Charlton, Job (DNB00)

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CHARLTON, Sir JOB (1614–1697), chief justice of Chester and speaker of the Uouse of Commons, was descended from a family which had held a position of importance in Shropshire from the thirteenth century, and had numbered among its members many persons of distinction. He was the eldest son of Robert Charlton, goldsmith, of London, and of Whitton, Shropshire, referred to by Blakeway (Sheriffs of Shropshire, 153) as 'an eminent sufferer in the royal cause,' by his first wife, Emma, daughter of Thomas Harby of Adston, Northamptonshire, also a goldsmith of London. He was born in London in 1614, and educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he educated B.A. in 1632. On 14 Nov. of the following year he entered Lincoln's Inn, and was called in due time to the bar. He was returned as member for Ludlow to Richard Cromwell's parliament in 1659, and to the first two parliaments of Charles TI in 1660 and 1661. Although he took little part in the debates, except on points of form, he was in 1661 appointed chairman of the committee on elections. At the Restoration he was included in the first batch of new serjeants-at-law, and in 1062 obtained a grant of 3,700l. for services rendered by his father to Charles II (Cal. State Papers, 1662, p. 376). The same year he was appointed chief justice of Chester in succession to Sir Geoffrey Palmer, receiving on this occasion the honour of knighthood. Ho became king's Serjeant 20 May 1668. On 4 Feb. 1672-3 he was unanimously chosen speaker of the House of Commons, but the exciting debates which took place at this time rendered his duties so arduous that his health became affected, and after the house had adjourned on account of his indisposition from 15 Feb. to the 18th he, on its reassembling, desired 'leave to resign and retire into the country' (Parl. Hist, iv. 535). In a pamphlet entitled 'A Seasonable Argument,' &c., published in 1677, it is asserted that he gave up the speakership for a grant of 500l., but this grant was in realitv made two years before, on 28 March 1671. In 1680 he was compelled to resign the chief justiceship of Chester in favour of Jeffreys, who had 'laid his eye on it,' because he was bom at Acton, near Wrexham. Roger North, who refers to Charlton as 'an old cavalier, loyal, learned, grave, and wise,' states that he desired to die in that employment. 'But Jeffries, with his interest on the side of the Duke of York, pressed the king so hard that he could not stand it' {Life of Lord Guilford, ii. 10, 11). In lieu of that office Charlton was, 26 April 1680, made chief justice of the common pleas ; but having given his opinion in opposition to the king's dispensing power (State Trials, ix. 592), he was removed from office 26 April 1680 (Bramston, Autobiography, 223). He was, however, restored to the chief justiceship of Chester, and on 12 May was created a baronet. He died at his seat at Ludford, Herefordshire, 29 May 1697. By his first wife, Dorothy, daughter and heiress of William Blundell of Bishop's Castle, he had four sons and three daughters, and by his second wife, Lettice, daughter of Walter Waring of Oldbury, he had one son and one daughter. The baronetcy became extinct with the fourth holder in 1784.

[Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 464-5 ; Wotton's Baronetage, ii. 490-1 ; Blakeway's Sheriffs of Shropshire ; Manning's Lives Of the Speakers ; Foss's Judges, vii. 214-17.]

T. F. H.