Bonython, Charles (DNB00)

BONYTHON, CHARLES (d. 1705), lawyer, was the son and heir of John Bonython of Bonython, Cornwall who married Ann, daughter of Hugh Trevanion of Trelegan. He was admitted as a student at Gray’s Inn on 26 Oct. 1671 and was called to the bar on 12 June 1678. In some of the popish plot cases he appeared for the crown, notably in that against Lord Castlemaine (Willis Bund's Cases from the State Trials, ii. 1073). From April 1683 to 1705 he held the lucrative appointment of steward of the courts at Westminster, an office which no doubt paved the way to his election as one of the members of parliament for Westminster (1685-87). On two subsequent occasions (October 1691 and July 1698) he threatened to contest that city again in the ‘pure tory interest,’ but in neither instance was he returned (Letters of Rachel, Lady Russell, ii. 92, and James Vernon's Correspondance, ii. 126). He was appointed a serjeant-at-law in 1692. On 30 April 1705, in a fit of madness, he ‘shot himself through the body with a pistoll’ in his London house. His two sons were also of Gray’s Inn. Richard, the elder, ‘a very engenious gentleman,' having sold the family estates, ‘set fire to his chambers in Lincoln’s Inn [should be Gray’s Inn], burnt all his papers, bonds, &c., and then stabbed himself with his sword, but not effectually; he then threw himself out of the window, and died on the spot.’ This occurred in 1720.

[Parochial Hist. of Cornwall, i. 287; Cummings’s Cury and Grunwalloe, 80-9; Luttrell's Hist. Relation, i. 255, v. 545; Woolrych’s Serjeants, ii. 464-5.]

W. P. C.