GRAHAM, Sir James, 1st bt. (1753-1825), of Kirkstall, nr. Leeds, Yorks. and Edmond Castle, nr. Carlisle, Cumb.

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



1802 - 10 July 1805
9 Aug. 1805 - 1806
1806 - 1812
1812 - 21 Mar. 1825

Family and Education

b. 18 Nov. 1753, 2nd s. of Thomas Graham (d. 1807) of Edmond Castle and 2nd w. Margaret, da. of Thomas Coulthard of Scotby, Cumb. educ. L. Inn 1780. m. 17 June 1781, Anne, da. of Rev. Thomas Moore of Kirkstall, 2s. 3da. suc. to Kirkstall in right of his w. on d. of her only bro. Thomas 1784; cr. bt. 3 Oct. 1808. d. 21 Mar. 1825.

Offices Held

Recorder, Appleby 1812-d.

Dir. Westminster Life Insurance Co. 1813.

Vol. London and Westminster light horse 1794-1802.


Graham, a successful and well-connected London lawyer, had been brought in for the Lowther borough of Cockermouth in 1802, transferring in 1812 to his home city of Carlisle, where he was invariably treated as a Lowther nominee despite his largesse and local influence. He had purchased alternative interests at Ludgershall, represented by his Whig son and heir Sandford Graham*, and Weymouth, which in 1817 had returned his son-in-law and political ally Augustus John Dalrymple*.1 Although opposed at Carlisle at the general election of 1820, Graham’s return on the Tory (Yellow) interest was never in doubt, and he topped the poll in a violent three-man contest.2 As in 1818, he could not dictate the outcome of the election at Weymouth, and his support for the Lowthers in Cumberland and Westmorland was a factor in Dalrymple’s return for their Appleby seat.3

Graham spoke and voted sparingly on party issues after 1820. He sat on numerous select committees as hitherto and attended closely to issues affecting his high society associates, Carlisle constituents, Yorkshire estates and the metropolis. He presented Matthias Attwood* and William Thompson’s* successful petition alleging an invalid return for Callington, 1 May 1820.4 He opposed the Cork harbour bill, 12 June, backed a clause exempting the Aire and Calder Navigation Company from poor rate charges, 13 June, and spoke briefly against the extra post bill, 13 July.5 On 10 July he argued in vain against issuing a warrant for the detention of Sir William Manners†, on whose interest he had unsuccessfully contested Ilchester in 1802. He secured a second reading for Lord Exmouth’s son Captain Pownall Pellew’s* divorce bill, 14 July 1820.6 Summoned by the Lowthers, he voted in defence of the Liverpool government’s conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb., having paired against inserting her name in the liturgy, 26 Jan. 1821.7 He divided against Catholic relief at their request, 28 Feb.8 He presented an agricultural distress petition that day from Buckinghamshire and one from Carlisle, which he endorsed, for leave to build and appoint clergy to new churches, 13 Mar.9 He attempted to justify the Carlisle magistrates’ decision to call in the military at the 1820 by-election, 15 Mar., and was appointed on the 30th to the select committee on privileges to which it had been referred. His motion to kill the Blackfriars Bridge bill was carried by the Speaker’s casting vote, 3 Apr., but one for hearing counsel against the metropolitan roads bill failed, 11 Apr.10 Next day he opposed further inquiry into the Lyme Regis franchise as a speaker and majority teller with Lord Lowther, 12 Apr. He presented and endorsed petitions from St. Marylebone backing the metropolitan magistrates bill, 1 May, and Scarlett’s poor bill, 24 May, from Whitehaven for a reduction in the coastwise coal duty, 30 May, and from Peckham for legislation to prevent cruelty to animals, 20 June.11 He was a majority teller for the wharf buildings bill, 28 May. He testified to Carlisle’s strong support for Curwen’s proposal to repeal the tax on husbandry horses, 8 June.12 He defended the ministry’s decision to include arrears in the duke of Clarence’s award, 18 June. His wife, in whose right he held the Kirkstall estate, died on 28 Aug. 1821.

Graham promoted the contentious Highgate chapel bill, 26 June, 5 July, presented petitions against the beer bill, 18 July, and was a majority teller for the Orphans’ Fund bill, 22 July 1822, but cast no reported votes that session.13 He presented and endorsed petitions from London and Carlisle against the coastwise coal duties, 27 Mar., for repeal of the Insolvent Debtors Act, 11 Apr., and for the abolition of West Indian slavery, 12 May, and was a minority teller with Lord Chandos for amending the Kettering road bill, 2 May 1823.14 After apparently failing to vote on the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 24 Mar., 22 Apr., he deferred to ministers during the inquiry and abandoned his proposed adjournment motion, 23 May.15 Poor health caused him to spend the recess with Sandford at Short Grove, near Saffron Walden, and in November 1823 he arranged to transfer half his canal shares to Dalrymple for £5,000.16 Returning late to London for the 1824 session on account of illness,17 Graham presented petitions from Carlisle and elsewhere for abolishing colonial slavery, 16, 23 Mar., equalization of the spirit duties, 19 Mar., and removal of the prohibition on wool exports, 26 Mar., and against the hides bill, 17 May.18 Attending to his private concerns, he condemned the Hammersmith road bill as useless and unnecessary, 13 Apr., opposed the Islington improvement bill as minority teller in both divisions, 25 May, and spoke and was a majority teller against hearing counsel on the Equitable Loan Society bill, 25, 26 May 1824.19 Poor health precluded further parliamentary attendance and he died at his residence in Portland Place in March 1825.20 His will, dated 4 July 1822, was proved on 25 May 1825 under £45,000, adjusted to £40,000 in the province of Canterbury and £9,000 in York. It confirmed and extended the provisions he had made in 1807 for his children and provided small bequests for his nephews and servants. He was succeeded in the baronetcy and to the Ludgershall estates by Sandford, and left his daughter Anne his shares in the Equitable Loan Insurance Company and the Westminster Life Insurance Company.21

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 31 July 1827, 25 Oct. 1829; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 91-94; iv. 48-50.
  • 2. Lonsdale mss, Hodgson to Lonsdale, 6 Feb.; Brougham mss, Pearson to Brougham, 7 Feb. 1820.
  • 3. Castle Howard mss, Morpeth to wife, 7 Mar. 1820; Northumb. RO, Middleton mss ZM1/S76/34/2-7; 35/5.
  • 4. The Times, 2 May 1820.
  • 5. Ibid. 14 July 1820.
  • 6. Ibid. 15 July 1820.
  • 7. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 27 Jan. 1821.
  • 8. Ibid. same to same, 23 Feb. 1821.
  • 9. The Times, 1, 14 Mar. 1821.
  • 10. Ibid. 4, 12 Apr. 1821.
  • 11. Ibid. 2, 25, 31 May, 21 June 1821.
  • 12. Ibid. 9 June 1821.
  • 13. Ibid. 27 June, 6, 18, 23 July 1822.
  • 14. Ibid. 12 Apr., 13 May 1823.
  • 15. Ibid. 24 May 1823.
  • 16. Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Hodgson mss D/Hod/2/25, Graham to Hodgson, 25 June, 18 Nov. 1823.
  • 17. Add. 51562, Brougham to Holland [1 Mar. 1824].
  • 18. The Times, 17, 20, 24, 27 Mar., 18 May. 1824.
  • 19. Ibid. 26, 27 May 1824.
  • 20. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 21, 22 Mar. 1825.
  • 21. PROB 11/1699/259; IR26/1041/301.