Sir Charles Hotham, 5th Baronet

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Charles Hotham
Born 25 April 1693
Died 15 January 1738
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Rank Brigadier-General

Brigadier-General Charles Hotham (25 April 1693 – 15 January 1738) was a British Army officer and Member of Parliament who was entrusted by George II with the task of negotiating a double marriage between the Hanover and Hohenzollern dynasties.


He was born the eldest son of Sir Charles Hotham, 4th Baronet of Scorborough, near Beverley, Yorkshire, MP for Scarborough and Beverley and succeeded his father in 1723.

He was himself elected to Parliament as the Member of Parliament for Beverley from 1723 to 1727 and again from 1729 to 1738.

He joined the British Army, rising to the rank of Brigadier-General. On the accession of George II in 1727 he was appointed a Groom of the Bedchamber, a position he held until his death. The king sent him in 1730 on a confidential mission to arrange a double marriage between the heirs apparent and the Princesses Royal of England and Prussia. He was rewarded by being made Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Ireland (1732–35) and afterwards Colonel of the 1st Troop, Horse Grenadier Guards.

The double marriage[edit]

Queen Sophia Dorothea of Prussia, sister of George II if Great Britain, had long cherished the prospect of marrying her daughter, Wilhelmina, to the Prince of Wales, and her son, the Crown Prince Frederick, to the British Princess Emily. Her husband, King Frederick William I of Prussia, saw the advantage of the union, but was torn between his desire to draw closer to Protestant England and his position as a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Charles VI. His mutual dislike for his English brother-in-law and first cousin did not help matters.

The Austrians had for years heavily funded the efforts of General von Seckendorff to buy off Frederick William's closest associates and so influence the King towards a pro-Austrian and anti-British policy. [1] Colonel Hotham, who had been appointed a Groom of the Bedchamber in 1727 on the accession of George II, was empowered by the king with the authority to arrange for a double marriage between the two houses. He arrived in Prussia on 2 April 1730, armed with incriminating letters of Seckendorff's tactics.

The marriage talks, after some initial stumbling, held promise, especially as Hotham had made a good impression on the entire Hohenzollern family.[2] Frederick William approved wholly of the marriage of Wilhelmina to the Prince of Wales, and, while stating that the crown prince Frederick, at 18, was too young to marry, did let it be known that, within ten years, a marriage to a suitable English princess was acceptable. Unfortunately, George II, while willing to consider such an alliance, stated that he would only allow "both marriages or neither" which meant that the Anglo-Prussian alliance could not happen until Frederick was allowed to wed as well. Then, on 12 July, Hotham, in an attempt to strengthen his position by discrediting the Austrian contingent at court, produced letters incriminating Seckendorff and several of the King's associates. Frederick William flew into a rage at the tactic, threw the letter to the floor, and stalked out of the room.[3] Hotham took his treatment as an insult to the majesty of England, and immediately arranged for transport to take him back to England.

The Crown Prince had long contemplated fleeing Prussia to avoid the continual physical and emotional abuse of his father, but had held off on his plans so long as the double marriage prospect was viable.[4] With the collapse of the negotiations, he contrived, with his close friend Hans von Katte, to flee to Paris. The plan was discovered and both arrested and gaoled. Katte was executed and Frederick forced by his father to watch the execution from his cell window, an event which stood as a psychological milestone in the life of the future Frederick the Great.

Private life[edit]

He died in 1738. He had married Lady Gertrude Stanhope, the daughter of Philip Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Chesterfield and had 1 surviving son and 3 daughters. He was succeeded by his son Sir Charles Hotham, 6th Baronet.


  1. ^ Aspray, Robert (1986). Frederick the Great: The Magnificent Enigma. New York: Ticknor and Fields. pp. 27–28. ISBN 0-89919-352-8. 
  2. ^ Mitford, Nancy (1984). Frederick the Great. New York: E.P. Dutton, Inc. pp. 50–51. ISBN 0-525-48147-8. 
  3. ^ MacDonogh, Giles (2001). Frederick the Great: A Deed in Life and Letters. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 60. ISBN 0-312-27266-9. 
  4. ^ Aspray, 61-62.
Military offices
Preceded by
William Cosby
Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Ireland
Succeeded by
John Armstrong

External links[edit]