LENNOX, Charles (1764-1819), of West Stoke, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1790 - 29 Dec. 1806

Family and Education

b. 9 Sept. 1764, o.s. of Gen. Lord George Henry Lennox by Lady Louisa Kerr, da. of William Henry Kerr, 4th Mq. of Lothian [S]. educ. privately by Mr Kempson. m. 9 Sept. 1789, Lady Charlotte Gordon, da. and event. h. of Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon [S], 7s. 7da. suc. fa. 1805; uncle as 4th Duke of Richmond 29 Dec. 1806; KG 31 Mar. 1812; confirmed Duke of Aubigny (France) by Louis XVIII 18 Mar. 1818.

Offices Held

Sec. to master gen. of Ordnance 1784-Jan. 1795; ld. lt. [I] Apr. 1807-Aug. 1813; PC 1 Apr. 1807; gov.-gen. Canada 1818-d.

Capt. Suss. militia 1780; entered army 1785, lt. 7 Ft. 1786; capt. 35 Ft. 1787; capt. and lt.-col. 2 Ft. Gds. 1789; lt.-col. 35 Ft. 1789, col. 1793; brevet col. 1795 and a.d.c. to the King; maj.-gen. 1798; col. 35 Ft. 1799-1819; lt.-gen. 1805, gen. 1814.

Mayor, Chichester 1802; ld. lt. Suss. 1816-19; gov. Hull 1813-14, Plymouth 1814-19.


Lennox, who was treated by the 3rd Duke of Richmond as his presumptive heir, followed his father in a military career. On 24 Mar. 1789 Lady Duncannon wrote: ‘All London is [in] an uproar at their having made C. Lennox pass over the rank of major in giving him a company in the Duke of York’s regiment without consulting or acquainting him with it. The duke is furious.’ It transpired that the King had granted the appointment at the request of the Duke of Richmond; in an interview with his son, he said he was sorry if it vexed him. The latter informed Lennox that although he was glad of his promotion, he ought to have been consulted. The Duke of Richmond thought it ‘very natural’ that his ‘royal highness should think so’, but on York’s giving vent to his feelings at D’Aubigny’s, the gaming club, Lennox challenged him to a duel, which took place at Wimbledon Common on 26 May. The duke was unhurt and refused to return Lennox’s fire, protesting that he bore him ‘no animosity’. The officers of his regiment decided that Lennox had acted with courage but without judgment and he was transferred to the colonelcy of a regiment stationed at Edinburgh, not before fighting another duel with Theophilus Swift, an Irish pamphleteer who had reflected critically on his conduct. George Canning, who had overcome a prejudice against Lennox, thought him in 1794 ‘a very gentlemanlike, pleasant man’.1

Thanks to the standing of his family and the influence of his uncle Richmond, Lennox succeeded his father to a county seat, unopposed, in 1790. Having already a place at the Ordnance under his uncle, he supported Pitt’s administration. He was absent in April 1791, listed unfavourable to the repeal of the Test Act with regard to Scotland. In 1793 he declined an appointment at Toulon from inexperience (a view endorsed by the King) and because he believed that the world would see it as a pretext for avoiding service in the West Indies with his regiment. When his uncle was dismissed the cabinet in January 1795, Lennox wished to resign office with him. His uncle induced him to remain until he had voted against Grey’s motion for peace, 26 Jan.2 He was on foreign service at his re-election in 1796. In April 1797, with his uncle, he was reconciled to Pitt: ‘nothing, he said, would give him so much happiness as to return to the old intimacy’.3

Lennox opposed the treaty of Amiens by vote, 14 May 1802. On 4 Mar. 1803 he voted for inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s finances. His attachment remained to Pitt, whose naval motion he supported on 15 Mar. 1804. He was in the minorities on defence that brought down Addington, 23 and 25 Apr. On the eve of the introduction of Pitt’s additional force bill, 7 June 1804, Lennox wrote to him from Brighton:

You probably expect me in the House tomorrow. I write a line ... to tell you I have received such a letter from the Duke of Richmond that makes me think you would not, unless very hard pressed, wish me to vote on a question on which you know he has a different plan. If I went to town I should certainly vote with you, but think I had better not go till I have had some further correspondence with him on the subject. That correspondence will end either in resigning my seat or supporting you. I think with a little management I can do the latter; depend on it, in your present situation unconnected with Fox, though I may not vote for a few days with you, I will not vote against you.

