Talbot, Charles (1685-1737) (DNB00)

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TALBOT, CHARLES, Baron Talbot of Hensol (1685–1737), lord chancellor, eldest son of William Talbot (1659?–1730) [q. v.], successively bishop of Oxford, Salisbury, and Durham, by Catharine, daughter of Richard King, alderman of London, was baptised at Chippenham on 21 Dec. 1685. He was educated at Eton and Oriel College, Oxford, whence he matriculated on 25 March 1701–2. He graduated B.A. on 12 Oct. 1704, being elected fellow of All Souls' the same year, and was created D.C.L. on 29 Aug. 1735. He received the Lambeth degree of LL.B. on 26 April 1714, and about the same time was nominated by his father to the chancellorship of the diocese of Oxford, which he retained until his elevation to the woolsack. Talbot was at first destined for the church, but, by the advice of Lord Cowper, exchanged divinity for law, and was admitted on 28 June 1707 a student at the Inner Temple, where by special grace, before he had kept the full number of terms then required, he was called to the bar on 11 Feb. 1710–11. He was elected bencher on 6 May 1726, treasurer on 19 Nov. following, and Lent reader on 11 Feb. 1726–7. On 31 Jan. 1718–19 he was admitted a member of Lincoln's Inn, of which society he was elected in 1726 bencher (11 May), treasurer (27 July), and master of the library (28 Nov.) On 31 May 1717 he was appointed solicitor-general to the Prince of Wales. On 15 March 1719–1720 he was returned to parliament for Tregony, Cornwall; in the parliaments of 1722–7 and 1727–34 he represented Durham. On the meeting of parliament, 9 Oct. 1722, he supported the nomination of the prince's favourite, Sir Spencer Compton (afterwards Earl of Wilmington) [q. v.], for the speakership of the House of Commons. In the last year of George I he was appointed solicitor-general, 23 April 1726, in which office he was continued on the accession of George II. He was thus associated with the attorney-general, Sir Philip Yorke (afterwards lord chancellor Hardwicke), in the prosecution of the forger William Hales (9 Dec. 1728) and Thomas Bambridge [q. v.], the iniquitous warden of the Fleet prison (22 May 1729) (cf. Chesshyre, Sir John, and Howell's State Trials, xvii. 161, 297). In parliament he justified the retention of the Hessian troops in British pay, 7 Feb. 1728–9, and Walpole's excise bill, 14 March 1732–3.

On 29 Nov. 1733, with a great reputation for legal learning and accomplishment, of which the recorded evidence is singularly scanty, he succeeded Lord King as lord chancellor, and was sworn of the privy council [see King, Peter, first Lord King, and Yorke, Philip, first Earl of Hardwicke]. Raised to the peerage as Baron Talbot of Hensol, Glamorganshire, on 5 Dec. following, he took his seat in the House of Lords on 17 Jan. 1733–4, and, after giving proof of high judicial capacity, died of heart disease at his house in Lincoln's Inn Fields on 14 Feb. 1736–7. His remains were interred (23 Feb.), without monument, in the church of Barrington Magna, Gloucestershire, in which parish his seat was situate.

Talbot married, in the summer of 1708, Cecil (d. 1720), daughter of Charles Mathew of Castell Menich, Glamorganshire, and granddaughter and heiress of David Jenkins [q. v.] of Hensol. There he built the palatial mansion in the Tudor style known as the Castle. He had issue five sons, of whom three survived him. He was succeeded in the title by his second son, William (1710–1782), who was steward of the royal household, and was created Earl Talbot on 19 March 1761; on his death in 1782 the earldom became extinct and the barony passed to his nephew, John Chetwynd Talbot, who was at the same time created first Earl Talbot of Hensol, and was father of Sir Charles Chetwynd Talbot, second earl Talbot of Hensol [q. v.]

Talbot was a patron of Bishops Rundle and Butler, the latter of whom dedicated to him the celebrated ‘Analogy,’ and of the poet Thomson, whom he made travelling tutor to his eldest son and afterwards secretary of briefs. He was extolled by his contemporaries as a prodigy of wit and a paragon of virtue (cf. The Craftsman, 26 Feb. 1737; Gent. Mag. 1737, p. 124; Lord Hervey, Memoirs, i. 279; the elaborate threnody by Thomson, Works, ed. Gilfillan, and Pope's Epistle to Lord Bathurst, 1st edit.). That his character and capacity were above the common level of keepers of the king's conscience is undeniable. He was an especial foe to professional chicane and the law's delays, and sought, perhaps rashly, to infuse a little reason into equity. Talbot was painted by Richardson and Vanderbank. The former portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery; engravings of the latter by Houbraken are at the British Museum (cf. Birch, Heads of Illustrious Persons, pp. 156–7).

His decrees are contained in Peere Williams's Reports and ‘Cases in Equity during the time of Lord Chancellor Talbot,’ ed. Forrester, London, 1741, fol.; 2nd edit. by Williams, 1792, 8vo.

[The Honour of the Seals, or Memoirs of the Noble Family of Talbot, 1737; Nicholas's Glamorganshire, pp. 6, 121, 128; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Biogr. Brit.; Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges; Campbell's Chancellors; Welsby's Lives of Eminent English Judges; Inner Temple Books; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Doyle's Official Baronage; Hist. Reg. February 1736–7; Harris's Life of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke; Lords' Journals, xxiv. 321; Lord Hervey's Mem. i. 196, 447 et seq.; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 56; Bigland's Gloucestershire, i. 134; Parl. Hist. vol. viii–ix.; Lady Sundon's Memoirs, ii. 248, 282; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. p. 507; Coxe's Memoirs of Sir Robert Walpole, iii. 308; Add. MS. 32689, f. 64; Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby.]

J. M. R.