CHOLMELEY, Sir Montague, 1st bt. (1772-1831), of Easton Hall and Norton Place, Lincs.
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Family and Educationb. 20 Mar. 1772, 1st s. of Montague Cholmeley of Easton and Sarah, da. of Humphrey Sibthorp, MD, of Canwick. educ. Magdalen, Oxf. 1794. m. (1) 14 Sept. 1801, Elizabeth (d. 22 Nov. 1822), da. and coh. of John Harrison of Norton Place, 3s. 3da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 26 Mar. 1826, Catherine, da. of Benjamin Way of Denham Place, Berks., s.p. suc. fa. 1803; cr. bt. 4 Mar. 1806. d. 10 Mar. 1831.
Sheriff, Lincs. 1805-6.
Cholmeley’s family were a junior branch of the more celebrated Cholmondeleys of Cheshire. Their common ancestor was William de Cholmondely, who died in the early fifteenth century leaving two sons, the younger of whom, John, fathered this line. His great-grandson Sir Henry Cholmeley moved the family to Easton, a few miles from Grantham, at the end of the sixteenth century. In 1642 this Member’s namesake was issued with a warrant for a baronetcy, ‘but the confusion of the times prevented the patent from being made out’. He secured the honour himself during his term as sheriff. His marriage in 1801 brought a settlement of £15,000 and later Norton Place.1
When the Whig James Hughes was unseated from Grantham on petition in July 1820, Cholmeley came forward at the ensuing by-election with the support of his cousin Sir William Earle Welby, a former Member, who headed the local Red interest. On the hustings he endorsed plans for
educating the poor, praised those who had ‘pledged themselves to reform the whole state’, and looked forward to sitting ‘amongst senators and statesmen ... who can stoop to raise the oppressed African from the dust, and unlock his galling chain’. He topped the poll, claiming that the manner of his victory had ‘vindicated your borough from the charges adduced against its freedom’.2
Initially a regular attender, he was described as a supporter of the Liverpool ministry by a radical commentary of 1825, but he sometimes adopted an independent line.3 He took his seat, 25 July 1820. In his maiden speech four days later, he seconded Wetherell’s motion complaining of a breach of privilege by Flindell’s Western Luminary, saying its ‘slanders’ against Queen Caroline threatened the House’s ‘freedom of judgement ... on this most important question’, and called for measures to ‘put down the efforts of the licentious press throughout the country’. He voted in support of ministers’ conduct in the Queen Caroline affair, 6 Feb. He was in the opposition minority on the state of the revenue, 6 Mar., but divided against military reductions, 28 May, and retrenchment, 27 June. He voted against Catholic claims, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 10 May 1825, lifting the restrictions on Catholic peers, 30 Apr. 1822, and the production of papers on Catholic office-holders, 19 Feb. 1824. He was in the ministerial majority against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr. 1821. He denied claims that the recent inquiry into Lincoln Castle gaol had been a mockery, 11 Apr., and divided against disfranchising civil officers of the ordnance next day. On 24 May he obtained leave to introduce a bill to extend the jurisdiction of justices in certain circumstances, but nothing came of it. He voted for the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 4 June. When a petition was presented criticizing the Constitutional Association for prosecuting an obscure publication for libel, 6 June, Cholmeley, a subscriber to the Association, defended its actions, observing that ‘when he first came to town ... he had been greatly shocked in passing through the streets to see offensive placards on the walls and gross caricatures in the shops’, and that the Association ‘was not intended to prosecute libels upon any political party, but generally to put down disloyalty’. Speaking in similar terms on a motion against the Association, he entreated the mover to ‘consider the dreadful effects which these things must produce’, 3 July. He said ‘a few words’ in support of the cruelty to animals bill, 14 June, and suggested that some of the money for the coronation ‘might be raised by voluntary contribution’, 30 June 1821.4
He voted against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., and inquiry into Irish tithes, 19 June 1822. On 14 May 1822 Peel, the home secretary, renewed his permission to ride through Horse Guards on his way to the House.5 He divided against inquiry into voting rights, 20 Feb., and reform of the Scottish representation, 2 June, but was in the minority to reduce the grant to colonial agents, 24 Mar. 1823. On 15 Apr. he presented a constituency petition against Catholic claims, warning that if Catholicism was ‘revived’ it would ‘shut up the Bible, erase the liturgy, and disannul, by one piece of Italian parchment ... all the splendid libraries collected in three centuries ... in universities of England, Scotland and Ireland’.6 He voted against inquiry into chancery delays, 5 June 1823. Writing to Peel to decline a dinner invitation on account of ‘important business’ in Lincolnshire, 6 Mar. 1824, he regretted that the proceedings of the Catholic Association in Dublin had assumed such a ‘formidable shape’, predicted that Daniel O’Connell’s* ‘finance committee’ would do ‘much mischief’, and promised to be ‘ready to attend in the House ... whenever the Catholic question is agitated’.7 He divided against condemning the trial of the Methodist missionary John Smith for inciting slave riots in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He voted for suppression of the Catholic Association, 25 Feb. 1825. On 19 Apr. he defended an anti-Catholic petition from Grantham that had been presented by Peel, arguing that an attack on its reliability and respectability was ‘most unjust’ and ‘most unfair’ in Peel’s absence. Next day he wrote to thank Peel for presenting it, assuring him that his sentiments on the ‘inexpediency of Catholic emancipation’ were ‘unaltered’, and saying how much he had ‘admired’ a Commons speech by the Orangeman George Dawson the previous day.8 Speaking in favour of allowing bonded corn on to the market, 2 May, he observed that while merchants were free to move their capital from one investment to another, the landed proprietor was ‘chained down to his native place’ and that ‘if corn fails, if rents fail, how is any man to provide for his family?’ He spoke against giving John McAdam, the road builder, an additional extraordinary grant, 13 May. He divided for the grant to the duke of Cumberland, 30 May 1825. His only known vote of 1826 was in the minority of 40 for inquiry into silk trade petitions, 24 Feb. On 2 May 1826 he announced his intention of standing down at the dissolution.9
He duly retired from Grantham, where he was succeeded, after a contest, by his eldest son Montague John.10 He died at Easton ‘after a painful and consuming illness’ in March 1831.11 By his will, dated 30 Jan. 1830 and proved under £40,000, he left £3,000 and income from his estate at Burton Coggles to his wife, increased his two daughters’ marriage settlements to £9,000 each, and gave his two younger sons similar amounts. The residue and the family estates of Easton Hall and Norton Place passed to Montague John.12 A local obituary recalled that Cholmeley had ‘erected the National School for the education of poor boys at Grantham, and was a very liberal friend to the poor’.13
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Authors: Philip Salmon / Martin Casey
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1831), i. 367; PROB 11/1786/319.
- 2. Grantham Pollbook (Storr, July 1820), passim.; Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 28 July; Drakard’s Stemford News, 28 July 1820.
- 3. Black Bk. (1823), 147; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 456.
- 4. The Times, 15 June, 2 July 1821.
- 5. Add. 40362, f. 78.
- 6. The Times, 16 Apr. 1823.
- 7. Add. 40362, f. 203.
- 8. Add. 40377, f. 5.
- 9. Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 5 May 1826.
- 10. Drakard’s Stamford News, 16 June 1826.
- 11. Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 18 Mar. 1831.
- 12. PROB 11/1786/319; IR26/252/333.
- 13. Boston Gazette, 15 Mar. 1831.