Charles James Fox was the generally acknowledged leader of a faction of the Whigs, from 1794 until his death in 1806. This group had developed from successive earlier factions; known as the "Old Corps Whigs" (led by the Duke of Newcastle in the 1750s and early 1760s), the "Rockingham Whigs" (who had supported the Marquess of Rockingham from the mid-1760s until his death in 1782) and the "Portland Whigs", who had followed the Duke of Portland, who had succeeeded Rockingham as prime minister.
In 1794 the Duke of Portland joined the ministry of William Pitt the younger. This led to a division amongst the Portland Whigs. Those who remained in opposition became the Foxite Whigs.
By 1794, Fox had been the leading figure of the faction, in the House of Commons, for some years. He first served as the government Leader of the House of Commons in 1782. The term Foxite is sometimes applied to members of the House of Commons before as well as after the end of the titular factional leadership of Portland.
Charles James Fox and his supporters remained in opposition after 1794, until the formation of the Ministry of all the Talents in 1806. This administration was under the Prime Ministership of the leader of another Whig faction (Lord Grenville). Fox was Leader of the House of Commons and Foreign Secretary, during this ministry.
After the death of Fox, his faction was led by Viscount Howick (who in 1807 became Earl Grey, thus being removed to the House of Lords). There was then a crisis of Whig leadership in the lower House, as no obvious chief emerged.
The Foxite and Grenvillite factions combined their forces in the House of Commons in 1808. Grenville and Grey jointly proposed George Ponsonby as leader in the Commons. In effect, this step created the more organised Whig Party of the nineteenth century and was a major stage in the decline of the factional political system more characteristic of the eighteenth century. In effect, the Foxites ceased thereafter to be a distinct group.
- His Majesty's Opposition 1714-1830, by Archibald S. Foord (Oxford University Press 1964)
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