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Page history last edited by R H Johnston 15 years, 9 months ago

More FitzRoy scandal...

Information on this page quoted from http://www.tbheritage.com/Breeders/Grafton/Grafton2.html


About 1763 the 3rd Duke of Grafton met Nancy Parsons, a courtesan of beauty and wit, who became his mistress for four years. The Duke was considered to have flaunted this relationship in society, and this became one issues about which he was lampooned in public letters by Junius. The Duchess removed herself from the Duke's houses, where her usurper reigned at table. The Duchess took her daughter, Georgina, with her, but left the future 4th Duke, aged 9, with his father.


Later, while still married to the Duke, the Duchess became pregnant by Thomas Butler, Earl of Ossory, precipitating a divorce from Grafton and her almost immediate subsequent marriage to the Earl, which by most accounts was a much happier one.


The Duke, his first marriage now terminated, ended his liaison with the lovely Parsons, and married Elizabeth Wrottesley, a young woman related to the Duke of Bedford, an uncertain political ally of Grafton. His new wife was content to focus on family and bore the Duke twelve more children, including Lord William FitzRoy, the father of F. Horatio FitzRoy of Yateley.


When first at Parliament as an M.P., Grafton met and developed a lifelong love and admiration for William Pitt, the Great Commoner. Although unsuited temperamentally and intellectually to the political stage, he made sporadic attempts to influence events, but had neither the political savvy nor the right sort of guile to successfully serve as a leader of men or as a political operative behind the scenes. And, there were always the siren calls of his mistress, his hunting hounds at Wakefield Lodge in Northamptonshire, and his horses at

Newmarket and Euston.


While secretary of state under the ailing and absent Pitt, and for all intents and purposes acting prime minister, he failed to appear at important Cabinet deliberations regarding Ireland, whose own parliament was on hold while awaiting the decision, because a horse of his was running at Newmarket and he had company at his Euston house, entertained by his mistress. Later Walpole was to write, The D. of G., like an apprentice, thinking the world should be postponed to a whore and a horse-race.


After succeeding to the House of Lords, and being drawn into Pitt's inner circle, Grafton found himself increasingly out of his depth, first as secretary of state (1765-66), then as first lord of the treasury in Pitt's (now Lord Chatham) administration (1766-68). When Chatham was struck with illness, he prevailed upon Grafton to assume the role of prime minister (1768-1770), a post King George III was happy to see fall to such a malleable person.


His premiership was a disaster, coming at a critical juncture in the relationship between England and her American colonies, and guidance from the ill and absent Chatham was lacking. Grafton appointed to the Cabinet the three men most responsible for alienating the Americans, Lord North, Lord Hillsborough, and

Charles Townsend.


He also presided over the refusal to seat the duly-elected Middlesex M.P., the demagogic John Wilkes, who had been expelled from Parliament four years earlier on the grounds of seditious libel and obscenity, primarily for his outspoken attacks on George III. The Wilkes affair became a cause celebre, viewed as an illegal

manipulation by royalty of parliamentary privilege and a restraint on the peoples right to elect their representatives.


As first minister and leader of the Kings party, the unhappy Grafton was in the centre of the storm. His every private and public fault and failing were viciously held up to public ridicule in a series of anonymous public letters from Junius that appeared in the Public Advertiser from 1769 to 1771, full of personal inventive and shrewdly expressed political arguments. These letters have served to elevate Grafton's notoriety over the years, beyond his actual influence, and have ensured him a place in history for motives of actions that were largely inept, rather than malicious.


Grafton resigned as prime minister in 1770, at age 34, unable to reconcile the competing factions within his cabinet. He was replaced as premier by Lord North, but was brought back into service of the country as lord privy seal under North (1771-75), and again under Lords Rockingham (1782) and Shelburne (1782-83), although, at his request, not as a member of Cabinet.


In later years the Duke took up theology, and seceded from the Church of England to convert to Unitarianism, embarrassing his friends and family. He published two books on religion and later had the Griesbach's Greek Testament reprinted at his own expense, to pass out to his friends. He also developed a deeper interest in

agriculture, and spent some portion of his time visiting various livestock shows and fairs. He died at the age of 76 in 1811.



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