Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Paulet, Charles (1685-1754)

PAULET or POWLETT, CHARLES, third Duke of Bolton (1685–1754), eldest son of Charles, second duke [q. v.], by his second wife, Frances, daughter of Sir William Ramsden, was born on 3 Sept. 1685. He was educated at a private school in Yorkshire, and appears to have been a turbulent youth. In 1700 his master, Dr. Robert Uvedale, wrote to his father to inform him that young Lord Winchester refused to be governed, absented himself from school, and by no persuasion would be prevailed upon to follow his studies, ‘but takes what liberty hee thinks fitt upon all occasions’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. vii. 151). He subsequently travelled in company with the young Earl of Shaftesbury, returning to England in August 1704 (Luttrell, v. 460), and afterwards serving as a volunteer in Portugal. He sat in parliament successively for Lymington (1705–8), Hampshire (1708–10), and Carmarthen (1715–17). He was appointed a lord of the bedchamber to the Prince of Wales in 1714, and on 3 April 1717 he was summoned by writ to the House of Lords, under the title of Lord Basing. The writ was thus framed in error for Lord St. John of Basing, one of the Duke of Bolton's titles, and the error was held by the lords to constitute a new creation. The Paulet family thus obtained a barony in fee, but the title became extinct on the death of the third duke without legitimate issue in 1751. In April 1717 Lord Basing was constituted colonel of the royal regiment of horse-guards. On his father's death in 1722 he succeeded to the dukedom. In the same year (10 Oct.) he was elected a knight of the Garter, and was created warden of the New Forest and lord lieutenant of Hampshire. In 1725 he was appointed constable of the Tower of London, and was one of the lords justices during the king's visit to Hanover. He was an early and persistent opponent of Sir Robert Walpole, and was disappointed at not getting more lucrative appointments on the death of George I. In spite of his opposition, he retained those that he had until 1733, an anomaly explained by Hervey as due to the fact of Bolton being ‘such a fool.’ In June 1733 Walpole made a resolve to divest him of all his places; his regiment was given to Argyll, the lord-lieutenancy of Hampshire to Lord Lymington, and the governorship of the Isle of Wight to the Duke of Montagu. Some acrimonious questions were asked in the House of Commons, but no very keen regret was probably felt if Hervey's comments upon him may be taken to represent the views of a majority. ‘The duke,’ he says, ‘was a dissatisfied man, for being as proud as if he had been of any consequence, besides what his employments made him, as vain as if he had some merit, and as necessitous as if he had no estate, so he was troublesome at court, hated in the country, and scandalous in his regiment.’ The last epithet may be taken in some measure to apply to his private life, the duke being a notorious buck and gallant about town, until in the summer of 1728 he was fascinated by the charms of Lavinia Fenton [q. v.], the theatrical singer, who had taken the town by storm as Polly Peachum. The duke's subjugation is said to have been effected during her delivery of the song ‘Oh! ponder well, be not severe.’ Swift wrote on 8 July 1728 that the duke had settled upon her 400l. ‘during pleasure,’ and 200l. for the remainder of her life. The duke had been married since 1713 to Annie, daughter of John Vaughan, third earl of Carbery, by his second wife, Anne, daughter of George Saville, marquis of Halifax. At the date of Miss Fenton's first triumph over the duke the duchess was still alive; her friend, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, described her as ‘crammed with virtue and good qualities … despised by her husband, and laughed at by the public.’ Polly, on the other hand, ‘bred in an alehouse and produced on the stage, found the way to be esteemed. So useful is early experience!’ From the commencement of this liaison Bolton spent a large portion of his time travelling on the continent with Miss Fenton, by whom he had three sons. In 1751 Warton accompanied the duke and his mistress abroad, that he might be ready to marry them the moment the breath was out of the body of the duchess. But the latter lingered, and Warton had, much to his regret, to leave the pair, and resign the hope of preferment promised to the divine who should officiate at the ceremony. The duchess finally died on 20 Sept. 1751, and on 21 Oct. the duke married Lavinia at Aix in Provence. Several minor places were restored to Bolton in 1740; in 1742 he was made lord lieutenant of the county of Southampton, and in November 1745, having been promoted lieutenant-general, he raised a regiment of foot for service in the rebellion. He was not, however, called upon to take the field. He died at Tunbridge Wells on 26 Aug. 1754, and was buried at Basing. He was succeeded in the dukedom by his brother Harry, the father of Harry, sixth duke of Bolton [q. v.] The duchess died at Westcomb Park, Kent, 24 Jan. 1760, and was buried at Greenwich.

The duke, who was painted by Hogarth shortly after his second marriage, is described by Walpole as a fair, white-wigged, old-fashioned gallant.

[Doyle's Official Baronage, i. 202; Brydges's Peerage of England; G. E. C.'s Complete Peerage; Hervey's Memoirs of Reign of George II, ii. 215, 250; Swift's Works, ed. Scott; Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation, v. 460, 481; Horace Walpole's Correspondence, ed. Cunningham, passim; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Works; Macpherson's Original Papers, ii. 642; Cooke's Memoir of Macklin, 1804, p. 45; Elwin and Courthope's Pope, v. 421; Life of Lavinia Fenton, 1728.]

T. S.