NOEL, Charles Noel (1781-1866), of Exton Park, Rutland.

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



18 May 1808 - May 1814

Family and Education

b. 2 Oct. 1781, 1st s. of Gerard Noel Edwards* (afterwards Noel). educ. Langley, Kent; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1801-3; L. Inn 1803; northern European tour 1805. m. (1) 1 July 1809, Elizabeth (d. 1 Dec. 1811), da. of Thomas Welman of Poundsford Park, Som., s.p.; (2) 13 May 1817, Elizabeth (d. 20 Sept. 1818), da. of Sir George Grey, 1st Bt., of Falloden, Northumb., 1s.; (3) 29 June 1820, Arabella (d. 4 Oct. 1829), da. of (Sir) James Hamlyn Williams*, 2nd Bt., of Edwinsford, Carm., 2s. 2da.; (4) 25 July 1833, Lady Frances Jocelyn, da. of Robert Jocelyn*, 3rd Earl of Roden [I], 1s. 1da. Took name of Noel in lieu of Edwards 5 May 1798; suc. mother as 3rd Baron Barham 12 Apr. 1823; fa. as 2nd Bt. 25 Feb. 1838; cr. Earl of Gainsborough 16 Aug. 1841.

Offices Held

Clerk, Foreign Office July 1798-Apr. 1799.

Cornet, Rutland fencibles 1796-8; capt. Rutland vol. inf. 1803-4; cornet, Rutland yeomanry 1804.


Noel’s maternal grandfather, Sir Charles Middleton, wrote of him to Lord Melville, 15 May 1804:

My friend Wilberforce will introduce my grandson to Mr Pitt ... the Gainsborough estate is entailed on him. The family also command a seat for the county of Rutland, but the father Col. Noel is too young to expect he should resign in favour of the son.

My wish for this young man would be an incontested seat in Parliament. I have no desire about places or emoluments, till he is better known to you and Mr Pitt, but a proper introduction into life is very material for every young man, but more particularly so, when a large fortune is attached to him.

He has always shown a talent for public speaking ... At present he is completing his term at Oxford—and went through the classes in Edinburgh.

My idea was to encourage his going abroad for two years, but the state of the continent is such as not to hazard it.

I have had some friendly conversation with Mr Pitt concerning the father, and I have no doubt of his inclination to support the present administration. To the point, I shall endeavour to fix him, but if the son was in the House, it would strengthen the bond. The father is not acquainted with my views, as I have in a measure adopted the son ever since he was a child and superintended his education. He has always been an enthusiast with regard to Mr Pitt.

He is amicable in his disposition and of good manners. He served a twelvemonth in Mr Grenville’s office by way of acquiring knowledge and becoming steady in business. Wilberforce knows him well and is his great friend.1

Nothing came of this and Noel, who went to northern Europe on tour after all, did not enter the House until 1808, when his father made way for him. He was a silent Member and, like his father, not to be nailed down. Nor, according to the latter, was he swayed by him. After he had voted with opposition throughout on the Duke of York’s misconduct, 15-17 Mar. 1809, his father wrote to Samuel Whitbread: ‘You have my thanks as a private individual, my son has voted with you and you will have my support’. This was modified in a subsequent letter (2 Apr.) to emphasize that the son was no party man:

I believe him rather indisposed to opposition personally because he is justly attached to his grandfather Lord Barham who was not well treated by them, to whom Lord Howick, was both an uncivil and inadequate successor in my son’s estimation.2

On 23 Jan. 1810 Noel voted with ministers on the address. On 15 Feb. he thanked Wilberforce for commending his grandfather’s services at the Admiralty and was sure they would survive scrutiny. He joined opposition on the Scheldt question, 5 and 30 Mar., although the Whigs were ‘doubtful’ of him. On 5 Apr. he was in the minority against sending Burdett to the Tower. He spoke favourably to a moderate parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810, though absent from the division; sharing his father’s views on the subject, he could not be enticed to join an extra-parliamentary meeting of Friends of Constitutional Reform in 1811. He again joined opposition on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, but he voted against a stronger administration, 21 May 1812. He opposed the leather tax, I July, and the domestic search bill, 13 July 1812. The Treasury were doubtful of him after the ensuing election, but he found no further reason to oppose them until he vacated his seat in his father’s favour in May 1814. He opposed Catholic relief, 11, 24 May, and favoured Christian missions to India, 22 June, 1 and 12 July 1813.

Noel’s father was in financial straits when he resumed his seat, and in the event of the sale of his life interest in his property, Noel was urged to come to terms with the Duke of Wellington (a potential purchaser) for the sale of his reversion to it. The negotiation fell through. Noel, whose second marriage gave him Whig connexions, succeeded his mother to the barony of Barham in 1823 and in 1841 procured the revival of the earldom of Gainsborough, his father’s ambition for over 40 years. He died 10 June 1866.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PRO, Dacres Adams mss 5/22.
  • 2. Brougham mss 36416; Whitbread mss W1/2433, 2461.