CALCRAFT, Granby Hales (1802-1855).

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



1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 18 Jan. 1802,1 2nd surv. s. of John Calcraft* (d. 1831) of Rempstone, Dorset and Ingress, Kent and Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Pym Hales, 4th bt.†, of Bekesbourne, Kent; bro. of John Hales Calcraft*. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1820. m. 10 Nov. 1828, the actress Sarah Emma Love, s.p.; sep. 13 Feb. 1830. d. 16 Jan. 1855.

Offices Held

Ensign 28 Ft. 1824, lt. 1826; capt. army 1826; capt. 66 Ft. 1827; capt. 95 Ft. 1828, ret. 1833.

Agent for British Post Office Packet, New York 1847-d.


Like his father and grandfather before him, Calcraft seems to have formed an unfortunate passion for the theatre. While at Oxford, John Stuart Wortley* reported to Henry Fox*, 5 June 1821, that ‘little Calcraft has been great fun lately. There has been a strolling company at Witney of which he made himself manager and one morning went over by himself and had a theatrical fund dinner’.2 He purchased a commission in the army in 1824 and was made an unattached captain in 1826. Having been elected to Brooks’s, 21 Feb. 1825, it may have been he, not his brother John, who carried to Lord Lansdowne a message from the Whig meeting at the club in April 1827 urging him not to break off negotiations for joining the Canning administration.3 However, he may have been out of the country at that time, as he certainly served abroad for a while with his regiment.

It was on his return in 1828 that he became smitten with the actress Emma Love, as she was known, perhaps for her role as Lilla in Cobb’s comic opera The Siege of Belgrade at the Drury Lane Theatre. In November 1828, at St. Pancras church, he contracted a marriage with her, which was kept secret from his father, who he thought would disapprove, and (for a time) from her mother and companion Mrs. Love, who loathed him. He soon wished to overturn this arrangement, by which she continued to live with her mother while they each pursued their careers, especially as she started to receive visits from the 6th earl of Harborough, a former admirer. Calcraft quarrelled with him on one occasion, and she declared that ‘she would rather sweep the corners of the streets than be his mistress, if that was his object’. But in July 1829, when Calcraft was at his barracks in Gosport, Harborough enticed ‘Miss Love’ away from her lodgings in Nottingham, where she was playing, and installed her in a cottage near his house at Stapleford Park, Leicestershire.4 Calcraft started proceedings against her later that year and, as they were uncontested, he was granted a formal separation in the court of arches in February 1830. He brought an action against Harborough in early 1831, but, perhaps because the court judged that Calcraft must have known the type of woman he had to deal with, he received damages of only £100.5 He petitioned the House of Lords to confirm the separation on the ground of his wife’s misconduct, 29 Mar., and evidence was heard on 15 and 19 Apr. 1831.6 However, the bill was lost at the dissolution that month and no Divorce Act was ever obtained.

Calcraft, who canvassed on behalf of his father in the contest for Dorset and helped lead a party of his pro-reform supporters to the hustings in Dorchester, was elected in his place for the family seat of Wareham at the general election of 1831.7 He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, in every division against adjourning proceedings on it, 12 July 1831, and steadily for its details.8 He presented the petition from Wareham for its retaining one seat, 25 July, but the next day he conceded that, although the borough was prosperous and almost viable in terms of population, it could not be saved from schedule A. He voted for swearing the original Dublin election committee, 29 July, and against issuing the Liverpool writ, 5 Sept. He divided for the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He voted for the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, to go into committee on it, 20 Jan., again for its details, and for its third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided against the second reading of Hobhouse’s vestry bill, 23 Jan., but for printing the Woollen Grange petition for the abolition of Irish tithes and to omit the reference to Providence in the preamble to the cholera bill, 16 Feb. He voted for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May, and the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May. He divided in the minority for Buxton’s motion for a select committee on colonial slavery, 24 May, and spoke and voted to abolish flogging in the army, 19 June. Arriving late at the debate on adding Corfe Castle to the reprieved constituency of Wareham, 22 June, he opposed the idea because it would give the nomination to the Bankes family, local Tory rivals. His only other known votes were with government for the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July. His elder brother, with whom he differed in politics, had succeeded to the family estates after their father’s suicide in September 1831 and intended the remaining seat at Wareham for himself. In an address of 18 June 1832 Calcraft therefore declined to come forward as a Liberal at the impending general election because of his ‘apprehension of a painful family collision’.9 He left the House at the dissolution later that year and never sat again.

Thereafter he resided at a series of addresses in London and elsewhere, and he may have been the Calcraft who, as lessee of the Theatre Royal, Dublin, brought an action against a rival establishment in January 1836. He became insolvent in 1839, but successfully petitioned for release from the Fleet prison late that year.10 A member of the Garrick Club, he served as the model for Granby Tiptoff, an habitué of the theatre, in Thackeray’s Pendennis.11 Through a connection with the marquess of Clanricarde, the postmaster-general, he gained a position in New York in 1847. He died there in January 1855 and was buried in Greenwood cemetery. According to his obituarists, ‘the Captain was well known in the city [of New York] and made many friends by the suavity of his demeanour’, although he ‘was, we believe, better known in theatrical circles than on the floor of the House’.12

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. The first Granby Hales Calcraft died soon after birth in 1799: R.D. Ryder, Calcrafts of Rempstone (typescript, 1975) in Dorset RO, Ryder mss D/RWR Z7, pp. 30, 43; Gent. Mag. (1799), ii. 991; (1802), i. 82 (where the child is erroneously called a daughter).
  • 2. Add. 52011.
  • 3. Creevey Pprs. ii. 114; A. Mitchell, Whigs in Opposition, 199.
  • 4. LJ, lxiii. 422-9, 463-8.
  • 5. The Times, 24, 26 Nov. 1829, 15 Feb. 1830, 12 Feb. 1831.
  • 6. LJ, lxiii. 395, 422, 463.
  • 7. Dorset Co. Chron. 5 May; The Times, 5, 7, 9 May 1831.
  • 8. The Times, 18 July 1831.
  • 9. Salisbury Jnl. 28 June 1832.
  • 10. The Times, 22 Jan. 1836, 22 Nov.; London Gazette, 30 Aug., 29 Oct. 1839.
  • 11. R.H. Barham, Garrick Club, 16-17; W.M. Thackeray, Pendennis (1848-50), ch. xxviii.
  • 12. New York Daily Times, 18 Jan.; Albion (New York), 20 Jan. 1855; Gent. Mag. (1855), ii. 438.