GRAHME, James (1650-1730), of Levens, Westmld.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1685 - 1687
1702 - 1708
1708 - 1727

Family and Education

b. Mar. 1650, 2nd s. of Sir George Grahme or Graham, 2nd Bt., of Netherby, Cumb. by Lady Mary Johnston, da. of James, 1st Earl of Hartfell [S]; bro. of Richard Graham, M.P., 1st Visct. Preston [S]. educ. Westminster; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1666. m. (1) lic 22 Nov. 1675, Dorothy (d. 1700), maid of honour, da. of Hon. William Howard, s. of Thomas, 1st Earl of Berkshire, 3s d.v.p. 2da.; (2) lic. 4 Mar. 1702, Elizabeth, da. of Isaac Barton, merchant, of All Hallows, Barking, wid. of George Bromley of the Middle Temple, s.p.

Offices Held

Capt in the French service 1671; capt. Earl of Carlisle’s regt. of Ft. 1673, Duke of York’s regt. of Ft. Jan. 1675, and Coldstream Gds. Oct. 1675; lt.-col. Lord Morpeth’s regt. of Ft. 1678-9.

Keeper of the privy purse to the Duchess of York c.1677 and to the Duke of York c.1680; keeper of Pirbright Walk within Windsor forest 1680; ranger and keeper of Bagshot Park within Windsor forest 1682-9; master of the buckhounds and keeper of the privy purse 1685-9; dep. lt. of Windsor castle and forest 1685-9; mayor of Appleby 1717.


A younger brother of the Jacobite leader and conspirator, Lord Preston, Grahme took the oath of allegiance in 1690.1 In the next reign he was returned for Appleby, subsequently succeeding his brother, Henry, as knight of the shire for Westmorland, where he had bought the estate of Levens from the Bellinghams in 1687, laying out gardens still famous for their topiary work. Classed in 1715 as a Tory who might often vote with the Whigs, he did so on the septennial bill in 1716, making the following short speech:

Sir, it will be a surprise to some gentlemen, whom I have hitherto had the happiness of agreeing with, to see me disagree with them at present and I am heartily sorry there should be any necessity for it. But two things, I hope, will be my excuse as they are my comfort; I really in my conscience think this bill a good and necessary bill and in the next place that, whatever they think of it now, they themselves will enjoy the advantages of it hereafter; so I am sincerely for it.2

He spoke and voted against the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts in 1719, also voting against the peerage bill, though classed as for it by Sunderland to whom he seems to have attached himself.3 In 1720 he was one of the Members who accepted stock from the South Sea Company — in his case £2,000 at 280 on 22 Mar. — without paying for it, with the right to ‘sell’ it back to the Company if the price rose, taking the difference as ‘profit’.4 Re-elected unopposed as a Whig in 1722, he was one of the deputy-lieutenants ordered to search the houses of Roman Catholics and non-jurors for arms during the Atterbury plot.5 He did not stand in 1727. He died 26 Jan. 1730, leaving his estates to his only surviving child, a daughter, who married Henry Bowes, 4th Earl of Berkshire and later 11th Earl of Suffolk. He was supposed to have been the father of James II’s putative daughter Catherine, Duchess of Buckingham, by Catherine Sedley.6

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. J. Bagot, Col. James Grahme, 30.
  • 2. A. Corbière to Horace Walpole, 27 Apr. 1716, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.
  • 3. Bagot, 31-32.
  • 4. CJ, xix. 569.
  • 5. Bagot, 33.
  • 6. Walpole to Mann, 14 Mar. 1743.