Bingham, Sir Charles (1735–99), 1st earl of Lucan and MP, was born 22 September 1735, second son of Sir John Bingham (1696–1749), 5th baronet and governor of Co. Mayo, and Charlotte, only daughter of William Sarsfield, older brother of Patrick (qv). Sir Richard Bingham (qv), governor of Connacht, was among his ancestors. Charles's elder brother John (1730–52) became the 6th baronet on the death of their father in 1749; John died unmarried on 10 October 1752 and Charles succeeded to the title. He became sheriff for Co. Mayo in the 1750s and served as MP for the county (1761–8, 1768–76). He served briefly as an MP in the British house of commons for the constituency of Northampton (1782–24), brought in by his son-in-law Viscount Althorp to protect the Spencer interest. Unpopular with his constituents, he was defeated in the 1784 election. In the Irish parliament his financial security gave him a certain amount of political independence. He was in regular opposition to the administrations of Townshend (qv) and Harcourt (qv), although he later made encouraging noises towards the latter, probably seeking a peerage. Early on he attached himself to Sir John Blaquiere (qv). In 1767 he wrote An essay on the use and necessity of establishing a militia in Ireland . . . by a country gentleman.
Owning large interests in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, he carried out many improvements in the area and was regarded with great respect. He constructed large linen halls with elegant assembly rooms which are now part of the town hall. Bingham was created Baron Lucan of Castlebar in July 1776, and on 1 October 1795 became 1st earl of Lucan. During the 1798 rebellion, rebels broke into his house in Castlebar and ransacked its contents. His reputation as an improving landlord did little to protect his property: his furniture was used as firewood, and the rebels used his engravings to light their pipes while parading in his finery.
Bingham was regarded as an amiable man, respected both in parliament and in Mayo. Politically he was quite liberal, and fervently supported Charles James Fox. Musically inclined, he was reasonably proficient on the German flute. He died at his home in Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London on 29 March 1799.
He married (1760) Margaret, daughter and co-heir of James Smith, MP of Cannons Leigh, Devon; they had one son and four daughters. Margaret Bingham achieved some note in her own right as an amateur painter. Although lacking in originality, she received much praise, and Horace Walpole, in particular, esteemed her work. On his death Bingham was succeeded as earl of Lucan by his only son, Richard (1764–1839), who in 1794 had married Lady Elizabeth Belasyse, daughter and co-heir of Henry, 2nd earl of Fauconberg, and divorced wife of Bernard Edwards, 12th duke of Norfolk. His eldest daughter, Lavinia, married the 2nd Earl Spencer in 1781.