O'CALLAGHAN, James (1743-1836), of Heighington, co. Dur.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - 1812
1818 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 17 Oct. 1743,1 2nd s. of Thomas O’Callaghan of Shanbally, co. Tipperary, MP [I], by 1st w. Sarah, da. of John Davis of Carrickfergus, co. Antrim. m. (1) Hannah (d. 31 Mar. 1817, aged 50), s.p.; (2) 29 Sept. 1827, Margaret, da. of Capt. James Simpson of Barnard Castle, co. Dur., s.p.

Offices Held

Ensign, 63 Ft. 1772, lt. 1775; capt. 10 Ft. 1778, half-pay till 1796; capt. Durham supp. militia 1797, maj. Durham militia 1805, lt.-col. 1805-16.


O’Callaghan was thought by some contemporaries to be the younger brother of Cornelius O’Callaghan, 2nd Baron Lismore, but was in fact his uncle.2 A soldier of modest means,3 he was returned by his Durham neighbour Lord Darlington for his newly acquired borough of Tregony, after a contest. There was a rumour of his intending to vacate the seat in January 1810, which was contradicted by his patron in a letter to Lord Grenville.4 O’Callaghan retained the seat until the dissolution. He voted with the Grenville ministry 1806-7, against their successors’ pledge to the King, 9 Apr. 1807, and subsequently with opposition on 26 June and 6 July 1807; 14 Mar. and 11 May 1808; 21 Feb. and 25 Apr. 1809; 23 and 26 Jan. and 30 Mar. 1810; 29 Nov. 1810; 1 and 21 Jan. 1811 and 14 Apr. 1812. He voted for Catholic relief, 24 Apr. 1812. He had been listed one of their ‘thick and thin’ men by the Whigs in 1810.

Defeated at Tregony in 1812, O’Callaghan recovered the seat in 1818 and continued steadily in the same political line, supporting the requisition to Tierney to lead the Whigs. He voted for Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819. On 6 and 8 Dec. 1819 he voted for a limitation of the seditious meetings bill and on 14 Dec. against the seizure of arms bill. He retired in 1826. He died 14 Feb. 1836.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Arthur Aspinall


  • 1. Lodge, Peerage of Ireland, vii, 245.
  • 2. The allegation occurs in J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1808) and in the London Calendar for 1808.
  • 3. PCC 503 Stowell.
  • 4. Fortescue mss, 28 Jan. 1810.
  • 5. ‘In his 90th year’, according to the Dur. Chron., the Newcastle Jnl. and the Par. Reg. of Heighington; the Newcastle Chron. said he died on 13 Feb., aged 73 but the Dur. Advertiser made him 93.