CHOLMONDELEY, Charles (1685-1756), of Vale Royal, Cheshire
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Family and Education
b. 12 Jan. 1685, 1st surv. s. of Thomas Cholmondeley† of Vale Royal by Anne, da. of Sir Walter St. John, 3rd Bt.*, and sis. of Henry St. John I*. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1701; M. Temple 1709. m. 22 July 1714, Essex, da. of Thomas Pitt I*, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 5da. suc. fa. 1702.1
The Cholmondeleys of Vale Royal were a junior branch of Cheshire’s leading family the Cholmondeleys of Cholmondeley, the family having been settled in the county since the 13th century. In contrast to the political vacillations of the senior branch of the family, the Cholmondeleys of Vale Royal were loyal Tories. Cholmondeley’s father and uncle, who had both sat during the Restoration, became non-jurors after the Revolution and both were suspected of involvement in Jacobite plotting during the 1690s. Little is known of Cholmondeley’s early life, and he made no impact upon the public stage until his opposition to the Weaver navigation bill of 1709–10. At the 1710 election he stood on Cheshire’s Tory interest against the county’s ‘two impeaching Members’ and was returned after a contested election. He was classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’.2
Cholmondeley was an active parliamentarian and his Tory sympathies were confirmed in the 1710–11 session. He was appointed on 9 June 1711 to take a message to the Lords to remind the Upper House of the bill sent from the Commons for the better qualification of j.p.s. The session also saw Cholmondeley tell for referring a petition against an enclosure Act passed in the last session to committee (3 Feb.), and carry to the Lords a bill repealing part of the act encouraging trade to America (4 June). He was also listed as a ‘worthy patriot’ who had helped detect the mismanagements of the previous ministry and as a member of the October Club.
Cholmondeley’s willingness to support policies which, while close to Tory hearts, were opposed by the ministry, appears to have concerned Harley at the end of the 1710–11 session, and in a list of June 1711, Harley linked Cholmondeley’s name with that of the 4th Earl Rivers (Richard Savage*). Rivers’ support in the Cheshire election of 1710 had been an important factor in Cholmondeley’s victory, and it may be that Harley hoped that pressure from Rivers would be sufficient to prevent Cholmondeley from involving himself any further in attempts to force more partisan policies on the ministry. If this was the case, then the attempt was unsuccessful, as the 1711–12 session saw Cholmondeley increasingly involve himself in the attempts of Tory back-benchers to influence policy. This was evident in his enthusiastic participation in the Tory attack upon the conduct of Robert Walpole II* and Adam de Cardonnel*, when he was teller in favour of the expulsion of both men (17 Jan., 19 Feb. 1712). Cholmondeley was also an advocate of the Tory-sponsored crown grants resumption bill, and on 10 May the Commons’ ballot for commissioners to serve under this bill put Cholmondeley in fourth place. A combination of partisan and Country sentiment also explains Cholmondeley’s advocacy of the bill to prevent ‘fraudulent conveyances, in order to multiply votes’ in county elections, a practice blamed by Cheshire Tories for their defeat in 1705. The first-named Member of the committee appointed on 18 Feb. to draft this bill, he guided the measure through the Commons, chairing the committee of the whole upon it on 4 Apr. In the course of the bill’s passage the question of whether Quakers willing to affirm should be entitled to vote was raised, and on 4 Apr. and 15 May Cholmondeley told in favour of amendments in favour of Quaker voting rights. One modern historian has explained Tory support for Quaker affirmation as the consequence of the concern of March Club members to support Protestant unity, and by 1712 Cholmondeley had transferred his allegiance from the October to the March Club. Indeed, when Cholmondeley was elected a commissioner for the resumption of crown grants, Kreienberg included him among the five members of the March Club successful in this ballot. However, Cholmondeley’s support for Quaker voting rights probably had its roots in less exalted motives, as Quakers formed a small but significant group in the Cheshire electorate, and in 1710 Cholmondeley had approached William Penn, through Harley, for their votes. Cholmondeley was keenly aware of the need to promote and defend Cheshire interests, and this attention to local interests explains his telling against the imposition of an additional duty on imported hides (22 May), a measure which Chester’s tanners opposed strenuously, though in vain.3
