• Richest of the Rich position: 19
  • Birth/Death: c 1657-1721
  • Origin of wealth: Finance
  • Wealth: £1.5m
  • Net National Income: £80m
  • Net National Income Percent: 1.88%
  • In Today’s Money: £20.804 billion

The importance of good political connections in building a fortune is evident in the life of James Craggs. In his case it was his close working relationship with the Duke of Marlborough which made him enormously wealthy in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century.

Born in County Durham in around 1657, Craggs went to the local free grammar school. At 21, he and his father sold off the family property and Craggs travelled to London to make his fortune. Like other bright and ambitious men of the day, he saw that cosying up to the aristocracy was the way to advancement. After serving the Duke of York and the Earl of Peterborough, he became steward to the latter’s son-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk, in 1684, aged around 27. He made a good marriage that year to the daughter of a corn chandler. Crucially she was reputedly a maidservant to Lady Marlborough and it was his connection with the Marlboroughs which saw Craggs prosper.It may have been his financial acumen which saw Craggs recommended to Lady Marlborough in the first instance

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