Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton

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The Duke of Grafton
Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton.jpg
Prime Minister of Great Britain
In office
14 October 1768 28 January 1770
Children12; including George, William and John
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.


He became prime minister in 1768 at the age of 33, leading the supporters of William Pitt, and was the youngest person to hold 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.

Background and education

He was a son of Lord Augustus FitzRoy, a captain in the Royal Navy,[ citation needed ] and Elizabeth Cosby, the 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. Since the death of his uncle in 1747, he has been styled Earl of Euston as his grandfather's heir apparent.

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. [1]

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 the 3rd Duke of Grafton, which elevated him to the House of Lords.

He first became known in politics as an opponent of Lord Bute, [2] 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.

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 the prime minister. [3]

On September 20, 1769, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Garter.

Prime minister

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. [4] 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 and continued in the post in the following Shelburne ministry until March 1783. [3]

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 it was founded in 1774. Grafton had associated with a number of liberal Anglican theologians when at Cambridge, and 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 a supporter of moral reform among the wealthy and of changes to the church. He was the author of:

He was a sponsor of Richard Watson's Consideration of the Expediency of Revising the Liturgy and Articles of the Church of England (published in 1790), and he funded the printing of 700 copies of Griesbach's edition of the Greek New Testament in 1796. [5]


The Duke also had horse racing interests. His racing colours were sky blue, with a black cap. [6]


Grafton County, New Hampshire, [7] in the United States, is named in his honour, as is the city 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. [8]


Lucas, David - Anne, Duchess of Grafton (cropped).jpg
Grafton's first wife, Anne Liddell
Thomas Gainsborough - Elizabeth Wrottesley, later Duchess of Grafton - Google Art Project (cropped).jpg
Grafton's second wife, Elizabeth Wrottesley

On 29 January 1756, he married The Hon. Anne Liddell, daughter of Henry Liddell, 1st Baron Ravensworth (17081784), at Lord Ravensworth's house in St James's Square, by licence. The marriage was witnessed by Lord Ravensworth and Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Earl of Hertford. [9]

Augustus and Anne had three children:

In 1764, the Duke had a very public affair with the courtesan Nancy Parsons [13] whom he kept at his townhouse and took to the opera, where they allegedly were found in flagrante delicto . This brazen lack of convention offended society's standards. After the Duchess had become pregnant by her own lover, the Earl of Upper Ossory, she and the Duke were divorced by Act of Parliament, passed 23 March 1769. [14] [ 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. [15] They had the following children:

Grafton is thus the first British prime minister before Anthony Eden [16] (and one of only three) to have been divorced, and the second, after Robert Walpole, to marry while in office.[ citation needed ] Grafton would be the only prime minister to divorce and remarry while in office until Boris Johnson in 2021. [17] FitzRoy died on 14 March 1811.


Coat of arms of Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton
Arms of the Duke of Grafton.svg
On a Chapeau Gules doubled Ermine a Lion statant guardant Or crowned with a ducal-coronet Azure and gorged with a Collar countercompony Argent and of the Fourth
Royal arms of King Charles II (differenced), viz: grandquarterly, 1st and 4th, France and England quarterly; 2nd, Scotland; 3rd, Ireland; the whole debruised by a Baton sinister compony of six pieces Argent and Azure
Et decus et pretium recti (By Grace, the prize of rectitude)

Cabinet of the Duke of Grafton

First Lord of the Treasury *14 October 1768 (1768-10-14)28 January 1770 (1770-01-28)  Whig
Lord Chancellor 30 July 1766 (1766-07-30)17 January 1770 (1770-01-17)  Whig
17 January 1770 (1770-01-17)20 January 1770 (1770-01-20)  Independent
Lord President of the Council 22 December 1767 (1767-12-22)24 November 1779 (1779-11-24)  Tory
Lord Privy Seal 1768 (1768)1770 (1770)  Independent
11 September 1767 (1767-09-11)27 March 1782 (1782-03-27)  Tory
Secretary of State for the Northern Department 20 January 1768 (1768-01-20)21 October 1768 (1768-10-21)  Tory
21 October 1768 (1768-10-21)19 December 1770 (1770-12-19)  Independent
Secretary of State for the Southern Department 30 July 1766 (1766-07-30)20 October 1768 (1768-10-20)  Whig
The Viscount Weymouth
21 October 1768 (1768-10-21)12 December 1770 (1770-12-12)  Tory
Secretary of State for the Colonies 27 February 1768 (1768-02-27)27 August 1772 (1772-08-27)  Independent
First Lord of the Admiralty 1766 (1766)1771 (1771)  Independent
Master-General of the Ordnance 14 May 1763 (1763-05-14)18 October 1770 (1770-10-18)  Independent
Minister without Portfolio 1768 (1768)1770 (1770)  Whig


  1. "Fitzory, Augustus Henry (FTSY751AH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. "Fitzroy, Augustus Henry"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  3. 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 . Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 317.
  4. Institute of Historical Research. "The University of Cambridge: Chancellors". British History Online. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  5. Durrant 2004, p. 928.
  6. Weatherby, Edward and James (1801). "COLOURS WORN BY THE RIDERS OF THE FOLLOWING NOBLEMEN, GENTLEMEN, &c". Racing Calendar. 28: 52.
  7. Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p.  140.
  8. Shipman, Tim (10 December 2022). "Liz still thinks Trussonomics was right and she's selling her message in America" . The Sunday Times . Retrieved 11 December 2022. The Duke of Grafton, who retired in 1770 aged 34 and lived for another 41 years, was both the youngest prime ministerial retiree and had the longest post-premiership.
  9. The Register of Marriages solemnized in the Parish Church of St James within the Liberty of Westminster & County of Middlesex. 1754-1765. No. 406. 29 January 1756.
  10. "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.
  11. The Register of Births & Baptisms in the Parish of St James within the Liberty of Westminster Vol. IV. 1741-1760. 5 June 1757.
  12. Chisholm 1911.
  13. "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.)
  14. Durrant 2004.
  15. Hellicar 1978 , p. 28
  16. Eden's divorce was in 1950 and he remarried in 1952, prior to reaching office as prime minister.
  17. Shearing, Hazel & Kathryn Snowdon (30 May 2021). "Boris Johnson marries Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral". BBC News. Retrieved 31 May 2021.


Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by Secretary of State for the Northern Department
Succeeded by
Preceded by First Lord of the Treasury
Succeeded by
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Great Britain
14 October 1768 28 January 1770
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Boroughbridge
Served alongside: Sir Cecil Bisshopp, Bt
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Bury St Edmunds
Served alongside: Felton Hervey
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
Peerage of England
Preceded by Duke of Grafton
Succeeded by

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