The Duke of Grafton
Prime Minister of Great Britain
In office
14 October 1768 – 28 January 1770
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byThe Earl of Chatham
Succeeded byLord North
Northern Secretary
In office
12 July 1765 – 14 May 1766
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Rockingham
Preceded byThe Earl of Halifax
Succeeded byHenry Seymour Conway
Personal details
Augustus Henry FitzRoy

(1735-09-28)28 September 1735
Died14 March 1811(1811-03-14) (aged 75)
Euston, Suffolk, England
Resting placeSt Genevieve Churchyard, Euston, Suffolk, England
Political partyWhig
(m. 1756; div. 1769)
(m. 1769)
Children12; including George, William and John
Alma materPeterhouse, Cambridge

Augustus Henry FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton, KG, PC (28 September 1735 – 14 March 1811), styled Earl of Euston between 1747 and 1757, was a British Whig statesman of the Georgian era. He is one of a handful of dukes who have served as prime minister.

He became prime minister in 1768 at the age of 33, leading the supporters of William Pitt, and was the youngest person to hold the office until the appointment of William Pitt the Younger 15 years later. However, he struggled to demonstrate an ability to counter increasing challenges to Britain's global dominance following the nation's victory in the Seven Years' War. He was widely attacked for allowing France to annex Corsica, and stepped down in 1770, handing over power to Lord North.



He was a son of Lord Augustus FitzRoy, a captain in the Royal Navy,[citation needed] and Elizabeth Cosby, the daughter of Colonel William Cosby, who served as a colonial Governor of New York. His father was the third son of the 2nd Duke of Grafton and Lady Henrietta Somerset, which made FitzRoy a great-grandson of both the 1st Duke of Grafton and the Marquess of Worcester. He was notably a fourth-generation descendant of King Charles II and the 1st Duchess of Cleveland; the surname FitzRoy stems from this illegitimacy. His younger brother was the 1st Baron Southampton. Since the death of his uncle in 1747, he was styled Earl of Euston as his grandfather's heir apparent.

Euston was educated at Newcome's School (pictured)

Lord Euston was educated at Newcome's School in Hackney and at Westminster School, made the Grand Tour, and obtained a degree at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge.[1]

Early political career (1756-1765)

Member of Parliament

In 1756, he entered Parliament as MP for Boroughbridge, a pocket borough; several months later, he switched constituencies to Bury St Edmunds, which was controlled by his family. However, a year later, his grandfather died, and he succeeded as the 3rd Duke of Grafton, which elevated him to the House of Lords.

He first became known in politics as an opponent of Lord Bute,[2] a favourite of King George III. Early in his political career, the Duke of Grafton became associated with the "young friends" of the Duke of Newcastle. These men met at Grafton's London home to organise a formal opposition to Bute's peace preliminaries to end the Seven Years' War. Grafton's maiden speech attacked the peace proposals and consequently, Grafton became one of the victims of the "Massacre of the Pelhamite Innocents", being deprived of his Lord Lieutenancy of Suffolk.

Grafton aligned himself with Duke of Newcastle against Lord Bute, whose term as prime minister was short-lived largely because it was felt that the peace terms to which he had agreed at the Treaty of Paris were not a sufficient return for Britain's performance in the Seven Years' War.

In Government (1765-1768)

Privy Counsellor and Northern Secretary

In 1765, Grafton’s first appointment and first time in government was as a Privy Counsellor in the given of then Prime minister, following discussions with William Pitt the Elder. He was also appointed Northern Secretary in Lord Rockingham's first government. He in this capacity, was in charge of domestic affairs and did much to decrease the national debt and the rising unemployment rate in Britain. He also supported acts that exerted the British Parliament’s control over the American colonies and endorsed the Declaratory Act of 1767. However, he retired the following year largely because of the internal conflict and strife in the government between ministers of various ideals as to solve the crisis in the Thirteen colonies.

