O'CALLAGHAN, James (1743-1836), of Heighington, nr. Darlington, co. Dur

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1806 - 1812
1818 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 17 Oct. 1743,1 2nd s. of Thomas O’Callaghan of Shanbally, co. Tipperary and 1st w. Sarah, da. of John Davies of Carrickfergus, co. Antrim. m. (1) Hannah (d. 31 Mar. 1817, aged 50),2 s.p.; (2) 29 Sept. 1827, Margaret, da. of Capt. James Simpson of Barnard Castle, co. Dur.,3 s.p. d. 14 Feb. 1836.

Offices Held

Ensign 63 Ft. 1772, lt. 1775; capt. 10 Ft. 1778; capt. (half-pay) 88 Ft. 1783, ret. 1796.

Capt. co. Dur. supp. militia 1797; maj. co. Dur. militia 1805, lt.-col. 1805-16.


O’Callaghan, whose elder brother Cornelius had been created Baron Lismore in the Irish peerage in 1785, was a soldier who had fought at Bunker Hill and later served in the West Indies.4 He was put up again for Tregony in 1820, at the age of 76, by his Durham neighbour the 3rd earl of Darlington, and he and the latter’s son were returned after a contest; they survived a subsequent petition.5 He was a silent Member who continued to vote regularly with the Whig opposition to Lord Liverpool’s ministry, particularly on economy and tax cutting motions. He divided for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 21 Apr., 10 May 1825, and parliamentary reform, 18 Apr., 9 May 1821, 20 Feb., 25 Apr. 1822, 24 Apr., 2 June 1823. He was granted three weeks’ leave to attend to urgent private business, 9 Mar. 1821, and another three weeks on account of ill health, 19 Feb. 1823. Old age eventually interfered with his parliamentary attendance, and his only recorded votes in the 1824 session were for inquiry into the state of Ireland, 11 May, and proper use of Irish first fruits revenues, 25 May. He was allowed a month’s leave owing to ‘domestic affliction’, 21 Feb. 1825. His last known vote was for repeal of the window tax, 17 May 1825. He retired at the dissolution the following year.

He married for a second time at the age of 83, and died in February 1836. One local newspaper accorded him this flowery tribute:

He has for many years resided at Heighington, surrounded by a social and highly respectable society to which he was much attached, and by which he was greatly beloved. His conduct throughout his life was marked by the noble sentiments of a soldier, the courtesy and hospitality of a gentleman, and, above all, the real traits of a Christian. Few men have died more lamented, and none more deservedly. Long after his sepulchred remains, shrouded in general respect, shall have mouldered to the earth her due, will his memory survive embalmed in the public breast.6

He left all his property to his wife; his personalty was sworn under a meagre £600.7

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Lodge, Peerage of Ireland, vii. 245.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1817), i. 378.
  • 3. Ibid. (1827), ii. 365.
  • 4. Newcastle Jnl. 20 Feb. 1836.
  • 5. West Briton, 3, 10 Mar. 1820; Lincs. AO, Tennyson D’Eyncourt mss T d’E H108/34.
  • 6. Durham Chron. 19 Feb. 1836.
  • 7. PROB 8/229; 11/1866/503.