If however a vote is of consequence I shall be happy to attend when you please.

His uncle had in fact written to him on 6 June reminding him that, having a defence plan of his own which he had submitted to Pitt, he would vote against it in the Lords and reproached him for coming ‘to town on purpose to vote differently from what you knew to be my wishes’.

You may say that I have told you I did not mean to direct your vote in Parliament, nor do I wish you to be like some who because they owe their seat to a man think they must implicitly follow him. But surely there is a difference between that extreme and paying no sort of attention to the sentiment and inclinations of a person to whom you owe not only your seat, but to an uncle who has adopted you as his child, bred you up and to whom you owe everything. I grant in all matters, the opinion and vote of a Member of Parliament ought to be free. But if he suffers it to be biased by a minister he may as well let his uncle have some influence over it ... I do maintain that man should not make use of the situation another has put him into contrary to what he knows his politics to be. And as to the question to be decided on Friday relative to the defence of the country, you know that I am publishing a plan of my own for that purpose, I have shown it to you, and you appeared to think it was a good one, but you would be voting directly against [it] to support Mr Pitt’s.

The plan in question, which Richmond afterwards published, had been conveyed to Pitt by Lennox, who acted as an intermediary for them both before and after their estrangement. But Lennox, in reply to a milder, if longer, remonstrance from his uncle, pleaded ignorance of the latter’s intentions and said that as Pitt’s plan was offered to Parliament, he would support it, bearing in mind that the division was also a trial of Pitt’s administration and if it were defeated,

Who are we to look to? Mr Addington cannot return. The Grenvillites have in my opinion proved themselves unfit to be in power. They have for a length of time said Add[ingto]n ought to quit and an administration formed on the broadest basis. Yet the moment they succeed in their first object, they, because one individual is objected to, do all they can to narrow the administration they have assisted in bringing in.

He deplored his uncle’s alignment with his old enemy Fox and the Grenvilles, but compromised by not attending Parliament on the pretext of Sussex militia duties.4 On 25 June 1805, in his only known speech, he advocated the impeachment of Melville by his peers in preference to criminal prosecution. Both in September 1804 and July 1805 he was listed ‘Pitt’. On 18 July 1805 he wrote:

Dear Pitt

I am constantly scolded because you won’t send the Duke of Richmond’s papers back to him. I don’t mind a lecture for voting with you instead of his new friends the Prince and Fox but I think you may well save me that scold. I am happy to find the Doctor etc. are at last out.5

Lennox officiated at Pitt’s funeral and voted against the Grenville ministry on Ellenborough’s seat in the cabinet, 3 Mar. 1806. On 1 June his uncle informed Lord Holland that he dissented from Lennox’s vote against limited army service.6 In December he succeeded to the title. The Duke of Portland appointed him viceroy of Ireland. As such he was popular, though a staunch anti-Catholic, living in ‘almost regal state’ and a minimum of sobriety in Dublin. This, and the duchess’s gaming proclivities, was said to have ruined him.7 They retired to Brussels, where they held the famous Waterloo ball on the eve of battle in 1815. Richmond died of a fox bite in Canada, as governor-general, 28 Aug. 1819.8

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Lady Bessborough and her Family Circle, 46, 47-48; Leveson Gower, i. 17; Minto, i. 313-20, 322; Add. 47570, f. 180; Gent. Mag. (1789), i. 463, 565; Theophilus Swift, A Letter on the Conduct of Col. Lennox (1789); Harewood mss, Canning jnl. 23 Jan. 1794.
  • 2. PRO 30/8/328, f. 239; Geo. III Corresp. ii. 958; Chatsworth mss, Lady E. Foster jnl. 25 Jan. 1795.
  • 3. Suss. Weekly Advertiser, 6 June 1796; PRO 30/8/112, f. 36.
  • 4. PRO, Dacress Adams mss 4/79; A. G. Olson, The Radical Duke, 222, 225; NLI, Richmond mss 70/1272, 1273, 1274.
  • 5. PRO 30/70/6/399.
  • 6. Add. 51802, Richmond to Holland, 1 June 1806.
  • 7. O’Mahony, Viceroys of Ireland, 215; Farington, viii. 182.
  • 8. Gent. Mag. (1819), ii. 369, 466.