Clement-Jones family v2/21 - Person Sheet
Clement-Jones family v2/21 - Person Sheet
NameCharles SEELY , 6503
FatherCharles SEELY , 14043 (1768-1809)
MotherAnn WILKINSON , 14053
FatherJonathan HILTON , 6522
ChildrenCharles , 5098 (1833-1915)
Notes for Charles SEELY
From Wikipedia

Charles Seely (3 October 1803 – 21 October 1887) was a 19th century British Liberal Party politician, who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Lincoln from 1847 to 1848 and again from 1861 to 1885.[1]

Personal life

He was born in Lincoln. His parents were Charles Seely (1768–1809) and Ann Wilkinson of Lincoln. He married Mary Hilton in 1831.

Hosting Garibaldi

In 1864, Seely was the Deputy Lieutenant for Lincolnshire, when he played host to the Italian revolutionary hero Giuseppe Garibaldi, when Garibaldi visited 26 Prince's Gate Hyde Park, his house in London and Seely's estate at Brook House on the Isle of Wight. Garibaldi stayed at Brook House from April 3-11th, during which time he was also joined by Giuseppe Mazzini, the Italian writer and politician whose efforts helped bring about the modern Italian state. During this time Garibaldi raised funds for his Italian campaigns. On 11 April Garibaldi left Brook House with Seely and travelled from Southampton to London, where he was greeted by crowds estimated at half a million people, according to The Illustrated London News. Garibaldi stayed several days at Seely's house in London where a reception was hosted for him on April 19. The next day he traveled to the Guildhall where he was given the Freedom of the City of London.


"Pig iron"
As depicted by "Spy" (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, 21 December 1878
Seely made his fortune in the Industrial Revolution through a contract with the navy for pig iron, which was used in the 19th Century as ballast for ships. He was chairman of the House of Commons Committee on Admiralty Reform in 1868. In a Vanity Fair Spy cartoon, 1878, on notable people of the day, he was noted as a "Statesman". He later diversified his fortune into acquiring coal mines and property. By 1900 the family estates in the Isle of Wight comprised almost the entire west side of the island.
In the 1870s he commissioned Myles Birket Foster[1], the famous English Victorian artist, to paint 50 watercolours of Venice.


Four other members of his family became Members of Parliament and played prominent roles in politics during the 19th and 20th centuries:

His grandson, the Secretary of State for War (1912–1914), Major General John Edward Bernard Seely, 1st Baron Mottistone.
His eldest son Sir Charles Seely, 1st Baronet.
His grandson Sir Charles Seely, 2nd Baronet.
His great-grandson the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Air (1941–1945) Sir Hugh Seely 3rd Baronet, and 1st Baron Sherwood.

Additionally, his great-grandson David Peter Seely, 4th Baron Mottistone, who was baptised with Winston Churchill and the then Prince of Wales (subsequently Edward VIII) as his godparents, was the Deputy Lieutenant for Lincolnshire, Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight and its last Governor. His youngest daughter Jane Anne Seely married (1882) Henry George Gore-Browne who received the Victoria Cross during the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Henry was a great-great grandson of the 1st Earl of Altamont MP, whose heir is the Marquess of Sligo.


Charles Seely 1803-1887 - His Life Story

Born in 1803 of respectable but modest Lincolnshire millers, by the time of his death, in 1887, Charles Seely was one of the largest landowners in the country. He owned Sherwood Lodge with coalfields in Nottinghamshire, 1 Carlton House Terrace in London and a substantial part of the West Wight. It was said that he could walk from Brook to Newport, Freshwater or Yarmouth without stepping off his own land. Charles suffered from TB when young and was sent to convalesce with an aunt on the Isle of Wight.

The story has it that while walking on the downs above Mottistone, he made a mental note that once, (interestingly, not ‘if’) he’d made his fortune, he would buy all the land he could see from the downs to the sea. He never forgot his vow and in 1857, by the time he had bought Brooke House and a number of other properties in the area, he was 53 years old and the Liberal MP for Lincoln (he defended the aspirations of the Chartists in the House of Commons). The descendants of Charles Seely continue to have strong connections with Brook and Mottistone today, with ten of his great, great grandchildren having homes on what was once his land.