Then, as ever, Grafton was anxious to obtain Pitt's assistance, but the great commoner was not approving of the new cabinet, and especially objected to the Duke of Newcastle's inclusion in it. Weak as it was, without the support of the King or of Pitt, and without cohesion among themselves, the Rockingham ministry dragged on for some months. Grafton threw up the seals in May 1766, when he stated in the House of Lords that he had not gone out of office 'from a love of ease and indulgence to his private amusements, as had been falsely reported, but because they wanted strength, which one man only could supply ;' and that 'though he had carried a general's staff, he was ready to take up a mattock or spade under that able and great minister.' After infighting and internal conflict had ravaged the Whigs, Rockingham resigned the following year.

First Lord of the Treasury

Following Rockingham’s immediate resignation, the elderly, but politically experienced Pitt (by then Lord Chatham) was invited by the King to form a new ministry in which Grafton was appointed the First Lord of the Treasury but not as the prime minister, one of the only cases the office of Prime minister did not held the ceremonial position of First Lord.

In May 1767, Grafton was unable to prevent Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, from proposing the American Import Duties Bill to the House of Commons. The intention of the legislation was to raise a revenue from the colonies: this had been one of the reasons for the colonial problems of 1765-66 after the imposition of the Stamp Act. Townshend died soon after his legislation was passed, but his legacy was war with the colonies beginning in 1775. Grafton remained as First Lord despite many of his incapabilities in his office. [3]

But by 1768, Chatham became ill and distressed over the issues in the Americas and the work of government did much to Chatham‘s health and rendering him incapacitated and incapable of running the government. By this point Grafton, as First Lord, took over control of government affairs during Chatham‘s incapacitation. On September 20, 1769, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Garter.

Prime Minister (1768-1770)


Further information: Grafton ministry

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (July 2021)

Chatham's deteriorating health and illness, at the end of 1767, incapacitated him from leading his role any further and the deteriorating situation in America caused more issues than solutions to the problem and so resulted in Grafton becoming the government's effective leader (he is credited with entering the office of prime minister in 1768) and officially served as the First Lord of the Treasury until being appointed to the premiership by the King.

Grafton, was an ineffective and incapable leader, whose government was seen as a weak and without a stable majority. In order to be in power and to maintain a strong majority in Parliament he called on the supporters of the Duke of Bedford and Lord Rockingham, known as Bedford whigs and Rockinghamites respectively and also on the the Tories under Frederick North to form a coalition government.

Grafton also included in his government the Earl Gower as Lord Privy Seal, Lord Hillsborough as Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Viscount Weymouth as Secretary of State for the Southern Department, North as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Camden as Lord High Chancellor being the most influential ministers of his government.

Foreign affairs

The Corsican crisis

Main article: Corsican Crisis

The island of Corsica gained independence from the Republic of Genoa in the 1750s and established itself as a republic following the Corsican Revolution in 1755. Pascale Paoli declared the founding of the Corsican Republic, which controlled over much of the island. Paoli then had created the Corsican Constitution largely modelled on and influenced by the British one. Paoli saw Britain, not only as a example of aspiration, but as a potential foreign ally because of Britain’s enmity of France and because mainly of the reason that Britain was always supportive of Corsican exiles. Paoli went on to establish a permanent alliance with Great Britain and opened a consulate there.

Britain’s relations with France had remained strained ever since the Treaty of Paris that had brought an end to the Seven Years’ War in 1763. In the Treaty of Versailles, Genoa and France signed a secret treaty as a scheme by which Genoa sold Corsica to France, therefore guaranteeing France to invade the country. Primarily of wanting to strike back at the British for it’s humiliating defeat in the war, the French Foreign minister Choiseul ordered the invasion and capture of the island and by 1768, landed French troops in the island and attempted to exert it’s control over the country with the entirety of it’s force. France complete military control after the defeat of the Corsicans at the Battle of Ponte Novu in the May of 1769.

