CARR, William (1664-1720), of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 8 Dec. 1664, 2nd s. of William Carr, merchant, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, by Mary.  educ. Univ. Coll. Oxf. matric. 1683; Lincoln’s Inn, 1692.  m. Elizabeth, 1s.1

Offices Held

Member, Eastland co. 1687; member, hostmen’s co. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1689, gov. 1690; member merchant adventurers’ co. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1699.2

Alderman, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Nov. 1688–d., mayor, 1689–90, 1702–3, 1705–6.3

Commr. of excise 1698–1700, 1714–d.4


Carr owed his parliamentary career to his family’s position among the mercantile, coal-owning elite which dominated the corporation of Newcastle. He was created an alderman when Newcastle’s charter was restored in late 1688, and his standing within the borough was confirmed the following year when he was appointed mayor. His swift rise through the corporation ranks was illustrated in 1690 when he was returned unopposed for Newcastle with his uncle Sir Ralph Carr, and in March he was listed by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a Tory and Court supporter. An inconspicuous Member of the 1690 Parliament, he was listed by Carmarthen in December 1690 as one of his likely supporters against the attack anticipated in the Commons, while in April the following year Robert Harley* classed Carr as a possible, though not certain, supporter of the Country party. Grascome’s analysis of the Commons dating from spring 1693 categorized him as a Court supporter. Returned unopposed for Newcastle in 1695, Carr was apparently hostile to the ministry in the 1695–6 session, as he was forecast as likely to oppose the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 upon the council of trade and in March voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. That he was not an extremist, however, is evident from his prompt signing of the Association, and in the following session he absented himself from the division of 25 Nov. on the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. His contribution to the business of the 1695 Parliament appears to have been slight. On 8 Dec. 1696 he was nominated to draft a bill to settle rents on coal wharves in the north-east, and his one recorded speech of the Parliament came on 18 Mar. 1697 when he successfully opposed a petition calling on him to waive his privilege in a suit concerning the possession of a Northumberland colliery. The summer of 1698 clearly demonstrated that Carr had abandoned his previous opposition to the ministry as in July he was appointed to the excise commission, with a salary of £800 p.a., but this change of political tack appears to have been no obstacle to his return for Newcastle in the 1698 election. Included in September 1698 upon a list of placemen and classed in a comparison of the old and new Commons as a Court supporter, Carr demonstrated his loyalty to the ministry on 18 Jan. 1699 by voting against the disbanding bill. His contribution to parliamentary business remained small, his only significant act being to tell on 2 May 1700 against allowing the import of cowries from Holland into London and other ports. An analysis of the House dating from between January and May 1700 listed Carr as in the influence of the independent Whig peer Lord Warrington, a classification perhaps explicable in terms of the relationship between Warrington and Carr’s fellow Newcastle Member Sir William Blackett, 1st Bt. In June the same year Carr resigned his place in the excise, which had become incompatible with a seat in the Commons, and the failure to include Carr among the placemen listed in the analysis of the Commons from early 1700 may suggest that he had indicated his intentions in this matter some time before actually tendering his resignation. Returned for Newcastle in January 1701, Carr was listed in February among those thought likely to support the Court in agreeing with the committee of supply’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. His most significant activity in the 1701–2 Parliament was his involvement in preparing a bill to safeguard Newcastle’s water supply, being nominated to its drafting committee on 25 Feb. 1702.5

Carr was re-elected for Newcastle to the first three Parliaments of Queen Anne’s reign. On 13 Feb. 1703 he voted for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill enlarging the time for taking the abjuration, the first indication that, as well as supporting the Court, he had embraced Whiggery. In the 1704–5 session he was forecast as likely to oppose the Tack and on 28 Nov. either voted against it or was absent from the division. Despite his failure to support the Tack, he was listed as a ‘Churchman’ in an analysis of the 1705 Parliament. On 25 Oct. 1705 he voted for the Court candidate for Speaker. After being nominated to draft an estate bill (6, 21 Dec.) and a bill to constitute Newcastle’s mayor as governor of the town’s keelmen’s hospital (16 Jan. 1706), he was one of the Whigs absent from the Court side in the division of 18 Feb. upon the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill. Carr was included among those named on 27 Feb. 1707 to draft a bill to equalize English and Scottish export allowances, and a list of the Commons dating from early 1708 classed him as a Whig. The veracity of this judgment was borne out in the 1708 Parliament when he supported the naturalization of the Palatines, and the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.6

Carr was opposed by two Tory candidates at Newcastle in 1710. His vote against Sacheverell had undermined his electoral interest and he was defeated. Despite suggestions in September 1712 that he was plotting to regain his seat he never stood again, but did not retire from public life. Following the Hanoverian succession he was restored to the excise commission and during the Fifteen was active in the government interest. A contemporary detailed the claims Carr was making for his efforts:

He talks much of his indefatigable pains, such as his lying whole nights at the gates of the town ready to receive expresses as they came from this town [London], and giving despatches to the scouts he sent out whenever they returned, with much more of this nature to ingratiate himself. This a friend of ours had from a friend who heard it told to the Prince himself.

Carr retained his post in the excise until his death on 4 June 1720. He was succeeded by his infant son. The following year Carr’s widow petitioned the Treasury for financial relief, claiming that her husband’s actions at the Revolution, his maintaining an interest at Newcastle, his exertions during the Fifteen and his resignation in 1700 had meant that ‘his fortune . . . was so reduced that he had sold part of his estate’. She requested ‘royal compassion for herself and infant son’, and in November 1721 a warrant was ordered to pay her £200 p.a.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison


  • 1. IGI, Northumb.; Surtees, Durham, i.209; Arch. Ael. ser. 3, xii. 5; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1720–8, p. 91.
  • 2. Newcastle Merchant Adventurers (Surtees Soc. ci), 319; Newcastle Hostmen’s Co. (Surtees Soc. cv), 263, 273.
  • 3. North Country Diaries (Surtees Soc. cxxiv), 188; H. Bourne, Hist. Newcastle, 244.
  • 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xiii. 393; xv. 96; xxix. 149, 835; Boyer, Pol. State, xix. 669.
  • 5. North Country Diaries, 188; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/059/7, Robert Yard* to Alexander Stanhope, 26 July 1698; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 410; Northants RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss 48/82, James Vernon I* to Duke of Shrewsbury, 15 June 1700; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 92–93.
  • 6. Party and Management ed. Jones, 80.
  • 7. Add. 70297, George Flint to [Ld. Oxford], 13 Sept. 1712; Liddell-Cotesworth Letters (Surtees Soc. cxcvii), 201, 208; Boyer, 669; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1720–8, p. 91.