR, lxix. 230; CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 437–8; 1684–5, p. 54; D. H. Hosford, Nottingham, Nobles and North, 71, 96; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1806; H. Copnall, Notts. Co. Recs. 17th Cent. 10.
- 5. Grey, x. 10; Bodl. Rawl. A.79, f. 90; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 643; Add. 42950, f. 96v.; Nottingham Bor. Recs. v. 366.
- 6. Luttrell Diary, 25, 46, 75, 81, 88, 110, 128, 150, 161–2, 174, 182, 198–9, 201–2.
- 7. CSP Dom. 1691–2, p. 277; Luttrell Diary, 233, 235, 293, 310, 315, 328, 331, 343, 345, 348, 361, 363, 382, 388, 391, 420, 449, 462, 471; Grey, 296, 301, 306.
- 8. Grey, 368, 376, 382; HMC Portland, iii. 551; Add. 70243, Hutchinson to Harley, 12 Sept. 1694, 15 July 1695; 42593, f. 40.
- 9. Nottingham Bor. Recs. v. 387–8.
- 10. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Holles) mss Pw2 294, John White* to Newcastle, 23 Mar. 1694–5; CSP Dom. 1695, pp. 507, 510; Add. 46553, f. 59; 70260, George Tollet to Harley, 5 Nov. 1695; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1680–99, p. 167; PCC 64 Irby.