GERARD, Hon. Fitton (1663-1702), of Chelsea, Mdx.
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Family and Education
bap. 15 Oct. 1663, 2nd s. of Charles, 1st Baron Gerard of Brandon and 1st Earl of Macclesfield; bro. of Charles Gerard*, Visct. Brandon. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1673. unm. suc. bro. Charles as 3rd Earl of Macclesfield 5 Nov. 1701.1
Cornet of horse, Queen’s regt. 1678–9.
Freeman, Preston 1682, Liverpool 1698.2
A Whig extremist, Gerard was blacklisted prior to the 1690 election as having voted during the Convention for the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. At this election Gerard stood for Ludlow upon the interest of the Whig advocates of the 1684 charter, with the support of his father’s interest, and, when defeated, he petitioned against the return of his Tory adversaries. On 6 Oct. the election was declared void but Gerard did not stand in the resulting by-election and for the remainder of his parliamentary career was dependent upon his family’s interest in Lancashire. In 1693 he stood for Clitheroe with the support of his brother, the lord lieutenant of the county, Lord Brandon. A bitterly contested election led to a double return and, although the elections committee decided in Gerard’s favour in January 1694, the election was declared void on 2 Feb. He stood again at the resulting by-election and, after another double return, was seated on 17 Apr. Two of his committee appointments in this Parliament bore some relation to his recent experiences at Clitheroe. On 11 Jan. he was appointed to examine the precedents for penalties on officers making false returns, and later the same month was appointed to draft a bill, which he subsequently presented, to disenfranchise those who had refused the oaths, an interesting nomination given that his opponents at Clitheroe alleged that in 1693 Gerard had had the support of a Quaker voter who had refused to take the oaths. He also figured on two lists of this Parliament, being classed by Robert Harley* as a Country supporter, and being included in Henry Guy’s* list of ‘friends’, probably in connexion with the Commons’ attack on Guy in the 1694–5 session.3
Given the activity of Lord Brandon, now 2nd Earl of Macclesfield, in Lancashire elections in 1695 it is surprising that Gerard did not stand in this year, but in February 1697 he was returned for Lancaster with his brother’s support. On 26 Feb. 1698 Gerard was given leave to petition the Lords ‘as to his interest’ upon his brother’s divorce bill, but withdrew his petition six days later after a compromise had been reached between Macclesfield and his estranged wife. Gerard was returned for Lancashire in 1698, and in September a comparison of the old and new Houses classed him as a Court supporter. This judgment was proved sound on 18 Jan. 1699 when Gerard voted against the third reading of the disbanding bill. Though not an active Member, Gerard did tell on 6 Mar. for a call of the House and managed a naturalization bill through the Commons in the same month. In early 1700 an analysis of the House listed him as a follower of Charles Montagu*. This was to be Gerard’s last Parliament. Defeated at Lancashire in January 1701, and unsuccessful in his petition against this setback, he succeeded his brother as Earl of Macclesfield in November 1701. Excluded from his brother’s will in favour of Lord Mohun, Macclesfield embarked upon a legal challenge to the will. This case was reported to be the reason for Macclesfield’s unwillingness to support the Whig candidates in the Cheshire election of 1702, but without possession of the family estates Macclesfield appears to have struggled to maintain the family interest in the north-west, his exclusion from the Lancashire bench in July 1702 indicating as much. He died at Chelsea on 26 Dec., before his case against Mohun had reached its conclusion.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. R. G. Blunt, Hist. Handbk. to Old Chelsea, 124; IGI, London; Baines, Lancs. ed. Croston, iv. 376–7.
- 2. Preston Guild Rolls (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 186; Wahlstrand thesis, 58.
- 3. A. Browning, Danby, iii. 170; HMC Kenyon, 273; L. Inn Lib. MP 100/158, Case of the Hon. Fitton Gerard; Lancs. RO, Brownlow mss DDFr 7/14, case of John Weddall,