LESLIE, Charles Powell (?1767-1831), of Glasslough, co. Monaghan.
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Family and Education
b. ?1767, 1st s. of Charles Powell Leslie, MP [I], of Glasslough by 1st w. Hon. Prudence Hill Trevor, da. of Arthur, 1st Visct. Dungannon [I]. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 30 Apr. 1784, aged 17. m. (1) Oct. 1791, Anne (d. Jan. 1813), da. and coh. of Rev. Dudley Charles Ryder of Merrion Square, Dublin, rector of Streamstown, co. Leitrim, 3da.; (2) 24 May 1819, Christiana, da. of George Fosbery of Clorane, co. Limerick, 3s. 4da. suc. fa. 1800.
Sheriff, co. Monaghan 1788-9, gov. 1802.
Trusteee, linen board [I] 1807.
Col. Monaghan militia 1797-d.; capt. Glasslough inf. 1805.
Col. Leslie came of an established Monaghan family and hoped to succeed his father, who died in July 1800 after acting with opposition and opposing the Union as Member for the county. He was disappointed then, but came in unopposed when his rival Westenra succeeded to the peerage a year later. A cousin of the Wellesley and Ryder brothers, he was disposed to support government, though Addington’s ministry could not count on him. He went away as a result of John Foster’s anti-Union speech before the division of 7 May 1802. Appointed county governor in December 1802, he did not give government the benefit of his vote on 4 Mar. 1803 when the House divided on the Prince of Wales’s finances, any more than he had on 31 Mar. 1802; early in 1804 he was listed among a group of the Prince’s friends coming over from Ireland to join opposition.1 It is doubtful whether he did so: in April he was listed ‘in Ireland’ and ‘uncertain’. Despite an alleged vote against the additional force bill, 8 June 1804, he was reckoned a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry.
On 10 July his cousin Richard Ryder recommended him to the lord lieutenant as
a gentleman of very respectable character, of a very old family and considerable fortune in that county and comes in for it upon his own interest. He has been in town during the late struggle of parties, and though you might see his name at one of the Carlton House dinners, has constantly voted with us. He told me that he intended to pay his respects to you on his return, but having more natural shyness, than usually belongs to his countrymen, he did not like to do so, till you had been made acquainted with his name.
Leslie’s object, which Ryder had also favourably recommended to Pitt, was preferment for his clerical brother John. On 26 Sept. 1804 Ryder informed the viceroy that Leslie hoped for the deanery of Waterford for his brother, failing that of Clogher, and that Pitt countenanced it. Pitt evidently forgot to list Leslie’s brother in his recommendations to the Castle, and Leslie, though ‘much flattered’ by his reception by the viceroy at their meeting, had to wait until the minister had remedied his omission and was even then, through no fault of Pitt’s, disappointed. Meanwhile, he applied for a trusteeship of the linen board and made his wife’s health his excuse for not leaving Ireland when summoned to attend Parliament on 31 May 1805, pointing out that he had attended for the five months previous to 25 May. Despite allegations to the contrary, he had not voted against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, but he voted against Catholic claims on 14 May. After Pitt’s death, his cousin Harrowby described him as ‘one of the most respectable of the Irish county Members’ who ‘adds to this merit, that of having been (in spite of connections and allurements which drew him in a contrary direction) a warm supporter of Pitt’s, and since his loss, of the Pitt connection’.2
This suggests Leslie’s opposition to the Grenville ministry, and the Irish chancellor of the exchequer listed him on 1 June 1806 among the Irish opponents of government, but as he scarcely ever spoke, his conduct was inconspicuous. The Castle was prepared to support his re-election and even listed him as a supporter at the election of 1806.3 Yet on 13 Feb. 1807 he voted against ministers on the Hampshire election petition and on 25 Mar. and 9 Apr. 1807 voted with the incoming Portland ministry, who were the more congenial to him since his cousin Sir Arthur Wellesley was their Irish secretary. He at once asked for and in due course obtained a trusteeship of the linen board for himself, claiming Lord Hardwicke’s previous promise of it, and requested, unsuccessfully, the ‘sinecure’ deanery of Tuam for his brother.
