Charles Yorke

Last updated

Charles Yorke
Charles Yorke by Thomas Hudson.jpg
Charles Yorke, by Thomas Hudson
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
In office
17 January 1770 20 January 1770
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Duke of Grafton
Preceded by The Earl Camden
Succeeded byIn Commission
Personal details
Born(1722-12-30)30 December 1722
London, England
Died20 January 1770(1770-01-20) (aged 47)
London, England
Nationality British
Alma mater Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Charles Yorke PC (30 December 1722 20 January 1770) was Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. [1]

Privy Council of the United Kingdom Formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or just the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Lord Chancellor Highest-ranking regularly-appointed Great Officer of State of the United Kingdom

The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest ranking among those Great Officers of State which are appointed regularly in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the Prime Minister. The Lord Chancellor is outranked only by the Lord High Steward, another Great Officer of State, who is appointed only for the day of coronations. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. Prior to the Union there were separate Lord Chancellors for England and Wales, for Scotland and for Ireland.



The second son of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, he was born in London, and was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. [2] His literary abilities were shown at an early age by his collaboration with his brother Philip in the Athenian Letters . In 1745 he published an able treatise on the law of forfeiture for high treason, in defence of the severe sentences his father had given to the Scottish Jacobite peers following the Battle of Culloden. In the following year he was called to the bar. [3]

Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke English lawyer and politician who served as Lord Chancellor

Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, was an English lawyer and politician who served as Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. He was a close confidant of the Duke of Newcastle, Prime Minister between 1754 and 1756 and 1757 until 1762.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, and the largest city in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

Corpus Christi College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It is notable as the only college founded by Cambridge townspeople: it was established in 1352 by the Guild of Corpus Christi and the Guild of the Blessed Virgin Mary, making it the sixth-oldest college in Cambridge. With around 250 undergraduates and 200 postgraduates, it also has the second smallest student body of the traditional colleges of the University.

His father being at this time Lord Chancellor, Yorke obtained a sinecure appointment in the Court of Chancery in 1747, and entered Parliament as member for Reigate, a seat which he afterwards exchanged for that for the University of Cambridge. He quickly made his mark in the House of Commons, one of his earliest speeches being in favour of his father's reform of the marriage law [3] that led to the Marriage Act 1753. In 1750 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. [4]

Court of Chancery court of equity in England and Wales

The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the estates of lunatics and the guardianship of infants. Its initial role was somewhat different: as an extension of the Lord Chancellor's role as Keeper of the King's Conscience, the Court was an administrative body primarily concerned with conscientious law. Thus the Court of Chancery had a far greater remit than the common law courts, whose decisions it had the jurisdiction to overrule for much of its existence, and was far more flexible. Until the 19th century, the Court of Chancery could apply a far wider range of remedies than common law courts, such as specific performance and injunctions, and had some power to grant damages in special circumstances. With the shift of the Exchequer of Pleas towards a common law court and loss of its equitable jurisdiction by the Administration of Justice Act 1841, the Chancery became the only national equitable body in the English legal system.

Reigate (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1885 onwards

Reigate is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 1997 by Crispin Blunt of the Conservative Party.

Cambridge University was a university constituency electing two members to the British House of Commons, from 1603 to 1950.

In 1751 he became counsel to the East India Company, and in 1756 he was appointed Solicitor-General, a place which he retained in the administration of the elder Pitt, of whose foreign policy he was a powerful defender. [3]

Solicitor General for England and Wales one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Attorney General

Her Majesty's Solicitor General for England and Wales, known informally as the Solicitor General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Attorney General, whose duty is to advise the Crown and Cabinet on the law. He or she can exercise the powers of the Attorney General in the Attorney General's absence.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham 18th-century British statesman

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, was a British statesman of the Whig group who served twice as Prime Minister of Great Britain in the middle of the 18th century. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, who also was a prime minister. Pitt was also known as The Great Commoner, because of his long-standing refusal to accept a title until 1766.

