Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton

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The Duke of Grafton

Lord Grafton.jpg
Portrait by Pompeo Batoni (1762)
Prime Minister of Great Britain
In office
14 October 1768 28 January 1770
Monarch George III
Preceded by The Earl of Chatham
Succeeded by Lord North
Personal details
Born(1735-09-28)28 September 1735
Died14 March 1811(1811-03-14) (aged 75)
Euston Hall, Suffolk
Resting placeSt Genevieve Churchyard, Euston, Suffolk
Political party Whig
  • Anne Liddell
    (m. 1756;div. 1769)
  • Elizabeth Wrottesley
    (m. 1769)
Children12, including
George FitzRoy, 4th Duke of Grafton
Lord William FitzRoy
Lord John FitzRoy
Parents Lord Augustus FitzRoy
Elizabeth Cosby
Alma mater Peterhouse, Cambridge
Signature Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton Signature.svg

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.

Privy Council of the United Kingdom Formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or just the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Kingdom of Great Britain constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

Georgian era period of British history encompassing the years 1714–1830 (or –1837)

The Georgian era is a period in British history from 1714 to c. 1830–37, named after the Hanoverian kings George I, George II, George III and George IV. The sub-period that is the Regency era is defined by the regency of George IV as Prince of Wales during the illness of his father George III. The definition of the Georgian era is often extended to include the relatively short reign of William IV, which ended with his death in 1837.


He became Prime Minister in 1768 at the age of 33, leading the supporters of William Pitt, and was the youngest person to have held the 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 nation'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.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham 18th-century British statesman

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, was a British statesman of the Whig group who served twice as Prime Minister of Great Britain in the middle of the 18th century. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, who also was a prime minister. Pitt was also known as The Great Commoner, because of his long-standing refusal to accept a title until 1766.

William Pitt the Younger 18th/19th-century British statesman

William Pitt the Younger was a prominent British Tory statesman of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. He became the youngest UK Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24. He left office in 1801, but served as Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer for most of his time as Prime Minister. He is known as "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, called William Pitt the Elder or simply "Chatham", who had previously served as Prime Minister.

Great Britain in the Seven Years War

Great Britain was one of the major participants in the Seven Years' War which lasted between 1754 and 1763, although warfare in the European Theatre involving countries other than Britain and France only commenced in 1756. Britain emerged from the war as the world's leading colonial power, having gained a number of new territories at the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and established itself as the world's pre-eminent naval power.

Background and education

He was a son of Lord Augustus FitzRoy, a Captain in the Royal Navy, [1] 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; the surname FitzRoy stems from this illegitimacy. 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.

Lord Augustus FitzRoy Royal Navy officer

Lord Augustus FitzRoy was a British officer of the Royal Navy. He served during the War of the Austrian Succession, and was involved in the capture of the Spanish ship of the line, Princesa, a major prize in the war. He was also the father of Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton, who became Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

William Cosby British military officer, governor of the province of New York

Brigadier-General William Cosby (1690–1736) was an Irish soldier who served as the British royal governor of New York from 1732 to 1736.

Euston was educated at Newcome's School (pictured) Hackney School Reeve.jpg
Euston was educated at Newcome's School (pictured)

Lord Euston was educated at Newcome's School in Hackney and at Westminster School, made the Grand Tour, and obtained a degree at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge. [2]

Newcomes School

Newcome's School was a fashionable school in Hackney, then to the east of London, founded in the early 18th century. A number of prominent Whig families sent their children there. The school closed in 1815, and the buildings were gutted in 1820. In 1825 the London Orphan Asylum opened on the site. Today the Clapton Girls' Academy is located here.

Westminster School school in Westminster, London, England

Westminster School is an independent day and boarding school in London, England, located within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. With origins before the 12th century, the educational tradition of Westminster probably dates back as far as 960, in line with the Abbey's history. Boys are admitted to the Under School at age seven and to the senior school at age thirteen; girls are admitted at age sixteen into the Sixth Form. The school has around 750 pupils; around a quarter are boarders, most of whom go home at weekends, after Saturday morning school. The school motto, Dat Deus Incrementum, is taken from the New Testament, specifically 1 Corinthians 3:6.

