CHOLMONDELEY, Hugh (c. 1662-1725)

CHOLMONDELEY, Hugh (c. 1662–1725)

suc. fa. 22 May 1681 as 2nd Visct. Cholmondeley [I]; cr. 9 Apr. 1689 Bar. CHOLMONDELEY; cr. 27 Dec. 1706 earl of CHOLMONDELEY

First sat 15 Apr. 1689; last sat 27 May 1723

b. c.1662, s. of Robert Cholmondeley, Visct. Cholmondeley [I], and Elizabeth, da. and coh. of George Cradock of Caverswall Castle, Staffs; bro. of George Cholmondeley, 2nd earl of Cholmondeley. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 1678; travelled abroad (France) 1681.1 unm. d. 18 Jan. 1725; will 21 Jan. 1724, pr. 12 Feb. 1725.2

Ld. lt. N. Wales 1702-13, 1714-d., Cheshire 1703-13, 1714-d.; custos rot. Cheshire 1703-13, 1714-d.; freeman, Chester 1703;3 v.-adm. Cheshire coast 1703-d.; gov. Chester 1705-13, 1714-d.

PC 1705-25; comptroller of the Household 1708; treas. of the Household 1708-13, 1714-d.

Associated with: Cholmondeley Castle, Malpas, Cheshire; Arlington St., Westminster.4

On the face of it Cholmondeley’s political career seems full of inconsistency. A critic of King James II and early supporter of William of Orange, Cholmondeley straddled the party rivalries of the day. His natural political metier was that of a Whig courtier, but he used his interest in Cheshire to further the aspirations of Tory candidates and was even accused of encouraging Catholic tenants to bolster his interest at the polls.5 The head of a numerous and influential Cheshire family, his interest in hunting provided Cholmondeley with a further foundation for friendships both social and political with Charles Beauclerk, duke of St Albans, Charles Boyle, 3rd earl of Burlington, and Charles Montagu, 4th earl (later duke) of Manchester.6

On his succession to the viscountcy in 1681, Cholmondeley inherited an estate reckoned to be worth about £6,000 per annum.7 While his lands lay principally in Cheshire, based around Cholmondeley Castle near Nantwich, there were other smaller estates in Somerset. He also possessed an interest in North Wales, and in the Droitwich salt works, which was to prove an occasionally troublesome inheritance.8 Despite the family’s Irish viscountcy, they do not appear to have exercised any notable interest in Ireland, while in Cheshire the prior dominance of the Whig Booths (earls of Warrington) seems to have been the determining factor in leading Cholmondeley to employ his interest there on behalf of the Tories.9 Family loyalty may also have played a part; his kinsmen, the Cholmondeleys of Vale Royal, were consistent Tories as were his cousins the non-juring Leghs of Lyme. Despite his undoubted influence in the area before his elevation to the Lords, Cholmondeley played no part in Parliament. Although it was suggested that he was considering standing for Cheshire in February 1685, it was his cousin, Thomas Cholmondeley, who contested the county with Sir Philip Egerton that year, defeating the Whig candidates Sir Robert Cotton and Sir John Mainwaring.10

An opponent of James II’s policies, Cholmondeley was one of the first members of the nobility to rise in favour of William of Orange in 1688, leading a detachment from Cheshire to the rallying point at Nottingham.11 He later complained that his ‘expenses in this late affair’ had been ‘very large’ and responded to the request for a self-assessment of his personal estate in September 1689 that it was ‘much short and far inferior to the real debts I stand charged and incumbered with.’12

Cholmondeley was approached ‘by several of my friends’ to stand for the Convention in January 1689, a request with which he seems to have been more than ready to comply, asking that his interest be employed on his own behalf in alliance with his kinsman, Sir Philip Egerton.13 Any aspirations to the Commons were supplanted by his elevation to the Lords in April. Instead it was the Whigs, Cotton and Mainwaring, who were returned for the Convention.

Cholmondeley was introduced on 15 Apr. between William Maynard, Baron Maynard, and Robert Sutton, 2nd Baron Lexinton. The following day he was named to the committee considering the bill for abolishing the hearth tax. He was named to a further 13 committees during the course of the session. In May, Cholmondeley was incapacitated by a fall from his coach when leaving Hampton Court, breaking his arm when the carriage turned over.14 His injuries kept him away from the House for the remainder of May. That same month he was engaged in a dispute with his local rival, Henry Booth, 2nd Baron Delamer (later earl of Warrington), over the continued employment of the militia in Cheshire.15 Cholmondeley returned to the House on 28 June and was thereafter regular in his attendance through July and the first half of August, attending in all approximately a third of all sitting days in the session. In September he visited his non-juring cousin, Francis Cholmondeley, who was a prisoner in the Tower.16 He resumed his seat in the Convention’s second session on 23 Oct. 1689, following which he attended with little interruption until 27 Jan. 1690: some 90 per cent of all sitting days.

