PELHAM, James (c.1683-1761), of Crowhurst, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1722 - 1741
1741 - 1761

Family and Education

b. c.1683, 2nd s. of Sir Nicholas Pelham, M.P., by Jane, da. of James Huxley of Dornford, Oxon.  unm.

Offices Held

Capt. 8 Drag. 1711; capt. and lt.-col. 1 Ft. Gds. 1716.

Sec. to ld. chamberlain c.1720- d., to Prince of Wales 1728-37; dep. cofferer of the Household 1749-54.


James Pelham was a second cousin of Henry Pelham and the Duke of Newcastle. To Newcastle he owed his place, his seat in Parliament, and a secret service pension of £500 per annum; and Newcastle expected from him prompt obedience. Here are three letters addressed to him by the Duke during the fight over the Mitchell election petition:1

Friday morning [28 Feb. 1755]

Dear Jemmy,
I should not trouble you with desiring you to attend the Mitchell election this night, if I did not think I had a right to insist with my own family, to attend where my situation as one of the principal ministers is greatly concerned; this is the general opinion of all my friends in the House of Commons, and if this is the case what an appearance would it have for you to be absent.

That night Newcastle’s side lost by 188 to 162 votes; and on Sunday, 2 Mar., Newcastle, having had no reply from Pelham, addressed to him the following letter.

You will not be surprized that after the letter I wrote you I should be much disappointed and concerned that you did not attend the Mitchell election. I am convinced that it was not your age, or infirmities, that occasioned your[r] absence, but some attachment separate from and independent of me. Since that is the case I should advise you, for your own sake as well as mine, to quit your seat in Parliament, that I may choose one at Hastings upon whom I may entirely depend.

A third letter, written on Monday, 3 Mar., restates Newcastle’s case and concludes: ‘I once more desire your attendance this evening for I am determined that you should know the great stress I lay upon it.’ But in fact Pelham was in poor health; ‘quietness must be my only support’, he had written to Newcastle a year earlier; and, to avoid fatigue, he had sold Crowhurst and moved nearer to London: ‘that I may keep the same good hours ... and spin out a few years.’2 He did not stand again at the general election of 1761, but his pension and sinecure were continued to him. He died 27 Dec. 1761. On the 30th Walpole wrote to George Montagu: ‘Jemmy Pelham is dead and has left his servants what little his servants had left him.’ And on 3 Mar. 1762 one of them addressed the following letter to Newcastle:3

May it please your Grace,
I hope you will pardon my taking this liberty of informing your Grace that as my late good master Colonel Pelham died but a few days before the Quarter Day, your Grace will be pleased to take it into your consideration to enable me to discharge the demands made on me since his death.

There seems to have been no response to this appeal, at least not from secret service money.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Add. 32853, ff. 23, 25, 27.
  • 2. Add. 32735, f. 199.
  • 3. Namier, Structure, 475.