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Charlemont, James Caulfeild, 1st earl of

Charlemont, James Caulfeild, 1st earl of [I] (1728–99). Charlemont was a typical member of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, anxious to assert Irish rights against England but even more anxious not to encourage catholic demands. He was the son of an Irish viscount and succeeded to the title and the Ulster estates at the age of 6. He was created earl in 1763, having acted firmly in putting down disturbances in Armagh. Charlemont had literary and antiquarian tastes and, with Burke, Goldsmith, and Johnson, belonged to the Club. Despite nervousness, which prevented him speaking in the Irish House of Lords, he became increasingly interested in politics, and played an important part as organizer, particularly through his contacts with Henry Flood and Grattan. His aim, as he expressed it, was to serve Ireland in Ireland and to enhance her constitutional position. In 1768 he gave vigorous support to the Octennial Bill, which limited the life of the Irish Parliament and strengthened its position, and in 1775 he brought Grattan into the Irish House of Commons as member for the family borough of Charlemont. His period of greatest influence was 1780–4 when he commanded the Irish volunteers and he rejoiced in the concessions obtained in 1782. After that, his role was to restrain. He disliked the growing radicalism of the Volunteers and helped to avoid a confrontation in 1783 between the Dublin Convention and the Irish Parliament. He continued as an active member of the Whig opposition in Ireland, helping to frustrate Pitt's commercial propositions in 1785, forming Whig clubs, and opposing the Act of Union, which passed soon after his death.

J. A. Cannon

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