In the following session Cholmondeley remained a proponent of Country Tory measures. He supported enthusiastically the equalization of the malt tax throughout Britain in order to allow a 2s. reduction in the land tax, and in the crucial division of 21 May 1713 told in favour of retaining the clause in the bill imposing the 6d. a bushel duty on Scottish malt. His concern for the conduct of county elections was again apparent in May as he managed a bill to make ‘more effectual’ the Act he had guided through the Commons in the previous session to regulate county elections, and his continued support for Quaker voting rights was evident in his telling in favour of confirming the Quaker Affirmation Act (28 May). The bill brought before the House in this session to confirm the 8th and 9th articles of the French commercial treaty saw Cholmondeley’s first demonstration of the Hanoverian sympathies associated with membership of the March Club. Although Cholmondeley had presented, in July 1712 and May 1713 respectively, Cheshire addresses thanking the Queen for the peace preliminaries and the Treaty of Utrecht, it was clear once the French commerce bill came before the Commons that he was unhappy with its provisions. When the bill was considered by the Commons on 18 June Cholmondeley spoke and voted against it, being classed as a ‘whimsical’ in the printed division list. This session also saw Cholmondeley manage a Cheshire estate bill through the Commons in June and early July.4
Cholmondeley was unopposed in the 1713 election, and in the ensuing Parliament his sympathy for Country measures and his Hanoverian loyalties were again evident. On 11 Mar. 1714, Cholmondeley seconded the motion for a place bill proposed by Sir Arthur Kaye, 3rd Bt., expressing the hope that ‘we should give no money [until] we saw the success of this bill’. Cholmondeley was appointed the same day to draft this measure. His support for Country measures also explains his telling, with Kaye, against the motion of 14 June that existing commissioners of public accounts who wished to continue serving should be reappointed. His concern for the Hanoverian succession led him to speak against the Court in the debate of 16 Apr. upon this issue, but his attitude towards the schism bill demonstrates that he had not abandoned his Tory beliefs. When the Commons considered the introduction of this measure on 12 May, Cholmondeley told against a Whig amendment to extend the bill to include Catholics and was then included among those appointed to draft this measure. He told on two more occasions: against an address asking that papers concerned with the demolition of Dunkirk be laid before the House (15 Mar.), and for bringing in a petition for repealing an act of the Irish parliament (12 Apr.). Not surprisingly, given his attitude during the session, he was classed in the Worsley list as a Tory who had often voted with the Whigs in the 1713 Parliament.5
In stark contrast to his unopposed return in 1713, Cholmondeley was abandoned by a number of his Tory supporters in the Cheshire election of 1715. Ostensibly because of the loss of the support of a number of local magnates and a desire to prevent further conflict, a compromise between Whig and Tory interests, to exclude Cholmondeley, had been agreed at the county meeting of August 1714. After much prevarication, and after Peter Legh† had vetoed an offer by John Ward III* to stand aside for him at Newton, Cholmondeley decided to take the issue to a poll. His ‘whimsical’ voting record appears to have counted against him with a number of the county’s Tories, and the perception of his unreliability would not have been lessened by his marriage in the summer of 1714 to the daughter of his fellow ‘whimsical’ Thomas Pitt I*. Despite assurances that he ‘remain[ed] a true friend to the establishm[en]t in Church and State’, Cholmondeley was defeated at the poll in February 1715. He returned to the Commons in 1722, voting consistently with the opposition. As late as 1743 he was included in a list of those who might be expected to support the calling of a free Parliament after a French-supported Stuart restoration. Cholmondeley died on 30 Mar. 1756, when he was succeeded by his son in both his estates and his parliamentary seat.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. G. Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 157–8
- 2. Cheshire Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. xciii), 26–28; Westminster Cathedral Archs. Old Brotherhood mss iii/3/232; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson i. 475; HMC Kenyon, 293; T. S. Willan, Navigation of R. Weaver in 18th Cent. (Chetham Soc. ser. 3, iii.), 11.
- 3. Add. 70332, memo. 4 June 1711; Grosvenor mss at Eaton Hall, pprs. of the 4th Bt., Peter Shakerley* to city of Chester, 2 Dec. 1714; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 98, 108; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 1130; NSA, Kreienberg despatch 16/27 May 1712; Jnl. of Chester and N. Wales Architectural, Arch. and Hist. Soc. ser. 2, xliv. 41–44.
- 4. Szechi, 130; HMC Portland, iv. 551; Chandler, v. 41.
- 5. Szechi, 174; Bull. IHR, xxxix. 64; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, ff. 64, 95.
- 6. Grosvenor mss, pprs. of the 4th Bt., Robert to Sir Richard Grosvenor, 4th Bt.†, 3 June 1714; Bull. John Rylands Lib. lxxvi. 141–7; E. Cruickshanks, Pol. Untouchables, 116.