The Duke of Grafton
|Prime Minister of Great Britain|
14 October 1768 – 28 January 1770
|Preceded by||The Earl of Chatham|
|Succeeded by||Lord North|
Augustus Henry FitzRoy
28 September 1735
|Died||14 March 1811 (aged 75)|
Euston Hall, Suffolk, England
|Resting place||St Genevieve Churchyard, Euston, Suffolk|
|Children||12; including George, William and John|
|Father||Lord Augustus FitzRoy|
|Alma mater||Peterhouse, Cambridge|
Augustus Henry FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton,(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 have held 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, and Elizabeth Cosby, 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. From the death of his uncle in 1747, he was styled Earl of Euston as his grandfather's heir apparent.
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.
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 3rd Duke of Grafton, which elevated him to the House of Lords.
He first became known in politics as an opponent of Lord Bute, a favourite of King George III. Grafton aligned himself with the 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 1765, Grafton was appointed a Privy Counsellor; then, following discussions with William Pitt the Elder, he was appointed Northern Secretary in Lord Rockingham's first government. However, he retired the following year, and Pitt (by then Lord Chatham) formed a ministry in which Grafton was First Lord of the Treasury but not Prime Minister.
Further information: Grafton ministry
Chatham's illness, at the end of 1767, resulted in Grafton becoming the Government's effective leader (he is credited with entering the office of Prime Minister in 1768), but political differences, the impact of the Corsican Crisis and the attacks of "Junius" led to his resignation in January 1770. Also, in 1768, Grafton became Chancellor of Cambridge University. He became Lord Privy Seal in Lord North's ministry (1771) but resigned in 1775, being in favour of conciliatory action towards the American colonists. In the second Rockingham ministry of 1782, he was again Lord Privy Seal and continued in post in the following Shelburne ministry until March 1783.
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 founded in 1774. Grafton had associated with a number of liberal Anglican theologians when at Cambridge, 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 an advocate of moral reformation among the upper classes and of liturgical reform. He was author of:
He was a sponsor of Richard Watson's Consideration of the Expediency of Revising the Liturgy and Article of the Church of England (published 1790) and he funded the printing of 700 copies of Griesbach's edition of the Greek New Testament in 1796.
The Duke also had horse racing interests. His racing colours were sky blue, with a black cap.
Grafton County, New Hampshire, in the United States, is named in his honour, as are the towns 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.
On 29 January 1756, he married The Hon. Anne Liddell, daughter of Henry Liddell, 1st Baron Ravensworth (1708–1784). They had three children:
In 1764, the Duke had a very public affair with the courtesan Nancy Parsons whom he kept at his town house 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.[page needed] Three months later, 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. They had the following children:
Grafton is thus the first British prime minister, before Anthony Eden, to have been divorced and the second, after Robert Walpole, to marry while in office. Grafton would be the only prime minister to divorce and remarry while in office until after 2020.
|Portfolio||Minister||Took office||Left office||Party|
|First Lord of the Treasury||The Duke of Grafton*||14 October 1768||28 January 1770||Whig|
|Lord Chancellor||The Lord Camden||30 July 1766||17 January 1770||Whig|
|Charles Yorke||17 January 1770||20 January 1770||Independent|
|Lord President of the Council||The Earl Gower||22 December 1767||24 November 1779||Tory|
|Lord Privy Seal||The Earl of Bristol||1768||1770||Independent|
|Lord North||11 September 1767||27 March 1782||Tory|
|Secretary of State for the Northern Department||The Viscount Weymouth||20 January 1768||21 October 1768||Tory|
|The Earl of Rochford||21 October 1768||19 December 1770||Independent|
|Secretary of State for the Southern Department||The Earl of Shelburne||30 July 1766||20 October 1768||Whig|
|The Viscount Weymouth||21 October 1768||12 December 1770||Tory|
|Secretary of State for the Colonies||The Earl of Hillsborough||27 February 1768||27 August 1772||Independent|
|First Lord of the Admiralty||Sir Edward Hawke||1766||1771||Independent|
|Master-General of the Ordnance||The Marquess of Granby||14 May 1763||18 October 1770||Independent|
|Minister without Portfolio||Henry Seymour Conway||1768||1770||Whig|