Grand Tour Journey around Europe for cultural education

The "Grand Tour" was the 17th- and 18th-century custom of a traditional trip of Europe undertaken by upper-class young European men of sufficient means and rank when they had come of age. Young women of equally sufficient means ("debutantes"), or those of either gender of a more humble origin who could find a sponsor, could also partake. The custom—which flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transport in the 1840s and was associated with a standard itinerary—served as an educational rite of passage. Though the Grand Tour was primarily associated with the British nobility and wealthy landed gentry, similar trips were made by wealthy young men of other Protestant Northern European nations, and, from the second half of the 18th century, by some South and North Americans. By the mid 18th century, the Grand Tour had become a regular feature of aristocratic education in Central Europe, as well, although it was restricted to the higher nobility. The tradition declined as enthusiasm for neo-classical culture waned, and with the advent of accessible rail and steamship travel—an era in which Thomas Cook made the "Cook's Tour" of early mass tourism a byword.

Political career

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.

Parliament of Great Britain parliament from 1714 to 1800

The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments in favour of a single parliament, located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801.

Boroughbridge was a parliamentary borough in Yorkshire from 1553 until 1832, when it was abolished under the Great Reform Act. Throughout its existence it was represented by two Members of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Bury St Edmunds market town and civil parish in the county of Suffolk, England

Bury St Edmunds, commonly referred to locally as Bury, is a historic market town and civil parish in Suffolk, England. Bury St Edmunds Abbey is near the town centre. Bury is the seat of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich of the Church of England, with the episcopal see at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

He first became known in politics as an opponent of Lord Bute, [3] 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 to which he had agreed at the Treaty of Paris were not a sufficient return for Britain's performance in the Seven Years' War.

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute 18th-century Prime Minister of Great Britain

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, was a British nobleman who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1762 to 1763 under George III. He was arguably the last important favourite in British politics. He was the first Prime Minister from Scotland following the Acts of Union in 1707 and the first Tory to have held the post. He was also elected as the first President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland when it was founded in 1780.

George III of the United Kingdom King of Great Britain and Ireland

George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.

Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle Prime Minister of Great Britain

Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne and 1st Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme, was a British Whig statesman, whose official life extended throughout the Whig supremacy of the 18th century. He is commonly known as the Duke of Newcastle.

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. [4]

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. [5] 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. [4]

Religious interests

In later years he was a prominent Unitarian, being one of the early members of the inaugural Essex Street Chapel under Rev. Theophilus Lindsey when founded in 1774. Grafton had associated with a number of liberal Anglican theologians when at Cambridge, devoted much time to theological study and writing after leaving office as Prime Minister. In 1773 in the House of Lords he supported a bill to release Anglican clergy from subscribing to all the Thirty-nine Articles. He became an advocate of moral reformation among the upper classes and of liturgical reform. He was author of:

He was a sponsor of Richard Watson's Consideration of the Expediency of Revising the Liturgy and Article of the Church of England (published 1790) and he funded the printing of 700 copies of Griesbach's edition of the Greek New Testament in 1796. [6]


The Duke also had horse racing interests. His racing silks were sky blue, with a black cap. [7]


Grafton County, New Hampshire, [8] 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, the unincorporated community of Grafton, Virginia, and possibly the township (since 1856 a city) of Grafton, West Virginia. The Grafton Centre Shopping Mall in Cambridge is also named after him, and indeed lies on Fitzroy Street. Cape Grafton in Far North Queensland was named after him by Lieutenant James Cook during his first voyage of discovery.

Grafton had the longest post-premiership of any prime minister in British history, totalling 41 years and 45 days.


Elizabeth Wrottesley painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1764 Thomas Gainsborough - Elizabeth Wrottesley, later Duchess of Grafton - Google Art Project.jpg
Elizabeth Wrottesley painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1764

On 29 January 1756, he married The Hon. Anne Liddell, daughter of Henry Liddell, 4th Baronet Ravensworth (1708–1784). They had three children:

In 1764, the Duke had a very public affair with the courtesan Nancy Parsons [11] whom he kept at his town house and took to the opera. This brazen lack of convention offended society's standards. After the Duchess had become pregnant by her lover, the Earl of Upper Ossory, she and the Duke were divorced by Act of Parliament, passed 23 March 1769. [12] [ page needed ] Three months later, on 24 June 1769, the Duke married Elizabeth Wrottesley (1 November 1745 25 May 1822), daughter of the Reverend Sir Richard Wrottesley, Dean of Worcester. [13] They had the following children:

Grafton was thus the first British Prime Minister, before Sir Anthony Eden, [14] to be divorced and the second, after Sir Robert Walpole, to marry while in office.


