Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tottenham, Charles

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TOTTENHAM, CHARLES (1685–1758), Irish politician, son of Edward Tottenham of Tottenham Green, co. Wexford, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Hayman of Youghal, was born in 1685. He sat for New Ross in the Irish House of Commons from 1727 until shortly before his death, and was sheriff of co. Wexford in 1737, his local influence being great. In 1731 a great opposition was set on foot to a proposal that an Irish surplus of 60,000l. should be made over to the British government. Having heard that the question was likely to come on earlier than he expected, Tottenham, who was in the country, is said to have mounted his horse at Ballycarny, to have ridden sixty miles by night, and rushed into the parliament-house, Dublin, where the sergeant-at-arms endeavoured to bar his entrance on the ground that he was ‘undressed, in dirty boots, and splashed up to his shoulders.’ The speaker decided that he had no power to exclude him, and Tottenham strode into the house in jack boots ‘to vote for the country.’ The division was just about to be taken, and his casting vote gave a majority of one against the unpopular measure. Thenceforth he was known and toasted by Irish patriots as ‘Tottenham in his boots,’ although details of the story have been questioned. He died on 20 Sept. 1758. A character-portrait by Pope Stevens, dated 1749, was engraved in mezzotint by Andrew Miller, and bore the legend, ‘Tottenham in his Boots.’

By his first wife, Ellinor (d. 1745), daughter of John Cliffe of Mulrancan, co. Wexford, he had, with other issue, John, M.P. for New Ross in 1758, and for Fethard, co. Wexford, in 1761 and 1769, and sheriff for his county in 1749, who was created Sir John Tottenham, bart., of Tottenham Green, on 2 Dec. 1780, and died 29 Dec. 1786; and Charles, the ancestor of the Tottenhams of Ballycurry, co. Wicklow.

By his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Nicholas, and sister and coheir of Henry Loftus, earl of Ely, Sir John, the first baronet, had issue Charles Tottenham (afterwards Loftus) (1738–1806), who in connection with the negotiations preceding the Act of Union was on 29 Dec. 1800 created Marquis of Ely, having previously been made Baron (1785) and Viscount (1789) Loftus and Earl of Ely (1794). He assumed the name of Loftus in 1783, and on 19 Jan. 1801 he was created Baron Loftus of Long Loftus in the United Kingdom, having thus obtained no fewer than five separate peerage creations within fifteen years. ‘Prends-moi tel que je suis’ was the marquis's motto (G. E. C[okayne], Peerage, iii. 263 n.).

[Lodge's Peerage, 1789, vii. 269; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1894, p. 2022; Members of Parliament, Official Returns; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography; Barrington's Personal Sketches, i. 105–6; Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits, p. 937; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. vi. 41; Hardy's Memoirs of the Earl of Charlemont, i. 76; Warburton's Dublin.]

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