John Call

Sir John Call, 1st Baronet (30 June 1731 – 1 March 1801) was an English engineer and baronet.

Sir John Call, Bt
Sir John Call.JPG
1779 oil painting of Sir John Call with Bodmin Jail in the background, artist unknown
Member of Parliament for Callington
In office
Serving with Paul Orchard
Personal details
Born30 June 1731
Fenny Park, Tiverton, Devon, Great Britain
Died1 March 1801 (aged 69)
Old Burlington Street, London, UK
Resting placeSt Margaret's old churchyard, Lee, Kent (now in the borough of Lewisham)
Military service
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Branch/serviceBritish Army
Years of service1748-1766
RankCaptain General
Unit British East India Company

He was born at Fenny Park, Tiverton, Devon, educated at Blundell's School and went to India at the age of 17 with Benjamin Robins, the chief engineer and captain-general of artillery in the East India Company's settlements. After the death of Robins, Call became engineer-in-chief, and eventually chief engineer with a seat on the Governor's Council. Robert Clive strongly recommended Call for the Governorship of Madras, but he had to return to England on the death of his father on 31 December 1766.[1]

On his return, he became High Sheriff of Cornwall for 1771–72 and was elected MP for Callington in 1784, a seat he held until his death. In 1784 he also became a partner in the Pybus and Son banking house and was created the 1st Baronet Call in 1791.[2][3]

Call built Whiteford House near Stoke Climsland, Cornwall (demolished in 1913)[4] and the nearby folly, Whiteford Temple, now owned by the Landmark Trust.[5] He also built the reproduction Civil War fort on the summit of Kit Hill and was responsible for the construction of Bodmin Gaol in 1779.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1775,[3] and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1785.[6]

Monument to Sir John Call
Inscription on Monument Of Sir John Call Bart, Lee Old Churchyard

He married Philadelphia, the daughter and coheiress of William Batty of Kingston upon Thames; they had two sons and four daughters. His eldest son, William Pratt Call, succeeded him, becoming the 2nd Baronet Call on his father's death in 1801.[7] He became blind seven years before he died, of apoplexy, at his home in Old Burlington Street, London, and was buried at St Margaret's old churchyard, Lee, Kent (now in the borough of Lewisham), where there is a grade II* listed monument to his memory.[8]


  1. ^ [1] Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "No. 13318". The London Gazette. 18 June 1791. p. 363.
  3. ^ a b "Library and Archive catalog". Royal Society. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  4. ^ [2] Archived 14 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "The Landmark Trust". Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  6. ^ D. L. Prior, ‘Call, Sir John, first baronet (1732–1801)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, January 2008 accessed 18 September 2008
  7. ^ "CALL, John (1732-1801), of Whiteford, nr. Callington, Cornw". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  8. ^ Cokayne, G.E. (Editor) (1906). The Complete Baronetage, Volume V. Pollard & Company. p. 272.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
Baronetage of Great Britain
New creation Baronet
(of Whiteford)
Succeeded by
William Call