The Earl Fitzwilliam

copy of a portrait by John Hoppner
Charles William Wentworth-FitzWilliam

4 May 1786
Died4 October 1857(1857-10-04) (aged 71)
Alma materEton College
Hon. Mary Dundas
(m. 1806; died 1830)
Children13, including:
Quartered arms of Charles Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 5th Earl Fitzwilliam, KG

Charles William Wentworth Fitzwilliam, 5th Earl Fitzwilliam in the peerage of Ireland, and 3rd Earl Fitzwilliam in the peerage of Great Britain, KG (4 May 1786 – 4 October 1857) was a British nobleman and politician. He was president three times of the Royal Statistical Society in 1838–1840, 1847–1849, and 1853–1855; and president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in its inaugural year (1831–2).[1]

Early life

He was born on 4 May 1786 as the only son of William Fitzwilliam, 4th Earl Fitzwilliam, who served as Lord President of the Council and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and his first wife, Lady Charlotte Ponsonby (daughter of William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough).[2] After his mother's death in 1822, his father married the Louisa, Baroness Ponsonby (daughter of Richard Molesworth, 3rd Viscount Molesworth and widow of William Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby), in 1823, however, she died soon after in February 1824.[2][a]

His paternal grandparents were William Fitzwilliam, 3rd Earl Fitzwilliam and Lady Anne Watson-Wentworth (daughter of Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham, and sister to Prime Minister Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham). His father inherited the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham's estates in 1782.[2]

He was a pupil at Eton College from 1796 to 1802.[2]


Before inheriting the Earldom on 8 February 1833 on the death of his father, he was known by the courtesy title of Viscount Milton. Under that name, he was the Whig Member of Parliament for Northamptonshire between 1831 and 1832. Fitzwilliam became a strong supporter of Parliamentary Reform and one of the principal advocates of repeal of the Corn Laws.[3][4][5]

The family seat was Wentworth Woodhouse, reputedly the largest private house in England.[6]

Personal life

On 8 July 1806, Viscount Milton married his cousin, the Hon. Mary Dundas (1787–1830). Mary was the daughter of Thomas Dundas, 1st Baron Dundas and Lady Charlotte Fitzwilliam (the 4th Earl's sister).[7] They had thirteen children:[8]

Lord Fitzwilliam died on 4 October 1857.[10]


  1. ^ From his father's second marriage, he had five step-siblings: John Ponsonby, 1st Viscount Ponsonby (a diplomat), Hon. Sir William Ponsonby (a Maj.-Gen. in the Army who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo), Richard Ponsonby (Bishop of Killaloe and Kilfenora, Derry, Derry and Raphoe), George Ponsonby (MP and Junior Lord of the Treasury), and Mary (wife of Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey).


  1. ^ Fitzwilliam, Charles William, Earl (1844) Correspondence ... of Edmund Burke, London.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003, volume 3, page 4284.
  3. ^ Wasson, Ellis Archer (1987) Whig Renaissance: Lord Althorp and the Whig Party 1782-1845, Garland, London.
  4. ^ Spring, David (1954) "Earl Fitzwilliam and the Corn Laws", American Historical Review. v. 59, n. 2. Pages 287-304.
  5. ^ Fitzwilliam, Charles William, Earl (1834) Address to the Landowners of Great Britain on the Corn Laws (Second Address 1835).
  6. ^ Pagnamenta, Peter (2012) USA W.W.Norton & Co. Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West 1830-1890. Page 136,137.
  7. ^ Cokayne, George Edward (1916). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom: Dacre to Dysart. St. Catherine Press, Limited. p. 522. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  8. ^ Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Companionage: Comprising Information Concerning All Persons Bearing Hereditary Or Courtesy Titles, Companions of All the Various Orders, and the Collateral Branches of All Peers and Baronets. Dean and Son. 1888. p. 753. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Lodge, Edmund (1843). The Peerage of the British Empire as at Present Existing: Arranged and Printed from the Personal Communications of the Nobility. Saunders and Otley. p. 231. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  10. ^ Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1889). "Fitzwilliam, Charles William Wentworth" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 19. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byBryan CookeHenry Grattan Member of Parliament for Malton 1806–1807 With: Bryan Cooke Succeeded byThe Lord HeadleyRobert Lawrence Dundas Preceded byWilliam WilberforceWalter Ramsden Fawkes Member of Parliament for Yorkshire 1807–1830 With: William Wilberforce 1807–1812Viscount Lascelles 1812–1818James Stuart-Wortley 1818–1826William Duncombe 1826–1830Richard Fountayne Wilson 1826–1830John Marshall 1826–1830 Succeeded byWilliam DuncombeViscount MorpethRichard BethellHenry Brougham Preceded bySir James ScarlettSir Robert Heron, Bt Member of Parliament for Peterborough 1830 With: Sir Robert Heron, Bt Succeeded bySir Robert Heron, BtJohn Nicholas Fazakerley Preceded byViscount Howick Member of Parliament for Higham Ferrers 1831 Succeeded byCharles Pepys Preceded byWilliam Ralph CartwrightViscount Althorp Member of Parliament for Northamptonshire 1831–1832 With: Viscount Althorp Constituency abolished New constituency Member of Parliament for North Northamptonshire 1832–1833 With: Lord Brudenell Succeeded byLord BrudenellViscount Milton Peerage of Ireland Preceded byWilliam Fitzwilliam Earl Fitzwilliam 1833–1857 Succeeded byWilliam Wentworth-Fitzwilliam Peerage of Great Britain Preceded byWilliam Fitzwilliam Earl Fitzwilliam 1833–1857 Succeeded byWilliam Wentworth-Fitzwilliam Professional and academic associations Preceded byRichard Griffin, 3rd Baron Braybrooke President of the Surtees Society 1843–46 Succeeded byHenry Vane, 2nd Duke of Cleveland