Cabinet of the Duke of Grafton

First Lord of the Treasury   The Duke of Grafton *14 October 1768 (1768-10-14)28 January 1770 (1770-01-28) Whig
Lord Chancellor   The Lord Camden 30 July 1766 (1766-07-30)17 January 1770 (1770-01-17) Whig
  Charles Yorke 17 January 1770 (1770-01-17)20 January 1770 (1770-01-20) Independent
Lord President of the Council   The Earl Gower 22 December 1767 (1767-12-22)24 November 1779 (1779-11-24) Tory
Lord Privy Seal   The Earl of Bristol 1768 (1768)1770 (1770) Independent
  Lord North 11 September 1767 (1767-09-11)27 March 1782 (1782-03-27) Tory
Secretary of State for the Northern Department   The Viscount Weymouth 20 January 1768 (1768-01-20)21 October 1768 (1768-10-21) Tory
  The Earl of Rochford 21 October 1768 (1768-10-21)19 December 1770 (1770-12-19) Independent
Secretary of State for the Southern Department   The Earl of Shelburne 30 July 1766 (1766-07-30)20 October 1768 (1768-10-20) Whig
 The Viscount Weymouth21 October 1768 (1768-10-21)12 December 1770 (1770-12-12) Whig
Secretary of State for the Colonies   The Earl of Hillsborough 27 February 1768 (1768-02-27)27 August 1772 (1772-08-27) Independent
First Lord of the Admiralty   Sir Edward Hawke 1766 (1766)1771 (1771) Independent
Master-General of the Ordnance   The Marquess of Granby 14 May 1763 (1763-05-14)18 October 1770 (1770-10-18) Independent
Minister without Portfolio   Henry Seymour Conway 1768 (1768)1770 (1770) Whig

Styles of address


  1. Lundy, Darryl (17 December 2012). "Person Page" . Retrieved 26 August 2011.[ self-published source ]
  2. "Fitzory, Augustus Henry (FTSY751AH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. "Fitzroy, Augustus Henry"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  4. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Grafton, Dukes of s.v. Augustus Henry Fitzroy"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 317.
  5. Institute of Historical Research. "The University of Cambridge: Chancellors". British History Online. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  6. Durrant 2004, p. 928.
  7. Weatherby, Edward and James (1801). "COLOURS WORN BY THE RIDERS OF THE FOLLOWING NOBLEMEN, GENTLEMEN, &c". Racing Calendar. 28: 52.
  8. Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 140.
  9. "Portrait of Lady Georgina Smyth and her son 1780c". Historical Portraits Image Library. Philip Mould Fine Paintings. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  10. Chisholm 1911.
  11. "Anne Fitzpatrick". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/88658.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. Durrant 2004.
  13. Hellicar 1978 , p. 28
  14. Eden's divorce was in 1950 and he remarried in 1952, prior to reaching office as Prime Minister.


Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Sandwich
Secretary of State for the Northern Department
Succeeded by
Henry Seymour Conway
Preceded by
The Marquess of Rockingham
First Lord of the Treasury
Succeeded by
Lord North
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Viscount Weymouth
Preceded by
The Earl of Chatham
Prime Minister of Great Britain
14 October 1768 28 January 1770
Succeeded by
Lord North
Preceded by
The Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
The Earl of Dartmouth
Preceded by
The Earl of Dartmouth
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
The Earl of Carlisle
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Murray
Sir Cecil Bisshopp, Bt
Member of Parliament for Boroughbridge
Served alongside: Sir Cecil Bisshopp, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir Cecil Bisshopp, Bt
Thomas Thoroton
Preceded by
Viscount Petersham
Felton Hervey
Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds
Served alongside: Felton Hervey
Succeeded by
Felton Hervey
Augustus Hervey
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Grafton
Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk
Succeeded by
The Lord Maynard
Preceded by
The Viscount Maynard
Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk
Succeeded by
Earl of Euston
Preceded by
Lord North
Oldest living Prime Minister of Great Britain
Acts of Union 1800 merged
Great Britain and Ireland
to form the United Kingdom
New title
Oldest living Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
The Viscount Sidmouth
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Newcastle
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
The Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Charles FitzRoy
Duke of Grafton
Succeeded by
George FitzRoy

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