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Libertines, Lotharios or Bastards?

No Redeeming Features, A Total Shit

No Redeeming Features, A Total Shit
Col Francis Charteris 1672-1732


Imagine the most unpleasant man you have ever met, multiply that by one hundred and soak the result in a marinade of spite and greed.

What you have left is still more pleasant than Colonel Francis Charteris.

He’s a ruthless cheat, a thieving, lecherous tight fisted coward, a callous misogynist and worse, much worse.

He’s night soil in a periwig and is loathed by just about everyone.

To general delight he’s even been sentenced to death.

Being as cunning as a snake and very very rich, however he can grease the right palms , so sadly he remains, polluting London’s already unpleasant streets.

He wasn’t always this loathsome; at the beginning he was merely vile and abhorrent.

Born in Edinburgh, as a young man Charteris had served in the army of the Duke of Marlborough but left under suspicious circumstances.

Rumour has it that he stole some meat from a butcher in Flanders.

His father, who despairingly referred to him as “My Wicked Frank” failed to buy him a commission in another regiment when (such was his reputation) its officers refused to serve with him.

The Battle of Blenheim 1704. Where you would not have found Col Charteris The Battle of Blenheim 1704. Where you would not have found Col Charteris


Eventually the family money secured him a place in the lofty ranks of the cavalry. While he was abroad on Foreign Service, rather than engage in any actual military duties “Wicked Frank” perfected his gambling and card sharping skills. Returning to Scotland, he then set about fleecing his brother officers out of all their money and property as they shivered in winter quarters.

 “Being a most expert gambler and of a disposition uncommonly avaricious, he made his knowledge of gambling subservient to his love of money”                                  

The Newgate Calender

With time on their frozen hands, these bored, wealthy young buffoons were easy prey. When Charteris dubious skills at cards and dice had picked them clean, he generously loaned them further cash at an interest rate of one hundred percent.  As security, he demanded the penniless officers put up their valuable army commissions.

A playing card of the type Charteris probably kept up his sleeve. A playing card of the type Charteris probably kept up his sleeve.

Charteris had already blotted his military copybook by committing an unforgivable breech of etiquette. He had sat uninvited at his regimental commanders table. Belligerent and possibly inebriated, he made matters worse by drawing his sword on the unfortunate junior officer who asked him to shift his impertinent backside and sit elsewhere.

Indiscriminate swindling was the last straw.

Charteris was court marshalled. With the fancy epaulettes torn from his shoulders and his un blooded sword broken, the now ex cavalry officer was ordered to pay back all those he had cheated.

Unrepentant, Charteris skulked off back to Belgium  where he endeavored to restore his fortunes by taking off his trousers.

One evening, particularly short of cash, Charteris visited a deserted field, slipped off his breeches and hid them in a ditch.

With his cloak artfully buttoned up to hide his “absence of nether garments” he then went to an inn and took a room.

The innkeeper, blissfully unaware that save for his boots his guest was naked from the waist down, wished Charteris a hearty “Goodnight”. As his footsteps disappeared downstairs, the trouser less rascal broke one of his room’s windows and then (carefully) sat down to wait.

As the sun rose, the loud an incessant ringing of a hand bell summed the innkeeper back to Charteris’s chambers.  He was greeted by the sight of a ghastly Scotsman, his pizzle dangling furiously, complaining that his breeches had been stolen by a thief in the night who had climbed into his room through the broken window.

To make matters worse Charteris lied that the pockets of his missing breeches had been stuffed with money, a gold watch and a diamond ring, hinting that perhaps the landlord himself was responsible for the theft.

Breeches of the type Charteris hid in a field. Breeches of the type Charteris hid in a field.

In the face of this righteous indignation and accompanied by shouted threats of “Authorities in Brussels” and “ Death Penalty” the apologetic landlord fled to a nearby convent.

There, the kindly friars gave him money equivalent to the amount  said to have been stolen so the landlord could reimburse the semi-naked conman.

Financially secure once more, Charteris retrieved his breeches from the field, laughed at his own cleverness and applied to rejoin the army (for the third time).

Cash of course speaks louder than character so he was not only welcomed back with open arms but made into a colonel!

That was when he became really nasty.

No amount of sifting can filter out his vice! No amount of sifting can filter out his vice!

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