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Royal Naval Biography/FitzRoy, William

A Companion of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath.
[Post-Captain of 1804.]

This officer is a younger son of Augustus Henry, third Duke of Grafton, by his second Duchess, Elizabeth, daughter of the late Rev. Sir Richard Wrottesley, Bart. He was born June 1, 1782; made a Lieutenant in 1800; Commander in 1802, and Post-Captain, Mar. 3, 1804.

His Lordship commanded the AEolus frigate in Sir Richard J. Strachan’s action, Nov. 4, 1805; and at the reduction of Martinique, in 1809[1]. Previous to the latter event, he had been elected M.P. for Thetford, in which borough the Grafton family appear to have possessed great influence for a long series of years, one of the titles attached to the dukedom being “Viscount Thetford.” His last appointment was, about June, 1810, to the Macedonian frigate, in which he served on the Lisbon station, until dismissed from the service, for a breach of the 33d Article of War, April 7, 1811.

Lord William was restored to his rank in the navy at the latter end of August, in the same year; and nominated a C.B. in 1815. He married, Aug. 9, 1816, Georgiana, second daughter of Thomas Raikes, Esq. and by that lady has issue.

Towards the close of 1823, a small pamphlet was printed and circulated, among the higher ranks in the navy, under the title of “A brief Statement arising out of a Passage contained in the third volume of James’s Naval History of Great Britain, on the Conduct and Character of Lord William Fitz Roy, in the year 1805.” To this “Statement” Mr. James published “A Reply,” in January, 1824. The circumstance which gave rise to those pamphlets has been discussed by Captain Brenton in the third volume of his Naval History – We have neither time nor inclination to enter into the subject.


(Vol. II. Part II. p. 863.)

This officer served as midshipman under Lord Hugh Seymour, in the Sans Pareil 80[2]; commanded the Mutine and Fairy sloops, in 1802 and 1803; was posted into the AEolus frigate, at Jamaica, Mar. 3d, 1804; sailed from thence with the homeward bound trade, on the 6th of the following month; assisted at the capture of four French line-of-battle ships, by the squadron under Sir Richard J. Strachan, Nov. 4th, 1805; took despatches to Halifax in 1807; and was present at the reduction of Martinique, by the military and naval forces under Lieutenant-General Beckwith and Sir Alexander I. Cochrane, in Feb. 1809[3].

On the 1st Oct. following, Lord William exchanged into the Squirrel 24, on the Halifax station, and soon afterwards returned to England. His next and last appointment was, about June-1810, to the Macedonian 38. In April 1811, he was dismissed from H.M. service, by the sentence of a court-martial held at Lisbon, for oppressive and tyrannical conduct, in putting the master of that ship in irons. The latter officer was afterwards tried for contempt to his lordship, and not only dismissed the service, but rendered incapable of serving again as an officer[4]. On the 22d Aug. in the same year. Lord William was restored to the rank of post-captain.

  1. See Vol. I. pp. 289 and 264.
  2. See Suppl. Part II. p. 460.
  3. See Vol. I. Part I. p. 264.
  4. See Naval Chronicle, vol. 26, p, 349.