CHAYTOR, William Richard Carter (1805-1871), of Croft, Yorks. and Witton Castle, co. Dur.

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



23 Mar. 1831 - 1834

Family and Education

b. 7 Feb. 1805, 1st s. of Sir William Chaytor†, 1st bt., of Croft and Isabella, da. and coh. of John Carter of Tunstall and Richmond, Yorks. educ. by Rev. John Graham (York) 1816-22; Magdalen, Oxf. 1825. m. (1) 27 Sept. 1836, Annie Lacy (d. 11 Sept. 1837) of Easingwold, Suff., 1s.; (2) 16 Mar. 1852, Mary, da. of John Whitney Smith of Northallerton, Yorks., 3s. suc. fa. as 2nd. bt. 28 Jan. 1847; mother to Tunstall 1855. d. 9 Feb. 1871.

Offices Held


The prestigious Croft estate, on the Yorkshire bank of the River Tees near Darlington, had been acquired by Christopher Chaytor (b. 1494) of Butterby, county Durham, as the husband of the heiress of Clervaux, and devolved in 1720, without the attendant baronetcy, on Chaytor’s great-grandfather Henry Chaytor (1689-1774) of Spennithorne in the North Riding. In 1816 the 2,383-acre Witton Castle estate and coalfield were added to it at a cost of £78,000 by Chaytor’s father ‘Tattie Willie’ (1771-1847), the developer of Croft Spa and the nearby lead mines, who became a coronation baronet in 1831 and represented Sunderland as a Liberal, 1832-4. He was also the inspiration behind Thackeray’s character Sir Pitt Crawley.1

Chaytor was initially intended for the law like his father and paternal grandfather William Chaytor (1732-1819), a government supporter as Member for Penryn, 1774-80, and Hedon, 1780-90. The Suffolk educationist Salmon, however, turned him down as a pupil in 1814, and he was expelled by his tutor Graham in December 1821 for misbehaviour and fostering disobedience among his fellow pupils.2 His father’s school friend Dr. Edward Ellerton, who (as bursar) admitted him to Magdalen College at the late age of 20, praised his ‘good sense and manly firmness in avoiding unnecessary expense and resisting ... mischievous practices and improper pursuits’ at Oxford, but also welcomed the decision to send him on a continental tour in November 1827 instead of taking a degree, because he found study ‘dry, and our manner of life too sedentary for his constitution’.3 His hopes of marrying the army agent Thomas Greenwood’s daughter Elizabeth foundered in 1828 when his father declined to negotiate a settlement, having informed Greenwood that although Chaytor’s Tunstall inheritance, worth about £10,000, was assured (being by right of his mother), any further succession was undecided, there being ‘six other children which I think it my duty to provide for if they behave themselves’.4 Chaytor canvassed for his father at the June 1828 Durham by-election, when he relinquished his attempt to unseat the secretary at war, Lord Londonderry’s brother-in-law Sir Henry Hardinge.5 He also assisted him in running Tunstall and as a founding partner in 1829 of the Sunderland bank of Chaytor, Frankland and Company, for whom he proved to be a popular head of the Sunderland branch. He rallied the Liverpool and Manchester out-voters when his father came a close third at Durham at the general election of 1830 and, to deter petitioning, he was substituted for him there on counsel’s advice at the by-election of March 1831.6 Advocating reform and support for Lord Grey’s government, he defeated Londonderry’s nominee, the anti-reformer Arthur Hill Trevor*, after a seven-day poll.7 He made no reported speeches before the dissolution precipitated by the reform bill’s defeat on Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr., which, according to a letter of 21 Apr. to The Times from the Sunderland banker and merchant Robert Duncombe Shafto of Whitworth, he voted against.8 A scheme to substitute his father for him at the ensuing general election was abandoned and he was returned with Trevor at considerable expense, after a poll was narrowly avoided.9

Chaytor acted as his father’s man of business and made no major parliamentary speeches. He voted for the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July 1831, and steadily in committee, where his wayward vote against denying the franchise to weekly tenants and lodgers, 25 Aug., was attuned to his Durham interests.10 He spoke for the separate enfranchisement of Gateshead, 5 Aug., divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish reform bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He defended the ministry and the bill at the Durham county meeting, 31 Oct.11 He voted for the revised reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, consistently for its details and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He was absent from the division on the address requesting the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May. He voted for the Irish reform bill at its second reading, 25 May, and against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish measure, 1 June 1832. He divided with government on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. 1831 and the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan. 1832.

