Fitzroy, George Henry (DNB00)

FITZROY, GEORGE HENRY, fourth Duke of Grafton (1760–1844) son of Augustus Henry Fitzroy [q. v.], third duke, by his first wife, was born 14 Jan. 1760. As Earl of Euston he was sent at eighteen years of age to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he contracted an intimate friendship with the younger Pitt. He proceeded M.A. in 1799. He was afterwards for a time Pitt's warm partisan in the House of Commons, and for many years his colleague in the representation of the university. In 1784 he married the Lady Maria Charlotte Waldegrave, second daughter of James, second earl of Waldegrave. Euston entered parliament in 1784. The conservatives had resolved to attack a number of whig seats, including those of Cambridge University. The sitting members were Lord John Townshend and James (afterwards Chief Justice) Mansfield. The election excited great interest throughout the country, and the return of Pitt and Euston was hailed with enthusiasm by the tory party. The numbers were: Pitt, 351; Euston, 299; Townshend, 278; and Mansfield, 181. Euston's career in the House of Commons was useful, but not brilliant. At the outset he supported the government of Pitt, but he rarely addressed the house. He was appointed lord-lieutenant of Suffolk in 1790, receiver-general in the courts of king's bench and common pleas, and king's gamekeeper at Newmarket. For some years he was ranger of Hyde Park and of St. James's Park. In addition to these offices, conferred upon him by the prime minister, he was hereditary ranger of Whittlebury Forest, recorder of Thetford, a trustee of the Hunterian Museum, president of the Eclectic Society of London, &c. Twice, in 1790 and 1807, his seat at Cambridge was stoutly contested, on the latter occasion by Lord Palmerston, but in both instances unsuccessfully. Euston sat for his university from 1784 to 1811, when he succeeded to the peerage on the death of his father, 14 March 1811. A considerable time before this event Euston had changed his political views. He was unable to support all the measures of the government in relation to the war against France, and seceded from Pitt when embarrassments began to surround that minister. In fact, long before the death of Pitt, Euston had become a whig. From the time of his accession to the dukedom Euston steadfastly cast his votes and exercised all his influence in favour of civil and religious liberty. He did not, however, show bitterness towards his former friends, being considerate and urbane in speech and action. When the bill of pains and penalties against the queen of George IV was presented to the House of Lords, he spoke vehemently against the measure, and this was almost the last occasion on which he took a prominent part in the business of parliament. For nearly twenty years he lived in retirement, surrounded by his numerous descendants; but he had become a widower in 1808. He received the Garter in 1834. He died at his seat, Euston Hall, Suffolk, 28 Sept. 1844. He was succeeded in the title and estates by his eldest son Henry, who, as Earl of Euston, had sat in the House of Commons for eleven years, first as member for Bury St. Edmunds, and then as member for Thetford. The fifth Duke of Grafton married a daughter of Admiral Sir George Cranfield Berkeley, by whom he had issue.

[Times, 30 Sept. 1844; Ipswich Express, 1 Oct. 1844; Annual Register, 1844.]

G. B. S.