Tensions within Cheshire continued during the 1690 election. Cholmondeley ordered that his tenants should appear for Egerton, (presumably unaware that Egerton was a non-juror).17 Attempts to pair Egerton with a Whig candidate were unsuccessful and Cholmondeley’s interest once more proved insufficient to secure Egerton a seat. He had better success at Chester where Sir Thomas Grosvenor and Richard Levinge, who had been unsuccessful the previous year, were both returned following a bitter contest with George Mainwaring and Roger Whitley. His brother, George Cholmondeley, was returned for Newton on the interest of his cousin, Peter Legh of Lyme.18

Following the election Cholmondeley took his seat in the new Parliament on 24 Mar. 1690 after which he was present for approximately 85 per cent of all sitting days and was named to nine committees. He returned for the second session on 18 Oct. 1690, again sitting consistently until the close of the year. Named to 20 committees besides the sessional committees to which he was added on 7 Nov., Cholmondeley’s attendance declined markedly after December. He attended just two days in January 1691, after which he was absent until returning for a single day in May.

Cholmondeley’s attendance improved during the 1691-2 session, when he was present for a little more than 70 per cent of all sitting days and was named to 25 committees. On 12 Jan. 1692 he entered his dissent at the resolution to receive the divorce bill of Henry Howard, 7th duke of Norfolk. He was absent at the opening of the 1692-3 session and was excused at a call on 21 November. He arrived three days later and was named to the committee for Ralph Macclesfield’s bill. Named to a further nine committees during the session, on 7 Dec. he registered his protest at the resolution not to propose to the Commons a joint committee of both Houses to consider the state of the nation. He voted in favour of committing the place bill on 31 Dec. but appears to have been absent for the division on the issue on 3 Jan. 1693, returning to the House too late to vote but in time to register his dissent at the resolution to reject the bill.19 Cholmondeley found Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun, not guilty of murder on 4 Feb., and on 6 Mar. he entered his dissent at the resolution not to communicate information concerning Ireland taken at the bar of the House to the Commons.

During the 1693-4 session he was present on approximately 56 per cent of all sitting days. After the session, in July 1694, Cholmondeley was embroiled in a quarrel with the queen’s vice chamberlain, Peregrine Bertie, at the Chocolate House in Pall Mall. Although early reports suggested that a duel had been averted, a few days later the two men met behind Arlington House where Cholmondeley succeeded in disarming his opponent.20 The quarrel may have been symptomatic of Cholmondeley’s increasingly frosty relations with the Tories. Divisions within Cheshire came to the fore that year when Cholmondeley’s kinsman, Peter Legh, was accused of Jacobitism. Cholmondeley’s failure to intervene on his behalf caused George Cholmondeley to be dropped as Member for Newton at the election the following year.21 More significantly, Cholmondeley appears to have made a deliberate decision not to intervene on the Tories’ behalf for the remainder of the decade. The consequence was three successive elections where the Whigs, Cotton and Mainwaring, stood unopposed in Cheshire.

The 1694-4 session saw Cholmondeley present for approximately 76 per cent of sitting days. On 10 Jan. 1695 he was named to the committee considering the procession for Queen Mary’s funeral and during the course of the session he was named to a further 17 committees. On 18 Apr. he protested against the resolution not to censure John Sheffield, marquess of Normanby (later duke of Buckingham and Normanby), over his behaviour during the session, and on 3 May he was named one of the managers of a conference with the Commons concerning the impeachment of Thomas Osborne, duke of Leeds.

Cholmondeley returned to the House at the opening of the 1695 Parliament. On 23 Nov. he was named to the sessional committees for privileges and the Journal. He was named to a further 16 committees during the 1695-6 session and was present on 74 per cent of all sitting days. On 29 Feb. 1696 he signed the Association, and on 6 Apr. he was named one of the managers of the conference concerning the privateers’ bill. During the course of the year he distanced himself from the Tories and high churchmen in Cheshire still further in the wake of the assassination plot, convinced that both the Jacobites and Catholics, if not aware of the assassination, knew of the planned invasion.22

During the 1696-7 session Cholmondeley was present on approximately 63 per cent of all sitting days. During the debates on the attainder of Sir John Fenwickon 18 Dec. 1696 Cholmondeley joined with John Thompson, Baron Haversham, in moving that Fenwick should be asked whether he had made the promised explanations of some parts of his original confession, and on 23 Dec. he voted in favour of passing the bill of attainder.23 On 23 Jan. 1697 he protested against the resolution not to read, a second time, the bill to regulate parliamentary elections further, and on 10 Apr. he was named a reporter of the conference concerning the bill to prevent the buying and selling of offices.

