FITZHUGH, William (1757-1842), of Banisters Court, Millbrook, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



8 July 1803 - June 1819

Family and Education

b. 21 July 1757, 1st s. of Valentine Fitzhugh of Bittern Grove by Elizabeth, da. of Abraham Palmentier of Constantinople. m. 5 July 1792, Charlotte, da. of Ven. Anthony Hamilton, archdeacon of Colchester, 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 1800.

Offices Held

Writer, E.I. Co. (Canton) 1774, supercargo 1779.

Dir. Westminster Life Insurance Office 1818.


Fitzhugh was descended from a Bedfordshire family which had established itself in the Limehouse area of London by the late 17th century. Like his grandfather and namesake, he served with the East India Company, in his own case in China. He was a supercargo below the select committee by 1779 and in 1787 he went on an unsuccessful trading mission to Manila.1

On returning to England after 1790 he settled in Hampshire and married the niece of Nathaniel Ryder, 1st Baron Harrowby. When Harrowby died in 1803 his son and successor, Dudley Ryder*, returned Fitzhugh for the family borough of Tiverton, where he sat undisturbed, notwithstanding reports in 1806 that some of the corporators wished to eject him,2 until he made way for Harrowby’s eldest son on his coming of age in 1819.

He is not known to have spoken in the House, where he faithfully followed Harrowby’s political line. He voted with Pitt in the combined attack on Addington in 1804 and supported Pitt’s second ministry, of which Harrowby was a member, voting against the motion of censure on Melville, 8 Apr. 1805. The following day he reported to Harrowby:

Opposition have managed their business with very great ability, and indeed they could not have had a better subject for its display. They had contrived to raise the popular cry to a very great pitch out of doors and it appeared to have a great effect within; or moderate and even strict men would not I think have rejected so reasonable a proposal as Mr Pitt’s which I doubt not would have removed Ld. M. as effectually as it will now be done, but I think in a manner that ought to have been more satisfactory to those who affect to respect Mr Pitt’s administration and who do not wish to play the game of opposition.3

One of the die-hard group of Pittites who actively opposed the ‘Talents’, he not only voted against the repeal of Pitt’s Additonal Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, but was in the smaller minorities on the question of Ellenborough’s seat in the cabinet, 3 Mar., the American intercourse bill, 17 June 1806, and the Hampshire election petition, 13 Feb. 1807. He subsequently went on to support, when present, the Portland, Perceval and Liverpool ministries, in all of which Harrowby sat in the cabinet, though he was evidently absent from the division on Stuart Wortley’s call for the formation of a stronger administration, 21 May 1812. Fitzhugh, who was an East India Company stockholder and served on the committees of inquiry into Indian affairs from 1808 to 1812, opposed criminal law reform, 1 May, reduction of sinecures, 17 May, and parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. He voted against Catholic relief in the divisions of 22 June 1812, 2 Mar., 11 and 24 May 1813, but not in those of 21 May 1816 and 9 May 1817. He was a member of the Poor Law committees, 1817-19. He died 5 Mar. 1842.


Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: P. A. Symonds / David R. Fisher


  • 1. W. Berry, Hants Fam. Peds. 144; H. B. Morse, E.I. Co. trading to China, ii. 46, 54, 122-3.
  • 2. N and Q. clxx (1936), 130.
  • 3. Harrowby mss.