James Alexander, 4th Earl of Caledon
James Alexander, 4th Earl of Caledon KP, DL (11 July 1846 – 27 April 1898) was a soldier and politician and the son of James Du Pre Alexander, 3rd Earl of Caledon and Lady Jane Grimston, styled Viscount Alexander until 1855.
He was born at his family's home in Carlton House Terrace, London and educated Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford. He succeeded to the title Earl of Caledon at the age of nine on the death of his father in 1855.
In 1861, during his minority, an extensive but remote property at Castlederg, County Tyrone, known as the Derg Estate, was purchased through the Landed Estates Court by his guardians from a kinsman of the Alexanders, Sir Robert Ferguson. The Caledon family took an active interest in the management of their estates. The 2nd and 3rd Earls made extensive improvements to the village of Caledon, erected the flour mill in the village, gave financial support to the poor of Caledon and to schools on the estate, and improved their property by draining, liming, etc. In addition, large sums of money were spent improving and extending the 'big house' at Caledon (variously known as Caledon House, Caledon Hill and Caledon Castle), and on laying out the richly ornamental demesne and gardens of over 600 acres (2.4 km2).
As an adult, Lord Caledon was elected to sit in the House of Lords as a Representative Peer for Ireland in 1877 and was Deputy Lieutenant of County Tyrone. He gained the rank of Captain in the service of the 1st Life Guards, became a Major serving with the 4th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and fought in the Egyptian Campaign in 1882. He was also invested as a Knight of the Order of St. Patrick on 14 November 1896.
He married Lady Elizabeth Graham-Toler, daughter of Hector Graham-Toler, 3rd Earl of Norbury, on 9 October 1884 and had issue:
- Eric Alexander, 5th Earl of Caledon (9 August 1885 – 10 July 1968). He succeeded to the title, but was unmarried, and died without issue.
- Lt.-Col. Hon. Herbrand Charles Alexander DSO (28 November 1888 – 6 May 1965), who fought with the 5th Lancers during the First World War and was mentioned in despatches three times, and in the Second World War as a Lieutenant Colonel of the Pioneer Corps. He married, firstly, Millicent Meredyth, only daughter of Sir Henry Meredyth, 5th Baronet, in 1919 (divorced 1927), and had issue: (i) Denis Alexander, 6th Earl of Caledon. He married, secondly, the Hon. Ada Kate Bellew (who died in 1994), daughter of the late Hon. Richard Eustace Bellew and granddaughter of Edward Bellew, 2nd Baron Bellew, in 1937.
- Harold Alexander, later Field Marshal the 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis (10 December 1891 – 16 June 1969). Married Lady Margaret Bingham (16 September 1905 – 17 August 1977), daughter of George Bingham, Lord Bingham (later the Earl of Lucan).
- Colonel Hon. William Sigismund Patrick Alexander DSO (16 November 1895 – 24 December 1972), who fought with the Irish Guards in the First World War and was mentioned in despatches, and in the Second World War and was Deputy Lieutenant for Essex from 1956 to 1967.. He married Jane Buxton (who died in 1967), only daughter of the late Commander Bernard Buxton DSO RN, in 1934, and had issue.
Writing about the Caledons' neighbours Sir John Leslie and his wife Constance, Mark Bence-Jones says: "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, has 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."
- Life in an Irish Country House, Mark Bence-Jones (Constable, London 1996)
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