BERKELEY, Sir Charles I (1599-1668), of Bruton, Som. and Pall Mall, Westminster.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 14 Dec. 1599, 1st s. of Sir Maurice Berkeley† of Bruton by Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Killigrew of Hanworth, Mdx., bro. of John Berkeley. educ. Eton 1613; Queen’s, Oxf. 1615. m. 6 Sept. 1627, Penelope, da. of Sir William Godolphin† of Godolphin, Cornw., 4s. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1617; kntd. 26 Aug. 1623; suc. Sir Charles Berkeley II as 2nd Visct. Fitzhardinge [I] 3 June 1665.1
Dep. lt. Som. by 1625-c.37, col. of militia 1625-c.37, commr. of array 1642; j.p. Som. 1643-5, July 1660-d. Mdx. and Westminster Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for oyer and terminer, Western circuit July 1660, assessment, Som. Aug. 1660-1, 1663-d., Westminster 1661-3; custos rot. Som. Dec. 1660-d.; commr. for sewers, Dec. 1660; freeman, Portsmouth 1661; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, London and Westminster 1662, highways and sewers 1662.2
Comptroller of the Household June 1660-2, treasurer 1662-d.; PC July 1660-d.3
Berkeley was head of the Somerset branch of the family which had acquired Bruton Priory at the dissolution of the monasteries. Although he had helped to organize the local resistance to ship-money, he was a Royalist during the Civil War. Less prominent than his younger brother, he was allowed to compound on the Exeter articles for his delinquency in serving on royalist commissions. He was involved in the western association in 1650, but does not seem to have been an active conspirator during the Interregnum. At the Restoration he was made comptroller of the Household and a Privy Councillor, presumably owing to the extraordinary influence which his son had acquired at the exiled Court.4
Berkeley and his brother had sat in the Short Parliament for Bath and Heytesbury respectively, and at the general election of 1661 he stood for both constituencies, but was involved in double returns in each. Before his presence in the House could be questioned, he proposed (Sir) Edward Turnor as Speaker. His claim to the Bath seat was apparently not pressed; but after the Heytesbury election had been declared void he was returned at a by-election, probably by agreement with the Ashe interest represented by John Jolliffe. He was a moderately active committeeman, serving on about 80 committees, and by virtue of his offices frequently employed as a messenger to and from the King. He was appointed to the committees for the corporations, uniformity and regicides bills, and on 26 July 1661 he acted as teller for an amendment to the bill for regulating the printing press. He carried to the King petitions for disarming the disbanded soldiers and giving the royal assent to the supply bill, and helped to manage a conference with the Lords on sedition. He must frequently have been responsible for initiating legislation, his name standing first on committees to consider tumultuary petitioning, paving the streets of Westminster, wine licences, and hackney coaches in 1661, and the export of wool, the regulation of fishing and a proviso from the Lords on the militia bill in 1662. He acted as teller against hearing the case of (Sir) Charles Hussey on Lindsey level on 10 Apr. 1662, and in the next session was the first Member to be appointed to the committee. Marked as a court dependant in 1664, he served on the committee for the conventicles bill, and probably introduced the bill for making a separate parish of St. James Piccadilly. In the Oxford session he was appointed to the committee for the five mile bill, and his name stands first on the committees for the London streets and game preservation bills.5
Berkeley succeeded to an Irish peerage under a special remainder on his son’s death, and was rather oddly described by Andrew Marvell in his account of the court party as ‘old Fitzhardinge of the Eaters Beef’. He was appointed on 25 Oct. 1667 with William Morice and Christopher Monck to acquaint the King with the daily occurrence of thefts and robberies, and on the next day to request the lord general (George Monck) to take measures for security against highwaymen. He probably welcomed the fall of his son’s enemy Clarendon. On 3 Dec. 1667, with Morice and (Sir) Thomas Clifford he carried to the King an address for closing the ports to prevent his escape, and brought the reply on the following day. He also served on the committee for sentencing the fallen minister to perpetual banishment. His last important committee was to review the militia laws, of which his experience, dating back over 40 years, can have been second to none in the House. He died of apoplexy on 12 June 1668 and was buried at Bruton.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Irene Cassidy
- 1. Dormant and Extinct Peerages, 46; Shaw, Knights, ii. 182.
- 2. T. G. Barnes, Som. 116, 317; CJ, ii. 745; Q. Sess. Recs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xxviii), p. xx; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 356; Tudor and Stuart Proclamations ed. Steele, i. 405.
- 3. HMC Portland, iii. 222.
- 4. Collinson, Som. i. 215; Barnes, 215-16; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1319; Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 34.
- 5. CJ, viii. 245, 317, 339, 340.
- 6. Marvell ed. Margoliouth, i. 146; Milward, 153; Clarendon Impeachment, 100.