Charles Abbot, 1st Baron Colchester

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The Lord Colchester
Charles Abbot, 1st Baron Colchester by John Hoppner.jpg
Lord Colchester by John Hoppner, c. 1802 (Palace of Westminster)
Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom
In office
10 February 1802 – 2 June 1817
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded bySir John Mitford
Succeeded byCharles Manners-Sutton
Personal details
Born14 October 1757 (1757-10-14)
Died8 May 1829(1829-05-08) (aged 71)
Political partyTory
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Gibbes
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford

Charles Abbot, 1st Baron Colchester PC, FRS (14 October 1757 – 8 May 1829) was a British barrister and statesman. He served as Speaker of the House of Commons between 1802 and 1817.

Background and education

Born in the Headmaster's Lodge on the South side of Roysse Court, Abingdon, Abbot was the son of Dr John Abbot, headmaster of Abingdon School and rector of All Saints, Colchester, and, by his mother's second marriage, step-brother of Jeremy Bentham. From Westminster School he passed to Christ Church, Oxford, where he matriculated on 14 June 1775.[1] There he gained the chancellor's prize for Latin verse as well as the Vinerian Scholarship. He was admitted to the Middle Temple on 14 October 1768 and was called to the Bar on 9 May 1783.[2]

Abbot was granted a BCL in 1783 and a DCL in 1793.[1] On 14 February 1793, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.[3]

Legal and political career

In 1795, after having practised twelve years as a barrister, and having published a treatise proposing the incorporation of the judicial system of Wales with that of England, he was appointed to the office previously held by his brother of clerk of the rules in the King's Bench; and in June of the same year he was elected Member of Parliament for Helston, through the influence of the Duke of Leeds.

In 1796 Abbot commenced his career as a reformer in Parliament by obtaining the appointment of two committees: one to report on the arrangements which then existed as to temporary laws or laws about to expire; and the other to devise methods for the better publication of new statutes. It was thanks to the work of the latter committee, and of a second committee which he proposed some years later, that copies of new statutes were subsequently routinely sent to all magistrates and municipal bodies.

Abbot's efforts also effected the establishment of the Record Commission; the reform of the system which had allowed the public money to lie for some time at long interest in the hands of the public accountants, by charging them with payment of interest; and, most important of all, the act for taking the first census of the United Kingdom, that of 1801. On the formation of the Addington ministry in March 1801, Abbot became Chief Secretary for Ireland[4] and also Keeper of the Privy Seal of Ireland. In the February of the following year he was appointed Speaker of the House of Commons: at this point he stood down as Chief Secretary for Ireland, but he remained Keeper of the Privy Seal until his death. He served as Speaker until 1817, when an attack of erysipelas compelled him to retire. The House of Commons Library traces its origins to his time as Speaker.[5] He objected to the Lay College at Maynooth, leading to its suppression in 1814.

In response to an address of the Commons, Abbot was raised to the peerage as Baron Colchester, of Colchester in the County of Essex on 1 June 1817,[6] with a pension of £4000, of which £3000 was to be continued to his heir. His speeches against the Roman Catholic claims were published in 1828.


Coat of arms of Charles Abbot, 1st Baron Colchester
Coronet of a British Baron.svg
Colchester Escutcheon.png
Out of a ducal coronet Or, a unicorn's head Ermine maned and tufted of the first between six ostrich feathers Argent quilled Gold.
Gules, on a chevron between three pears Or as many crosses raguly Azure within a tressure flory of the second.
On either side a unicorn Ermine maned hoofed and tufted Or, gorged with a collar Azure within another gemel flory counter-flory Gules therefrom a chain reflexed over the back Gold and charged on the shoulder with a cross raguly of the third.
Deo Patriae Amicis[7][8]

In 1796, he had married, in London, Elizabeth Gibbes (1760–1847), the elder daughter of Sir Philip Gibbes, 1st Baronet, of Springhead, Barbados, by whom he had two sons. He was succeeded by his elder son Charles, Postmaster General in 1858, and subsequently by his grandson Reginald Abbot, 3rd Baron Colchester, on whose death in 1919 the title became extinct.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Foster, Joseph (1888–1892). "Abbot, Charles (1)" . Alumni Oxonienses: the Members of the University of Oxford, 1715–1886. Oxford: Parker and Co – via Wikisource.
  2. Williamson, J.B. (1937). The Middle Temple Bench Book. 2nd edition, p.197.
  3. "List of Fellows of the Royal Society". Archived from the original on 22 January 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2007.
  4. "Alumni Dublinenses : a register of the students, graduates, professors and provosts of Trinity College in the University of Dublin (1593–1860 George Dames Burtchaell/Thomas Ulick Sadleir p1: Dublin, Alex Thom and Co, 1935
  5. Cooke, Sir Robert (1987). The Palace of Westminster. London: Burton Skira. p. 394. ISBN 978-0333459232.
  6. "No. 17255". The London Gazette. 31 May 1817. p. 1249.
  7. "General Armory, page 1". Burke's Peerage. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  8. "The Lives of the Speakers of the House of Commons, page 484". Google Books. E. Churton. 1851. Retrieved 15 February 2019.

External links

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Helston
With: Stephen Lushington 1795–1796
Richard Richards 1796–1799
Lord Francis Osborne 1799–1800
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Helston
With: Lord Francis Osborne 1801–1802
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Heytesbury
With: Viscount Kirkwall
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Woodstock
With: Sir Henry Dashwood, Bt
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Oxford University
With: Sir William Scott
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Colchester
Succeeded by

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