Cholmondeley attended over 75 per cent of sitting days in the 1697-8 session. On 15 Mar. 1698 he voted in favour of committing the bill for punishing Charles Duncombe, entering his dissent when it was resolved not to do so. The following day he entered a further dissent at the resolution in favour of James Bertie in his cause with Lucius Henry Cary, 6th Viscount Falkland [S].

Cholmondeley was present for almost 77 per cent of all sitting days in the first (1698-9) session of the 1698 Parliament. On 2 Mar. 1699 he was named a manager of the conference concerning the bill to prevent the distilling of corn, and on 27 Apr. he protested against a clause in the supply bill appointing commissioners for forfeited estates in Ireland. During the course of the year he became involved in a dispute with his estate stewards over their alleged mismanagement and apparent inability to pay him his rents. In or about May 1699 Cholmondeley was compelled to protest that he would be unable to leave town until he had received the expected funds, expostulating that,

I may truly say never any one [sic], rent has been so ill pay [sic], as mine have been this year though to my certain knowledge tenant never sold every thing at so high rates as they do now, and I am resolved to know where the fault lies when I come down for I will not be served at this rate any longer.24

Cholmondeley’s attendance declined in the 1699-1700 session to just under half of all sitting days, and he was named to just two committees. On 9 and 10 Apr. 1700 he was named a reporter of the conferences considering amendments to the land tax and forfeited estates in Ireland bill. In a list of Whig lords compiled in July 1700 he was marked O (possibly indicating his willingness to support the new ministry), but in November, with a general election in the offing, he backed the Tory candidates, Sir George Warburton and Sir Roger Mostyn. When it was revealed that Warburton had not taken the oaths, Cholmondeley withdrew his support, leaving Cotton and Mainwaring unopposed once more.25

Taking his seat at the opening of the first parliament of 1701, Cholmondeley was present on approximately 61 per cent of all sitting days. On 16 Apr. he entered a protest at the resolution to appoint a committee to draw up an address asking the king not to punish the four impeached lords until their impeachments had been tried. On 3 June he subscribed two further protests, complaining of the resolutions concerning the impeachment of the Whig lords. On 17 June he protested at the resolution to adjourn to Westminster Hall for the trial of John Somers, Baron Somers.

During the summer Cholmondeley experienced further difficulties with his estate steward, William Adams, over the management of his Cheshire lands and the payment of his rents.26 The dissolution in November 1701 provided Cholmondeley with a distraction from his immediate financial concerns, and that month he again lent his interest to Mostyn and Warburton.27 Continuing doubts over Warburton’s willingness to take the oaths caused Cholmondeley to demand that Adams find out from Warburton’s ‘own mouth’,

whether he has so capacitated himself for so I have already writ him word in my letter to him … that only on those terms could my interest be for him; nor can he wonder at my scrupulousness after what Sir Philip Egerton served me. If he has taken the oaths I desire you would be very stirring to do him the best service you can … since if I once appear for him the credit or discredit will in some measure come to me as he succeeds or fails. I hope my good friend Sir Roger Mostyn will yet stand with him which I think will make the thing much more feasible and easy for both …28

For all Cholmondeley’s care the election witnessed a revival of the bitter contests of the early 1690s and Cotton and Mainwaring once more topped the poll.

Disappointed in his ambitions, Cholmondeley arrived in town towards the close of December to discover that his steward, Laroche, had been poached from his employment by Arnold Joost van Keppel, earl of Albemarle. Albemarle implored him not to block his servant’s departure and was offered ‘the king’s promise of the first place that falls’ as recompense.29 Cholmondeley took his seat at the opening of the new Parliament on 30 Dec. 1701. During the ensuing (1701-2) session he was present on 59 per cent of sitting days and was named to 12 committees. On 1 Jan. 1702 he subscribed the Lords’ address to the crown expressing their resentment at the French king’s recognition of the Pretender as James III. On 8 Mar. Cholmondeley was present in the House and was thus named one of the managers of the conference occasioned by the death of William III.

