CHOLMLEY, Nathaniel (1721-91), of Howsham, and Whitby, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



11 Dec. 1756 - 1768
1768 - 1774

Family and Education

b. 15 Nov. 1721, 1st surv. s. of Hugh Cholmley, M.P., by Catherine, da. of Sir John Wentworth, 1st Bt., of North Elmsall and Brodsworth, Yorks. educ. poss. Eton.1 m. (1) 13 June 1750, Catherine (d. 9 Apr. 1755), da. of Sir Rowland Winn, 4th Bt., of Nostell, Yorks., 2da.; (2) 10 Sept. 1757, Henrietta Catherine (d. 22 Nov. 1769), da. of Stephen Croft of Stillington, Yorks., 1s. 2da.; (3) 22 Aug. 1774, Anne Jesse, da. of Leonard Smelt of Langton, Yorks., s.p. suc. fa. 1755.

Offices Held


When Pitt took office in November 1756 Newcastle, in search of a candidate at Aldborough, turned to Rockingham for advice. Rockingham first recommended Sir Rowland Winn, 4th Bt., who refused, and next Cholmley, Winn’s son-in-law, whom he vouched for as ‘a staunch and disinterested friend’.2 Cholmley naturally followed Newcastle and Rockingham in politics: he voted against the peace preliminaries on 1, 9 and 10 Dec. 1762, and against general warrants, 6, 15 and 18 Feb. 1764; for the reduction of the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, and for the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768.

In 1768 Aldborough and Boroughbridge were the only boroughs on which Newcastle could absolutely depend to return his candidates; he seems to have preferred not to choose Cholmley again, but did not wish to offend Rockingham. In a list of candidates, dated 19 Dec. 1767, he put a query opposite Cholmley’s name;3 and wrote to Rockingham on 22 Dec.:4

You know I choose four Members at my own boroughs. Honest West5 I am engaged to, and to your Lordship, and to you only, and for your own reasons, to Cholmley.

Cholmley voted with the Opposition, 1768-74, and as a supporter of parliamentary reform, regularly voted for Sawbridge’s motion for shorter Parliaments.6 During this Parliament several speeches of his are reported, principally in opposition to the royal marriage bill, March 1772, and on the Selby canal bill, March-April 1773. At the general election of 1774 he stood little chance of remaining in Parliament: Henry, 2nd Duke of Newcastle supported Administration and would obviously not re-elect Cholmley, and his standing in the Rockingham party was not sufficient to procure him a seat. But he seems to have left Parliament without regret. In December 1779, apparently influenced by his father-in-law, Leonard Smelt, he opposed the petitioning movement: ‘I do not think this is the proper time, when the nation is so engaged and has so many difficulties’, he wrote to Wyvill, 5 Dec.; and anyway, he declared at the meeting on 30 Dec., he ‘had sat far too long in the House to think that a petition would be productive of any good effect’.7 In 1783 Mrs. Montagu visited the ‘Elysian fields’ of Howsham; here is the account she gave of Cholmley and his wife:8

Mr. and Mrs. Cholmley wish not for any power but the power of doing good, nor contend for any superiority but that which transcendent virtue gives; and all they covet is to make those around them happy. They have built a village very near their house, and fitted up and furnished the houses with all the decent comforts humble life requires, and these habitations are bestowed on their old or married servants who are obliged to retire. The children of the latter are taught to read, write, cast accounts, sew, knit, spin, etc., at a school established by Mr. Cholmley, and well regulated and frequently inspected by Mrs. Cholmley. If in the golden age villages were built and inhabited, I dare say in their modes and their manners they resembled the village at Howsham in every respect.

Cholmley died 11 Mar. 1791.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Etoniana, no. 65, p. 232.
  • 2. Rockingham to Newcastle [2 Dec. 1756], Add. 32869, ff. 217-18.
  • 3. Add. 32987, ff. 341-2.
  • 4. Ibid. ff. 397-8.
  • 5. James West sen. (q.v.).
  • 6. Wyvill Pprs. iii. 130.
  • 7. Ibid. i. 11.
  • 8. Mrs. Montagu to the Dowager Duchess of Portland, 22 Nov. 1783, HMC Bath, i. 349.