Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Ulster's Nabob

I've been viewing the BBC documentary about The East India Company, presented by Dan Snow.

Ulster's most distinguished Nabob was, in all probability, James Alexander, advanced to an earldom, in 1800, as Earl of Caledon.

Do we know exactly where he lived in India?

Alexander (1730-1802) joined the East India Company in 1752, and over the next twenty years as a merchant in India and a company official amassed a fortune which he estimated at £500,000 (almost £80 million in today's money).

Dr Peter Marshall CBE has written:
"[Among the great fortunes which were amassed in Bengal before the end of the 1760s] ... were [those] made by Francis Sykes, Thomas Rumbold and James Alexander, who had all taken a rich harvest out of the early revenue administration, Sykes as Resident at Murshidabad, Rumbold at Patna, and Alexander..."
On his final return to Ulster in 1772, he purchased an estate at Moville (Donegal) and also Boom Hall near Londonderry.

A mere three years later, however, in 1775-76, he bought the 9,000 acre Caledon estate on the borders of counties Tyrone and Armagh from the Lord Cork for about £90,000.  

Caledon Castle was rebuilt on a new site in 1779 to the designs of James Wyatt and Thomas Cooley.  

Mr Alexander became MP for Londonderry in 1774 and, in 1790, was advanced to the peerage, as Baron Caledon; followed by a viscountcy in 1797; and an earldom in 1800.

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