Although he was displeased with Adams, in February 1702 Cholmondeley undertook to employ his interest (and to secure that of Francis Newport, earl of Bradford) on behalf of Adams’ son-in-law. His generosity was not returned in kind, and the following month he criticized Adams and the ‘unexcuseable’ neglect of another of his servants, Houlbrook. The forthcoming election gave Cholmondeley an additional source of grievance against his incompetent agents; on 17 June John Eaton warned Adams that Cholmondeley would be ‘extremely angry’ if he discovered that his agents had failed to make interest for Mostyn and Warburton with sufficient zeal. Incapacitated by poor health, which prevented him appearing in Cheshire in person, Cholmondeley sent gifts of venison to his Egerton relations to help woo the voters.30 In spite of his initial misgivings, Cholmondeley saw Tory successes elsewhere mirrored in Cheshire. Assisted by disarray in the Whig ranks, Mostyn and Warburton were returned for the county, despite a brief upset caused by accusations that Cholmondeley’s Catholic tenants had been permitted to vote. In Chester there was similar success with Peter Shakerley and Sir Henry Bunbury returned for the city.31

Notwithstanding his triumph at the polls, Cholmondeley was absent at the opening of the new Parliament on 20 Oct. 1702. He took his seat on 7 Dec. and was then present on almost 44 per cent of all sitting days. On 1 Jan. 1703 he was estimated by Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, to be in favour of the occasional conformity bill, and on 11 Jan. he spoke in the debate on the bill for Prince George, of Denmark, duke of Cumberland.32 On 16 Jan. he voted against adhering to the Lords’ amendment to the penalty clause attached to the occasional conformity bill, and on 22 Feb. he subscribed the protest at the refusal to commit the bill for the landed qualification of members of Parliament.

Cholmondeley’s careful balancing act at court and in Cheshire was rewarded with his appointment as lord lieutenant of Cheshire and vice admiral of the Cheshire coast; he had been appointed to the lieutenancy of North Wales the previous year. Absent from the opening of the new session on 9 Nov. 1703, that month he was again estimated to be in favour of the occasional conformity bill in two forecasts compiled by Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, though the second, of 26 Nov., suggested that Cholmondeley’s support for the measure might be doubtful.

The expense of life in London appears to have been one of the reasons for Cholmondeley’s delayed return to the House. He told Nottingham that,

I am endeavouring to obey your lordship’s commands and attend you in town, but we country gentlemen are not able to come to the price of Margerita’s voice with out doing penance whole months in the country first, to raise a fund sufficient to defray the expense; however I hope to kiss your lordship’s hands by the Christmas holidays, and shall then readily throw in my mite to advance any project that may bring a new relish and gusto to your lordship’s pleasurable part of your life …33

Sufficient funds presumably having been secured, he attended on 21 Dec. 1703, after which he was present on a little under a third of all sitting days, although he was absent again for just over a month from 17 Feb. until 24 Mar. 1704.

Cholmondeley failed again to attend the opening of the new session of October 1704, and he was still absent, excused, at a call of the House on 23 November. Perhaps included in a list of 1 Nov. of likely supporters of the Tack, it seems far more probable that the mark on the page indicating support and lying midway between two names, refers to John Ashburnham, Baron Ashburnham. Cholmondeley took his seat on 18 Dec. and was named to the committee for Lockhart’s bill, and that considering the bill for preventing the export of wool to Scotland. The same month he instructed his agents once again to make interest for Warburton in the forthcoming election, but relations with Sir Roger Mostyn had deteriorated to the extent that Cholmondeley ‘refused to countenance him’. Accordingly, he instructed Adams to, ‘take care to keep out Sir Roger by all means, and then do what service you can for Sir George. Keep this to yourself.’34 Both Warburton and Mostyn had voted for the Tack, which may in part explain Cholmondeley’s displeasure, though Mostyn had presumably offended him more particularly. Some electors clearly failed to discern the distinction. John Twemlow wrote to Houlbrook during the course of the campaign in protest at being asked to vote for Warburton, though he did undertake to wait on Cholmondeley in person to discover his reasons.35 To make matters worse, Warburton decided to stand with Mostyn, a decision that elicited an aggrieved missive from Cholmondeley to Adams in January 1705, bemoaning that manner in which the local gentry had set up the two candidates, ‘without any application or taking any notice of me in it’, but,

more especially by the story you remember was told of my cousin Legh and other non-jurors meeting last summer about it, which is now told and bandied about the town to my great discredit, as if I was to be led by the nose by them or as if I had no interest of my own; and more especially the unkind proceedings of Sir George Warburton, who I told in the country I would be for but not for Sir Roger Mostyn, and yet he has since joined with him without giving me notice but within these three weeks things make it impracticable for me to stir in it, without the [least?], scandal to myself.36

Faced with such insubordination, Cholmondeley concluded that he would not appear himself, nor countenance his tenants supporting either Warburton or Mostyn. The following month Cholmondeley was provoked into lodging another complaint against one of his agents, Brescie, who had continued to make interest for Warburton and Mostyn: ‘This to be done by one of my own servants without any order from me looks as if I was a tricking and said one thing whilst I was underhand acting another thing.’ Matters failed to improve, and the following week Cholmondeley’s indignation embraced Adams too, leading him to threaten, ‘when I come down I shall endeavour to put [my business], into some honest man’s hands who I hope will serve me better than you two do.’37 The resulting election was predictably bad-tempered. With the Cholmondeley interest in tatters both Mostyn and Warburton were beaten down by the Whig challengers Langham Booth and John Crewe Offley.

Cholmondeley was absent at the opening of the new Parliament on 25 Oct. 1705, perhaps away in Ireland.38 He was excused at a call of the House on 12 November. He arrived three days later, after which he was present on approximately 61 per cent of all sitting days in the session. On 7, 11, 14 and 17 Dec. he was named one of the reporters of the conferences considering the Church in danger dispute, and on 31 Jan. 1706 he participated in the debates on the regency bill, commenting waspishly that ‘the Lord Haversham acted as honestly and honourably when in office, as out of it.’39

The 1706-7 session saw Cholmondeley present for more than three-quarters of all sitting days. On 27 Dec. he, along with a number of other peers including Thomas Wharton, 5th Baron (later marquess of) Wharton, and Sidney Godolphin, Baron Godolphin, was raised to an earldom, but financial constraints continued to plague him. Michael Laroche (who seems to have returned to his service), complained to the unreliable Adams that funds intended for ‘house keeping, stabling and pocket money’ had been used to redeem pawned plate and to pay for taking out the patent for Cholmondeley’s earldom. The situation was so dire that,

we have not one single farthing in the house … nor do we know where to have it … My lord is in such constant passion about this matter that it is really uneasy for me to come near his lordship without being able to answer something for you all, he believing it a general combination amongst his agents in the country to blast his reputation.40

When Adams submitted a new lease to Cholmondeley, it was rejected out of hand; the embattled Laroche explaining to Adams delicately that, ‘I won’t tell you all the rest he says: he is so angry.’ Cholmondeley voiced his own frustrations in no uncertain terms shortly after, demanding Adams provide answers ‘without any trick or delays.’41

Cholmondeley continued to be an active participant in the parliamentary session. On 3 Feb. 1707 he played host to Wharton, St Albans, Evelyn Pierrepont, marquess of Dorchester, Charles Powlettt, 2nd duke of Bolton, and Charles Bennet, 2nd Baron Ossulston, at a dinner at his London home.42 On 8 Mar. Cholmondeley was noted by William Nicolson, bishop of Carlisle, as being one of the few lords present in the House that day, though his name does not appear on what otherwise appears to have been a relatively full attendance list.43 On 14 Mar. he received St Albans’ proxy, which he held for the rest of the session. On 22 Mar. anticipating the imminent prorogation, Cholmondeley let loose another intemperate missive to Adams at Cholmondeley Castle, enquiring ‘what condition the house at Cholmondeley is’ and whether it was ‘as full of dirt and rubbish as when I left,’ speculating that if things were as bad as he imagined them to be there was little point in his attempting to live there.44

Present for half of the brief session of April 1707, Cholmondeley took his seat two weeks into the first Parliament of Great Britain on 6 Nov. 1707, after which he was present for almost 79 per cent of the 1707-8 session. On 7 Feb. 1708 he protested at the resolution to pass the bill for completing the Union. In April 1708 he was appointed comptroller of the Household then, in November, treasurer of the Household in succession to the recently deceased Bradford.45 Cholmondeley’s appointment to these posts, which commanded salaries of £1,200, underlines his reputation as an ‘assiduous courtier’ as well as his desperate need for cash.46

Predictably enough, Cholmondeley was assessed as a Whig in a printed list of May 1708. In the election of that summer Booth and Offley were returned for Cheshire unopposed.47 Cholmondeley was present for a little under half of all sitting days in the 1708-9 session. Towards the close of December 1708 he was involved in ‘an odd kind of debate’ in the House over the motion to draw up an address congratulating the queen on the recent successes in the war, making particular mention of John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, and Prince Eugene. In his speech Cholmondeley ‘took notice of endeavours without doors to diminish the character of the duke of Marlborough’ but then appears to have become rather lost in his own rhetoric and needed to be rescued by the intervention of Wharton.48 On 21 Jan. 1709 he voted in favour of permitting Scots peers with British titles to vote in the elections for Scottish representative peers and in February attempted to secure Marlborough’s interest on behalf of a client who had pretensions to be promoted major general.49 Cholmondeley dined at Ossulston’s in March.50

