CARR, Sir Ralph (1634-1710), of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb. and Coken, Houghton-le-Spring, co. Dur.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. 14 July 1634, 1st s. of William Carr, merchant, of Newcastle by Jane, da. and coh. of Ralph Cock, merchant, of Newcastle. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1652; G. Inn 1654. m. (1) Jane (d. 20 Aug. 1667), da. of Sir Francis Anderson of Newcastle, 1s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) Isabella, da. of Hon. James Darcy of Sedbury Park, Yorks., 1s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1660; kntd. 26 June 1676.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Newcastle 1660; commr. for assessment, Newcastle Aug. 1660-1, 1663-4, 1677-80, co. Dur. 1664-79, co. Dur. and Newcastle 1689-90, member, hostmen’s co., Newcastle 1663; j.p. co. Dur. 1664-Apr. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., Durham 1698, alderman, Newcastle by 1677-87, Oct. 1688-d., mayor 1677-8, 1693-4, 1705-6; commr. for recusants, co. Dur. 1675; dep. lt. Newcastle by 1678-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., commr. for carriage of coals 1679, capt. of militia ft. to Feb. 1688.2


Carr’s family had been merchants in Newcastle since the 15th century, first representing the town in 1491. Carr’s father, although one of the ruling oligarchy in the town, was probably a parliamentary sympathizer in the Civil War. He served on the common council during the Interregnum, and was appointed to the assessment committee in 1652 and the militia committee in March 1660, shortly before his death. Carr himself bought an estate in Durham from a cousin in 1665, adding the valuable mineral rights six years later. He supported the enfranchisement of the bishopric, but continued to reside chiefly in Newcastle, where he was particularly diligent in the militia, and was the natural successor to his first wife’s father as leader of the court party on the corporation. He was returned for the borough to the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, but left no trace on their records, and as one of the Durham grand jury, together with (Sir) William Bowes and Sir Ralph Cole, signed the loyal address in 1681 approving their dissolution. He apparently did not stand in 1685, and was removed from the Newcastle corporation in 1687. To the lord lieutenant’s questions he replied bluntly:

I am not of the opinion for taking away the Penal Laws and the Test. ... I would not be thought so ill a man or deserve such a censure as to be an accessory to or vote for any person to do an act which I cannot in my judgment approve of. ... When I was in authority, I used all the mildness imaginable to those which differed from me in judgment, always thinking that conscience neither ought nor could be forced. I intend always to live in obedience to the established laws of the nation and in loyalty to my King. These, my lord, are my thoughts, and I the rather deliver them so plainly and without ambiguity because I think in a thing of this nature every one ought to act in the sun.3

Carr was returned unopposed at the general election of 1689. According to Anthony Rowe he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. But he was not active in the Convention. His six committees included that on the bill to establish a ‘court of conscience’ in Newcastle. In the second session he was named to the committees for inquiring into war expenditure and restoring corporations. His ‘mildness’ did not extend to Quakers, on whom he favoured the imposition of double taxation. In his only recorded speech he said:

They would not fight for the King. They were heretics, and if they had risen in primitive times would have been judged so by the Councils.

He was re-elected in 1690, together with William Carr, probably a nephew, who was to represent the town for 20 years. He himself remained active in local affairs until his death on 5 Mar. 1710. He was buried at Houghton-le-Spring.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Gillian Hampson


  • 1. Surtees, Dur. i. 209; J. Brand, Hist. Newcastle, i. 281.
  • 2. Reg. of Freemen (Newcastle Recs. iii), 76; Arch. Ael. (ser. 4), xxiii. 145-6; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 140; PC2/72/561; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 1205.
  • 3. Surtees, i. 206; R. Howell, Newcastle and the Puritan Revolution, 185; Council Minute Bk. (Newcastle Recs. Soc. i), 161; Durham Cathedral Lib. Allan mss 7/194; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 140; 1680-1, p. 386.
  • 4. HMC Le Fleming, 234; Morrice, Entering Bk. 3, p. 32; CJ, x. 303; Surtees, i. 154.