LANE FOX, George (1793-1848), of Bramham Park, nr. Tadcaster, Yorks.
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Family and Educationb. 4 May 1793, 1st s. of James Fox Lane† of Bramham and Hon. Maria Lucy Pitt, da. of George Pitt†, 1st Bar. Rivers; bro. of Sackville Walter Lane Fox*. educ. Westminster; Emmanuel, Camb. 1811. m. 20 Sept. 1814, Georgiana Henrietta, da. of Edward Pery Buckley of Minestead Lodge, Hants, 1s. 2da. suc. fa. 1821. d. 15 Nov. 1848.
Lane Fox’s wealthy but spendthrift father, a friend of George IV as prince of Wales who liked to regard himself as the first commoner of England, had inherited the extensive Bramham estate in 1773 from his uncle George Fox†, 1st Baron Bingley. He was an inconspicuous Member for Horsham in the 1796 Parliament.1 Lane Fox, an irresponsible young man, was addicted to horse racing and ‘gambled away half his fortune’: a few months after he succeeded his father in 1821, Edward Littleton* visited Bramham, which was ‘laid out in the old French style, like St. Cloud’, and discovered that Lane Fox was ‘too poor to live there and occupies a smaller house adjoining’.2 A member of Brooks’s Club (like his father) since 1816, at the general election of 1820 he offered for the venal and open borough of Beverley as a third man. After spending lavishly, keeping his political views to himself and amusing his opponents with his stumbling oratory, he was returned at the head of the poll by a considerable margin. He refused to supply the customary bull for baiting, which he denounced as a ‘cruel and barbarous’ amusement.3
Lane Fox, a very lax attender who is not known to have spoken in debate, seems to have given general but not slavish support to the Liverpool ministry when present. He was in the opposition minority against Wilberforce’s compromise resolution on the Queen Caroline affair, 22 June, but divided with government against economies in revenue collection, 4 July 1820. He voted against the opposition censure motion on ministers’ conduct towards the queen, 6 Feb., but for restoration of her name to the liturgy, 13 Feb., and inquiry into the conduct of the sheriff of Dublin at the local meeting in her support, 22 Feb. 1821. He voted to condemn the Allies’ suppression of liberalism in Naples, 21 Feb. Although he voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb., and presented a hostile petition from the corporation and burgesses of Beverley, 12 Mar., he was reported to have declared his intention of ‘not voting in the committee’ on the relief bill, and in fact voted with the pro-Catholic majority for the first clause, 23 Mar. 1821.4 He voted for the second reading of the new Catholic relief bill, 21 Apr. 1825. He divided with government against repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., and was given a month’s leave of absence on account of his father’s death, 7 May 1821. He was in the minority for Hume’s amendment to the address, 5 Feb., but the ministerial majorities for the aliens bill, 19 July 1822, and against inquiry into chancery delays, 5 June 1823. On 20 Feb. 1823 he brought up a Beverley petition for repeal of the Insolvent Debtors Act.5 He voted in defence of the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He was in the ministerial majorities for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity, 6, 10 June 1825, and paired against revision of the corn laws, 18 Apr. 1826. He presented constituency petitions for the abolition of slavery, repeal of the window tax and an end to the practice of quartering soldiers in inns, 15 Feb. 1826.6 In the autumn of 1825 he had indicated his willingness to stand again for Beverley at the next general election; but when the dissolution came in June 1826 he retired and recommended a successor.7
By then his private life was in disarray. In 1822 he decided to separate from his wife, a society figure of dubious virtue, whose mother had been a lady of the bedchamber to the royal princesses. He had accomplished this by early 1824, but two years later he sought a reconciliation. Mrs. Arbuthnot, who considered Lane Fox to be ‘an odious man’, advised her to ‘accept his offer but to contrive some money arrangement which may be beneficial to her children, and also to secure some provision to her should she be again driven away by him’.8 Nothing seems to have come of this, and in the late 1820s Mrs. Fox had a ‘notorious’ and indiscreet affair with the 6th earl of Chesterfield, who ruthlessly ditched her in 1830 to marry Anne Weld Forester.9 On 29 July 1828 the mansion at Bramham and its valuable contents were almost totally destroyed by fire, and it remained in a state of dereliction for many years.10 Lane Fox successfully contested Beverley as a Conservative in 1837, but he retired from Parliament on health grounds in 1840. A keen promoter in his later years of agricultural improvement, he died in November 1848.11
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Martin Casey
- 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 824.
- 2. Hatherton diary, 3 Oct. .
- 3. Yorks. Gazette, 26 Feb., 4, 11 Mar.; The Times, 6, 10 Mar. 1820; Hull Univ. Lib. DDMM/2/18; G. Oliver, Hist. Beverley, 422.
- 4. The Times, 13 Mar. 1821; Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, i. 135, 142; Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC17/20.
- 5. The Times, 21 Feb. 1823.
- 6. Ibid. 16 Feb. 1826.
- 7. Fitzwilliam mss, Wood to Milton, 7 Oct.; Yorks. Gazette, 22 Oct. 1825; Hull Advertiser, 2 June; Hull Univ. Lib. Hotham mss DDHO/8/4, Hall to Hotham, 4 June 1826.
- 8. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 167, 286, 300; ii. 2-3; Peel Letters, 52.
- 9. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 301, 391-2.
- 10. The Times, 31 July, Aug. 1828; W.H. White, Hist. W. Riding (1837-8), ii. 304.
- 11. Yorks. Gazette, 25 Nov. 1848.