Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lyttelton, Charles (1714-1768)

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LYTTELTON, CHARLES (1714–1768), antiquary and bishop of Carlisle, was third son of Sir Thomas Lyttelton, fourth baronet (d. 1751), by his wife Christian, daughter of Sir Richard Temple of Stowe, Buckinghamshire. Sir Charles Lyttelton (1629–1716) [q. v.] was his grandfather. He was born at Hagley, Worcestershire, in 1714, and educated at Eton and University College, Oxford, where he matriculated on 10 Oct. 1732, and graduated B.C.L. March 1745, D.C.L. June 1745. He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1738, but soon abandoned it for the church, being ordained in 1742. Almost immediately afterwards (13 Aug. 1743) he was instituted to the rich rectory of Alvechurch in his native county. Through his family influence he was made chaplain to George II in December 1747, installed as dean of Exeter Cathedral on 4 June 1748, and collated to a prebendal stall therein on 5 May 1748. A letter written by Lord Bute in January 1762 to George Grenville, who had pressed Lyttelton's claim to advancement, is in the 'Grenville Papers,' i. 418-19, and it was followed by his promotion to the see of Carlisle, to which he was consecrated in Whitehall Chapel on 21 March 1762, thereby vacating his rectory and his preferments at Exeter. Had Grenville remained in office, Lyttellon would have been promoted to a more lucrative bishopric, for they were first cousins, and of the same political views. The bishop's health was not good. He died unmarried in Clifford Street, London, on 22 Dec. 1768, and was buried at Hagley on 30 Dec. The chancel of that church had been ornamented in 1764 at his expense with shields of arms of his paternal ancestors in their proper colours, and his memory was commemorated by an urn in a niche on the right-hand aide of the chancel. A silver paten was given by him to the church of Colston Raleigh, Devon, on 27 May 1749.

Lyttelton was elected F.R.S. in January 1742-3, and F.S.A. in 1746; and in 1765 he was promoted to be president of the Society of Antiquaries. His manners were genial, he was very hospitable to his friends, and he is lauded by Dean Milles for his knowledge of antiquities and his retentive memory (Archaeologia, pp. xli-lii). In 1763 he negotiated a temporary arrangement between Lord Temple and his brother George Grenville, and on one he was chosen by Horace Walpole as a mediator with Warburton, but at another time he was dubbed by Walpole as 'gossiping and mischievous.'

Lyttelton was the author of one sermon (1765), two contributions to the 'Philosophical Transactions' (1748 and 1750), and of seven papers in the 'Archaeologia' (vols, i-iii.), the most important being 'A Dissertation on the Antiquity of Brick Buildings in England' (i. 140-7). His remarks on the 'original foundation and construction' of Exeter Cathedral are in the volume on that cathedral which was issued by the Society of Antiquaries. His account of the fabric of Worcester Cathedral is inserted in Green's 'Worcester,' ii. pp. cxii et seq., and in Gutch's 'Collectanea Curiosa' (ii. 354-62) there is a memoir on the authenticity of his roll of Magna Charta, with Blackstone's answer thereto, A manuscript belonging to him, containing the debates of the Convention parliament of 1660, was printed in 'The Parliamentary History of England;' 1751 (xxii. 210, xxiii. 101. William Borlase [q. v.] addressed to him his volume on Scilly (1758), Andrew Coltee Ducarel [q. v.] inscribed to him a work on Anglo-Norman antiquities (1767), and Samuel Pegge wrote to him an essay on the coins of Cunobelin (1766). Lyttelton bequeathed his manuscripts to the Society of Antiquaries. They formed the basis of Nash's History of Worcestershire,' and of the works of later writers on the county. Stebbing Shaw's 'History of Staffordshire' was partly compiled from them, and from the same source many improvements were made in Erdeswicke's 'Survey of Staffordshire' (1820 and 1844). Printed letters by him are included in the 'Grenville Papers,' i. 78-9, iii. 240-3, Shaw's Staffordshire,' ii. pp. li-xvi,' Lettera from the Bodleian Library' (1813), vol. ii, pt. i. pp. 140-148, Jesse's 'George Selwyn and his Contemporaries,' i. 70-2, 81-2, 134, Bentham's 'Ely,' 2nd edit. pp. 7-1 1, and in 'Notes and Queries,' 4th ser. iii. 2-4, 49, 50. 223-4, iv. 149-52. Other letters and papers are in British Museum Addit. MSS. 30315, 32123, and 32325; Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. App. pp. 36-8, 4th Rep. App. p. 531, and 6th Rep. App. pt. iii. (Ashburnham MSS.) p. 10.

The bishop's portrait, painted by F. Cotes, was engraved by Blondel before his death and by James Watson in 1770, at the cost of the Society of Antiquaries, for the 'Vetusta Monumenta.' Another engraving by P. Audinet, from the same portrait, is in Nichols's 'Illustrations of Literary History,' iii. 313.

[Nash's Worcestershire. i. 34. 495, 503, ii. Suppl. p. 37; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 388, 429-36, iii. 245; Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, viii. 356; Foster's Alumni Oxon. v. 378-81; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. v. 378-81, ix. 605-6; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. iii. 303-15, iv. 231-4; J. C. Smith's Portraits, i. 61, iv. 1521; Walpole's George III, ed. 1845, i. 296, 417; Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham, i. p. lxiii; Bishop Newton's Life, 1782, pp. 86, 97; Oliver's Eccl. Antiq. 1843. iii. 98.]

W. P. C.