Whitworth, Charles (1675-1725) (DNB00)

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WHITWORTH, CHARLES, Baron Whitworth (1675–1725), eldest of the six sons of Richard Whitworth of Blowerpipe, and afterwards of Adbaston, Staffordshire, who married, on 15 Dec. 1674, Anne, daughter of Francis Moseley, rector of Wilmslow, Cheshire, was born at Blowerpipe in 1675, and baptised at Wilmslow on 14 Oct. in that year. He was educated at Westminster (admitted as a queen's scholar in 1690), was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1694, and became a fellow of that society in 1700, having graduated B.A. in 1699. He was initiated into the arts of diplomacy by George Stepney [q. v.], and while William III was still king he was, upon Stepney's recommendation, appointed to represent England at the diet of Ratisbon on 28 Feb. 1702 (cf. Addit. MS. 21551, ff. 27, 32). After Stepney, he is said to have understood the politics of the empire better than any Englishman. He was appointed envoy-extraordinary to Russia on 2 Sept. 1704, and retained the post for six years. In Sept. 1709 he congratulated the tsar on his victory of Pultowa. Peter seized the opportunity to demand the instant execution of all concerned in the arrest and imprisonment for debt of his London ambassador, Matvéiev. Whitworth explained how impossible it was for his royal mistress to comply with the tsar's wish; but, the offenders having received a nominal punishment and an act having been passed by parliament for preserving the privileges of ambassadors, Peter was appeased, and was gratified by the English envoy's addressing him as ‘emperor’ (the incident is fully treated by Voltaire in his Histoire de Russie, pt. i. chap. xix.). When Whitworth took his leave in May 1710 his ‘czarish majesty’ presented him with his portrait set in diamonds (Luttrell; Stowe MS. 223, f. 304). On his second mission to Moscow Catherine I, whom he had known in a much humbler station, was empress; Walpole tells on the authority of Sir Luke Schaub [q. v.] how, after dancing a minuet with the envoy, she ‘squeezed him by the hand, and said in a whisper, “Have you forgot little Kate?”’

Early in 1711 he was sent as ambassador to Vienna, but his efforts to overcome the remissness of the imperial court in making up their quota of troo[s for service under Marlborough were all in vain (Marlborough, Despatches, ed. Murray, vol. v. passim). On 30 April 1714 Whitworth was appointed English plenipotentiary at the congress of Baden, where during the following summer were ultimately settled the terms of peace between the emperor and the French king (7 Sept.; Garden, Traités de Paix, ii. App.). In 1716 he was appointed envoy-extraordinary and plenipotentiary at the court of Prussia. Next year he was transferred to The Hague (whence he sent accounts of rumoured Jacobite conspiracies), but returned to Berlin in 1719. On 9 Jan. 1720–1 he was created Baron Whitworth of Galway, and a little later, in February 1721–2, he was appointed, with Lord Polwarth, British plenipotentiary at the congress of Cambray (ib. iii. 132). He voiced the English protest against the recent secret treaty between France and Spain, and procured the adhesion of Dubois to another treaty between Great Britain, Spain, and France. Great Britain undertook to replace the Spanish ships destroyed by Byng off Syracuse in August 1718, but secured highly advantageous commercial con- cessions. Whitworth's chaplain at the congress was Richard Chenevix [q. v.] This was his last diplomatic achievement. He settled in London, and was in 1722 returned to parliament as member for Newport in the Isle of Wight. His health, however, was not good; his physician, Dr. Arbuthnot, told Swift that he had practically cured the ambassador's vertigo by a prescription of Spa waters, but his illness recurred, and he died at his house in Gerard Street on 23 Oct. 1725. He was buried in the south aisle of Westminster Abbey on 6 Nov. (Chester, Burials Register, p. 315). He married Magdalena Jacoba, countess de Vaulgremont, who died in 1734, but he left no issue and the peerage became extinct. His will, dated Berlin 2–13 March 1722–3, was proved on 1 Dec. by his brother, Francis Whitworth [see under Whitworth, Sir Charles].

Macky describes the ambassador as a man of learning and good sense, handsome, and of perfect address. A three-quarter-length portrait by Jack Ellys (owned in 1867 by Countess De la Warr) depicts him holding the hand of his youthful nephew, and a paper addressed to him as plenipotentiary at the congress of Cambray (Cat. of National Portraits, 1867, No. 397). From a large quantity of notes and memoranda that he left in manuscript but one piece has been selected for publication, ‘An Account of Russia as it was in the year 1710, by Charles Lord Whitworth. Printed at Strawberry Hill, 1758.’ Horace Walpole, who wrote an advertisement for the book, obtained the manuscript through Richard Owen Cambridge [q. v.]; Cambridge bought it from the fine collection of books relating to Russia formed by Zolman, a secretary of Stephen Poyntz [q. v.] It was reprinted in the second volume of ‘Fugitive Pieces’ in 1762, and again in 1765 and 1771. Summary though Whitworth's treatment is of a subject so interesting, his book is of value, and is not unjustly compared by Walpole to Molesworth's account of Denmark. The author infers great feats for the Russian arms from the ‘passive valour’ and endurance of the peasantry. The account of the Russian naval yards (of which the personnel was almost entirely English) at the end of the volume is specially curious. Whitworth himself was instrumental in 1710 in sending over a number of English glass-blowers to Moscow.

Thirty volumes of Whitworth's official correspondence are preserved among the papers of Earl De la Warr at Buckhurst in Sussex. Many of his letters are among the Stair Papers (Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd and 3rd Reps.).

[Walpole's account of Whitworth prefixed to the Account of Russia, 1758; George Lewis's Sermon preach'd at Wostram, 31 Oct. 1725, upon the death of Right Hon. the Lord Whitworth; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage, viii. 131; Burke's Extinct Peerage, p. 582; Cole's Athenæ Cantabr. xlv. 335; Welch's Alumni Westmon. pp. 227, 239; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation, vi. 97, 491, 586, 590, 598; Boyer's Reign of Anne, 1735, pp. 397, 398, 483, 608, 664; Swift's Works, ed. Scott, iv. 343, xvi. 423; Parl. Hist. vi. 792; Wentworth Papers, p. 11; Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors, ed. Park, v. 235, and Correspondence, iii. 181, 187; Pinkerton's Walpoliana, 1798; Hist. Reg. Chron. Diary, 1725, p. 45, cf. 1728 p. 46; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. iii. 429, 497, 7th ser. i. 89, 193; Monthly Review, xix. 439; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Stowe MSS. 223, 224, 227 (letters to Robethon); Addit. MSS. 28155 (letters to Sir J. Norris), 28902–16 (to J. Ellis), 32740 (to Lord Walpole).]

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