FANE, John I (1751-1824), of Wormsley, nr. Watlington, Oxon.
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Family and Educationb. 6 Jan. 1751, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Henry Fane† of Wormsley and 3rd w. Charlotte, da. of Richard Luther of Myles’s, Ongar, Essex; bro. of Francis Fane†. educ. Corpus Christi, Camb. 1768. m. 1 Dec. 1773, Lady Elizabeth Parker, da. of Thomas Parker†, 3rd earl of Macclesfield, 2s. 5da.1 suc. fa. to Oxon. estates 1777; bro. Francis to Essex estates 1813. d. 8 Feb. 1824.
Member bd. of agriculture 1803, vice-pres. 1815-22.
Capt. Lewknor vols. 1803; lt.-col. commdt. S. Oxf. militia 1809.
According to a fulsome obituary notice Fane, who was returned unopposed for Oxfordshire for the seventh successive time at the general election of 1820
never sacrificed a vote in Parliament at the shrine of ambition or self-interest; he never sought for, nor ever obtained, a place or pension for himself or his family ... He was uniformly the enemy of improvident expenditure, of partial and injurious grants, even to the highest personages of the state, of an unnecessary stretch of the prerogative, and of the improper exercise of that parliamentary power, which ministerial patronage gives to the government ... He was loyal to his king; a true but unostentatious patriot; and the kind, the sincere, the faithful friend of his constituents.2
In short, he was a typical independent county Member, basically inclined to give general support to ministers, but prepared to oppose them on specific issues on which he or his constituents felt strongly.
Fane, a prominent member of the board of agriculture, was one of the parliamentary contacts of the Central Agricultural Association, founded by George Webb Hall in January 1819 in an attempt to organize the agricultural interest into an effective pressure group. He was one of the Members who accompanied a delegation from the Association to the board of trade to put the protectionist case in February 1819. He may have abetted Webb Hall’s attempt to take over the board of agriculture for use as a political instrument.3 Certainly in April 1820 he wrote to Lord Hardwicke, president of the board, recommending Webb Hall, as ‘a most zealous and active advocate on behalf of the agricultural interest’, for appointment as its secretary in the place of the late Arthur Young.4 (Webb Hall secured the post, but ministers ended his machinations by abolishing the board in 1822.) Fane attended the Association’s London meetings in May 1820 and almost certainly voted for Sumner’s successful motion for inquiry into agricultural distress on the 30th. He was named to the select committee the following day.
He voted against the Liverpool government on the appointment of an additional Scottish baron of exchequer, 15 May 1820. He attended but did not speak at the county meeting called to vote a loyal address to the king, 22 Jan., and voted in defence of ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821.5 He divided with government on the state of the revenue, 6 Mar. (unless this was John Thomas Fane), parliamentary reform, 9 May, and Hume’s call for economy, 27 June; but against them on compensation to the clerks of the Scottish admiralty court, 15 Feb., repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar. (he did not vote when ministers mustered support to defeat it, 3 Apr.), the barracks grant, 31 May, and the payment of arrears to the duke of Clarence, 8, 18, 29 June, 2 July 1821.6 He voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, and criminal law reform, 23 May 1821.
Fane is not known to have spoken in debate in this period, but he presented several petitions for relief from agricultural distress in 1822, when he joined in the revolt of disgruntled Tory country gentlemen against the government.7 He voted for Hume’s amendment to the address, 5 Feb., and the call for more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 11 Feb., yet was listed in the government majority against the resolution condemning their proposed relief measures as inadequate, 21 Feb. He voted for relaxation of the salt duties, 28 Feb., admiralty reductions, 1 Mar., and, unmoved by ministerial attempts to restrain recalcitrant backbenchers, abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., 2 May. He was one of the diehard minority of 24 who voted for the protectionist solution of a 40s. fixed duty on imported corn, 8 May. He opposed reception of the Calcutta bankers’ petition for the recovery of debts from the East India Company, 4 July 1822. Ministerial threats of resignation in May 1822 and the return of comparative agricultural prosperity the following year seem to have curbed Fane’s rebelliousness. He voted with administration on the sinking fund, 3, 13 Mar., the assessed taxes, 10, 18 Mar., repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and the currency, 12 June 1823. He was in the minority of eight against the warehousing bill, 21 Mar. He was one of the anti-Catholic Members who voted for the production of papers relative to the Dublin Orangemen’s theatre riot, 24 Mar., but he divided with ministers against inquiry into the legal proceedings against the miscreants, 22 Apr. 1823.
Fane, an ‘urbane, affable, hospitable’ country gentleman and benevolent landlord, died in February 1824. In accordance with his wishes, he was ‘modestly borne to the grave by some of his labourers; thus carrying even to the gates of death the unostentatious character of his life’.8 By his will, dated 12 Feb. 1822, he provided handsomely for his wife and children. His personalty was sworn under £80,000.9
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. PROB 11/1685/291, correcting HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 724.
- 2. Gent. Mag. (1824), i. 181.
- 3. R. Mitchison, ‘Board of Agriculture’, EHR, lxxiv (1959), 63-64; D. Spring and T.L. Crosby, ‘George Webb Hall’, JBS, ii. (1962-3), 256-6; B. Hilton, Corn, Cash, Commerce, 99-100.
- 4. Add. 35632, f. 342.
- 5. The Times, 23 Jan. 1821.
- 6. HLRO, Hist. Coll 379, Grey Bennet diary, 22, 99.
- 7. The Times, 14, 23 Feb., 26 Apr., 22 May 1822; Hilton, 148; Creevey Pprs. ii. 34. (Creevey’s comment on Fane’s voting behaviour is misinterpreted and wrongly dated in HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 724.)
- 8. Gent. Mag. (1824), i. 181.
- 9. PROB 11/1685/291; IR26/999/354.