CALVERT, John II (?1758-1844), of Albury Hall, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



28 Nov. 1780 - 1784
1784 - 1790
1790 - 1796
1796 - 1831

Family and Education

b. ?1758, 1st s. of John Calvert I*. educ. Eton 1770-5; L. Inn 1773; St. John’s, Camb. 1776. unm. suc. fa. 1804.

Offices Held

Sec. to ld. chamberlain Dec. 1783-Nov. 1830.

Capt. E. Herts yeoman cav. 1794.


Calvert, a placeman who supported the government of the day, was returned for St. Albans by Lord Grimston in 1790 as a compliment to Lord Salisbury, who was pledged to secure peerage promotion for Grimston. To facilitate this bargain, Grimston’s brother feigned a wish to retire from the House. The arrangement was exposed at the election, when Calvert survived a contest directed against him; and more particularly so when Grimston’s brother returned to Parliament on one of the first vacancies. Calvert was engaged in advance to interfere in no way with his patron’s interest in the borough, not even to visit it without prior notice; and in 1792 he assured Grimston, who was promoting the Grand Junction Canal project, ‘I shall always think it my duty, as it is my inclination to attend every measure in Parliament wherein the interest or wishes of the borough of St. Albans are concerned’. Despite this, rumour had it that he had paid ‘three or four hundred guineas’ for the seat, which was not likely to be his again. After supporting Pitt silently, presenting a petition for rather than against the sedition bills on his patron’s instructions in 1795 and voting for the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796, he found a seat for Huntingdon in 1796. His new patron, Lord Sandwich, proved more congenial and he faced no contest there until 1820.1

Calvert seldom spoke in the House. He first surfaced in presenting the report of the Tewkesbury election committee, 8 May 1798. Thereafter speeches attributed to ‘Mr Calvert’ were almost certainly by Nicolson Calvert (apart from one by John on the Pantheon Theatre’s legal problems, 3 June 1818) at least until 1822. Like his father, he voted for Pitt’s assessed taxes, 4 Jan. 1798. In the session of 1801 George Rose privately underlined the mediocrity of Addington’s administration on hearing that Calvert was one of two Members who prevailed on him to curtail the duration of martial law in Ireland. Calvert showed no disposition to surrender his place when sounded by Pitt on his return to power. He was listed his supporter in September 1804 and, after voting against the censure on Melville on 8 Apr., in July 1805.2

He lay low during the Grenville ministry, though they noted that he was ‘friendly’ to the abolition of the slave trade. He was more partial to their successors and was listed ‘against the Opposition’ by the Whigs in 1810. He voted staunchly with government on the Scheldt question, January-March 1810, against the release of Gale Jones the radical, 16 Apr., and against parliamentary reform, 21 May. He also opposed sinecure reform, 17 May 1810, 4 May 1812. He was in the government minority on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, and against a stronger administration, 21 May 1812. On 22 June 1812, throughout the session of 1813 and subsequently, he voted against Catholic relief. It seems more likely to have been Charles Calvert than he who voted against the revision of the Corn Laws, 16 May 1814. In other respects, as anticipated in the Treasury list after the election of 1812, he could be relied on to support ministers through thick and thin and to oppose reform of any kind. He died 2 June 1844, ‘aged 87’.3

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Spencer mss, Spencer to his mother, 11, 25 June 1790; Morning Chron. 11 Feb. 1791; HMC Verulam, 169; Herts. RO, Verulam mss F34, Grimston’s memo, 13 June 1790; F27, Calvert to Grimston, 27 Nov., to Boyd, 1 Dec. 1795; F28, handbill [1796].
  • 2. Rose Diaries, i. 356; PRO 30/8/119, f. 146. The minority votes of 21 Feb. and 6 Mar. 1805 have been attributed to Nicolson Calvert.
  • 3. Gent. Mag. (1844), ii. 107.