ADAMS, Charles (1753-1821), of Chapel Street, Grosvenor Square, Mdx.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Ensign 3 Ft. Gds. 1769, lt. 1776; lt. 32 Ft. 1779; Irish half-pay 1783.
Vol. London and Westminster light horse 1798.
His elder brother James being Henry Addington’s brother-in-law and appointed a lord of the Admiralty in Addington’s administration in 1801, Adams was recruited into Parliament in support soon afterwards. The opening was at Weymouth where he came in on the Pulteney interest and survived contests in 1802, 1806 and 1807. A company stockholder entitled by 1806 to three votes for the directorate, he was on the committee chosen on 9 Dec. 1801 to regulate the East India judicature.2 He went into opposition with Addington against Pitt’s additional force bill in June 1804. After approving the reconciliation between his leader and Pitt, he seconded the address, 15 Jan. 1805.3 On 1 Mar. he voted for the continuation of the naval inquiry and on 8 Apr., unlike other Sidmouthites, for the censure of Melville. When he accompanied the Speaker to St. James’s with the address on 11 Apr., he was the only other opponent of Melville spoken to by the King. Nevertheless, his leader believed Adams to be as anxious as himself to be able to support government at that time.4 He was in the majority for criminal prosecution of Melville, 12 June 1805. He voted in the majority for the Grenville ministry’s repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. He showed no enthusiasm to give up his seat to his brother James, who was looking for one, at the ensuing election.
It was in 1809 that Adams began to exceed his brief as a follower of Lord Sidmouth. After voting against the convention of Cintra, 21 Feb., he frequently questioned witnesses at the bar and also appeared in the minorities against the Duke of York, 15-17 Mar. He explained on 17 Mar. that he regretted having to vote thus, but the evidence seemed to warrant it. He was again in the minority on the allegations of ministerial corruption, 25 Apr. 1809, and on 15 June went so far as to vote for Burdett’s reform motion. On 9 Nov. 1809 Sidmouth sent Charles Bragge Bathurst* a letter to him from Adams renewing his ‘oath of allegiance’ and instructed him to destroy it.5 In the session of 1810, Adams was at first in step with Sidmouth, voting for the address, 23 Jan., and commending Wellington’s services in Spain, 1 Feb., but he voted against minsters on the Scheldt inquiry, 26 Jan., 23 Feb., 5 and 30 Mar. 1810. The Whigs still labelled him ‘Sidmouth’. Then he proceeded to vote against Burdett’s imprisonment, 5 Apr., for the release of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr., and to speak in favour of the London petition on behalf of Burdett, though he rejected the Middlesex one, 8 May. He also voted for Irish tithe reform, 13 Apr., and for sinecure reform, 17 May, but against parliamentary reform, 21 May. He was not thought favourable to Sidmouth’s merging with Perceval’s administration at that juncture, but he sided with government on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811. Of Perceval he said: ‘He had sometimes opposed him, but he possessed all his admiration’.6 On 11 Mar. 1811 he was in the minority in favour of freedom of conscience for Irish soldiers. He supported Folkestone’s motion critical of informations for libel, 28 Mar. He rejected the bullion committee’s findings, 14 May; favoured investigation of delays in Chancery, 17 May, and opposed the abolition of flogging in the army, 18 May (also on 13 Mar. and 15 Apr. 1812). He was a spokesman against Catholic relief, 31 May 1811, but again voted for Irish tithe reform, 11 June. He defended the reinstating of the Duke of York in his army command, thinking him sufficiently punished, 6 June. He waxed sarcastic at the Whig ‘Mountain’s’ attempts to whitewash the character of the imprisoned radical journalist Peter Finnerty, 21 June.
In the ensuing session he approved the Regent’s household grant, 16 Jan. 1812, opposed Morpeth’s critical motion on Ireland, 4 Feb., and called for some ‘additional mark of gratitude’ to Wellington, 10 Feb.; but he sided with opposition on the droits of Admiralty, 21 Jan., for the offices in reversion bill, 7 Feb., and for the abolition of McMahon’s sinecure, 21 and 24 Feb. He approved the expulsion of Benjamin Walsh*, 5 Mar., and deprecated Whig intervention on behalf of the Princess of Wales, 23 Mar. When Sidmouth rejoined the government, his opposition ceased. On 14 Apr., with reference to his lack of opposition to McMahon’s appointment as secretary to the Regent, he claimed that ‘if he had changed his seat, he certainly had not changed his mind, for he would give the same conscientious vote now that he gave then’. He still voted for sinecure reform, 4 May. There was talk of his becoming a lord of the Admiralty, but nothing came of it.7 He remained opposed to Catholic relief, 23 Apr. 1812, and was in the diehard minority against it on 22 June. On 14 May he advocated doubling the compensation award to Perceval’s family on his assassination. He voted against the recomposition of administration, 21 May. On 30 June he seconded Lockhart’s motion for an inquiry into the conduct of one of the judges of the Palace court.
Adams’s seat for Weymouth was no longer available to him in 1812 and he was left out of doors. He died 15 Nov. 1821.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1753), 540.
- 2. He bequeathed £6,000 East India stock to his nephews and nieces, PCC 641 Mansfield; J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 7.
- 3. Sidmouth mss, Adams to Addington, 26 Dec. 1804.
- 4. Add. 47564, f. 236; Sidmouth mss, Sidmouth to J. H. Addington, 20 Apr. 1805.
- 5. Sidmouth mss.
- 6. Loch mss, Abercromby to Loch, 7 June 1810; Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 341.
- 7. Bath Archives ed. Lady Jackson, i. 354.