CALVERT, Charles (1768-1832), of Ockley Court, Surr. and Kneller Hall, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 30 Aug. 1768, 3rd s. of Felix Calvert, brewer, of Thames Street, Southwark, Surr. and Hunsdon House, Herts. by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Robert Ladbroke† of Idlicote, Warws; bro. of Nicolson Calvert*. educ. Tonbridge 1773-5; Harrow 1776-80. m. 31 Mar. 1823, Jane, da. of Sir Wiiliam Rowley, 5th Bt., of Tendring Hall, Suff., 5s. 2da.
Calvert inherited a half share in his father’s brewery in 1802 and was active in its management. In 1807 he contested Southwark on the interest abandoned by George Tierney after his defeat in 1806. He was unsuccessful, but did well enough to try again in 1812. This time he was at the top of the poll, receiving 2,180 votes from 2,740 electors, and he headed the poll until his temporary defeat in 1830.
Described to Lord Grey on his first return as ‘your personal supporter’,1 Calvert was a steady adherent of the Whig opposition. (On 11 Apr. 1815 he joined Brooks’s Club, sponsored by Grey.) He supported Catholic relief throughout his first Parliament, except on 21 May 1816. He was a staunch opponent of agricultural protection 1814-15, dividing the House against it on 1 Mar. 1815, and presenting petitions against it from his constituents on 3 and 6 Mar. He voted against ministers on the blockade of Norway, 12 May 1814, the transfer of Genoa, 21 Feb. and 27 Apr. 1815, and opposed the resumption of hostilities with Buonaparte. On 9 Feb. 1816 he voted against continental alliances. He steadily favoured retrenchment from 1815, presenting two petitions from his constituency and one London ward petition against the property tax, 1 and 4 Mar. 1816. He also testified to the near unanimity of the Surrey meeting against it, 14 Mar. He stated the trade objections to the wartime malt tax, 1 and 8 Apr., but failed to thwart a clause in the malt bill, 10 May.
On the refusal of the City Members to do so, Calvert presented the London livery petition for reform and retrenchment, 7 Feb. 1817, denying that he favoured annual Parliaments and universal suffrage, but insisting that ‘some reform was unquestionably necessary’. (He admitted, without specification, that he had been one of six electors who returned two Members to Parliament, each paying £4,500 for his seat.) On 25 Feb. he presented his constituents’ petition to the same effect. In March he was a subscriber to the proposed Whig evening paper.2 He had opposed the suspension of habeas corpus, 28 Feb., and was able to assure the House on 3 Mar. that Southwark had unanimously deplored the bill that day. In June he took the same line. He supported inquiry into the state of trade and manufactures, 13 Mar. 1817, and opposed public lotteries, 19 May. He supported Burdett’s motion for parliamentary reform, 20 May 1817, and the repeal of the Septennial Act, 19 May 1818; in the ensuing Parliament he supported burgh reform and the extension of the franchise at Penryn, but not Burdett’s reform motion. He complained of the exactions of income tax assessors in some districts of Middlesex, 4 Mar. 1818. On 13 Mar. he was a spokesman for the principal London brewers, treated as ‘a pack of extortioners’ in a petition got up by a disappointed competitor of theirs.
Calvert signed the requisition to Tierney to lead the Whig opposition in 1818 and voted steadily with them again in that Parliament. He paired in favour of criminal law review, 2 Mar. 1819, and voted for inquiry into the abuse of charitable foundations, 23 June. He protested against the inequality of the coal duties, on his constituents’ petition, 2 Feb., 4 Mar., and on 9 June complained of the indirect taxes on beer, tobacco and tea as being hard on the poorer classes. The increased price of malt and hops had already raised the price of beer and the additional malt duty would ruin the maltsters, 10 June. On 13 Dec. 1819, presenting the Southwark petition against coercive legislation, he stated that he had not been able to get a word in against the bills until then and urged ‘that a little more allowance ought to be made for the distress of the manufacturers, all of whom ought not to be looked on as radical reformers’. He died of cholera, 8 Sept. 1832.3