FETHERSTONHAUGH, Sir Henry, 2nd Bt. (1754-1846), of Uppark, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. 22 Dec. 1754, o.s. of Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh, 1st Bt. educ. Eton 1766-71; Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1772; Grand Tour (Geneva, Italy, Paris) 1775-6. m. 12 Sept. 1825, when over 70, Mary Ann Bullock, his head dairy maid, aged 18, s.p. suc. fa. 18 Mar. 1774.
Edward Gibbon, a friend and neighbour of the family, wrote about Henry Fetherstonhaugh a month after his father’s death: ‘At present everything carries the appearance of sobriety and economy. The baronet, instead of flying to Paris and Rome, returns to his college at Oxford, and even the house at Whitehall is to be let.’1 But on 31 Jan. 1775, after a visit to Uppark: ‘Sir Henry is very civil and good-humoured. But from the unavoidable temper of youth I fear he will cost many a tear to Lady F. She consults everybody, but has neither authority nor plan.’ Emma Hart—‘Nelson’s Emma’—was established near Uppark as his mistress in 1780, an early and rather short stage in her chequered career. In August 1784 Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu wrote to her sister Sarah Scott:2
The Prince of Wales has been at Sir Henry Fetherstone’s. He stayed three days, during which they had races of all sorts, fine horses, ponies, cart-horses, women, and men in sacks, with various other divertimenti fit for children of six foot high. I hear he was much delighted, and said that Newmarket races were dull in comparison. They were within three or four miles of us, but no one except servants went from hence, nor do I find that any ladies of fashion in the town were at them. Poor Lady Fetherstone, Sir Harry’s mother, fled from the riot to Mr. Iremonger’s.
Fetherstonhaugh being a minor at his father’s death, Joshua Iremonger, half-brother of his mother, contested Portsmouth; he had the support of the Dissenters and Radicals led by John Carter but was defeated by the Government candidate at the by-election of 29 Mar. 1774 and at the general election in October, as was Henry Fetherstonhaugh at the by-election of 26 Nov. 1777 and in 1780. The fall of the North Administration gave the whip hand to the opposition party at Portsmouth, and to Fetherstonhaugh his chance on a vacancy in May 1782. Keppel, first lord of the Admiralty, promised him Government support; and Rockingham wrote to him on 23 May: ‘My opinion indeed was, even before your application, that from many circumstances which had passed, that you had a strong claim and was entitled to have preference at this time.’3 Fetherstonhaugh was returned unopposed.
In July 1782 he adhered to Charles James Fox; voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries; for Pitt’s parliamentary reform, 7 May 1783; did not vote on Fox’s East India bill; but remained one of his supporters. ‘The electors’, wrote Robinson in December 1783, ‘will again, it is apprehended, choose Sir H. Fetherstone’;4 Administration therefore ran only one candidate; and the election was unopposed. Fetherstonhaugh, adhering to the Prince of Wales, remained in opposition to Pitt; voted against his Irish propositions, 13 May 1785; and when these came once more before the House, the Prince wrote to Fetherstonhaugh from Brighton, 20 July:5
If you have not already got a pair off in this business I would go to London as tonight and endeavour to get one tomorrow morning, which means you will be back again with us in the evening and ready for the terrible work with the high bred cattle [horse races] that is to ensue the next morning. Pray take [Thomas] Onslow with you upon the same errand.
Even during the Regency crisis Fetherstonhaugh seems to have found steady attendance excessively irksome. He paired on 16 Dec. 1788; and on Friday the 19th Portland, having heard that Fetherstonhaugh meant ‘to go into the country and leave the business of the Regency’, expostulated with him: ‘many important questions must arise ... and ... the resistance which our friends will make to them will probably be successful if they but think it worth while to oppose them in full force of numbers’.6
There is no record of Fetherstonhaugh having spoken in the House.
He died 24 Oct. 1846.