Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Graham, James (1649-1730)
GRAHAM, JAMES (1649–1730), colonel, born at Norton Conyers, Yorkshire, in March 1649, was the second son of Sir George Graham, bart., of Netherby, Cumberland, by his wife, Lady Mary Johnston, second daughter of James, first earl of Hartfell in Scotland. He was educated under Busby at Westminster School, though not on the foundation, whence he proceeded as a gentleman-commoner to Christ Church, Oxford. He received from Louis XIV on 15 May 1671 a commission to be captain of the regiment of Scottish infantry of Douglas; on 29 March 1673 he was appointed by Charles II to the captaincy of a company of foot commanded by the Earl of Carlisle, and on 15 Nov. of the same year he became captain of a company of the royal regiment of English infantry, his commission bearing the signature of Louis. On 1 Feb. 1674 he was promoted to the captaincy of twelve companies composing two battalions of the royal regiment of English infantry commanded by the Duke of Monmouth, but on the ensuing 3 Nov., being then in camp at Detweiler, he obtained leave from Turenne to return to England. From Charles he received, on 1 Jan. 1674-5, the captaincy of Sir Charles Littleton's company of foot, on 30 Oct. following a captaincy in the Earl of Craven's company of foot, and on 23 Feb. 1677-8 the lieutenant-colonelcy of the regiment of foot commanded by Lord Morpeth, as also the captaincy of a company. His attractive person and manner made him a great favourite at court. There he fell in love with the beautiful Dorothy Howard, one of the maids of honour to the queen, and, after overcoming her mother's opposition, through the friendly offices of Evelyn, was married to her at the end of 1675 (Evelyn, Diary, ed. 1850-2, ii. 100, 117). By December 1679 he was keeper of the privy purse to the Duchess of York, and soon after was acting in the same capacity to the Duke of York, with apartments in St. James's Palace. By Prince Rupert he was granted. 11 Feb. 1679-80, the custody of Pirbright Walk in Windsor Forest. On 10 Aug. 1682 he accompanied Lord Feversham to compliment the king of France from their majesties of England on the birth of the Duke of Burgundy, son to the dauphin (Luttrell, Historical Relation, i. 212, 218). Under James II Graham was made keeper of the privy purse 4 April 1685, and master of the harthounds and buckhounds on the same day; he was also granted a lease of a lodge in Bagshot Park, Surrey (Cal. State Papers, Treas. 1702-7, p. 387). On 28 Nov. in the same year he become deputy-lieutenant of the castle and forest of Windsor. He also sat in James's only parliament, having been elected one of the members for Carlisle, Cumberland, on 19 March 1684-5. The great silver-gilt mace which he presented to the borough in February 1685-6 is still in the possession of the corporation. Graham purchased of Allan Bellingham about 1687 the manor of Levens, near Kendal, Westmoreland. Graham had the special confidence of James II. Besides accompanying the king to Rochester, 18 Dec. 1688, and assisting him liberally with money, he secured on his return the royal plate in the 'privy lodgings,' and looked after James's shares in the East India and Guinea companies. In disposing of these shares he lost heavily, for, as he himself states, at the end of 1691, when 'he was under some trouble,' he was by a decree in the exchequer made accountable for the whole, and ordered to refund (Some Records of the Ashtead Estate, pp. 90-1). Part of Graham's duties as privy purse was to provide 'healing medals' for those who were touched for the king's evil, and as late as 1703 he was called upon to repay 1,250l. On his petitioning against this demand the queen commanded on 19 April 'the 1,250l. imprested to be discharged by a tally' (Cal. State Papers, Treas. 1702-7, pp. 97, 142). Graham contrived to win to some extent the good graces of William III. Though fresh from a visit to James at St. Germain, he was allowed to visit his brother, Richard, viscount Preston [q. v.], when confined in the Tower on a charge of high treason in May 1689, 'as often as he had occasion.' William, however, refused to believe in his sincerity, when in July 1690 he offered, through Lord Nottingham, to take the oaths of allegiance. Graham said that though 'he had done all he could to serve King James,' he would now be a faithful subject, as James was past helping, and would reveal anything he might hear about French designs, though he declined either to mention names or to offer himself as evidence (Letter of Lord Nottingham to William III, 15 July 1690, in Dalrymple, Memoirs, Appendix). Graham resented the king's mistrust. On 1 Jan. 1690-1 his brother, Lord Preston, was seized when on his way to France with treasonable papers in his possession. Diligent search was forthwith made for Graham; on 6 Feb. a proclamation was issued against him; and in May the attorney-general received orders to prosecute him 'to the outlawry for high treason' (Luttrell, ii. 162, 172, 230). Though in February 1691-2 he received the king's pardon (ib. ii. 356), he continued his visits to James. He also commenced an agitation in Scotland, where his influence was considerable. The freedom of Edinburgh had been presented to him in 1679, and that of Stirling and Linlithgow in 1681. He visited Edinburgh for the purpose of conferring with several well-known Jacobites on 12 March 1691-2, and in the evening embarked from Leith for France in company with General Buchan and Brigadier Cannon (ib. ii. 396). A careful watch had in the meantime been set on his movements. He narrowly escaped being arrested by two messengers at his residence in Norfolk Street, London, on 26 April, when in the very act of superintending the removal of money and plate for transmission to James (ib. ii. 434). Another proclamation was in consequence issued for his arrest on 10 May, and on 1 June he surrendered to the secretary of state, and was committed to the custody of a messenger (ib. ii. 448, 469). He was, however, admitted to bail (see ib. ii. 627). On 3 March 1696 he was again arrested on the discovery of the infamous 'assassination plot,' and sent to the Fleet (ib. iv. 24), where he was visited on 6 April by Evelyn (Diary, ii. 340), but soon released. On the advice of his brother Fergus, who had fled the country, he settled quietly at Levens, and became ultimately one of the most popular men in the county, though still maintaining a correspondence with Jacobite friends. His hospitality was unbounded. Bishop Ken was a frequent visitor at Levens; the room he occupied there being to this day called the 'bishop's room.' He was called upon to help many of his party. Monsieur Beaumont, the gardener of James II and the designer of the grounds at Hampton Court, was for many years in Graham's service at Levens. Its gardens, which he enlarged and laid out in the stiff 'topiary' style then in fashion, still remain in their original state.
In September 1701 Graham took the oaths to the government (Luttrell, v. 95), and in the following year was elected M.P. for Appleby, Westmoreland, which he continued to represent in the parliaments of 1705 and 1707. It is not improbable that he was soon offered a post under government, which, though his fortunes were sadly reduced, his principles would not allow him to accept. Luttrell, under date of 18 April 1704, reports that Graham 'stood fair' to succeed William Duncombe, deceased, as comptroller of the accounts of the army (ib. v. 414). On the death of his eldest son, Henry (1706-7), he succeeded him in the representation of Westmoreland at the general election in 1708, and again at the elections of 1710,1713,1714, and 1722. At the general election of November 1727 he retired from public life (Lists of Members of Parliament, Official Return, pts. i. ii.) His voting in 1710 in favour of Sacheverell made him immensely popular both in Westmoreland and Cumberland. In 1717 he was elected mayor of Appleby by a large majority. In 1722 he was a deputy-lieutenant for Westmoreland. For many years before his death Graham had a house in Stratton Street, near Devonshire House, London. In the latter part of his life he was a good deal at Charlton, the Wiltshire seat of his son-in-law, Lord Berkshire, where there still remains a collection of pictures, which, once the property of James II, was entrusted to Graham's keeping by William III. He died at Charlton on 26 Jan. 1729-30, and, in accordance with his latest wish, was buried there on 2 Feb. Though his epitaph in the church describes him as 'servant to King Charles and King James the Second,' and 'faithful to both,' he remained to the last on excellent terms with the court.
Graham was twice married, first at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London, by license dated 22 Nov. 1675, to Dorothy (d. 1700), daughter of William Howard, fourth son of Thomas, first earl of Berkshire. By this lady, whom Evelyn mentions in terms of the highest praise for her beauty and virtues, he had three sons and two daughters. Of the sons, Henry (d. 1706-7) was M.P. for Westmoreland, William (d. 1716) rose to be a captain in the navy, and Richard died prematurely in 1697 as a commoner of University College, Oxford. A series of letters from him and his tutor, Hugh Todd, describing his college life and last illness, was, with altered names of persons and places, published by Francis Edward Paget in 1875, with the title 'A Student Penitent of 1695.' Graham's eldest daughter, Catherine (d. 1762), was married on 8 March 1708-9 to her first cousin, Henry Bowes Howard, fourth earl of Berkshire (Luttrell, vi. 415), who succeeded, in right of his wife, to the Levens estate; the youngest daughter, Mary, married John Michell of Richmond, Surrey, from whom she was separated, and lived until her death about 1718 with her father. Graham married secondly at St. Olave's, Hart Street, London, by license dated 4 March 1701-2, Elizabeth, widow of George Bromley of the Middle Temple, and daughter of Isaac Barton, merchant, of All Hallows Barking, London. She died in September 1709, leaving no issue by him (Chester, London Marriage Licences, 1521-1869, ed. Foster, cols. 190, 573). A portrait of Graham by Sir Peter Lely hangs in the library at Levens; a pencil drawing of him is at Elford Hall in Staffordshire; in both he appears as a decidedly handsome man, tall and thin, with a dark and somewhat melancholy cast of countenance. Horace Walpole describes him as having been a fashionable man in his day, and noted for his dry humour (Letters, ed. Cunningham, i. 234; see also 'Reminiscences of Courts of George I and II,' in Letters, ed. 1840, i. cvi-cvii). The manuscripts at Levens Hall, now belonging to Captain Josceline F. Bagot, are described in the Historical Manuscripts Commission's 10th Rep. pt. iv. 327-47. Graham seems to have destroyed all letters from his brother, Lord Preston, and from his intimate friend, Lord Sunderland. He kept only two letters from James II. He preferred to write his name 'Grahme.'[Douglas's Peerage of Scotland (Wood), ii. 374; Some Records of the Ashtead Estate (by Francis Edward Paget); G. F. Weston's On the History and Associations of Levens Hall; Hist. HSS. Comm. 6th Rep. 321a, 7th Rep. 350b; Josceline Bagot's Colonel James Grahme of Levens (with portrait); Evelyn's Diary (1850-2), vol. ii.; Will registered in P.C.C. 64, Auber.]