BANKS, Caleb (1659-96), of Aylesford, Kent
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Family and Education
b. 18 Sept. 1659, 1st s. of Sir John Banks, 1st Bt.* educ. privately; Queens’, Camb. 1675; G. Inn 1675; travelled abroad (France) 1677–9. m. Elizabeth, da. of Samuel Fortrey, clerk of the Ordnance, of Salesbury Court, London and Chatteris, Cambs., s.p.1
Freeman, Maidstone 1681; asst. Rochester bridge 1693–d.2
Cttee. E.I. Co. 1683–4.3
Despite a thorough education, complete with French tutor, a spell residing with Samuel Pepys, ‘to wean him from home’, and a French tour in the company of John Locke, Banks was destined to remain in his father’s shadow. In part this must have been a question of finance, since he was dependent upon an allowance of about £700 p.a.; in part a matter of personality, for he was described by his father in 1677 as in need of encouragement ‘to appear and converse with others’. As he was the heir to a fortune, Banks’s place in local society was secure: indeed, he served as a militia captain from 1683 to 1688 and again after the Revolution when he also became a j.p. and deputy-lieutenant. However, while his father remained active he himself could not aspire to an independent role in politics. Having sat in James II’s Parliament Banks joined the opposition to the King, being one of the officers in whose custody James was held at Faversham. He sat for Maidstone in the Convention of 1689 but lost his seat at the 1690 election. Efforts to intrude him at Rye also failed, where he was recommended to the corporation as ‘one that is heir to a plentiful fortune and that my Lord Nottingham [Daniel Finch†] hath a particular respect for’, so that Banks had to wait until a vacancy occurred at Rochester in 1691 before being able to return to the Commons.4
Back in the House, Banks made little impact. Samuel Grascome listed him as a placeman between 1693 and 1695, justifying his inclusion with the comment that both father and son were ‘tally brokers, by which trade they have got above £20,000’. His name also appears on a list of ‘friends’ of Henry Guy* when the latter was under attack in the 1694–5 session. In the 1695 election Banks again switched seats, being returned for Queenborough. He was forecast as likely to oppose the Court in the division on 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade; like his father, he refused to sign the Association, and he voted in March against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. It seems doubtful whether Banks was actually at Westminster when the Association was tendered to Members, because a newsletter of 31 Mar. numbered him among those ‘in the country’ who had not yet signed. If he was absent, ill-health was the reason, for on 29 Apr. he wrote in trepidation to his brother-in-law, Hon. Heneage Finch I*, asking him to intercede with Sir John Banks on behalf of his wife, in case ‘it please God I die under the course of physic I am going into’. Evidently his worst fears were realized, for on 22 Aug. Robert Crawford* wrote that ‘Mr Banks continues as ill as one can live that has frequent, fainting convulsive fits, and cannot hold out many days’. By 3 Sept. even his father had given up hope, tipping off Sir George Rooke* of the impending vacancy, ‘his son being so extremely ill that he thinks he can’t last above four or five days longer’. Banks died on 13 Sept., predeceasing his mother by a few weeks. At least his father heeded the appeal for maintenance for his widow, allowing her £300 p.a. for life.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Centre Kentish Stud. U234 B2, fly-leaf; D. C. Coleman, Sir John Banks, 122, 127–8.
- 2. Coleman, 142; info. from Mr P. F. Cooper, Bridge Clerk, Rochester Bridge Trust.
- 3. Info. from Prof. H. Horwitz.
- 4. Coleman, 122, 127; Locke Corresp. ed. de Beer, i. 465, 493; info. from Prof. N. Landau; Add. 42596, f. 47; 42586, f. 85; N. and Q. ser. 3, vi. 23.
- 5. Bodl. Rawl. D. 846, ff. 1–2; Huntington Lib. HM 30659, newsletter 31 Mar. 1696; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 37; Coleman, 133, 187; BL, Althorp mss, Crawford to Mq. of Halifax (William Savile*), 22 Aug. 1696, Rooke to same, 3 Sept. 1696.