FELLOWES, William Henry (1769-1837), of Ramsey Abbey, Hunts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Maj. Hunts. militia 1797, 1808.
Fellowes’s grandfather had sat for the county and in 1774 his father was promised, in exchange for his support for the Sandwich interest, that when Lord Hinchingbrooke vacated his seat, Sandwich would back him for the county. When Hinchingbrooke vacated to succeed his father in 1792, the promise was set aside, Fellowes senior having found a seat elsewhere. Fellowes junior looked to the county in 1796, but to keep the peace, Sandwich induced him to be his nominee for the borough.1 Expected to support Pitt’s administration, he was not an active Member. In his first Parliament his only vote against ministers was in favour of Buxton’s proposal that there should be no fresh land tax without a tax on all property, 18 May 1798. In 1802 he was again reported to be pressing his claims to the county, but nothing came of it.2 No opposition by him to Addington’s ministry is known, except that he voted against the Irish militia offer bill, 10, 13 Apr. 1804. A number of speeches in that and the next Parliament, most attributed to ‘Mr Fellowes’, some indexed ‘W. Fellowes’, appear to be Robert’s: it is significant that after 1807, when Robert went out of the House, this Member had no speech attributed to him until 1830. He was listed a Pittite in September 1804 and, after voting against the censure on Melville, 8 Apr., in July 1805.
In October 1804 Fellowes secured a promise of the Duke of Manchester’s interest in Huntingdonshire if the duke’s brother Lord Frederick Montagu retired.3 His votes against the Grenville ministry, 3 Mar., 30 Apr. and 17 June 1806 did not help him, for at the dissolution he found that Lord Sandwich preferred to support Viscount Proby, whose connexions were with the government; and, still worse, that although Sandwich was prepared to return him again for the borough, it was on the understanding that he should ‘vote with ministry’. He complained to Sandwich, 14 July, that though he was entitled ‘to prefer your new to old connections, if you think proper’:
In one part of the present ministry I cannot place any confidence. I have always hitherto considered, and I am sure my father did, my vote in the House of Commons as free and discretionary, nor will I ever sit in the House under any other conditions.4
Yet he gave up the county and came in for the borough. He was revenged in 1807 when Sandwich shared his favourable disposition to the Portland ministry and they united against Proby in a contest.
Fellowes gave a silent support to ministers in the Parliament of 1807, voting with them in the crucial divisions of 23 and 26 Jan., 5 and 30 Mar. 1810 and 1 Jan. 1811. He was, however, in favour of sinecure reform, 17 May 1810, 4 May 1812. He was fairly listed ‘against the Opposition’ by the Whigs in 1810. He voted against Catholic relief, 22 June 1812, and steadily in the ensuing Parliament, in which he was listed a Treasury supporter. Votes attributed to Fellowes against government after 1815 cannot with any certainty be transferred to Newton Fellowes*, though they are offset by votes with ministers which would in some instances appear contradictory, as he never explained himself. He voted for the civil list and against scrutiny of the Regent’s expenditure, 14 Apr., 31 May 1815, but he also voted against the civil list, 8 May. He again voted for the civil list, 6 May 1816, but was reported hostile on the same question, 24 May; and it seems that he voted against the army estimates on 6 and 8 Mar. preceding. He voted with ministers on the Admiralty establishment, 25 Feb., for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and against motions critical of government procedure on it, 10 Feb., 5 Mar. 1818. Either Newton Fellowes or he opposed the ducal marriage grants, 13, 15 Apr. 1818.
Fellowes was regarded as the unpopular candidate at the county election of 1818, but his opponent was too feeble to disturb him. He voted with government against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819, and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June; but against them on the malt duty, 9 June. He died 23 Aug. 1837.