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CALL, John (1732-1801), of Whiteford, nr. Callington, Cornw.
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Family and Education
b. 30 June 1732, 1st s. of John Call of Prestacott in Launcells by Jane, da. of John Mill of Shernick Farm in Launcells. educ. ‘under Mr Daddo, at Tiverton’ and ‘Mr Keate, of Somerton’, until he was 17. m. 28 Mar. 1772, Philadelphia, da. and coh. of William Batty, MD, of Kingston-upon-Thames, Surr., 2s. 4da. suc. fa. 1766; cr. Bt. 28 July 1791.
Sheriff, Cornw. 1771-2.
To India 1750 as sec. to Benjamin Robbins, chief engineer, E.I. Co.; writer (Madras) 1751; chief engineer Fort St. David 1751-7; col. and chief engineer, Coromandel 1757; member of council, Madras 1765-70; returned to England 1770.
Treasurer, board of agriculture 1794-1800.
John Call, who had returned from India with an ‘ample fortune which might have been much larger’,1 continued to sit for Callington on his own interest and to support Pitt’s administration. He was from 1782 a conscientious commissioner of crown lands and bought a town house in Old Burlington Street in 1785 to carry on his work. He interested himself particularly in the promotion of timber growing, a subject on which he corresponded frequently with Pitt, to whom he also communicated his services in India.2 He was rewarded in July 1791 with a baronetcy.
Call, listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791, is not known to have spoken in the House until he did so on 3 May 1792 ‘in strenuous support’ of the bill to encourage the growth of timber in the New Forest. On 20 May 1795 he said a few words on the abuse of franking and on 1 June spoke in favour of the immediate discharge of the Prince of Wales’s debts and the sale of the duchy of Cornwall, which would ‘in every respect be advantageous to the public and relieve the Prince from his embarrassment’.
‘Cataracts in his eyes produced total blindness six years previous to his death; throughout which period he was never heard to murmur at the dispensations of Providence.’3 Call retained his seat in Parliament, but without drawing attention to himself. On 3 Apr. 1797 he was a defaulter, but he voted with ministers on the loyalty loan, 1 June 1797. He turned ‘his naturally active and benevolent mind to agricultural pursuits, for which he received a medal from the board of agriculture’. He also had interests in banking (Pybus, Call, Grant & Co. of Bond Street), copper smelting and plate glass manufacture, and was an East India Company stockholder. He died of apoplexy, 1 Mar. 1801.