He took his seat at the opening of the 1709-10 session. The early months of 1710 were dominated by divisions over the Sacheverell affair. In contrast to his Tory allies in Cheshire, Cholmondeley opposed the embattled cleric, finding him guilty of the charges brought against him. Cholmondeley’s opposition appears to have stemmed from his fundamental dislike of the kind of partisanship that Sacheverell represented. That summer he mused to Matthew Prior:

these times are as dangerous and uncertain for those that set their hearts upon holding places as perhaps ever were … . And for one that has neither superstition nor more religion than is absolutely necessary, a quiet mind is better than to embroil, plague and trouble myself amongst the kn[ave]s and fo[o]ls about either Church or State.51

The electors of Cheshire showed themselves to be far less reasonable. Support for Sacheverell in the county meant that the elections of 1710 saw a resumption of the heated religious divisions apparent in 1705, and the Whig members found themselves opposed strenuously by Warburton and Cholmondeley’s kinsman, Charles Cholmondeley. Despite his own opposition to Sacheverell, Cholmondeley rebuffed Godolphin’s request to support the Whigs.52 He lent his interest to the Tory challengers, reinforced by Richard Savage, 4th Earl Rivers, and Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury. In the face of such overwhelming odds, the Whigs were again displaced and Warburton and Cholmondeley returned.53

Cholmondeley took his seat three days into the new Parliament on 28 Nov. 1710. In a pre-sessional forecast compiled by Robert Harley, later earl of Oxford, he had been marked as a possible supporter of the ministry, but in the early months of 1711 he defected from the court. He protested on 3 Feb. at the resolution to agree with the committee that the two regiments on the Spanish establishment at the time of the battle of Alamanza were not properly supplied and at the resolution to agree with the committee that the failure of ministers to supply the deficiencies of men voted by Parliament for the war in Spain amounted to a neglect of the service. He justified his defection by suggesting that ‘he would be loath to see the present ministry condemned on such evidence.’54 On 8 Feb. he acted as teller for the contents on a division concerning the state of the war in Spain.

Despite his disloyalty during the previous session and reports that he had been replaced as treasurer of the Household by Shrewsbury’s nephew, George Brudenell, 3rd earl of Cardigan, Cholmondeley was assured over the summer that he would not be put out of office.55 He returned to the House for the 1711-12 session during which he was present on over two-thirds of sitting days. On 8 Dec. he was included among those expected to oppose the ministry by supporting the presentation of the address containing the no peace without Spain motion, and on 10 Dec. he was again included on a list of office-holders who had rebelled against the ministry on the question of no peace without Spain. This, and his opposition to the occasional conformity bill, led to further talk (in spite of earlier reassurances) that he and St Albans were to be put out of office; to add to his woes, Cholmondeley was also the victim of a practical joke played on him by Buckingham, who insisted on presenting Cholmondeley to the queen as if they had not met before, which ‘put his lordship much to the blush.’56 Although he was forecast on 19 Dec. as being possibly opposed to permitting James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S], to sit in the House by virtue of his British dukedom of Brandon, the following day Cholmondeley fell into line and voted in Hamilton’s favour. Even so, on 21 Dec. and again on 1 Jan. 1712, reports circulated that he was to be replaced as treasurer of the Household.57 Cholmondeley’s performance in the House on 4 Jan. 1712 earned him further unflattering press. Peter Wentworth described how he spoke, ‘for the adjournment in a manner remarkable enough’, telling the House,

that he was let into no secret of either, nodding his head this side and that side, saying neither of this side nor that side, so he was an impartial man, and in pure respect to her majesty should be for complying with her majesty’s desire especial [sic], when she had given them so good a reason as that she had matter of importance to communicate to both houses.58

Cholmondeley’s increasing unreliability no doubt helped to fuel further rumours that he was to be put out of office.59 In March he employed his interest covertly on behalf of one of his kinsmen, Lloyd Bodvel, who was facing prosecution by Richard Bulkeley, 4th Viscount Bulkeley [I] ‘for no other reason I can hear but because he is not in the Lord Bulkeleys’s interest and therefore is called a Whig’. Bulkeley’s animosity towards Bodvel was founded on far more than this and was no doubt the reason for Cholmondeley being at pains to stress to Adams that, ‘I don’t desire to have my name made use of in this matter for some reasons I shall tell you when I see you.’60

