Fremantle, William Henry (DNB00)


FREMANTLE, Sir WILLIAM HENRY (1766–1850), politician, youngest son of John Fremantle of Aston Abbots, Buckinghamshire, was born 28 Dec. 1766. At an early age he entered the army, and attained the rank of captain of infantry. He was on the staff of the Duke of Wellington, and in 1782 he went to Ireland as aide-de-camp to the lord-lieutenant, the Marquis of Buckingham. Subsequently he was appointed private secretary to his excellency, and he officiated in that capacity until the Marquis of Buckingham retired from the Irish viceroyalty. The intimate knowledge which Fremantle acquired of Irish affairs caused him to be named resident secretary for Ireland in 1789, and he remained in Dublin until 1800, when the resident Irish secretaryship was abolished. Fremantle had rendered valuable service during a very critical period. At a later date he held the office of deputy teller of the exchequer. When the administration of ‘All the Talents’ was formed by Lords Grenville and Grey in 1806, Fremantle was appointed joint secretary to the treasury, and entered parliament as one of the members for Harwich. He quitted office with Lord Grenville. He was M.P. for the Wick Burghs from 1808 to 1812. In the latter year he was elected for Buckingham, and retained the seat until 1827, when he resigned it in favour of his nephew, Sir T. F. Fremantle, bart. For the fifteen years during which he sat for Buckingham, Fremantle took part in all the principal debates in the House of Commons, acquiring considerable reputation as a speaker. He invariably acted with Lord Grenville's party, and he was a cordial supporter of catholic emancipation and other political and social reforms. When the mutiny at Barrackpore occurred in 1825, and the conduct of Lord Amherst, governor-general of India, was severely criticised in parliament, Fremantle defended the suppression of the mutiny. In 1822 Fremantle joined the government of Lord Liverpool. He was created a privy councillor and was one of the commissioners of the India board. This office he held for four years, 1822–1826, when George IV appointed him treasurer of the royal household. He became high in favour with the king, to whom he had long been personally known. After performing special services in connection with the visits of several European sovereigns, Fremantle received the honour of knighthood 31 Oct. 1827, with the grand cross of the Guelphic order of Hanover. Upon the accession of William IV, Fremantle was reappointed treasurer of the household, and the king further nominated him deputy-ranger of Windsor Great Park. He was thus brought into constant relations with the court, and was much esteemed by the sovereign. When the king died, in 1837, Fremantle retired from the household, but retained his position of deputy-ranger of Windsor Park under the rangership of Prince Albert. The park was much improved during his term of office, which continued until his death on 19 Oct. 1850.

Fremantle married, 12 Jan. 1797, Selina Mary, only daughter of Sir John Elwill, bart., and widow of Felton Lionel Hervey, grandson of John Hervey, first earl of Bristol. Lady Fremantle died 22 Nov. 1841 at Brighton. By her first husband she had five children.

[Gent. Mag. and Ann. Reg. 1850; Windsor and Eton Express, 26 Oct. 1850; Foster's Peerage, s. v. ‘Cottesloe.’]

G. B. S.