CALLAGHAN, Gerard (c.1787-1833), of Sidney House, Cork.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1818 - 1820
9 July 1829 - 3 Mar. 1830

Family and Education

b. c.1787, 3rd s. of Daniel Callaghan of Sidney House by Mary Barry of ‘Donalee’. m. 7 Oct. 1818, Louisa Margaretta, da. of John Calvert Clarke of Teddington, Mdx., issue.

Offices Held


Callaghan’s father was a successful merchant and shipowner of Cork, who in 1813 invested in an estate of 2,000 acres in Limerick. On 5 and 6 Apr. 1813, Gerard Callaghan gave evidence on the Irish corn trade to the select committee of the House. His father was a Roman Catholic, but he must have formally renounced the faith as he came in for Lord Roden’s borough of Dundalk in 1818, as a supporter of government and of Catholic relief. The chief secretary wrote him off as the ‘Papist of Cork’.1

After the debate on the resumption of cash payments, 2 Feb. 1819, Callaghan returned home, so he informed Canning two days later, ‘so little instructed on the general bearings of that great question, that I determined, in preference to delivering my sentiments at length upon so dry a subject in the House, to address them to you in the form of a letter’. This was Callaghan’s first and not his only appearance in print upon a public subject. In it, he came out in favour of resumption and advised against further delay.2 On 6 Apr. he said a few words to that effect in debate. The same day he blamed Ireland’s diseases on overpopulation.

Callaghan appeared in the government majority on the case of Windham Quin*, 29 Mar. 1819, but voted for Catholic relief, 3 May, and spoke and voted in the minority for the repeal of the Irish window tax, 5 May. He took part in the debate on the sinking fund, 13 May, calling for a ‘real and effective’, not a ‘nominal’ fund, and objecting to Grenfell’s motion. On 20 May his question about a newspaper report of the impending resumption of cash payments was ruled improper. On 8 June he supported the budget proposals in so far as they promoted a healthy sinking fund. He was in the minority on 14 June on the resumption of cash payments and possibly again on 18 June on the excise duties bill.

When in 1820 Callaghan stood for Cork city, Charles Arbuthnot at the Treasury advised the government against supporting him: ‘He is a friend but not very reputable, being a great stock jobber and always putting questions to Mr Vansittart’.3 He failed at Cork in 1820 and 1826; returned in 1829, he was unseated as a government contractor. He was still obsessed with the sinking fund, but the House did not conceal its boredom.4 He died 25 Feb. 1833.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Parl. Deb. xxv. app. lxxvii; Croker Pprs. ed. Jennings, i. 116.
  • 2. Letters from a new Member of the House of Commons to the Rt. Hon. George Canning on the probable safety in resuming cash payments, 1819 (BL 08218 bb 32(6)).
  • 3. Add. 38458, ff. 288, 308.
  • 4. Parl. Deb. (n.s.), xxii. 436.