He resigned with Pitt in 1761, but in 1762 became Attorney-General under Lord Bute. He continued to hold this office when George Grenville became Prime Minister (April 1763), and advised the government on the question raised by John Wilkes's The North Briton . Yorke refused to describe the libel as treasonable, while pronouncing it a high misdemeanour. In the following November he resigned office. Resisting Pitt's attempt to draw him into alliance against the ministry he had quit, Yorke maintained, in a speech that extorted the highest eulogy from Horace Walpole, that parliamentary privilege did not extend to cases of libel; though he agreed with Pitt in condemning the principle of general warrants. Yorke, henceforward a member of the Rockingham party, was elected recorder of Dover in 1764, and in 1765 he again became Attorney-General in the Rockingham administration, whose policy he did much to shape. He supported the repeal of the Stamp Act, while urging the simultaneous passing of the Declaratory Act. His most important measure was the constitution which he drew up for the province of Quebec, and which after his resignation of office became the Quebec Act of 1774. [3]

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute 18th-century Prime Minister of Great Britain

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, was a British nobleman who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1762 to 1763 under George III. He was arguably the last important favourite in British politics. He was the first Prime Minister from Scotland following the Acts of Union in 1707 and the first Tory to have held the post. He was also elected as the first President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland when it was founded in 1780.

George Grenville Prime Minister of Great Britain

George Grenville was a British Whig statesman who rose to the position of Prime Minister of Great Britain. Grenville was born into an influential political family and first entered Parliament in 1741 as an MP for Buckingham. He emerged as one of Cobham's Cubs, a group of young members of Parliament associated with Lord Cobham.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Head of UK Government

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, until 1801 known as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, and together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate. The office of Prime Minister is one of the Great Offices of State. The current holder of the office, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, was appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016. May resigned as Conservative Party leader on 7 June 2019, remaining as Prime Minister until the election of a new leader.

On the accession to power of Chatham and Grafton in 1766, Yorke resigned office, and took little part in the debates in parliament during the next four years. In 1770 he was invited by the Duke of Grafton, when Camden was dismissed from the Chancellorship, to take his seat on the woolsack. He had, however, explicitly pledged himself to Rockingham and his party not to take office with Grafton. The King exerted all his personal influence to overcome Yorke's scruples, warning him finally that the Great Seal if now refused would never again be within his grasp. Yorke yielded to the King's entreaty, [3] and he was appointed Lord Chancellor and sworn of the Privy Council on 17 January 1770,. [1] He went to his brother's house, where he met the leaders of the Opposition, and feeling at once overwhelmed with shame, fled to his own house, where three days later he committed suicide (20 January 1770). The patent raising him to the peerage as Baron Morden had been made out, but his last act was to refuse his sanction to the sealing of the document. [3]

George III of the United Kingdom King of Great Britain and Ireland

George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.


Tyttenhanger House in 1840 Tyttenhanger House, from, A series of picturesque views of seats of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland (1840).jpg
Tyttenhanger House in 1840

Charles Yorke was twice married: [3] Firstly, on 19 May 1755 to Katherine Blount Freeman, with one son:

Secondly, on 30 December 1762 to Agneta Johnson, with children:

His wife was heiress to Tyttenhanger House, near St Albans, Hertfordshire.

Related Research Articles

William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland 18th/19th-century British politician

William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, was a British Whig and Tory politician during the late Georgian era. He served as Chancellor of the University of Oxford (1792–1809) and twice as British prime minister, of Great Britain (1783) and then of the United Kingdom (1807–09). The twenty-six years between his two terms as Prime Minister is the longest gap between terms of office of any British prime minister.

William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire Prime Minister of Great Britain

William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire,, styled Lord Cavendish before 1729 and Marquess of Hartington between 1729 and 1755, was a British Whig statesman and nobleman who was briefly nominal Prime Minister of Great Britain. He was the first son of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire and his wife, the former Catherine Hoskins.

Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton British noble

Augustus Henry FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton,, styled Earl of Euston between 1747 and 1757, was a British Whig statesman of the Georgian era. He is one of a handful of dukes who have served as Prime Minister.

John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford 18th-century British statesman

John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford, was an 18th-century British statesman. He was the fourth son of Wriothesley Russell, 2nd Duke of Bedford, by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Howland of Streatham, Surrey. Known as Lord John Russell, he married in October 1731 Diana Spencer, daughter of Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland; became Duke of Bedford on his brother's death a year later; and having lost his first wife in 1735, married in April 1737 Lady Gertrude Leveson-Gower, daughter of John Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Gower.

Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke British politician

Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke FRS was an English politician.

Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke British politician and Earl

Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke KG, PC, FRS, known as Philip Yorke until 1790, was a British politician.

Charles Yorke, 4th Earl of Hardwicke Royal Navy admiral

Admiral Charles Philip Yorke, 4th Earl of Hardwicke, PC was a British naval commander and Conservative politician.

Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow British lawyer and Tory politician

Edward Thurlow, 1st Baron Thurlow, PC, KC was a British lawyer and Tory politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1765 to 1778 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Thurlow. He served as Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain for fourteen years and under four Prime Ministers.

Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden 18th-century English lawyer, judge, and politician

Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden, PC was an English lawyer, judge and Whig politician who was first to hold the title of Earl Camden. As a lawyer and judge he was a leading proponent of civil liberties, championing the rights of the jury, and limiting the powers of the State in leading cases such as Entick v Carrington.

Earl of Hardwicke

Earl of Hardwicke is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1754 for Philip Yorke, 1st Baron Hardwicke, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain from 1737 to 1756. He had already been created Baron Hardwicke, of Hardwicke in the County of Gloucestershire, in 1733, and was made Viscount Royston at the same time as he was given the earldom. These titles were also in the Peerage of Great Britain. He was succeeded by his eldest son, the second Earl. He represented Reigate and Cambridgeshire in the House of Commons and served as Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire. Lord Hardwicke married Lady Jemima Campbell, only daughter of John Campbell, 3rd Earl of Breadalbane, and granddaughter and heiress of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, who succeeded her grandfather as Marchioness Grey in 1722. They had two daughters of whom the eldest, Lady Amabel, was created Countess De Grey in her own right in 1816.

The Rockingham Whigs in 18th century British politics were a faction of the Whigs led by Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, from about 1762 until his death in 1782. The Rockingham Whigs briefly held power from 1765 to 1766 and again in 1782, and otherwise were usually in opposition to the various ministries of the period.

John Hay, 4th Marquess of Tweeddale Scottish nobleman

John Hay, 4th Marquess of Tweeddale, was a Scottish nobleman.

James Yorke (bishop) Anglican bishop

James Yorke was a British clergyman.

The High Steward in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge is a university official. Originally a deputy for the Chancellor, the office of High Steward had by the 18th century undergone the same evolution and become a position by which the universities honoured prominent external figures. The High Stewards still retain some functions relating to adjudication in disputes, appeals, and deputizing if there is a vacancy in the Chancellorship. In Oxford, the office of High Steward is now more similar to the office of Commissary in Cambridge.

Grafton ministry Government of Great Britain

The Grafton ministry was the British government headed by Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton. It served between October 1768 and January 1770.

Chatham ministry Government of Great Britain

The Chatham ministry was a British government led by William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham that ruled between 1766 and 1768. Because of Pitt's former prominence before his title, it is sometimes referred to as the Pitt ministry. Unusually for a politician considered to be Prime Minister, Pitt was not First Lord of the Treasury during the administration, but instead held the post of Lord Privy Seal.

Charles Yorke (1722–1770) was Lord Chancellor of Great Britain.

John Yorke (politician) English barrister and politician (1728-1801)

John Yorke (1728–1801) was an English barrister and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1753 to 1784.


  1. 1 2 "Privy Council of 17 Jan 1770" (PDF). London Gazette (11010): 1. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  2. "Yorke, Charles (YRK739C)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Yorke, Charles"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 930.
  4. "Fellows details". Royal Society. Retrieved 20 February 2018.


Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Viscount Royston
Member for Reigate
Succeeded by
John Yorke
Preceded by
Edward Finch
Thomas Townshend
Member for Cambridge University
with Thomas Townshend
Succeeded by
Sir William de Grey
Thomas Townshend
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Richard Lloyd
Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Sir Fletcher Norton
Preceded by
Sir Charles Pratt
Attorney General
Succeeded by
Sir Fletcher Norton
Preceded by
Sir Fletcher Norton
Attorney General
Succeeded by
Sir William de Grey
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Camden
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
In commission
Title next held by
The Earl Bathurst