The question of the legal existence of slavery in Great Britain and Ireland was raised in consequence of an opinion given in 1729 by Yorke and Talbot, attorney-general and solicitor-general at the time, to the effect that a slave by coming into those countries from the West Indies did not become free, and might be compelled by his master to return to the plantations.
Yorke refused to describe the libel as treasonable, while pronouncing it a high misdemeanour.
Resisting Pitt's attempt to draw him into alliance against the ministry he had quitted, Yorke maintained, in a speech that extorted the highest eulogy from Walpole, that parliamentary privilege did not extend to cases of libel; though he agreed with Pitt in condemning the principle of general warrants.
Yorke, henceforward a member of the Rockingham party, was elected recorder of Dover in 1764, and in 1765 he again became attorney-general in the Rockingham administration, whose policy he did much to shape.
On the accession to power of Chatham and Grafton in 1767, Yorke resigned office, and took little part in the debates in parliament during the next four years.
The king exerted all his personal influence to overcome Yorke's scruples, warning him finally that the great seal if now refused would never again be within his grasp. Yorke yielded to the king's entreaty, went to his brother's house, where he met the leaders of the Opposition, and feeling at once overwhelmed with shame, fled to his own house, where in three days he was a dead man (January 20, 1770).
Charles Yorke was twice married.
His son by his first marriage became earl of Hardwicke; his eldest son by his second marriage, Charles Philip Yorke (1764-1834), member of parliament for Cambridgeshire and afterwards for Liskeard, was secretary of state for war in Addington's ministry in 1801, and was a strong opponent of concession to the Roman Catholics.
In the same year Yorke joined Spencer Perceval's government as first lord of the admiralty; he retired from public life in 1818, and died in 1834.
Charles Yorke's second son by his second marriage was Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke (1768-1831), an admiral in the navy, whose son succeeded to the earldom of Hardwicke.
See under Hardwicke, Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of.
This was an answer to another anonymous pamphlet, written by Philip Yorke, afterwards Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, who replied in an enlarged edition (1728) of his original Discourse of the Judicial Authority.
As a strong supporter of the Whigs, he gained the favour of Philip Yorke, afterwards lord chancellor and first earl of Hardwicke, and his subsequent preferments were largely due to this friendship. He held successively a number of benefices in different counties, and finally in London.
Yorke Powell, Origines Islandicae (Oxford, 1905) and Julius E.