Graham, Sir James

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Graham, Sir James (1792–1861). Heir to an important border landed estate in Cumberland, Graham was educated at Westminster School and Oxford. He succeeded his father in 1824, and implemented extensive estate improvement. Returned to Parliament in 1818 for Hull, he joined the Whig opposition, supporting catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform. In 1830 he became 1st lord of the Admiralty in Grey's cabinet, and was one of the four ministers who drafted the Great Reform Act. At the Admiralty he introduced administrative reform, before resigning in 1834 over proposals for reforming the established Irish church. He refused to join Peel's minority government of 1834–5 but moved into opposition to the succeeding Whig ministry. He became home secretary and Peel's right-hand man in the 1841–6 ministry, supporting him in Corn Law repeal and resigning with him in 1846. After Peel's death, Graham remained a prominent Peelite politician, returning to the Admiralty in Aberdeen's coalition ministry of 1853–5. Graham's frequent changes of constituency and of party led him to describe his own career as ‘devious’.

Norman McCord

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