Henry Fowler, 1st Viscount Wolverhampton
|The Right Honourable
The Viscount Wolverhampton
|Secretary of State for India|
10 March 1894 – 21 June 1895
|Prime Minister||The Earl of Rosebery|
|Preceded by||The Earl of Kimberley|
|Succeeded by||Lord George Hamilton|
|Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster|
10 December 1905 – 13 October 1908
|Prime Minister||Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Herbert Henry Asquith
|Preceded by||Sir William Walrond, Bt|
|Succeeded by||The Lord Fitzmaurice|
|Lord President of the Council|
13 October 1908 – 16 June 1910
|Prime Minister||Herbert Henry Asquith|
|Preceded by||The Lord Tweedmouth|
|Succeeded by||The Lord Beauchamp|
|Born||16 May 1830
Sunderland, County Durham. England
|Died||25 February 1911 (aged 80)
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
Henry Hartley Fowler, 1st Viscount Wolverhampton, GCSI, PC (16 May 1830 – 25 February 1911), was a British solicitor and Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1880 until 1908 when he was raised to the peerage. A member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, he was the first solicitor and the first Methodist to enter the Cabinet or to be raised to the peerage.
Fowler was born in Sunderland, the son of Rev, Joseph Fowler. He was educated at Woodhouse Grove School, Apperley Bridge, Bradford (1840–42) and later at St. Saviour's Grammar School, Southwark.
He moved to Wolverhampton and was admitted as a solicitor in 1852. He served as a local councillor and was Mayor of Wolverhampton in 1866. He was chairman of Wolverhampton School Board in 1870, and was a Deputy Lieutenant for Staffordshire and JP for Wolverhampton.
At the 1880 general election Fowler was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for the borough of Wolverhampton, a seat he held until the borough was divided under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. He then was then returned at the 1885 general election as the MP for Wolverhampton East, and held that seat until he was ennobled in 1908. He served under William Ewart Gladstone as Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department from 1884 to 1885, as Financial Secretary to the Treasury in 1886 and as President of the Local Government Board from 1892 to 1894 and under Lord Rosebery as Secretary of State for India from 1894 to 1895. In 1886, he was sworn of the Privy Council.
Fowler later held office under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and H. H. Asquith as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between 1905 and 1908. The latter year he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Wolverhampton, of Wolverhampton in the County of Stafford, and served under Asquith as Lord President of the Council until 1910. He was widely thought of as a future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but his ill health prevented this.
In his approach to policymaking, according to Neil Smith, Sir Henry Fowler (who became Viscount Wolverhampton in 1908) was supportive of reform legislation, such as in areas like pensions, education, and the Poor Law. According to Wolverhampton’s private secretary, however, he did not have “the patience to suffer Radical and Labour members gladly.”
Lord Wolverhampton died in February 1911, aged 80.
Fowler married Ellen Thorneycroft, daughter of ironmaster and first Mayor of Wolverhampton, George Benjamin Thorneycroft, in 1857. They had a son and two daughters.
Viscountess Wolverhampton's great nephew was Peter Thorneycroft, Baron Thorneycroft.
- ODNB Online, article "Fowler, Henry Hartley" (accessed 2 July 2010)
- Debretts Guide to the House of Commons 1886
- "No. 24829". The London Gazette. 2 April 1880. p. 2359.
- Craig, F. W. S. (1989) . British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 339. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
- "No. 25541". The London Gazette. 18 December 1885. p. 6139.
- Craig, F. W. S. (1989) . British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 212. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.
- "The Law Society". The Times (36752). London. 26 April 1902. p. 8.
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- Works by or about Henry Fowler, 1st Viscount Wolverhampton at Internet Archive
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Henry Fowler