CHOLMONDELEY, Thomas (1767-1855), of Vale Royal, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. 9 Aug. 1767, 1st s. of Thomas Cholmondeley† of Vale Royal by Dorothy, da. and h. of Edmund Cowper of Overlegh. educ. M. Temple 1781; Pembroke, Camb. 1785. m. 17 Dec. 1810, Henrietta Elizabeth, da. of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn†, 4th Bt., of Wynnstay, Denb., 4s. 1 da. suc. fa. 1779 cr. Baron Delamere 17 July 1821.
Ensign 90 Ft. 1794; lt. Prince William of Gloucester’s Ft. 1794; capt. 90 Ft. 1794, maj. 1794, brevet lt.-col. 1794, half-pay 1798; lt.-col. 4 Ft. 1799-1800.
Capt. commdt. Delamere Foresters 1803, lt.-col. commdt. 2nd Cheshire yeomanry 1819.
Sheriff, Cheshire 1792-3.
Cholmondeley, a substantial Cheshire landowner by inheritance and purchase, was second cousin to Pitt. He stood for the county, which his grandfather and father had represented for 51 years between 1710 and 1768, at the general election of 1796, when the ministerialist sitting Member unexpectedly retired. It was said that Earl Grosvenor encouraged him to do so, ‘for fear he should be troublesome to him’ at Chester.1 He was returned unopposed then and at the next three general elections.
A relative reported that Cholmondeley spoke ‘with great fluency, propriety and ability’ on the hustings,2 but he made no mark in the House where he was an infrequent attender, and his only known speech was against Fox’s motion for the repeal of the anti-sedition laws, 23 May 1797, when he asserted that the government had ‘adopted no measures more timely, more prudent, more constitutional, or more friendly to freedom’. He was a teller for the majority against a proposed amendment to the salt duties bill, 15 June, and for the minority who favoured postponement of the rock salt bill, 22 June 1798. On 19 June he voted against government for Bankes’s amendment to the address recommending sending the militia to Ireland to suppress the rebellion. He went on the Helder expedition in 1799 and was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Alkmaar, 6 Oct., but his captivity was short.3
Cholmondeley is not known to have opposed Addington, was listed under ‘Pitt’ with a query in March 1804, and as a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry in September 1804 and July 1805. In December 1805 he rushed from Cheshire to Bath to press on the dying Pitt the claims of his brother Hugh to the vacant deanery of Chester and his exertions were crowned with success.4 No votes are recorded in his name during the Grenville and Portland ministries and he was absent from the divisions of February 1809 on the war in the Peninsula.5 He voted with the Perceval ministry on the address, 23 Jan., and the Scheldt fiasco, 5 Mar. was marked ‘doubtful’ by the Whigs shortly afterwards, but divided with ministers in the decisive clash on the Scheldt affair, 30 Mar. 1810.
Later in the year Cholmondeley married into a leading Whig family and his wife’s uncle Thomas Grenville commented:
The per contra is that he has been a great gamester, but he ... forswears all play, has written to take his name out of all the clubs, and insists upon settling and tying up every shilling of his property. His present estate is above £6,000 per annum though his income does not much exceed £4,000 at present; but the estate will very shortly be raised by an increase of £2,500 per annum, and in a further time will have a further increase ... Mr Cholmondeley is reckoned a very good-natured affectionate man. I once saw him for two days, and thought his manners very courteous and gentlemanly, but I do not personally know much about him.
His brother-in-law Charles Williams Wynn feared that
Vale Royal will be mounted too much on a scale of ideas formed from Belvoir and Wynnstay. Besides which all the neighbours and persons with whom he associates are richer than himself, and it will be difficult for the Member for the county to live below Egerton and Mainwaring, etc.6
Cholmondeley voted against Stuart Wortley’s call for the formation of a strong administration, 21 May, opposed Catholic relief, 22 June, and divided against the leather tax bill, 1 July 1812. His casual attitude towards his parliamentary duties provoked his critics in Cheshire to start an opposition to him later in the month. He was thought to stand every chance of success in a contest, but his wife and her family were anxious that he should not ruin himself financially by fighting for ‘that which gives him no real pleasure’. As a Way out of his difficulties he applied for a peerage, to Which he thought ministers could have no objection ‘when they recollect my steady attachment to them and their principles, without an instance of change, during the last 17 years’. His request was turned down and he reluctantly surrendered his seat at the dissolution.7
Cholmondeley, who received a coronation peerage in 1821 and was one of the few peers who voted against the third reading of the 1832 reform bill, died 30 Oct. 1855.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. True Briton, 21 May 1796; HMC Kenyon, 544.
- 2. Heber Letters, 95.
- 3. Ibid. 116.
- 4. Ibid. 209; PRO 30/8/122, ff. 247, 249.
- 5. Corresp. of Lady Williams Wynn, 142.
- 6. HMC Fortescue, x. 57; NLW mss 2791, C. to H. Williams Wynn, 15 Oct. 1810.
- 7. UCNW, Penrhos mss 518; NLW mss 2791, C. to H. Williams Wynn, 15 Aug., 20 Sept. 1812; NLW, Aston Hall mss 2329, 2569, 2570, 7197; Geo. IV Letters, i. 147; Add. 38328, f. 37.