Hugh Fortescue, 2nd Earl Fortescue
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|The Right Honourable
The Earl Fortescue
|"Hugh, Earl Fortescue KG, Lord Lieutenant of Devon". Wearing Garter Star. Marble bust by Edward Bowring Stephens, 1861; Memorial Hall, West Buckland School, Devon|
|Lord Lieutenant of Ireland|
13 March 1839 – 11 September 1841
|Prime Minister||The Viscount Melbourne|
|Preceded by||The Marquess of Normanby|
|Succeeded by||The Earl de Grey|
|Born||13 February 1783|
|Died||14 September 1861|
|Spouse(s)||(1) Lady Susan Ryder
(2) Elizabeth Geale
|Alma mater||Brasenose College, Oxford|
Hugh Fortescue, 2nd Earl Fortescue KG, PC (13 February 1783 – 14 September 1861), styled Viscount Ebrington from 1789 to 1841, was a British Whig politician. He served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1839 to 1841.
Background and education
Fortescue first became an MP, for Barnstaple, just after his 21st birthday, and sat for various constituencies almost continuously until 1839. The latter year he was summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in his father's junior title of Baron Fortescue, and then served under Lord Melbourne as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1839 to 1841 (when he succeeded his father in the earldom) and under Lord John Russell as Lord Steward from 1846 to 1850. He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1839 and created a Knight of the Garter in 1856. Fortescue belonged to that section of the Whig party that welcomed much of the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon hoping for radical change in Britain. After Napoleon's first abdication and exile to Elba he arranged visits by other prominent Whigs to the Emperor.
A statue of the Earl stands in Exeter Castle Yard, and his marble bust is displayed on the staircase of the Memorial Hall in West Buckland School. 49 of the Fortescue family portraits were saved from the disastrous fire at Castle Hill of 9 March 1934 with minor smoke damage, but were shortly afterwards all destroyed by fire when the delivery lorry returning them from the restorer caught fire whilst parked overnight pending their return to Castle Hill.
Co-founds West Buckland School
In 1858 together with Rev. J.L. Brereton, Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral and Rector of West Buckland, he founded the Devon County School, situated on land between West Buckland and East Buckland donated by him from his North Devon estate centred at Filleigh. The school was intended to provide a top quality education to local boys, including therefore the sons of many of his tenant farmers; it continues today as West Buckland School, an independent private school. A marble bust of Earl Fortescue, sculpted in 1861 by Edward Bowring Stephens (1815–82), stands on the staircase of the school's Memorial Hall.
Marriage & progeny
Lord Fortescue married twice:
- Firstly in 1817 to Lady Susan Ryder (d.1827), daughter of Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby. They had the following issue:
- Secondly in 1841, 14 years after the death of his first wife, to Elizabeth Geale (d. May 1896), daughter of Piers Geale and widow of Sir Marcus Somerville, 4th Baronet (c. 1775–1831).
Death & succession
Fortescue died in September 1861, aged 78, and was succeeded by his eldest son from his first marriage, Hugh Fortescue, 3rd Earl Fortescue.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs [self-published source][better source needed]
- Lauder, Rosemary, Devon Families, Tiverton, 2002, Fortescue, pp. 75–82
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Earl Fortescue
- Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.461
- Lauder, R. op.cit. p.81