Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton
The Duke of Grafton
|Portrait by Pompeo Batoni, 1762. National Portrait Gallery, London|
|Prime Minister of Great Britain|
14 October 1768 – 28 January 1770
|Preceded by||The Earl of Chatham|
|Succeeded by||Lord North|
|Born||28 September 1735|
|Died||14 March 1811
Euston Hall, Suffolk
|Alma mater||Peterhouse, 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 to have held 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 nations'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.
Background and education
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. 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.
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 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.
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. In later years he was a prominent Unitarian, being one of the early members of the inaugural Essex Street Chapel under Rev Theophilus Lindsey.
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, and the unincorporated community of Grafton, Virginia.
On 29 January 1756, he married The Hon. Anne Liddell (1737–1804), daughter of the 1st Baron Ravensworth. They had three children:
- Lady Georgiana FitzRoy  (8 May 1757 – 18 January 1799), who married John Smyth (12 February 1748 – 12 February 1811) on 4 June 1778.
- George Henry FitzRoy, 4th Duke of Grafton (1760–1844)
- General Lord Charles FitzRoy (14 July 1764 – 20 December 1829), who married, firstly, Frances Mundy (1773 – 9 August 1797) on 20 June 1795, and had one son. He married, secondly, Lady Frances Stewart (24 June 1777 – 9 February 1810) on 10 March 1799 and had three children. His sons Sir Charles FitzRoy (1796–1858), governor of New South Wales, and Robert FitzRoy, the hydrographer, were notable for their achievements.
After the Duchess had become pregnant by her lover, the Earl of Upper Ossory, she and the Duke were divorced by Act of Parliament in 1769. Two months later, in May 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:
- Lord Henry FitzRoy (9 April 1770 – 7 June 1828), clergyman; he married Caroline Pigot (died 1 January 1835) on 10 September 1800 and had five children.
- Lord Frederick FitzRoy (b. 16 September 1774; died young).
- Lady Augusta FitzRoy (1779 – 29 June 1839), who married Rev. George F. Tavel (died 1829) on 19 November 1811.
- Lady Frances FitzRoy (1 June 1780 – 7 January 1866), who married the 1st Baron Churchill on 25 November 1801.
- Admiral Lord William FitzRoy (1 June 1782 – 13 May 1857), who married Georgiana Raikes (died 2 December 1861) in 1816 and had two children.
- Lord John Edward FitzRoy (24 September 1785 – 28 December 1856), MP, died unmarried.
- Lady Charlotte FitzRoy (d. 23 June 1857).
- Lady Elizabeth FitzRoy (died 13 March 1839), who married her cousin Lt. Gen. The Hon. William FitzRoy (1773–1837), son of the 1st Baron Southampton, on 4 July 1811.
- Lady Isabella FitzRoy (died 10 December 1866), who married Barrington Pope Blachford (3 December 1783 – 14 May 1816) on 11 August 1812.
The Duke of Grafton's Government
- Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, and Leader of the House of Lords: The Duke of Grafton
- Lord Chancellor: The Lord Camden
- Lord President of the Council: The Earl Gower
- Lord Privy Seal: The Earl of Bristol
- Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons: Lord North
- Secretary of State for the Northern Department: Henry Seymour Conway (1766–1768), The Viscount Weymouth (1768), The Earl of Rochford (1768–1770)
- Secretary of State for the Southern Department: The Earl of Shelburne (1766–1768), The Viscount Weymouth (1768–1770)
- Secretary of State for the Colonies: The Earl of Hillsborough
- Master-General of the Ordnance: The Marquess of Granby
- First Lord of the Admiralty: Sir Edward Hawke
Titles from birth to death
- Mr. Augustus FitzRoy (1735–1747)
- Earl of Euston (1747–1756)
- Earl of Euston, MP (1756–1757)
- His Grace The Duke of Grafton (1757–1765)
- His Grace The Duke of Grafton, PC (1765–1769)
- His Grace The Duke of Grafton, KG, PC (1769–1811)
- "Fitzory, Augustus Henry". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- "Fitzroy, Augustus Henry". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Romney, George. "Portrait of Lady Georgina Smyth and her son 1780c.". Philip Mould Historical Portraits Image Library.
- Hellicar 1978, p. 28
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- The Third Duke of Grafton
- More about Augustus Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton on the 10 Downing Street website.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Duke of Grafton