FELLOWES, William Henry (1769-1837), of Ramsey Abbey, Hunts. and Haverland Hall, Norf.
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Family and Educationb. 15 July 1769, 1st s. of William Fellowes† of Ramsey Abbey and Lavinia, da. and coh. of James Smyth of St. Audries, Som. educ. Charterhouse 1778-86; St. John’s, Camb. 1786. m. 23 July 1805, Emma, da. of Richard Benyon† of Englefield House, Berks., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. fa. 1804. d. 23 Aug. 1837.
Maj. Hunts. militia 1797, 1808.
Fellowes, who remained attached to the Sandwich interest in Huntingdonshire, while portraying himself as an ‘independent’, attended the county meeting of condolence and congratulation to George IV, 4 Mar. 1820, and endorsed the loyal address. He begrudged voting thanks to the under-sheriff Samuel Wells, the radical attorney, and, so the rector of Buckden told Lord Milton*, displayed a narrow-mindedness ‘which I should not have thought him capable of’.1 He stood again for the county at the general election and was returned unopposed with the Whig Lord John Russell.2 He continued to give general though not slavish support to the Liverpool ministry, but he was not a dedicated attender.3 He voted against government on the appointment of an additional Scottish baron of exchequer, 15 May 1820. He presented petitions for relief from agricultural distress, 19 May 1820, 5 Mar. 1821.4 He was granted a month’s leave, 30 June 1820. He voted in defence of ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb., but declined to attend the county meeting called to petition against them on this issue, 30 Mar. 1821, pleading ‘parliamentary duties’ as his excuse.5 He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 21 Apr. 10 May, and the associated Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr., 9 May 1825. He voted for repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., 3 Apr., but divided with administration against reduction of the grant for the adjutant-general’s office, 11 Apr., and parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821. He mustered for the division against more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 21 Feb., but voted for abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., 2 May 1822. At his last rent day, according to the Huntingdon Gazette, he had given his tenants generous rebates. Even so, he refused to attend the county meeting to discuss distress, 3 Apr., as the requisitionists ‘sought to introduce dangerous innovations under the name of reform’.6 He presented a petition against revision of the corn laws, 9 May 1822.7 He voted against inquiry into the borough franchise, 20 Feb., and reform of the Scottish electoral system, 2 June 1823. Although outmatched by a côterie of Whigs, he was the only dissentient to address the county reform meeting in March that year, when he criticized its promoters for their exclusion of agricultural distress from the agenda and countered John Bonfoy Rooper’s* reference to the constitution’s former purity with an allusion to Tudor despotism.8 According to the Gazette, he presented and endorsed the prayer of a constituency petition against revision of the corn laws, 28 Apr. 1825; and the editor praised his ‘attention to local business’, for all their difference on ‘the great political questions’.9 He was a bailiff of the Bedford Level Corporation, and earlier in the session, according to another newspaper correspondent, his ‘spirited opposition’ to Lord William Cavendish Bentinck’s proposed Eau Brink drainage bill had re-established his popularity among the fenmen.10 He voted against the grant to the duke of Cumberland, 9 June, and was in the minority against restricting the use of spring guns, 21 June 1825. He divided with opposition against a separate salary for the president of the board of trade, 10 Apr., but voted against the reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr. 1826. He presented another petition against revision of the corn laws and divided against the government’s plan to admit bonded corn, 8 May 1826.11
He had announced his intention of standing for the county at the next general election in December 1825.12 His coalition with the Tory Lord Mandeville, the duke of Manchester’s son, against Russell and his inconspicuousness in the House were easy targets for press ridicule in the approach to the election. According to the Gazette, he had sat in Parliament for more than a quarter of a century without giving one single vote in ‘support of public liberty’, or speaking against the infringement of the constitution.13 Cavendish Bentinck described him to Milton as the ‘very worst of Tories’.14 Nothing came of reports that he would be transferred to the borough and that he was in line for a peerage at the dissolution. He duly offered for the county as an implacable opponent of Catholic relief, though according to Lady Mandeville he was uneasy about the contest, as he ‘hates to spend money’. He nevertheless was an active canvasser and, so Russell complained to Lord Holland, ‘gives away places in the excise in shoals, and then boasts of his opposition to any alteration in the corn laws’. He was barely able to secure a hearing at the nomination, but was returned with Mandeville after a four-day contest, at a cost of at least £6,692.15
