James Craggs

In the chapel of St George in Westminster Abbey, at the west end of the nave, is a statue to James Craggs the younger, unveiled in 1727. The monument was designed by James Gibbs and executed by Giovanni Guelfi and Francis Bird. It was originally much larger but was reduced in size in the 1920's and placed on the window sill. The inscription on the urn is in Latin, which can be translated:

James Craggs: Secretary of State to the King of Great Britain, Privy Counsellor: darling and delight alike of Prince and People: he lived, above titles, above envy, for 35 years - alas, how few. He died 16 February 1720 [Old Style dating]. His sorrowing sisters A[nn]Knight, E[lizabeth]Eliot, M[argaret]Cotton placed this here.

The English section, composed by Alexander Pope, was re-cut on a new slab when the memorial was reduced and reads:

Statesman, yet friend to Truth, of Soul sincere In Action faithful and in Honour clear Who broke no promise, serv'd no private end Who gain'd no Title, and who lost no Friend Ennobled by Himselfe, by all approv'd Prais'd, wept, and honour'd by the Muse he lov'd. A. POPE

James was buried in a vault in the north aisle of Henry VII's chapel. He was born in Westminster on 9th April 1686, the only surviving son of James Craggs (1657-1721), politician, and his wife Elizabeth. Much of his early life was spent in Europe where he was resident British minister in Spain. He became a member of Parliament, cofferer to the Prince of Wales and Secretary of State and died of smallpox in 1721, a month before his father. By actress Hester Santlow he had an illegitimate daughter Harriot.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

"Time ennobles or degrades each line. Monuments to James Craggs, father and son" by Clare Walcot in Church Monuments, vol. XXV, 2010


9th April 1686


16th February 1721




Lady Chapel; St George's Chapel

Memorial Type

Statue; vault

James Craggs
James Craggs the Younger

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

James Craggs
James Craggs Statue

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster