History and Tour

Duke of Grafton

Augustus Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton Born: 28 September 1735

First entered Parliament: 10 December 1756

Age he became PM: 33 years, 16 days

Maiden speech: 9 December 1762 in the House of Lords on the preliminary terms of the Peace of Paris

Total time as PM: One year, 106 days

Died: 14 March 1811 at Euston Hall, Suffolk

Facts and figures

Nicknames: “Royal Oak” and “The Turf Macaroni”

Education: Westminster School and Peterhouse, Cambridge

Family: Grafton was the second of three sons. He was married twice (to Anne Liddell and then Elizabeth Wrottesley), and had seven sons and nine daughters

Interests: Hunting, breeding racehorses, farming, collecting books


Colourful but complex

The Duke of Grafton was a colourful figure whose complex private life has overshadowed his time as prime minister.

Pitt the Elder appointed Grafton as his First Lord of the Treasury, but

Grafton became disillusioned by the failure of the mentally ill Pitt to consult him. As Pitt’s illness got worse, Grafton stepped in at the age of 33.

His short period of office was taken up with America. He believed that all duties on the colonies should be removed - except that on tea. He also had to deal with repeated attempts by rebel MP John Wilkes to take up his seat in Parliament.

Grafton attracted scandal for his indiscreet personal life and love of pleasure, but his career was saved by his wife’s own indiscretions, which allowed him to divorce her.

Demoralised by personal attacks published in newspapers about him, he resigned in 1770. He received the Order of the Garter from King George III, with whom he had been popular.

Quote unquote

“Wisdom is at no times more conspicuous, nor more amiable, than in the acknowledgement of error.”

Did you know?

Grafton was shy and disliked ceremonial duties. He would sometimes fall asleep at cabinet meetings.

First wife - Anne Liddell

She was just 18 when he married the Duke and gave birth five times - two of whom dies in infancy. They were separated after nine years.

Second wife - Elizabeth Wrottesley

His second wife gave him 13 children in 16 years. She was not a handsome woman, by all accounts, but had a ‘quiet and amiable character’. Grafton said that she had a ‘tenderness and affection as mother of a numerous family.’

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