Initially, Grafton and Secretary of State Lord Shelburne opposed the seizure and invasion of Corsica by the French, but did not openly intervene in the conflict, despite calls for the the British government to take the side of the Corsicans. The main reason was that Britain had it’s importance to the events in the Thirteen colonies in the Americas. Consequently, the British were inclined to appease France over Corsica, thus leaving it to fall to the French. Grafton was heavily criticised by those in Britain because of his in capability to intervene and save the Corsican Republic, leading to more dissatisfaction over his government’s foreign policies.

Lack of allies

By this point, the number of allies Britain had, had dwindled since the years between the 1740s and 1760s, and Britain became more isolated in the continent. The only allies it did had were Prussia, the Scandinavian countries, Russia and Portugal. British relations with France, Spain and the Dutch Republic were strained and were not in good terms. Especially when after the Treaty of Paris and during the invasion of Corsica, when Britain desperately tried to not intervene in the war. During the early years of the American Revolution, when it seemed that war might occur, the French were seeing an opportunity to get back at Britain for it’s humiliation in the Seven Years’ War. Furthermore, the French, together with the Spanish, allies against Britain in the wake of war.

Domestic affairs

Middlesex election controversy

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General Granby resigned as Master-General of the Ordnance in protest and Charles Yorke, the man who subsequently replaced Camden as Lord Chancellor, committed suicide.

Beside this, the impact of the Corsican Crisis and disasters abroad brought new criticism in and more opposition to the government as a result. But the most damaging was the attacks of "Junius", whose ridicule of Grafton and the criticism of his peers, led to the government becoming more unpopular and more hated. This all proved to be too much for Grafton who resigned and was succeeded by Chancellor Frederick North.

Post-premiership (1770-1811)

Lord Privy Seal

Also, in 1768, Grafton became Chancellor of Cambridge University.[4] He did not initially retire from high politics afterwards. Although, soon after he resigned as Prime minister, after a brief period being out of office, he did accept the office of Lord Privy Seal under Lord North. This led to calls for Grafton to resign from office immediately and after a turbulent year in office, he resigned the following year.

From that time he remained out of office, and to his credit, it could be said that although he had a numerous family he obtained 'no place, pension, or reversion whatever.' After much persuasion from the king’s friends, he became Lord Privy Seal again in Lord North’s ministry. But resigned in 1775, being in favour of conciliatory action towards the American colonists and 'with a kind of proud humility,' refused a seat in the cabinet. This step exposed him to varying comment. The king wrote, 'Nothing can be more handsome than his manner of accepting the privy seal,' but Horace Walpole sneeringly wrote, that it came 'of not being proud.'

Despite initially supporting raising taxes on the Americas, Grafton himself gave out in after years that he accepted office in the hope of preventing the quarrel with America from being pushed to the extreme, and his views probably always leant to the side of the colonists. In August 1775 he wrote to Lord North, warmly urging the desirability of a reconciliation, but the prime minister did not reply for seven weeks, when the substance of his answer was a draft of the king's speech. His resignation was daily expected on 3 November. The king thought that the seal of office should be sent for, but on 9 November, Grafton resigned, and at once took public action against his late colleagues.

An attempt was made in February ​1779 to attach him and some of Chatham's followers to the North ministry, but it failed, and he remained out of office until the formation of the Second Rockingham ministry in March 1782, and he joined the cabinet as Lord Privy Seal yet again. Though he acquiesced in the accession of Lord Shelburne on Rockingham's death in the following July, he did not cordially act with Shelburne, and the downfall of the ministry in April 1783, was probably a relief to him.

Religious interests

In later years, he was a prominent Unitarian, being one of the early members of the inaugural Essex Street Chapel under Rev. Theophilus Lindsey when it was founded in 1774. Grafton had associated with a number of liberal Anglican theologians when at Cambridge, and devoted much time to theological study and writing after leaving office as prime minister. In 1773, in the House of Lords, he supported a bill to release Anglican clergy from subscribing to all the Thirty-nine Articles. He became a supporter of moral reform among the wealthy and of changes to the church. He was the author of:

He was a sponsor of Richard Watson's Consideration of the Expediency of Revising the Liturgy and Articles of the Church of England (published in 1790), and he funded the printing of 700 copies of Griesbach's edition of the Greek New Testament in 1796.[5]


The Duke also had horse racing interests. His racing colours were sky blue, with a black cap.[6]


Grafton County, New Hampshire,[7] in the United States, is named in his honour, as is the city of Grafton, New South Wales, Australia, the town of Grafton, New York, the unincorporated community of Grafton, Virginia, and possibly the township (since 1856 a city) of Grafton, West Virginia. The Grafton Centre Shopping Mall in Cambridge is also named after him and indeed lies on Fitzroy Street. Cape Grafton in Far North Queensland was named after him by Lieutenant James Cook during his first voyage of discovery.

Grafton had the longest post-premiership of any prime minister in British history, totalling 41 years and 45 days.[8]


Anne Liddell

engraving of Anne Liddell
Grafton's first wife, Anne Liddell
painting of Elizabeth Wrottesley
Grafton's second wife, Elizabeth Wrottesley

On 29 January 1756, he married The Hon. Anne Liddell, daughter of Henry Liddell, 1st Baron Ravensworth (1708–1784), at Lord Ravensworth's house in St James's Square, by licence. The marriage was witnessed by Lord Ravensworth and Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Earl of Hertford.[9]

Augustus and Anne had three children:

In 1764, the Duke had a very public affair with the courtesan Nancy Parsons[13] whom he kept at his townhouse and took to the opera, where they allegedly were found in flagrante delicto. This brazen lack of convention offended society's standards. After the Duchess had become pregnant by her own lover, the Earl of Upper Ossory, she and the Duke were divorced by Act of Parliament, passed 23 March 1769.[14][page needed]

Elizabeth Wrottesley

Three months after the Duke divorced his first wife, on 24 June 1769, the Duke married Elizabeth Wrottesley (1 November 1745 – 25 May 1822), daughter of the Reverend Sir Richard Wrottesley, Dean of Worcester.[15] They had the following children:

Grafton is thus the first British prime minister before Anthony Eden[16] (and one of only three) to have been divorced, and the second, after Robert Walpole, to marry while in office.[citation needed] Grafton would be the only prime minister to divorce and remarry while in office until Boris Johnson in 2021.[17] FitzRoy died on 14 March 1811.


Coat of arms of Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton
On a Chapeau Gules doubled Ermine a Lion statant guardant Or crowned with a ducal-coronet Azure and gorged with a Collar countercompony Argent and of the Fourth
Royal arms of King Charles II (differenced), viz: grandquarterly, 1st and 4th, France and England quarterly; 2nd, Scotland; 3rd, Ireland; the whole debruised by a Baton sinister compony of six pieces Argent and Azure
Et decus et pretium recti (By Grace, the prize of rectitude)

Cabinet of the Duke of Grafton

This section is transcluded from Grafton ministry. (edit | history)

Portfolio Minister Took office Left office Party
First Lord of the Treasury*14 October 1768 (1768-10-14)28 January 1770 (1770-01-28) Whig
Lord Chancellor30 July 1766 (1766-07-30)17 January 1770 (1770-01-17) Whig
17 January 1770 (1770-01-17)20 January 1770 (1770-01-20) Independent
Lord President of the Council22 December 1767 (1767-12-22)24 November 1779 (1779-11-24) Tory
Lord Privy Seal1768 (1768)1770 (1770) Independent
11 September 1767 (1767-09-11)27 March 1782 (1782-03-27) Tory
Secretary of State for the Northern Department20 January 1768 (1768-01-20)21 October 1768 (1768-10-21) Tory
21 October 1768 (1768-10-21)19 December 1770 (1770-12-19) Independent
Secretary of State for the Southern Department30 July 1766 (1766-07-30)20 October 1768 (1768-10-20) Whig
The Viscount Weymouth
21 October 1768 (1768-10-21)12 December 1770 (1770-12-12) Tory
Secretary of State for the Colonies27 February 1768 (1768-02-27)27 August 1772 (1772-08-27) Independent
First Lord of the Admiralty1766 (1766)1771 (1771) Independent
Master-General of the Ordnance14 May 1763 (1763-05-14)18 October 1770 (1770-10-18) Independent
Minister without Portfolio1768 (1768)1770 (1770) Whig


