ALEXANDER, James (1769-1848), of Somerhill, Kent.

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



30 May 1812 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 1769, 4th s. of Robert Alexander of Boom Hall, co. Londonderry, and bro. of Henry Alexander*. m. (1) 1804, Elizabeth, da. of Capt. Dundas of Manour, Stirling and Calcutta, 1da.; (2) 18 Feb. 1813, Charlotte Sophia, da. of Thomas Dashwood, E.I. Co. service, wid. of Hon. Charles Andrew Bruce, 3rd s. of Charles, 5th Earl of Elgin, 2s. 3da.

Offices Held

Cadet, E.I. Co. (Bengal) 1784, lt. 1785, res. Aug. 1792; private merchant until 1812.


Like his uncle Lord Caledon, Alexander proceeded to India, where he too made a fortune. He owed much to the protection of Josias Du Pré Porcher*.1 From 1792 he was a partner in the merchant bank of Gardner, Mosscrop and Alexander of Calcutta and subsequently a proprietor of the Bank of Hindustan. By 1812 he was in England, partner in an East Indian agency headed by Porcher and owner of an estate in Kent. He was returned on the interest of his cousin the 2nd Earl of Caledon for his borough of Old Sarum on a vacancy in 1812, when Caledon disapproved the re-election of Nicholas Vansittart, on his being offered the Exchequer. Although his cousin then had thoughts of selling the borough, Alexander retained the seat for 20 years, becoming patron himself after an exchange of lands between them. (In 1817 he had contemplated investing £100,000 in Irish land.)2 From 1820 he returned his brother Josias with himself.

Alexander was on the list of Treasury supporters after his re-election in 1812. He voted steadily against Catholic relief in the ensuing Parliament, and as steadily against Christian missions to India in the session of 1813, when he was a member of the select committee on East India Company affairs. His first known speech was on this subject, 22 June 1813. So far as is known, he voted only with ministers, even when they were in the minority, as on 3 July 1815, 18 Mar. and 17 June 1816. He seldom spoke, but went out of his way to defend the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816. He supported the suspension of habeas corpus and its consequences, 23 June 1817, 10 Feb. and 5 Mar. 1818. In the Parliament of 1818 he silently supported ministers on Wyndham Quin’s* case, 29 Mar., against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and on the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819. Alexander died 12 Sept. 1848.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: J. W. Anderson


  • 1. Add. 33106, f. 239.
  • 2. London Gazette (1814), 31; Add. 35650, f. 367; Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 603; PRO NI, Caledon mss D2433/B4/1/59.