TOWNSHEND, CHARLES TOWNSHEND, 2ND VIS COUNT (1674-1738), English statesman, was the eldest son of Viscount Townshend of Raynham (c. 163o-87), of an old Nor folk family descended from Sir Roger Townshend (d. 1493) of Raynham, who acted as legal adviser to the Paston family. Charles Townshend succeeded to the peerage in Dec. 1687, and was educated at Eton and king's college, Cambridge. At first a Tory, when he took his seat in the House of Lords, he afterwards went over to the Whigs. In Nov. 1708 he was appointed captain of the yeomen of the guard, having in the previous year been summoned to the privy council. As ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the states-general (1709–I I) he took part in the negotiations preceding the Treaty of Utrecht. In Sept. 1714, George I. selected him as secretary of State for the northern de partment. Townshend's policy, after the suppression of the Jacobite rising in 1715, was one of peace at home and abroad; he promoted defensive alliances with the emperor and with France. But in 1716 he was dismissed from his position owing to the intrigues of Sunderland, who persuaded George and Town shend's colleague, Stanhope, that Townshend and Walpole were plotting to place the prince of Wales on the throne.
Early in 172o a partial reconciliation took place between the parties of Stanhope and Townshend, who was president of the council from June, 1720 until Feb. 1721, when, after the death of
Stanhope and the forced retirement of Sunderland, a result of the South Sea bubble, he was again appointed secretary of State for the northern department, with Walpole as first lord of the treas ury and chancellor of the exchequer. The two remained in power during the remainder of the reign of George I. (See ENGLAND: History.) Townshend secured the dismissal of his rival, John Carteret, afterwards Earl Granville, but soon differences arose between himself and Walpole. Although disliking him, George II. retained him in office, but the predominance in the ministry passed gradually from him to Walpole. Failing, owing to Wal pole's interference, in his efforts to procure the dismissal of a colleague and his replacement by a personal friend, Townshend retired on May 15, 173o. His remaining years were passed at Raynham, where he interested himself in agriculture. He died at Raynham on June 21, 1738.
Townshend was twice married—first to Elizabeth (d. 1711), daughter of Thomas Pelham, 1st Baron Pelham of Laughton, and to Dorothy (d. 1726), sister of Sir Robert Walpole.