Alexander, James (1730–1802), 1st earl of Caledon , MP, was third and youngest son of Nathaniel Alexander of Gunsland, Co. Donegal, alderman of Derry city, and Elizabeth Alexander (née McClintock) of Dunmore, Co. Londonderry; both families were related to many people of importance in the north-west of Ireland. James Alexander went out to the East as an officer of the East India Company, and rapidly made a vast fortune. He returned to Ireland probably in the early 1770s, and in 1775 spent about £600,000 on buying land at Caledon, Co. Tyrone, Boom Hall, Co. Londonderry, and elsewhere. He owned the borough of Newtownards, for which he received £15,000 compensation at the time of the union; he himself was MP for the city of Derry 1775–90, and on 6 June 1790 was created Baron Caledon (raised to viscount, 1797). He vigorously supported the union, ‘whether from self-interest or conviction . . . at any rate his services did not go unrewarded by a grateful government’ (G.E.C.). On 29 December 1800, the last day on which such a creation was possible, he was created earl of Caledon. He died 22 March 1802. He married (28 November 1774) Anne Crawfurd of Crawfurdsburn, who died after the birth of his only son. They also had two daughters, Mabella (1775–1854), who married the 11th Baron Blayney (1770–1834), and Elizabeth (1776–1851). The son, Du Pre Alexander (1777–1839), born 14 December 1777, was MP for Newtownards (January–December 1800), succeeded as 2nd earl (1802), was governor of the Cape of Good Hope (1807–11) and chairman of the Irish Distress Committee (1831–5), and died 8 April 1839. He married (1811) Catherine, daughter of the 3rd earl of Hardwicke (qv); they had one son.
G.E.C., Peerage; Burke, Peerage (1912); John J. Marshall, Vestry records of the Church of St John, parish of Aghalow, Caledon, Co. Tyrone (Dungannon, 1935), 47; G. O. Sayles, ‘Contemporary sketches of the members of the Irish parliament in 1788’, RIA Proc., lvi C (1953–4), 257; HIP, iii, 75–6, 77–9