4th Baron Mohun (1677-1712)
Born c1675 Died 1712
Charles Mohun was the son of the 3rd Baron Mohun, who died in October 1677 as the result of a wound received while acting as second in a duel. The boy had no regular guardian, and before he was seventeen he had earned an unpleasant notoriety in London for rowdyism and brawling, had fought a duel and had been tried on a charge of murder.
His friend, Captain Richard Hill, a roystering young officer, was in love with the actress Mrs Bracegirdle, and thought William Mountfort, the actor, to be his successful rival. On the night of the 9th of December 1692 Mohun assisted Hill to attempt the actress's abduction. The attempt failed, and Mohun and Hill then escorted Mrs Bracegirdle to her house, and subsequently remained together outside drinking till the appearance of Mountfort, who lived close at hand. Greetings were exchanged between Mohun and Mountfort, and the latter made a disparaging remark about Hill, who either without warning (according to Mountfort's deathbed statement) or in fair fight (according to other evidence) ran Mountfort through the body, and then absconded.
Mohun was arrested and put on trial in Westminster Hall before his peers for murder as an accessory before the fact (1693), but by an overwhelming majority the peers found him not guilty. This verdict has been severely criticised, notably by Macaulay, who saw in it merely a gross instance of class favouritism. But a careful examination of the evidence (in the State Trials) justifies the decision, and establishes the presumption that the fight was a fair one. In 1699 Mohun was put on his trial for another alleged murder, but was unanimously and quite justly acquitted. His boon companion, Edward Rich, Earl of Warwick (1673-1701), who was tried on a separate indictment for the same crime, was found guilty of manslaughter.
On this occasion Mohun expressed regret for his past life, and he seems subsequently to have made a genuine attempt to alter his ways and to have taken a practical interest in public affairs. But in 1712 his violent temper again got the better of him, and he forced the 4th Duke of Hamilton, with whom he had been at law for some years, into a desperate duel in Hyde Park in the early hours of the 15th of November, in which both combatants were killed. Thackeray has utilized this incident in Esmond. Lord Mohun had no issue, and on his death the barony, which was created in 1628 in favour of his great-grandfather John Mohun (c.1592-1640), became extinct.
See: The Whole Life and History of My Lord Mohun and the Earl of Warwick (London, 1711); J. Evelyn, Diary and Correspondence; Historical Manuscripts Commission, 11th report, appendix v. (Dartmouth MSS.); G. C. Boase and W. P. Courtney, Bibliotheca cornubiensis (1874-1882); Howell, State Trials; Colley Cibber, Apology, edited by R. W. Lowe (1889).
Being the entry for MOHUN, CHARLES MOHUN, 4th BARON in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.