Sir Charles Hanbury Williams
|Member of Parliament for Leominster|
Serving with Richard Gorges
|Sir Robert de Cornwall|
|Member of Parliament for Monmouthshire|
Serving with Thomas Morgan
|Born||8 December 1708|
|Died||2 November 1759(aged 50)|
Lady Frances Coningsby
|Relations||Sir Edward Ayscough (grandfather)|
Bridget Ayscough Hanbury
Hanbury was the son of a Welsh ironmaster, John Hanbury, and his second wife, Bridget Ayscough, eldest daughter of Sir Edward Ayscough of Stallingborough and South Kelsey. With his father's marriage to Bridget came a fortune of £10,000 and connections with established political families. His mother was a close friend of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough.
In 1720, Charles assumed the name of Williams, under the terms of a bequest from his godfather, Charles Williams of Caerleon.
Williams entered Parliament in 1734 for the Monmouthshire constituency as a supporter of Robert Walpole and held the seat until 1747. He then won the seat of Leominster in 1754 and held it until his death.
From 1747 till 1750, Williams was the British Ambassador in Dresden. In 1748 he had the same function in Poland and witnessed a Polish Sejm, where he met members of the influential Czartoryski family (August Aleksander Czartoryski). When the future King of Poland, Stanis?aw Poniatowski, was receiving medical treatment in Berlin, Sir Charles met him when sent there as Ambassador (1750-1751). He entered into Polish and Russian history by introducing Stanis?aw to the Russian Grand Duchess Catherine Alexeyevna (Saint Petersburg 1755, the future Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia), from which a famous romance developed between them.
In 1739, Williams gave support for the establishment of the Foundling Hospital and served as one of its founding governors. Williams's father bought the Coldbrook Park estate near Abergavenny for him from his godfather's bequest. There, he added a nine-bay, two-storey Georgian façade in 1746.
Williams played a major role as a British envoy at the court in Russia during the Seven Years' War. Although Russia was at war with Britain's ally Prussia, the two countries remained at peace.
On 1 July 1732, he married Lady Frances Coningsby (1707/8-1781) at Saint James, Westminster, London. Lady Frances was a daughter of Thomas Coningsby, 1st Earl Coningsby and Lady Frances Jones (second daughter and sole heiress of Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh and the Hon. Frances Willoughby, a daughter and heiress of Francis Willoughby, 5th Baron Willoughby). Together, they had two daughters:
Through his eldest daughter Frances, he was grandfather to Elizabeth Capel (wife of John Monson, 3rd Baron Monson) and George Capel-Coningsby, 5th Earl of Essex, who married Sarah Bazett, and after her death, Catherine Stephens).
Through his second daughter Charlotte, he was grandfather to Richard Boyle-Walsingham (1762-1788), who died unmarried, and Charlotte Boyle-Walsingham, later suo jure Baroness de Ros, who married Lord Henry FitzGerald, fourth son of James FitzGerald, 1st Duke of Leinster and Lady Emily Lennox, Duchess of Leinster.
Williams inspired the character Charles Edaston in the 1913 George Bernard Shaw play Great Catherine, which recounts the story of a British envoy to Catherine's court. It was filmed starring Peter O'Toole in 1968. Williams also left poems said to be "witty but licentious".
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons – via Wikisource.