CALCRAFT, Thomas (1738-83), of Ancaster, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1761 - 1774

Family and Education

bap. 16 Mar. 1738, 6th s. of John Calcraft, attorney, town clerk of Grantham, and bro. of John Calcraft (d. 1772). educ. Leicester; academy in Soho Square.1 m. 1764, Cecil Anne, da. of John Walker of Lyneham, Wilts., niece of the Colebrookes, 1s. 3da. suc. under John Calcraft’s will to his Lincolnshire estates 1772.

Offices Held

Ensign 2 Ft. Gds. 1753; capt. 7 Ft. 1755; lt.-col. 91 Ft. Jan. 1760; col. 1772; maj.-gen. 1777; col. 65 Ft. 1779- d.; lt.-gen. 1782.


John Calcraft secured for his brother Thomas quick promotion, advantageously placing him with friends: he was aide-de-camp to Charles, 3rd Duke of Marlborough on the St. Malo expedition and in Germany, and after the Duke’s death to Lord Granby. And Lord George Lennox, though hostile to John Calcraft, allowed Thomas ‘to be a very deserving young man, much liked in the army’.2

On 1 Nov. 1760 John Calcraft inquired from Lord Kildare whether, as Thomas was likely to continue on the Irish establishment, ‘it might not be desirable for him to get into that Parliament’.3 Next, he put up Thomas for Poole. Fox wrote to Newcastle, 29 Nov. 1760:4

Col. Calcraft is invited to Poole in the room of Sir Richard Lyttelton who is ill abroad and who does not stand there again, nor could carry it, if he did.
If your Grace will give your interest you will have no further trouble in it, and shall have a Member of Parliament as much devoted to you as any one of the very great majority which I hope will be so.

On the other side Fitzmaurice, whom Thomas had been directed to court,5 applied to Bute in February 1761 to strengthen Calcraft’s interest by continuing a pension to the Hydes, a family influential in the borough—‘you’ll greatly oblige him and his friends by it’.6 Thomas was returned unopposed while on active service—it was John Calcraft who looked after the borough, then and later.

Thomas Calcraft was still in Germany when the peace preliminaries came before the House; and next, went over to Ireland as aide-de-camp to the new lord lieutenant, Lord Northumberland. They arrived in Dublin on 21 Sept. 1763, and on the 22nd George Grenville asked Northumberland to sound the dispositions of ‘two gentlemen who I understand are gone over in your family to Ireland’:7

The second is Colonel Calcraft, whose relation to Mr. Calcraft, and whose other habitudes and attachments, may render his opinions and conduct ... uncertain. If his present situation and obligation to you cannot determine him, perhaps his stay where he is may be desirable; but if it can ... I should be very glad if you could send him over here.

Northumberland replied on 3 Oct.: ‘I find Colonel Calcraft is not yet at liberty to declare himself, not having received any instructions from his brother on whom he is entirely dependent; I shall however take such steps as I think most advisable for your service with him.’8 And on 1 Nov. 1763, Sandwich wrote to Northumberland:9

I communicated to Mr. Grenville the contents of your letter as far as related to Colonel Calcraft, and we both join in opinion in begging of you to talk fully to him as a politician, and by all means to send him over by the meeting of the Parliament, for we are not to suppose after Lord Shelburne’s declaration to the King of his intention to support Government, that Mr. Calcraft’s brother, aide-de-camp to the lord lieutenant of Ireland and a lieutenant-colonel in the army, will venture to oppose the King’s measures; and at all events it will be of great use if he does to fix the point of opposition upon that connexion.

Northumberland sent Calcraft who on 15 Nov. may have voted with the Government—he is not in the minority list. But in the division of 24 Nov., on the privilege of Parliament, ‘the three people supposed to be influenced by Lord Shelburne, viz. Mr. Fitzmaurice, Colonel Barré, and Mr. Calcraft, were in the minority’.10Informed by Grenville ‘of the defection’, Northumberland dismissed Calcraft.11

Thomas Calcraft, following his brother, attached himself to Shelburne; voted with the Opposition in the divisions on Wilkes in February 1764; was classed as ‘sure’ in Newcastle’s list of 10 May; but as ‘doubtful’ by Rockingham in July 1765; and adhered to the Chatham Administration, voting with them on the land tax and the nullum tempus bill. In the next Parliament Calcraft voted with Opposition. He did not stand again in 1774, and judging by John Calcraft’s will, had already decided against doing so before his brother’s death.12 There is no record of his having spoken in the House.

Mrs. Bellamy writes about him:13

He was genteel in his figure, with a face which, had it not been for the ravages of the smallpox, would have been handsome. In his disposition he was generous, and ... unlike his brother in every respect, except the love of the bottle.

He died 15 Feb. 1783.14

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Mrs. G. A. Bellamy attacking John Calcraft writes that he quarrelled with her ‘for insisting that he [Thomas] should be placed, for some time, at the academy in Soho-square’ (Apology, iii. 75); and in her financial reckoning with him: ‘I expended upon your brother, Captain Calcraft, at the Academy, and for other necessaries, £350’ (ibid. v. 193). For the mere fact of Thomas having been at the Academy her evidence seems acceptable.
  • 2. Lady Caroline Fox to Lady Kildare, 8 Apr. 1760, Leinster Corresp. i. 278.
  • 3. Add. 17495, f. 166.
  • 4. Add. 32915, f. 172.
  • 5. John to Thos. Calcraft, 11 Dec. 1760, Add. 17495, f. 184.
  • 6. Bute mss.
  • 7. Grenville Pprs. ii. 127-8.
  • 8. Grenville mss. (Bodl.)
  • 9. Sandwich mss.
  • 10. Grenville Diary, Grenville Pprs. ii. 229.
  • 11. Northumberland to Grenville, 20 Dec. 1763, Grenville mss. (Bodl.)
  • 12. See ‘Memorandum of Calcraft, 1772’ in Parkes and Merivale, Mems. Philip Francis, i. 318.
  • 13. Apology. iii. 75.
  • 14. The date appears in his will (PCC 116 Cornwallis). As this was made by him but not properly attested, a friend was called in to prove his handwriting, and deposed that he ‘has been informed and believes that Thomas Calcraft died on 15 Feb. 1783’.