COLCLOUGH, Caesar (1766-1842), of Tintern Abbey, co. Wexford.
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Family and Education
b. 8 May 1766, 1st s. of Vesey Colclough, MP [I], of Tintern Abbey by Katherine, da. of John Grogan, MP [I], of Johnstown; bro. of John Colclough*. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1786; L. Inn 1789. m. 30 Nov. 1818, Jane Stratford, da. of John Kirwan, barrister, s.p. suc. fa. 1794.
Colclough, whose family had represented the county off and on throughout the 18th century, had his prospects blighted by an impoverished scapegrace father:
I was forced on my coming of age to run off from examination in Trinity College to avoid being arrested for my schooling, diet, lodging and clothing, persecuted by my improvident father to join him to raise money to furnish aliment for his profligate life with a servant maid, his mistress, and her children, whilst my brother, self and mother were pensioners of her five brothers ... Many a day, a penny cake ... furnished my dinner, and counting the trees ... my dessert. ’Twas then I learned independence and frugality, which now in opulence I still practise in my 71st year.1
In 1791 Colclough escaped to London for a legal education, but while in Paris in 1792 was arrested and made a ‘prisoner of state’. He escaped to Lausanne and although he had meanwhile succeeded to his encumbered estate, decided to remain on the Continent, leaving his brother John to manage and remit him £600 p.a., while he dabbled in ‘mechanical experiments’ for future redemption, and perambulated central Europe.
In December 1804 Colclough’s brother John applied to him to come home and stand on the ‘popular’ interest for Wexford: a year later he agreed to do so, ‘contrary to my own sentiments, which have long since abandoned all the vanity and inutility of ambitious views, and many years are absorbed in the tranquil researches of useful arts and sciences’.2 His decision turned out to be ‘the greatest misfortune that ever befell me’. No sooner was he returned in absentia, after a contested by-election in which he received the support of the Grenville ministry, in May 1806, than he was taken hostage by Buonaparte. He was therefore unable to take his seat. At the ensuing general election his brother John, who had been his election manager, was returned in his place, only to be shot dead defending his seat at the election of 1807.
Colclough remained a prisoner of war until 1814, when he returned to Wexford to see to his estate. By the spring of 1817 he had decided to contest the county in conjunction with Carew the sitting opposition Member. They were returned after a bitter and expensive contest. Colclough, evidently not as popular in the county as his late brother, acted with opposition, voting steadily with them from 2 Feb. until 18 May 1819, when he voted for Tierney’s censure motion. He tried unsuccessfully to speak on the Catholic claims, 3 May, and had to be content with voting for them. Next day, in his maiden speech against the ineffectiveness of state lotteries, he described the superiority of continental ones, in what he feared might, from his 25 years’ residence abroad, be a continental accent. Next day he opposed the Irish window tax as a direct cause of disease. He voted for burgh reform on 1 Apr. and 6 May. On 17 May he expressed his fear that gas lighting in London would be a health hazard. No minority votes are recorded for the winter session. In 1820 Colclough could not afford a contest. He continued to live frugally, hoping to recover the properties alienated by his father. He died 23 Aug. 1842.3
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: P. J. Jupp
Based on PRO NI, McPeake mss C/1-89.
- 1. Ibid. C/54, Colclough to Messrs Reeves, 9 Dec. 1836.
- 2. Ibid. C/40, Colclough to his mother, 4 Jan. 1806.
- 3. Colclough is not to be confused with his cousin and namesake of Duffrey Hall (1754-1822) chief justice of Prince Edward Island and of Newfoundland, whose surviving daughter, however, became heiress to the Tintern estate.