CALL, John (1732-1801), of Whiteford, nr. Callington, Cornw.
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Family and Education
b. 30 June 1732, s. of John Call of Prestacott, Cornw. by Jane, da. of John Mill. educ. ‘under Mr. Daddo, at Tiverton’ and ‘Mr. Keate, of Somerton’.1 m. 28 Mar. 1772, Philadelphia, da. and coh. of William Batty of Kingston-upon-Thames Sour., 2s. 4da. suc. fa. 1766; cr. Bt. 28 July 1791.
Sheriff, Cornw. 1771-2.
‘Born of respectable though not affluent parents’, Call ‘was designed for the Church, but feeling a decided preference for an active life’ went out in 1749 to India, became chief engineer first at Fort St. David, then at Madras, and eventually accountant general of the Madras presidency and a member of the council.2 He worked closely with Clive; and, having amassed a fortune, returned in 1769 to England and settled down as a country gentleman.
On 1 Aug. 1770 Call wrote to Clive from Whiteford: ‘ Mr. Palk has already made an additional purchase for me near this place and I am looking out for other lands to enlarge my possessions.’ On 5 Oct. he asked to consult Clive about his intended purchase from Humphry Morice of the Werrington Park estate and Morice’s interest at Launceston and Newport: ‘It would be a thing I should wish, as it would be exceedingly convenient, and keep me in my own country.’ And again on 15 May 1771 about the Werrington estate: ‘I should be vexed if after I had laid out £4,000 or £5,000 in adding to an old house, a better one and a good estate was to be sold in the neighbourhood.’3 He now aimed only at Launceston, but for reasons not discovered the negotiations broke down.
Whiteford was only three miles from Callington, which offered a promising prospect to Call’s parliamentary ambitions—Lady Orford, who had the chief interest there, lived mostly abroad and managed the borough through an agent. On 7 Nov. 1771 George Clive wrote to Lady Clive:4 ‘John Call is sorry he cannot be elected for Callington being sheriff of the county, though I believe Lady Orford’s interest would have prevented him.’ And in a letter to Shelburne of 27 Oct. 1782, after Lady Orford’s death, Call claimed that in 1779 Lord Orford had promised to return him for Callington at the general election, ‘but that Lord Sandwich and Lord Chesterfield forced him to adopt Mr. Morshead’.5 ‘At that juncture’, Call added, ‘I was not anxious to obtain a seat, and therefore declined any contest.’
In 1782 Shelburne appointed him a commissioner to inquire into the management of Crown lands, in which post he for many years did valuable work. When in October a by-election was expected at Callington, Call again thought of standing, and asked Shelburne to try to secure for him Oxford’s support; ‘though’, he wrote, ‘perhaps I might carry the election with the opposite party’.6
In 1784 he became a partner in the bank of Pybus and Co., of 148 New Bond St. At the general election he was returned unopposed for Callington, probably on his own interest. He generally supported Pitt, and voted with him on parliamentary reform, 18 Apr. 1785, but against him on Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786. There is no record before 1790 of his having spoken in the House.
He died 1 Mar. 1801.