Entry into politics
The Stanhope family continued to live in Geneva until 1774. During his time in Geneva, Charles Stanhope and his father both took an active part in local politics and the running of the city. Stanhope was elected to the Council of Two Hundred, which had “considerable influence on his own political education, his subsequent radicalism being almost certainly attributable to his experiences in the city and his connections there.” He made connections with 18th century radicals including John Wilkes MP whilst in Geneva. His contemporaries suggested that he should stand for a seat in the county of Kent on his return to England.
Early attempts at election
In 1774 Stanhope returned to England, where he married Lady Hester Pitt. Stanhope first stood for election in Westminster in 1774. He stood in the radical interest, supported by John Wilkes, with Lord Mountmorres and polled 2342 votes, but ended in fourth place. Stanhope continued to pursue entry into politics – in November 1775 he went to Bath, where his father-in-law had also been a member. In 1777 he contested Maidstone, and in 1779 he was considered as candidate for Middlesex. However, none of these attempts proved successful and Stanhope returned to his scientific and philosophical work instead. During this period, Stanhope lived on the Chevening estate and fathered three daughters, Hester, Griselda and Lucy.
Stanhope began to consider re-entering political life in 1780, taking visible interest in the growing movement for Parliamentary and economic reform. During this period, he was to lose his wife, Hester, to dropsy. Stanhope grieved through throwing himself further into politics, at a point in time when religious tensions, particularly anti-Roman Catholic rioting, were prominent in London.
Stanhope remarried in 1781, taking as his wife Louise, the daughter of Lady Chatham's young brother, James Grenville, and Margaret Eleanor Banks. They had four sons, one dying in infancy.