Cholmondeley’s remarkable longevity in office earned him a line in a satire of June 1712, which stated that ‘Cholmondeley, when drunk, can never lose his wand’.61 His political malleability was nevertheless insufficient to prevent divisions re-surfacing in Cheshire over the loyal address of July. Cholmondeley refused to present it, as it lacked any reference to the Hanoverian succession and he warned that the recorder of Chester’s role in its drafting meant that, ‘he shall find in a very little time that I don’t forget the villainous trick he puts upon me’.62 When the gazette mistakenly reported that Cholmondeley had done so, he instructed Adams to,

let the recorder of Chester or anyone else know how my lord Bolingbroke (Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke) introduced the Cheshire address … especially since the opinion I had of it makes me much better pleased he should have the credit of it than myself.63

In anticipation of the 1713 session Swift estimated that Cholmondeley would oppose the ministry; his continued insubordination resulted in his dismissal from office in April 1713.64 Admitting that he did not know the precise details, Peter Wentworth reported that, ‘I have heard that in council he did not approve of some part of the queen’s speech, and that he has talked of this himself.’65 Out of office Cholmondeley continued to oppose the ministry. On 13 June he was listed by Oxford as one of those expected to vote against confirming the 8th and 9th articles of the French treaty of commerce. Yet following the dissolution in August, together with Rivers, he was again active in Cheshire on behalf of Tory candidates.66 He resumed his seat for the new Parliament a few days after the opening on 23 Feb. 1714. On 11 Mar. he entered his dissent at the resolution not to amend the address for a proclamation for the discovery of the author of The Public Spirit of the Whigs. Although it was noted in the Journal, a few days later he was reported to have moved an address to the queen for encouraging the officers of the army as a way of securing the succession.67 On 5 Apr. he was teller for the contents on the question of whether to add words to the address on the Protestant succession. On 7 May he received the proxy of the Junto Whig, Edward Russell, earl of Orford. Forecast by Nottingham as opposed to the schism bill in May, on 2 June Cholmondeley received Manchester’s proxy, and on 14 June he was teller for the not contents on the report whether to agree to the schism bill amendment. Absent from the session after 17 June, on 22 June he registered his proxy with William Cowper, Baron (later Earl) Cowper.

Cholmondeley attended eight of the 15 days of the August 1714 session. At the accession of George I he was restored to office as treasurer of the Household and to the lieutenancy of Cheshire. During the elections for the new Parliament Cholmondeley again combined his interest in Cheshire with that of Rivers in favour of Warburton and Charles Cholmondeley.68 The campaign was dominated by disagreements over the Weaver navigation bill; Charles Cholmondeley, the only candidate to oppose the bill, was beaten into third place by Warburton and Langham Booth.69

Cholmondeley took his seat at the opening of Parliament on 17 Mar. 1715. Between 5 Apr. and 3 May he held the proxy of Francis Godolphin, 2nd earl of Godolphin. Briefly absent from 13 to 19 July, Cholmondeley registered his own proxy with Cowper. On 2 Sept. he was named one the managers of a conference concerning the bill for relief of sufferers by fire and in November was active in securing Cheshire from the threat of rebellion.70

The remainder of Cholmondeley’s parliamentary career will be covered in the next phase of this work. He died 18 Jan. 1725 and was succeeded under the terms of a special remainder by his brother, George Cholmondeley, who had been raised to the peerage as Baron Newburgh in 1716. In his will he named his nephew, George Cholmondeley, later 3rd earl of Cholmondeley, and his kinsman, Sir John Bridgman, Sir Thomas Hanmer and Randle Wilbraham as executors. His estate was left to his brother and nephew.


