Charles Berkeley, 1st Earl of Falmouth

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Charles Berkeley, Baron Berkeley of Rathdowne, County Wicklow and Viscount Fitzhardinge of Berehaven, County Kerry (1630–1665) (Peter Lely)

Charles Berkeley, 1st Earl of Falmouth (11 January 1630 – 3 June 1665) was an English nobleman and naval officer who was the son of Charles Berkeley (1599–1668) and his wife Penelope née Godolphin (died 1669), of the Bruton branch of the Berkeley family.

He served the exiled Stuart court. His uncle, John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton, secured Charles's employment with James, Duke of York until the Restoration. He was a cavalry officer and fought in the French and Spanish armies. Charles was subsequently created Baron Berkeley of Rathdowne, co. Wicklow, Ireland, and Viscount Fitzhardinge of Berehaven, Co. Kerry, Ireland, on 1 July 1663. He was created Earl of Falmouth, in the Peerage of England, on 17 March 1664, and Baron Botetourt of Langport, Somerset on the same day. He was promoted Lieutenant-Governor of Portsmouth and was elected MP for New Romney.

In 1664 he married Elizabeth Bagot,[1] who as the widowed Countess of Falmouth became a mistress to King Charles II of England.

During the Second Anglo-Dutch War he volunteered for service in the Royal fleet. Charles was killed by a cannonball on 3 June 1665 on board the Royal Charles in one of the first exchanges of the Battle of Lowestoft.

His boisterous character made him not very well-loved by many, but his loyalty to the Royal family favoured his relationship with the King. Clarendon was amazed at the flood of tears the King shed, when he received the news that Berkeley had been killed.[2]

The poet John Denham was less charitable about the demise of the Earl:

His shattered Head the fearless Duke disdains
And gave the last first proof that he had brains


  1. ^ Melville, Lewis (2005). The Windsor Beauties: Ladies of the Court of Charles II. Loving Healing Press. ISBN 1-932690-13-1.
  2. ^ Catalogue notes for the portrait of Charles Berkeley
Parliament of England
Preceded by Member of Parliament for New Romney
With: Sir Norton Knatchbull, Bt
Succeeded by
Military offices
New regiment Captain and Colonel of
The Duke of York's Troop of Horse Guards

Succeeded by
Court offices
Preceded by Keeper of the Privy Purse
Succeeded by
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Falmouth
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Viscount Fitzhardinge
Succeeded by