OSBORNE, Charles (c.1633-1719), of Kiveton, Yorks. and Tower Hamlets, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



3 Mar. 1677 - Jan. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1633, 2nd s. of Sir Edward Osborne, 1st Bt.†, of Kiveton by Anne, da. of Thomas Walmesley of Dunkenhalgh, Lancs., wid. of William Middleton of Lichfield, Staffs.; bro. of Sir Thomas Osborne†.  unm.1

Offices Held

Sub-commr. prizes, Hull 1672–4; freeman, Exeter 1676, Poole 1679, Portsmouth 1680, Hull 1690; commr. carriage of coals, Newcastle 1679.2

Surveyor-gen. customs 1675–Mar. 1679, May 1679–87, commr. Jan.–Apr. 1679; commr. inquiry into the Mint 1677–8; receiver prize arrears 1678–81; lt.-gov. of Hull 1690–1700.3


A man of little ability, Osborne held office for most of his life through the influence of his elder brother, Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne). As with his previous period in Parliament during the 1670s, Osborne owed his election at Hull to Carmarthen, who had been appointed governor of the town in 1689, and who recommended Osborne to the powerful Hull corporation at the 1690 election. Osborne was returned unopposed, having been admitted as a freeman of the town. In July his position in the town was strengthened when he was appointed deputy-governor. Classed as a Tory and government supporter by his elder brother in 1690, Osborne was not a particularly active Member. However, a certain degree of specialized interest is evident from his committee nominations, which were dominated by revenue and trade affairs, and, more significantly, the ongoing concerns of the corporation and people of Hull. He was diligent in seeking to serve his borough, being described as ‘very zealous in any matter that may be for the service of Hull’, and was assiduous in sending the Votes of the House, as well as national and foreign news, to the corporation. In a letter of 21 Oct. 1690, he described the proceedings in relation to the imposition of duties on foreign commodities, an issue of great significance for a merchant town. He also pointed out how busy he was, explaining that it ‘being nine of the clock, I am just come from the committee for the aulnage which forces me to write from Westminster’. In the same month he concluded an agreement, according to the wishes of the corporation, with the commissioners of the Ordnance in relation to the garrison at Hull, while on 9 Jan. 1691 he reported to the mayor that

I have put in the names of the commissioners upon the land tax for Hull and county, and being a stranger yet in those parts, I put in such as my brother Ramsden [John*] named, and would have been glad the bench would have pleased to direct me, which I desired in my letter.

Following the end of the 1690–1 session, and despite ‘a violent cold and bleeding at my nose by coughing’, Osborne still looked to the needs of his constituents, attending to a petition from the farmers of the passage boats from Hull to Barton. In April he was classed by Robert Harley* as a Court supporter, and it was not surprising that he appeared on a number of lists of placemen during the next few years. In the 1693–4 session, during the parliamentary inquiry into payments of secret service money to Members, it was revealed that Osborne had received £500 ‘to be laid out on the borough of Hedon, in Yorkshire’. Local concerns arose again during the 1694–5 session, when he was nominated, on 19 Apr. 1695, to the committee for considering the Hull inn-keepers’ petition against the quartering of troops, and the supposed illegal exaction of money from them by the mayor in 1694. Although nothing came of this petition, the problem of quartering soldiers in Hull continued to figure prominently in the correspondence from the corporation. Osborne was recorded by Grascome as a Court supporter and placeman in this Parliament.4

Re-elected for Hull in 1695, Osborne was listed as doubtful and forecast in January 1696 as likely to oppose the Court on the proposed council of trade. This stance was consistent with the views of Carmarthen (now Duke of Leeds) with regard to such a council. However, Osborne signed the Association promptly in February and voted in March for fixing the price of guineas at 22s., again in keeping with his elder brother’s supporters, though he was absent in November from the division on Sir John Fenwick’s† attainder. As before, the concerns of the Hull corporation figured prominently in Osborne’s activities. Having been added to the drafting committee on a bill for the better relief of the poor during the 1696–7 session, Osborne and his fellow Member, Sir William St. Quintin, 3rd Bt., were given leave, in the following session, on 27 Apr. 1698, to bring in a bill for the erection of workhouses and houses of correction in Hull, the initiative for which had come from the corporation. The bill passed the Commons on 11 May, though ran into trouble in the Lords, and did not become law until 1699. In the meantime Osborne and St. Quintin were obliged by the corporation to meet the expense of the bill themselves.5

Returned unopposed in 1698, Osborne was classed as a Court supporter and placeman. In keeping with this classification, he voted on 18 Jan. 1699 against the third reading of the disbanding bill. However, events began to turn against Osborne with the decline in the fortunes of his elder brother, who had fallen out of favour with the King. While Leeds seemed to accept that he would lose his own offices, he tried to ensure that Osborne retained the deputy-governorship of Hull, writing on the subject to Lord Lonsdale (Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. II*) in May, emphasizing how Osborne had always been ‘a thorough voter . . . for the Court in Parliament’. Despite such efforts, Osborne was removed at some point between the autumn of 1699 and summer of 1700. He was noted as a follower of Leeds in an analysis of the House into ‘interests’ in 1700. His removal as deputy-governor appears to have cost him his seat in Parliament, as he was defeated at Hull in January 1701. However, it was evident from 1699 onwards that the corporation had begun to lose faith in him anyway, and favoured being represented by a local man. Osborne petitioned against the return, but to no avail. In the summer of 1701 he was granted a pension of £200 p.a. out of the Post Office revenue, ‘in consideration of good and faithful services’, and was also appointed one of the deputy-lieutenants of the East Riding in the same year. His Post Office pension was renewed by Queen Anne on her accession. Osborne did not sit in Parliament again. He died on 7 Aug. 1719, aged 86, and was buried at Harthill, Yorkshire.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. A. Browning, Danby, i. 8–9.
  • 2. W. J. Davies, ‘A description of the trade and shipping of Hull during the 17th Cent.’ (Wales Univ. M.A. thesis, 1937), App. D.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 68; Flying Post, 24–26 Aug. 1699; Post Boy, 4–7 Nov. 1699; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 671.
  • 4. Browning, 441; Quinn thesis, 62; R. C. Ward, ‘Political corresp. relating to Kingston-upon-Hull, 1678–1835’ (Leeds Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1989), 45; CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 68; Hull City Archs. Hull corp. recs. L.1117–8, L.1121–3, L.1127, L.1139, L.1143; Cal. Hull Corp. Recs. 281–5; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 807.
  • 5. Add. 70018, ff. 94–95; Quinn, 62; Bull. IHR. sp. supp. 7, pp. 11, 39; Cal. Hull Corp. Recs. 286–7, 363; Tickell, Hist. Hull, 776.
  • 6. Quinn, 63; Browning, 548; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/L1/1/41, Leeds to Lonsdale, 19 May 1699; Quinn, 63; Hull corp. recs. L.1185; Flying Post, 24–26 Aug. 1699; Post Boy, 4–7 Nov. 1699; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 671; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 273, 315; xvii. 340, 399; CJ, xiii. 330, 700.