Reflecting constituency opinion, Chaytor presented and endorsed petitions for Sadler’s scheme to tax absentee landlords for the benefit of the Irish poor, 29 Aug., and voted against the quarantine duties, 6 Sept. 1831. He presented petitions and joined in the clamour against the locally contentious general register bill, 27 Jan., and voted against the government’s Irish registry of deeds bill, 9 Apr. 1832. Attending to commercial issues, he presented the report and took charge with the reformer Sir Hedworth Williamson of the Clarence railway bill, 16 Feb., and was a minority teller against the South Shields and Monkwearmouth railway bill, 26 Mar. He promoted the Hartlepool harbour and docks bill, for which his father was the banker, 13, 30 Mar., 11 Apr., and assisted him and their agent Joseph John Wright with the Sunderland (South Side) docks bill, whose defeat in the select committee that he chaired, 2 Apr. 1832, was engineered by Williamson as promoter of the rival Sunderland (North Side) docks scheme.12

Chaytor narrowly defeated Hill Trevor to come in for Durham as a Liberal at the general election of 1832, when he infuriated his agents and compromised his return by endorsing a second Liberal.13 Neglectful of his parliamentary duties and now rarely sober, he transferred his Durham interest to Lord Durham in 1835 and did not seek re-election.14 His father ‘cut him off’ in 1836 for marrying ‘beneath him’, and they remained estranged after his wife died in childbirth the following year. In 1847 he succeeded his father in the baronetcy and to the heavily encumbered Croft estate with its new built castle of Clervaux. The projected sale of Witton Castle to the fraudster Donald Maclean† had been compromised at great financial cost and legislation (Chaytor’s Estate Act, 16 & 17 Vict. c. 28) was passed to facilitate its administration.15 Chaytor died at Scrafton Lodge, his North Riding home near Middleham, in February 1871, survived by his second wife, their three sons and the son of his first marriage William Chaytor (1837-96), on whom the baronetcy and entailed estates devolved. His will, which provided mainly for his second family, was executed by his brother Henry (1812-96), who had bought out his siblings and father’s creditors to gain possession of Witton, which (being childless) he settled on his nephew William and his heirs.16


Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


Draws on Pprs. of Sir William Chaytor, 1771-1847 ed. M.Y. Ashcroft (N. Yorks. CRO Publications, l (1993 edn.)) [hereafter Chaytor Pprs.].

  • 1. VCH Yorks. ii. 373; VCH Yorks. N. Riding, i. 165; E.W. Bovill, England of Nimrod and Surtees, 138; H.C. Surtees, Hist. Witton-le-Wear, 24-25; A.J. Heesom, Durham City and its MPs, 1678-1992, p. 24.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1754-90, ii. 210; Chaytor Pprs. 13, 50.
  • 3. Chaytor Pprs. 89, 108-9.
  • 4. Ibid. 126-7.
  • 5. Durham Co. Advertiser, 14 June 1828.
  • 6. Durham Chron. 5 June, 3 July, 10 Aug. 1830; Grey mss, W. Chaytor to Grey, 12 Mar. 1831.
  • 7. The Times, 23 Mar.; Durham Chron. 2, 9 Apr.; Grey mss, Howick to C. Grey, 4 Apr. 1831.
  • 8. The Times, 22 Apr. 1831.
  • 9. Ibid. 26, 27 Apr., 4 May; Durham Chron. 30 Apr., 7 May 1831.
  • 10. The Times, 21 July 1831.
  • 11. Tyne Mercury, 1 Nov. 1831; J. Sykes, Local Recs. ii. 333-4.
  • 12. Durham Chron. 16, 30 Mar., 6, 13, 20 Apr. 1832.
  • 13. Chaytor Pprs. 161-82; Durham Chron. 4 May, 1 June; John Bull, 24 June; The Times, 15 Dec. 1832.
  • 14. Durham Advertiser, 8 Mar. 1834.
  • 15. Gent. Mag. (1847), i. 544-5.
  • 16. The Times, 23 Feb. 1871.