Charles Seely was described by his grandson, Jack Seely, as: an austere and benevolent man, very small of stature with aquiline features and though he looked frail, had, in fact an iron constitution. At the age of 81 he would still ride around the Brooke estate on his pony for four or five hours at a stretch. Less complimentary was a political opponent, who in 1856 said of Charles Seely: This eccentric little politician wearing the wonderful jack boots and inimitable hat, a cross between a brigand and an Italian organ-grinder.

In 1831 Charles married Mary Hilton, the youngest daughter of Jonathan Hilton of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. When they bought Brooke House in 1857 (the initial auction was in 1855), they enlarged the house and quickly became part of Island life and society.

It is interesting to note that, despite being based in and coming from Nottingham, and with all their business and political interests on the mainland, the family developed a strong affection for the Isle of Wight with each of their three daughters marrying and settling in the West Wight.

In 1860 Mary Seely married Reverend Thomas Renwick, Rector of Mottistone and Vicar of Shorwell. In 1861 Frances Seely married Benjamin Cotton, gentleman farmer of Afton Manor who was a patron of the painter George Moreland and is mentioned in Emily Tennyson’s diary as ‘a country squire of the old stamp.’ Charles and Mary Seely’s third daughter, Jane Anne (Annie), married Lt. Colonel Harry Gore Browne who received a V.C. for conspicuous bravery during the seige of Lucknow in 1857 and they settled at Pitt Place, Mottistone.

In many ways the history of the Seely family mirrors that of the country as a whole in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when scientific and technological developments were changing the face of the social and political landscape. It is said that in the 1840s Charles Seely’s mother bought him a field to grow more wheat and that the field was soon found to be over a rich seam of coal on the edge of the Nottinghamshire coal fields. This may belie, however, the astute businessman that Charles Seely had become. His fortune was substantially made by his contract with the Royal Navy for pig iron, which was used in the 19th century as ballast for ships. It was a contract he famously held the government to long after the introduction of iron-clad ships which did not need such ballast.

He was put up for Parliament as MP for Lincoln in 1847 and elected but later accused by his rivals of vote-rigging and lost his seat. His defence was that ‘treating’ was the custom in Lincoln. He was finally elected MP for Lincoln in 1861 and remained an MP until 1885, becoming ‘father of the House.’

HHis most significant work in the Commons was while Chair of the Committee on Admiralty Reform in 1868. His speeches show him as a thorn in the side of the Admiralty pointing out inefficiencies and mis-management with a businessman’s attention to detail. In 1877, during a House of Commons debate on farmers’ duty to give notice of diseased cattle, he says in an understatement, ‘I happen to be the owner of a few cows.’

Charles Seely's London home was 26 Prince's Gate and it was here that General Garibaldi stayed when he visited London after his stay at Brooke House in April 1864 (see People: famous visitors.

In the 1870s he commissioned Myles Birket Foster, the famous English Victorian artist, to paint 50 watercolours of Venice.

The staff of Brooke House in the late nineteenth century. Polly (Merry) Hookey of Downton Farm, Brook, is seated second from the left, her husband to be, Arthur Cole from Lincolnshire, is standing to the left of her. The famous Mr Tribbick, gardener, must be here as well as the Linggards, the butler and cook.

The Seelys brought employment and the outside world to Brook and Mottistone. We see from the census that Harriet Marriott, for example, who married the blacksmith, James Hookey, was born in Lincolshire.

Charles Seely was particularly committed to the education of the working man and used some of his wealth to establish the Isle of Wight Library Service, until recently The County Seely Library, and the Technical Institute. He also converted a barn into the village school at Hulverstone and funded its teacher. Perhaps he is best remembered for the part he played in setting up the first lifeboat station in Brooke and contributing to those at Brighstone and Atherfield.
Last Modified 24 May 2014Created 11 Feb 2021 using Reunion for Macintosh