  • 1 Add. 75355, Clifford of Lanesborough to Lady Burlington, 24 May 1681.
  • 2 TNA, PROB 11/601.
  • 3 Chester ALS, ass. bks. ZAB/3, f. 113.
  • 4 Cheshire ALS, DCH/L/50/2, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 16 Dec. 1701; Add. 22267, ff. 164-71.
  • 5 VCH Cheshire, ii. 121.
  • 6 Cheshire ALS, DCH/K/3/14, R. Chritchley to W.
  • 7 Add. 75355, Clifford of Lanesborough to Lady Burlington, 24 May 1681.
  • 8 Cheshire ALS, Cholmondeley mss DCH/K/3/14, Cholmondeley to W.
  • 9 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 58-59.
  • 10 Cheshire ALS, DCH/L/53, R. [Deanes], to W. Adams, 14 Feb. 1685.
  • 11 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iv. 350, 356, 364; Add. 34510, f. 182.
  • 12 Cheshire ALS, DCH/K/3/8, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 25 Dec. 1688; Chatsworth, Halifax Coll. B.11.
  • 13 Cheshire ALS, DCH/K/3/8, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 29 Jan. 1689.
  • 14 Ibid. R. Marshall to W. Adams, 23 May 1689.
  • 15 Ibid. M. Laroche to W. Adams, 28 May 1689.
  • 16 CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 242.
  • 17 Cheshire ALS, DCH/M/27, R. Levinge to W. Adams, 16 Feb. 1690.
  • 18 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 64, 334.
  • 19 Cruickshanks, Hayton and Jones, ‘Divisions in the House of Lords’, Peers, Politics and Power ed. C. Jones and D.L. Jones, 94-95.
  • 20 Bodl. Carte 79, f. 553; Kent HLC (CKS), U1590/O59/3, Yard to A. Stanhope, 17 July 1694.
  • 21 HP Commons 1690-1715, iii. 534.
  • 22 Cheshire ALS, DCH/K/3/10, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 1696.
  • 23 WSHC, 2667/25/7.
  • 24 Cheshire ALS, DCH/K/3/13, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, [May?], 1699.
  • 25 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 58.
  • 26 Cheshire ALS, DCH/L/50/2, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 12 June 1701.
  • 27 Ibid. Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 20 Nov. 1701.
  • 28 Ibid. Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 28 Nov. 1701.
  • 29 Ibid. Robert Chritchley to W. Adams, 27 Dec. 1701.
  • 30 Cheshire ALS, DCH/L/49/13, Cholmondeley to W.
  • 31 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 61, 67.
  • 32 Nicolson, London Diaries, 166.
  • 33 Add. 29589, f. 320.
  • 34 Cheshire ALS, DCH/K/3/16, Cholmondeley to W.
  • 35 Cheshire ALS, DCH/L/50/6, J. Twemlow to W. Houlbrook, 19 Apr. 1705.
  • 36 Cheshire ALS, DCH/L/42, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 16 Jan. 1705.
  • 37 Ibid. Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 16 Jan. 1705, DCH/K/3/16, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 13 and 20 Feb. 1705.
  • 38 HMC Ormonde, viii. 259.
  • 39 Nicolson, London Diaries, 369.
  • 40 Cheshire ALS, DCH/K/3/20, M. Laroche to W. Adams, 4 Jan. 1707.
  • 41 Ibid. M. Laroche to W. Adams, 8 Feb. 1707, Cholmondeley to Adams, 15 Feb. 1707.
  • 42 TNA, C104/116, pt. 1, Ossulston’s Diary, 3 Feb. 1707.
  • 43 Nicolson, London Diaries, 423.
  • 44 Cheshire ALS, DCH/K/3/20, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 22 Mar. 1707.
  • 45 Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 354.
  • 46 Sainty and Bucholz, Royal Household, ii, 2-3; Holmes, Pols in Age of Anne, 226.
  • 47 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 62.
  • 48 Leics. RO, DG 7 box 4950, bdle. 23, letter A44.
  • 49 Add. 61283, f. 84.
  • 50 TNA, C104/113, pt. 2, Ossulston’s Diary, 17 Mar. 1709.
  • 51 HMC Bath, iii. 438-9.
  • 52 Wentworth Pprs. 135-7.
  • 53 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 62-63.
  • 54 Nicolson, London Diaries, 541-42.
  • 55 Add. 72495, f. 74; Holmes, 227.
  • 56 Wentworth Pprs. 224; Add. 22226, f. 45.
  • 57 Add. 22,226, f. 46; NLW, Ottley corresp. 2447.
  • 58 Wentworth Pprs. 240-41.
  • 59 Luttrell, vi. 710.
  • 60 HP Commons 1690-1715, ii. 785-86; Cheshire ALS, DCH/L/32, Cholmondeley to Adams, 13 Mar. 1712.
  • 61 POAS, vii. 567.
  • 62 Cheshire ALS, DCH/K/3/26, Cholmondeley to W. Adams, 5 July 1712, M. Laroche to W. Adams, 8 July 1712.
  • 63 Ibid. Cholmondeley to Adams, 24 July 1712.
  • 64 Add. 72496, f. 61; Add. 22220, ff. 62-63; Wentworth Pprs. 328-9.
  • 65 Wentworth Pprs. 330.
  • 66 Cheshire ALS, Grosvenor mss at Eaton Hall, P. Shakerley to the city of Chester, 2 Dec. 1714.
  • 67 NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow letters 4to, VIII, ff. 67-69.
  • 68 Cheshire ALS, Grosvenor mss, P. Shakerley to the City of Chester, 2 Dec. 1714.
  • 69 VCH Chester, ii. 122.
  • 70 Cheshire ALS, DSS, R. Mainwaring to P. Shakerley and L. Oldfield, 1 Nov. 1715.