Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sackville, Charles (1711-1769)

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SACKVILLE, CHARLES, second Duke of Dorset (1711–1769), born on 6 Feb. 1711, and baptised at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields on the 25th of the same month, was the eldest son of Lionel Cranfield Sackville, first duke of Dorset [q. v.], by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Lieutenant-general Walter Philip Colyear, and niece of David, first earl of Portmore. He was educated at Westminster School and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated on 27 Nov. 1728, and was created M.A. on 15 Sept. 1730. He subsequently went for the usual grand tour, accompanied by the Rev. Joseph Spence [q. v.]

Sackville had a long and bitter quarrel with his father, whom he actually opposed in his own boroughs, and became an intimate friend of Frederick, prince of Wales (cf. Dodington, Diary). At the general election in April 1734 he unsuccessfully contested Kent, but was returned for East Grinstead, which he continued to represent until his appointment as high steward of the honour of Otford on 26 May 1741. He sat for Sussex from January 1742 to June 1747, and was one of the lords of the treasury in Henry Pelham's administration from 23 Dec. 1743 to June 1747, when he was appointed master of the horse to Frederick, prince of Wales. He was returned for Old Sarum at a by-election in December 1747, and continued to represent that borough until the dissolution of parliament in April 1754. He was without a seat in the House of Commons during the whole of the next parliament. At the general election in March 1761 he was again elected for East Grinstead. He succeeded his father as second Duke of Dorset on 9 Oct. 1765, and took his seat in the House of Lords on 17 Dec. following (Journals of the House of Lords, xxxi. 227). On 10 Feb. 1766 he was admitted a member of the privy council, and sworn in as lord-lieutenant of Kent (London Gazette, 1766, No. 10599). He died at his house in St. James's Street, Piccadilly, on 5 Jan. 1769, aged 57, and was buried at Withyham, Sussex, on the 11th of the same month. On Dorset's death, without issue, the title descended to his nephew, John Frederick Sackville [q. v.]

Dorset married, on 30 Oct. 1744, the Hon. Grace Boyle, only daughter and heiress of Richard, second viscount Shannon, by his second wife, Grace, daughter of John Senhouse of Netherhall, Cumberland. She is described by Horace Walpole as ‘very short, very plain, and very yellow: a vain girl, full of Greek and Latin, and music, and painting; but neither mischievous nor political’ (Walpole, Reign of George II, i. 76). She succeeded Lady Archibald Hamilton as mistress of the robes to Augusta, princess of Wales, in July 1745, and became the object of the prince's most devoted attention. She died on 10 May 1763, and was buried at Walton-on-Thames on the 17th.

Dorset was a dissolute and extravagant man of fashion. One of his chief passions was the direction of operas, in which he not only wasted immense sums of money, but ‘stood lawsuits in Westminster Hall with some of those poor devils for their salaries’ (Walpole, Reign of George II, 1847, i. 97; see also Walpole's Letters, 1857–9, i. 88, 140, 239–40, 244, et seq.). According to Lord Shelburne, Dorset's appearance towards the close of his life was ‘always that of a proud, disgusted, melancholy, solitary man,’ while his conduct savoured strongly of madness (Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice, Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, 1875, i. 342). He spoke little or not at all in the House of Peers, but he wrote a number of detached verses and ‘A Treatise concerning the Militia in Four Sections,’ London, 1752, 8vo. His portrait, painted for the Dilettanti Society by George Knapton, was exhibited at South Kensington in 1868 (Catalogue, No. 916).

[Bridgman's Sketch of Knole (1817), pp. 114–115; Walpole's Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors (1806), iv. 323–8; Doyle's Official Baronage, 1886, i. 630; G. E. C.'s Complete Peerage, iii. 152; Collins's Peerage of England, 1812, ii. 178–9; Gent. Mag. 1744 p. 619, 1745 p. 45, 1763 p. 257, 1769 p. 54; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886, iv. 1241; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, 1812–15, ii. 374, iii. 643, viii. 98; Nichols's Illustrations of Literary History, 1817–1858, iii. 145; Alumni Westmonast. 1852, pp. 235, 543; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1890; Rogers's Protests of the Lords, ii. 89; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, ii. 79, 92, 105, 131.]

G. F. R. B.