Earl of Caledon

Earl of Caledon

A carte-de-visite portrait of the Earl of Caledon (1846-1898).

James Alexander was born on 11 July 1846, the son of James Du Pre Alexander, 3rd Earl of Caledon and his wife, Lady Jane née Grimston. He was styled Viscount Alexander until 1855, when his father died and, aged 9, he succeeded him as Earl of Caledon. Educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, he entered the army and gained the rank of Captain in the service of the 1st Life Guards. He saw action in 1882 during the Egyptian Campaign, by which time he had become a Major in the Royal Inniskilling Fusileers. In 1877 he was elected to sit in the House of Lords as a Representative Peer for Ireland.

On 9 October 1884 he married Lady Elizabeth Graham-Toler, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Norbury. The marriage produced four sons.

Writing about the Caledons' neighbours Sir John Leslie and his wife Constance, Mark Bence-Jones recounts an anecdote which gives some idea of the grandeur of the Caledons, as well as a glimpse of their private life. ‘As a grande dame, Lady Constance [Leslie] was surpassed by her much younger neighbour, the Countess of Caledon, who lived with her husband and four sons at Caledon, a magnificent Georgian house of which the demesne marched with that of Glaslough, though it was across the county boundary in Tyrone. Lady Constance, when she drove out in her carriage, had a liveried footman on the box; Lady Caledon had postillions in white buckskin breeches. Only once did Lady Caledon appear at a disadvantage; she turned up unexpectedly at Glaslough just before dinner in an evening dress and satin slippers, having walked all the way from Caledon after her husband had done something to offend her. She was welcomed by Lady Constance, given dinner and put into the best guest bedroom for the night. Next morning a contrite Lord Caledon came for her in a pony trap, waiting at the inner gate until she chose to join him.’ [Mark Bence-Jones, Life in An Irish Country House, 1996.]

Lord Caledon died on 27 April 1898 at the age of 51 in Curzon Street, Mayfair, London from blood poisoning and pneumonia. He was buried at Caledon in County Tyrone. Lady Caledon survived him by some forty years.

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London in 1860.

Code: 124710
© Paul Frecker 2022