CARR, Sir Ralph (1634-1710), of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb. and Coken, Houghton-le-Spring, co. Dur.
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Family and Education
b. 14 July 1634, 1st s. of William Carr, merchant, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne by Jane, da. and coh. of Ralph Cock, merchant, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. educ. Houghton-le-Spring, co. Dur.; St. John’s, Camb. 1652; G. Inn 1654. m. (1) Jane (d. 1667), da. of Sir Francis Anderson† of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1s. d.v.p. 2da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) Isabella, da. of Hon. James Darcy† of Sedbury Park, Yorks., 1s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1666; kntd. 26 June 1676.1
Freeman, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1660, alderman, by 1677–87, Oct. 1688–d., mayor, 1677–8, 1693–4, 1705–6.2
Member, hostmen’s co. Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1661, merchant adventurers of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1663; gov., hostmen’s co. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1677–83, 1705–7.3
Commr. for carriage of coals 1679.4
Carr’s family had been part of Newcastle’s merchant elite since the 14th century, and his status and wealth were demonstrated by his purchase of an estate in Durham in 1665. Six years later he bought the mineral rights to this estate and in the 1670s became a prominent member of the corporate oligarchy which dominated Newcastle politics. His support for the Court during the Exclusion crisis and the 1680s came to an abrupt end in 1687 when he refused to support the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act, and when the Newcastle corporation refused to act upon William of Orange’s writ for the Convention Carr was returned for the borough with the support of Newcastle’s sheriff. During the Convention Carr nevertheless voted that the throne was not vacant, and the Toryism this suggests was confirmed when, after his unchallenged return for Newcastle in 1690, Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classified him as a Tory and Court supporter.5
Carr told on two occasions during the 1690 session: against adjourning consideration of proposals vesting forfeited estates in the crown (9 May), and in favour of the sitting Tory Members in a division upon the Aldborough election (17 May). During the 1690–1 session Carmarthen listed him as a likely supporter in the event of a parliamentary attack upon himself but, though no significant activity of Carr’s is recorded for this session, an analysis of the House among Robert Harley’s* papers dating from April 1691 classified him as a Country party supporter. More is known of his contribution to the 1691–2 session in which Carr made at least three speeches. On 16 Jan. 1692 he spoke in favour of the bill to suppress hawkers and pedlars, joining Sir John Somers in arguing that ‘they are a vagrant, wandering people, beneficial to none but themselves’ and that the measure was ‘for the interest of the nation because it is solicited by all the corporations of England’. Three days later he spoke in favour of the proposal that office-holders with places worth more than £500 p.a. should apply the excess to the cost of the war, and his concern for supply matters was also in evidence later the same day when he supported the raising of money upon a fund of perpetual interest, expressing the belief that ‘when it hath gained credit . . . it will be as good as the bank in Holland’. On the 20th Carr argued that the proposal of Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., to rate every man charged with raising a horse for the militia at £1 10s. for the poll tax was too high. Given his merchant background it is hardly surprising that an interest in trade was evident in Carr’s activity in the 1692–3 session. On 8 Dec. he presented a petition from London merchants opposing the bill to prohibit the export of woollen manufactures. When this measure was reported on 18 Jan. 1693, Carr supported, unsuccessfully, the addition of a clause preserving the right of the Hamburg Company to export wool to certain German states. On 2 Feb. he told in favour of engrossing the bill to prevent the decay of trade in towns and cities, and five days later was granted a month’s leave of absence. He was classed as a Court supporter by Samuel Grascome in the spring of 1693. Less than a month into the next session, on 4 Dec., Carr was found to be absent without permission from a call of the House. He was excused, however, and granted a seven-day leave of absence. He was more conspicuous during this session. Having told on 23 Dec. against an adjournment, the new year saw him take an interest in four bills. His hostility to legislation restricting the wool trade was evident in his telling against both the second reading and committal of the bill to prevent wool exports and encourage woollen manufactures (11, 24 Jan. 1694), while on 16 Jan. he was nominated to draft a bill for measuring keels and other boats transporting coal on the Tyne. Carr presented this measure on 3 Feb. and two weeks later was the first-named Member of its second-reading committee. His concern for the interests of the north-east coal industry may account for his tellerships on 7 and 8 Mar. against the bill to relieve the London orphans, which proposed placing a duty on all coal transported to London. On 21 Mar. he told against engrossing a bill to make more effectual an Act regulating leather cutting, and six days later he was granted a leave of absence. In the final session of the 1690 Parliament Carr again promoted a bill to measure keels operating on the Tyne, being appointed on 6 Mar. 1695 to draft the bill, presenting it three days later, and on 21 Mar. was first-named to the second-reading committee. He was also included among a list of ‘friends’ of Henry Guy*, possibly in relation to parliamentary proceedings against Guy.6
Carr decided against standing at the 1695 election, and though in December 1700 he was reported to be standing at Newcastle, his parliamentary career had in fact ended. He remained active in local affairs, most notably as one of the members of the cartel founded in 1708 to regulate the production and price of north-east coal, until his death on 5 Mar. 1710. His eldest son Ralph had died four years previously, and it seems likely that Carr was succeeded by a grandson of the same name.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. Surtees, Durham, i. 209.
- 2. Reg. of Freemen (Newcastle Rec. Soc. iii), 76; H. Bourne, Hist. Newcastle, 243–4.
- 3. Newcastle Hostmen’s Co. (Surtees Soc. cv), 263, 270; Newcastle Merchant Adventurers (Surtees Soc. ci), 289.
- 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 1205.
- 5. L. Gooch, The Desperate Faction?, 12.
- 6. Luttrell Diary, 132–3, 136, 140, 143, 301, 374, 397.
- 7. Add. 70018, ff. 94–95; HMC Portland, iii. 640; E. Hughes, N. Country Life, i. 167–8; Surtees, 209.