Paulet (Powlett), Charles (1661–1722), 7th marquis of Winchester and 2nd duke of Bolton , lord lieutenant of Ireland, was the eldest surviving son of Charles Paulet, 6th marquess of Winchester and 1st duke of Bolton, and his second wife, Mary, natural daughter of Emmanuel Le Scrope, earl of Sunderland, and Martha Jeanes or Sandford, one of his servants. He had a brother and three sisters. Entering Gray's Inn in London in 1674, he attended school at Winchester in 1675 and travelled in France, 1675–8. He sat in the English house of commons (1681, 1685, 1689–90, 1690–95, 1695–8, and 1698–9) and in the Convention parliament of 1689–90 was associated with some of the inquiries into Irish affairs. Styled earl of Wiltshire from 5 March 1675 and marquess of Winchester from 9 April 1689, he succeeded his father as 2nd duke of Bolton on 27 February 1699. He was personally alienated from but politically allied with his father, who had declared early for William of Orange (qv). The father was elevated to the dukedom by William, whom the younger Charles had accompanied to England in 1688.
Bolton enjoyed numerous honours and appointments in England in local and national government and at court. Some of his principal offices were: lord chamberlain to Queen Mary, 1689–94, and to George I, 1715–17; member of the English privy council, 1690 to his death; commissioner for the union of England and Scotland in 1706; and lord justice of England in 1714 and 1720. He also served in the army in Flanders in 1691. He was one of the lords justices of Ireland, from May 1697 to December 1700. Of his several colleagues during this period much the most important was Lord Galway (qv), with whom he managed the Irish parliament in the session of 1697, when it considered legislation relating to the articles of Limerick and the post-war land settlement. He was thought to be aiming at the lord lieutenancy in May 1699 (by which time he was duke of Bolton) and was rumoured to be a candidate to replace Ormond (qv) around 1705–7. In the event he did not achieve the office until April 1717, and he retained it until June 1720.
The English ministry instructed him in 1719 to seek the repeal by the Irish parliament of the sacramental test, which since 1704 had excluded Irish dissenters from public office. Furious Church of Ireland opposition was led by Archbishop William King (qv), while even the Irish whigs were lukewarm, and a lesser measure of toleration was adopted. His period in office also saw intense rivalry between the government's chief parliamentary managers, Alan Brodrick (qv) and William Conolly (qv), and the celebrated lawsuit of Sherlock v. Annesley, involving a momentous dispute between the Irish and British houses of lords for ultimate appellate jurisdiction in Ireland. A notorious episode of his viceroyalty concerns the bill against the catholic clergy, initiated in 1719 in the Irish house of commons and containing a provision for branding unlicensed priests on the cheek. In the Irish privy council, where Bolton presided, the penalty was changed to castration, a proposal which shocked English ministers and which was removed in London before the bill was returned to Ireland under the provisions of Poynings’ law.
He was married three times. His first wife, whom he married in 1679, was Margaret (d. 1682), daughter of George, Lord Coventry, and his wife, Margaret, daughter of John Tufton, earl of Thanet; the marriage was without issue. He married secondly, in 1683, Frances (d. 1696), daughter of William Ramsden and his wife, Elizabeth Ramsden (née Palmes), with whom he had two sons and two daughters. He married thirdly, in Dublin in 1697, Henrietta Crofts (d. 1730), a natural daughter of James Scott, duke of Monmouth, and Eleanor Needham. A son of his third marriage, Lord Nassau Paulet (d. 1741), was appointed auditor general of Ireland in 1723.
Bolton died in London on 21 January 1722. Some of his letters are in the PRONI (De Ros MSS, D.638), the British Library (Add. MS 35933) and the NAI (MSS 2447, 2453); others have been printed by the Historical Manuscripts Commission.