Leslie disappointed the Castle by his failure to support the return of Henry Richard Westenra as his colleague in the Monaghan by-election in November 1807; his brother had to be satisfied with the deanery of Cork, which he was not, as he now had two livings ‘at the extreme ends of the kingdom’. Nevertheless, he promised attendance, 30 Jan. 1808, and was in March ‘a firm supporter and a constant attender in Parliament’. He was in the government minority on the Scheldt inquiry, 26 Jan. 1810, and voted against sinecure reform, 17 May, parliamentary reform, 21 May, and Catholic relief, 1 June. He was absent on the Regency question, but begged ‘to be understood as decidedly with us’, the viceroy reported.4 He was in the majority against Catholic relief, 1 June 1811, and in the like-minded minority of 22 June 1812.
The secession from government of his cousin Lord Wellesley had made no obvious difference to Leslie’s conduct. When in November 1812 a list of his and Wellesley’s potential supporters was shown to Canning, he doubted whether Leslie should be included owing to his contrary connexion with Harrowby. Again in February 1813, although the chief secretary was ‘almost certain’ that Leslie would go ‘decidedly with Lord Wellesley’ and support Catholic relief, he was in the minority against it on 2 Mar. The viceroy had been more correct in his forecast the day before: ‘Leslie spoke to me in such terms of gratitude that I don’t think he will vote against us’. This was doubtless a reference to his brother’s preferment to the bishopric of Dromore, which must have secured his loyalty. On 1 Apr. the chief secretary still thought that Leslie would adhere to the Wellesleys, conceiving that he had ‘obligations to Mr Pole which made it incumbent on him to adhere to him in politics’, but he was again hostile to the Catholic claims in the division of 24 May, as he was in the subsequent divisions of 21 May 1816, 9 May 1817 and 3 May 1819.5
In February 1816 he assured the chief secretary that he would honour a summons to attend; in August Peel called him ‘one of our best supporters’ and in June 1817 commended him for coming up from Bath to do so. In return, he expected his share of patronage for his constituents ‘who imagine I can obtain any situation— altho’ it may be infinitely beyond my pretensions or their deserts’. He also desired his brother to be translated from the see of Dromore to that of Clogher at the first opportunity: Clogher included county Monaghan, and Leslie, like many of his supporters, held much of his estate on a lease, shortly due to expire, from the bishop. Not only did his brother have two ancestors who were bishops of Clogher, but ‘as we have the bishopric of Dromore to exchange for it the difference to government is not great’.6 After besieging Lord Liverpool and his Ryder and Wellesley cousins on the matter, he was doubtless disappointed when his brother was translated instead to the see of Elphin in 1820, but he continued, except on the Irish window tax, 5 May 1819, to vote with government. He spoke against the reform of the law on illicit distilling in Ireland, 30 Apr. 1819. Leslie died 15 Nov. 1831.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: P. J. Jupp
- 1. Add. 35713, f. 92; Wickham mss 5/3, Wickham to Leslie, 24 Dec. 1802; Prince of Wales Corresp. iv. 1822.
- 2. Add. 31230, f. 23; 35715, f. 211; 35750, f. 366; 35752, f. 251; 35756, f. 44; 35786, f. 98; The Times, 18 Apr. 1805; J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 345; Harrowby mss, Harrowby to Camden [July 1806].
- 3. NLS mss 12917, Newport to Elliot, 1 June 1806; 12925, Irish list.
- 4. Wellington mss, Leslie to Wellesley, 21, 30 May, 15 July, 7 Nov. 1807, 28 Dec. 1808; Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 65, 101, 373; NLI, Richmond mss 58/37, 63/614.
- 5. Bagot mss, Canning to Bagot, 9 Nov. 1812; Add. 40185, f. 170; 40281, f. 89; 40282, f. 35
- 6. Add. 38279, ff. 1, 3, 61; 40181, f. 130; 40252, f. 353; 40257, f. 393; 40267, f. 189; 40293, f. 103; Gentl. Mag. (1819), i. 565.