Fellowes voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. He voted against relaxation of the corn laws, 2 Apr., but presented a petition for economy and retrenchment, 5 Apr. 1827.16 He divided with Canning’s ministry against the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May 1827. He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., presented a hostile petition, 20 Mar., and paired against Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He voted against the provision for Canning’s family, 13 May, and the archbishop of Canterbury’s estate bill, 16 June 1828. He presented a petition against Catholic emancipation, 11 Mar., and, as expected, voted steadily against it throughout March 1829. In his first known speech after 34 years in the House, 16 Mar. 1830, he defended himself against a charge of arbitrary conduct as a magistrate: he repudiated the accusations of George Goodwin, contained in a petition presented by Lord Nugent, and justified his refusal not to license an additional public house at St. Ives because there were already six there, not to mention 32 in the immediate neighbourhood. He presented petitions against the sale of beer bill (including one from St. Ives), 4, 11 May, and voted to amend the measure, 21 June. On 30 Mar. he moved the first reading of the divorce bill of his Norfolk neighbour Joseph Salisbury Muskett of Intwood Hall. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and for the South American consular grant and against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830.
He did not seek re-election at the ensuing general election, when he was apparently dropped on account of his unpopularity. Nevertheless he actively supported the Montagu candidates.17 In 1831, however, he objected to his successor Lord Strathavon’s platform of moderate reform, which, as he told Lady Sandwich, was ‘very different from what I hoped’, particularly as his pledge to vote only for disfranchisement offered no guarantee against his supporting other parts of the Grey ministry’s reform bill. He was reluctantly won over shortly before the election, but only after repeated assurances that Strathavon would support no more than schedule A. At the same time he told Lady Sandwich, ‘I cannot yet believe that any person with any claim to the name of a gentleman can condescend to conciliate his opponents at the expense of his honour and integrity’.18 Fellowes died in August 1837. In his will, dated 17 June 1837, and proved under a handsome £140,000, he directed that his funeral should be plain and of ‘little expense’. He bequeathed to his wife his leasehold London house in Lower Berkeley Street, the interest on £45,000 and his Pennsylvanian stocks and shares. He devised £20,000 to each of his three younger children, and the residue of his estate to his second but eldest surviving son Edward Fellowes (1809-87), Member for Huntingdonshire, 1837-80, who was created Baron De Ramsey in 1887.19 Some 2,000 mourners were reported to have witnessed his obsequies. The Cambridge Chronicle commented that ‘it falls to the lot of but few men to go to the grave more sincerely lamented as a neighbour, friend, and landlord’.20
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Simon Harratt
- 1. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 11 Mar.; Fitzwilliam mss, Maltby to Milton, 5 Mar. 1820.
- 2. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 17 Mar. 1820.
- 3. Black Bk. (1823), 154; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 463.
- 4. The Times, 20 May 1820, 6 Mar. 1821.
- 5. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 10, 31 Mar. 1821.
- 6. Ibid. 8 Dec. 1821, 6 Apr. 1822.
- 7. The Times, 10 May 1822.
- 8. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 8 Mar.1823.
- 9. Ibid. 30 Apr., 7 May 1825.
- 10. Ibid. 18 June 1825.
- 11. The Times, 9 May 1826.
- 12. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 24 Dec. 1825.
- 13. Ibid. 28 Jan., 4, 25 Feb., 25 Mar., 15, 22 Apr. 1826.
- 14. Fitzwilliam mss 124/13.
- 15. Hunts. RO, Manchester mss ddM 21a/8, election expenses ; ddM 49/15, Lady Mandeville to Lord F. Montagu, 23 May; Add. 51677, Russell to Holland, 23 June; Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 3, 10, 17, 24 June 1826.
- 16. The Times, 6 Apr. 1827.
- 17. Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette, 17 July; Fitzwilliam mss, Day to Milton, 16 July 1830.
- 18. Hunts. RO, Sandwich mss Hinch/8/49/1-3.
- 19. PROB 11/1887/226; IR26/145/86.
- 20. Cambridge Chron. 2 Sept. 1837.