William Augustus Fawkener

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

William Augustus Fawkener (c.1750–1811)[1] was a British civil servant and diplomat.


William Fawkener was one of the sons of Sir Everard Fawkener, a merchant and then British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, who did not marry until he was aged 53, and thus died in 1758 while William was still young. His mother was Harriet daughter of Lieutenant General Charles Churchill. William was probably named in honour of his father's patron Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, and served as a page of honour at the Duke's funeral in 1765.[2]

His brother Everard also became a civil servant, holding the post of a Commissioner of Stamps from 1783 to 1803, obtained through William's influence.[3]

Privy Council clerk[edit]

William was appointed a Clerk of the Privy Council in 1779.[4] He held this post until at least 1795.[5]

During his service to the Privy Council, he was employed on various diplomatic missions. In 1783 he was appointed as secretary of the embassy to the Marquess of Carmarthen, who was appointed ambassador to France,[6] but was instead appointed Foreign Secretary before he departed. In April 1787, he was Envoy Extraordinary to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.[7] In October 1787, he was sent as an envoy to Portugal to negotiate a commercial treaty in conjunction with Robert Walpole, the Minister resident there.[8]

In 1791, he was sent on a secret mission to Catherine II of Russia.[1][9]

Details of his later career are unclear.

For a period, he worked as the secretary of William Windham, the secretary for war and the colonies. He was sent letters from British subjects living and working in Haiti from 1806 to 1807.[10]

Family and private life[edit]

He married Georgiana Ann, daughter of William Poyntz of Midgham House, Berkshire. The marriage was an arranged one and not to the liking of Georgiana.[11] She met Hon. John Townshend at Lord Melbourne's house, Brocket Hall in the summer of 1785, fell in love, and ultimately eloped with him. The result was a duel in Hyde Park in May 1786 between Fawkener and Melbourne, in which the former missed and the latter fired into the air, ending without bloodshed.[12] Fawkener subsequently brought an action against Townshend for criminal conversation. The trial began on 12 July 1786 before Sir Francis Buller, and ended with the award of £500 in damages to Fawkener.[13] Fawkener obtained a divorce by Act of Parliament in April 1787, whereupon Georgiana married Hon. John Townshend.[14][15]

He married again to Elizabeth Wright.[16] They had two daughters:

He inherited an estate at Iping in Sussex in 1760, but he and his first wife apparently sold this in 1784.[19] He lived at Brereton Hall, Shropshire.[18] However his address was South Street, Grosvenor Square, Middlesex in 1789.[20]


  1. ^ a b jamesboswell.info
  2. ^ Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. Fawkener, Everard
  3. ^ W. R. Ward, 'Some Eighteenth Century Civil Servants: The English Revenue Commissioners, 1754–98' English Historical Review, Vol. 70, No. 274 (Jan. 1955), p. 33.[1] Accessed: 4 April 2009
  4. ^ London Gazette 11940
  5. ^ The National Archives.[2], PC 4/5.
  6. ^ London Gazette 12413
  7. ^ London Gazette 12850
  8. ^ London Gazette 12792
  9. ^ Jennifer Mori, William Pitt and the French Revolution, 1785–1795 (Edinburgh University Press 1997), 95
  10. ^ The British National Archives, War Office, 1/75
  11. ^ Stokes, Hugh (1916). The Devonshire House Circle. H. Jenkins limited. p. 134. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  12. ^ Courtney, William Prideaux (1910). Eight Friends of the Great. Constable. p. 182. ISBN 0-8492-0533-6. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  13. ^ "The Trial of the Hon. John Townshend". The English Review. 9: 308. 1787. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  14. ^ Debrett's Peerage (1820), 88
  15. ^ Private Act 27 Geo. 3, c.11
  16. ^ a b c Family Search Archived 12 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Fawkener descendants
  18. ^ a b thepeerage.com
  19. ^ Victoria County History, Sussex IV (1953), 63–65
  20. ^ Portland Archives at Nottingham University