  1. ^ "Fitzory, Augustus Henry (FTSY751AH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ "Fitzroy, Augustus Henry" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  3. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Grafton, Dukes of s.v. Augustus Henry Fitzroy". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 317.
  4. ^ Institute of Historical Research. "The University of Cambridge: Chancellors". British History Online. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  5. ^ Durrant 2004, p. 928.
  6. ^ Weatherby, Edward and James (1801). "COLOURS WORN BY THE RIDERS OF THE FOLLOWING NOBLEMEN, GENTLEMEN, &c". Racing Calendar. 28: 52.
  7. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 140.
  8. ^ Shipman, Tim (10 December 2022). "Liz still thinks Trussonomics was right and she's selling her message in America". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 11 December 2022. The Duke of Grafton, who retired in 1770 aged 34 and lived for another 41 years, was both the youngest prime ministerial retiree and had the longest post-premiership.
  9. ^ The Register of Marriages solemnized in the Parish Church of St James within the Liberty of Westminster & County of Middlesex. 1754-1765. No. 406. 29 January 1756.
  10. ^ "Portrait of Lady Georgina Smyth and her son 1780c". Historical Portraits Image Library. Philip Mould Fine Paintings. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  11. ^ The Register of Births & Baptisms in the Parish of St James within the Liberty of Westminster Vol. IV. 1741-1760. 5 June 1757.
  12. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  13. ^ "Anne Fitzpatrick". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/88658. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  14. ^ Durrant 2004.
  15. ^ Hellicar 1978, p. 28
  16. ^ Eden's divorce was in 1950 and he remarried in 1952, prior to reaching office as prime minister.
  17. ^ Shearing, Hazel & Kathryn Snowdon (30 May 2021). "Boris Johnson marries Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral". BBC News. Retrieved 31 May 2021.


Further reading

Political offices Preceded byThe Earl of Sandwich Secretary of State for the Northern Department 1765–1766 Succeeded byHenry Seymour Conway Preceded byThe Marquess of Rockingham First Lord of the Treasury 1766–1770 Succeeded byLord North Leader of the House of Lords 1766–1770 Succeeded byThe Viscount Weymouth Preceded byThe Earl of Chatham Prime Minister of Great Britain 14 October 1768 – 28 January 1770 Succeeded byLord North Preceded byThe Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire Lord Privy Seal 1771–1775 Succeeded byThe Earl of Dartmouth Preceded byThe Earl of Dartmouth Lord Privy Seal 1782–1783 Succeeded byThe Earl of Carlisle Parliament of Great Britain Preceded byWilliam MurraySir Cecil Bisshopp, Bt Member of Parliament for Boroughbridge 1756–1757 Served alongside: Sir Cecil Bisshopp, Bt Succeeded bySir Cecil Bisshopp, BtThomas Thoroton Preceded byViscount PetershamFelton Hervey Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds 1756–1757 Served alongside: Felton Hervey Succeeded byFelton HerveyAugustus Hervey Honorary titles Preceded byThe Duke of Grafton Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk 1757–1763 Succeeded byThe Lord Maynard Preceded byThe Viscount Maynard Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk 1769–1790 Succeeded byEarl of Euston Academic offices Preceded byThe Duke of Newcastle Chancellor of the University of Cambridge 1768–1811 Succeeded byThe Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh Peerage of England Preceded byCharles FitzRoy Duke of Grafton 1757–1811 Succeeded byGeorge FitzRoy