FANE, Hon. John (1686-1762), of Mereworth, Kent.
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Family and Education
bap. 24 Mar. 1686, 4th son of Vere Fane, M.P., 4th Earl of Westmorland, by Rachel, da. and h. of John Bence, alderman of London; bro. of Hon. Mildmay Fane. educ. Eton 1698, L. Inn 1703; Emmanuel, Camb. 1704. m. 5 Aug. 1716, Mary, da. and h. of Lord Henry Carendish, M.P., 2nd s. of William, 1st Duke of Devonshire, s.p. suc. bro. Mildmay Fane at Burston 1715; cr. Baron Catherlough [I] 4 Oct. 1733; suc. bro. Thomas as 7th Earl of Westmorland 4 July 1736.
Capt. 5 Drag. Gds. 1709-14; lt.-col. 37 Ft. ?1714, col. 1715-17; col. 1 tp. Horse Gren. Gds. 1717-33; col. 1 tp. Life Gds. 1733-7; brig.-gen. 1735; maj.-gen. and lt.-gen. 1742, with effect from 1735 and 1739 respectively; gen. 1761.
High steward, Oxford Univ. 1754, chancellor 1759-d.
Fane, an army officer, served at Malplaquet, ending the war as lieutenant-colonel of the 37th Foot. On the outbreak of the Fifteen he bought the colonelcy of his regiment from its holder, who had been dismissed on security grounds. He is said in Horace Walpole’s Memoirs of George II (iii. 167) to have commanded the troops sent to hold down Oxford during the rebellion, but in fact he was stationed at Chester, where he created an uproar by arresting the local officer of the Ordnance ‘for refusing to provide coal and candles for the guards’ of the castle and by placing the recorder under military confinement for protesting against this action. He was severely reprimanded, suspended from his command, and ordered to repair to London and remain under house arrest till further notice.1 Two years later he bought the colonelcy of the 1st troop of Horse Grenadier Guards, vacant by the dismissal of Lord Lumley for adhering to the Prince of Wales in the quarrel in the royal family.2
Fane was returned as a Whig for Hythe by the Earl of Dorset as lord warden in 1708 and 1710, but lost his seat on petition in 1711. Succeeding his brother, Mildmay Fane, as knight of the shire for Kent at a by-election in 1715, he was one of the Whigs who voted against the septennial bill in 1716, subsequently voting with the Government on the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts but against them on the peerage bill in 1719. He put up again for Kent in 1722 but withdrew before the poll, remaining out of the House of Commons till 1727, when his friend, Lord Cobham, brought him in at a by-election for Buckingham.
On Cobham’s dismissal from the army for opposing the excise bill Fane, who himself had voted for it, was informed by Newcastle that the King proposed to give him the colonelcy of the 1st troop of Life Guards, vacated by Lord Pembroke’s appointment to Cobham’s regiment, together with an Irish peerage. He replied:
It would have been the last thing in my thoughts to have desired a succession arising from the removal of my Lord Cobham, with whom I have lived in the most perfect friendship, and from whom I have received several obligations ... nevertheless ... I understand it in such a manner, as that my duty calls upon me to bury all my scruples in a perfect obedience to his Majesty’s gracious disposition.3
During the next session Fane, now Lord Catherlough, displeased the King and Walpole by supporting, 13 Feb. 1734, an opposition motion to prevent army officers from being dismissed on political grounds. No immediate action was taken against him, but at the general election that year, when he stood down for Kent in favour of the Duke of Dorset’s son, Lord Middlesex, on a promise by Dorset to bring him in for one of the Cinque Ports, Walpole, ‘not apt to forgive any who oppose his measures ... obliged the Duke to go off from his promise’.4 In a letter to Henry Fox, Hervey describes the results on the Kent county election:
Lord Catherlough, who has acted very oddly in several things this year, is playing the devil there, roars out against the Duke of Dorset, and does all he can against Lord Middlesex.5
He remained out of Parliament till 1737 when, having succeeded his elder brother as Earl of Westmorland, he spoke and voted in the Lords for an increase in the Prince of Wales’s allowance. He was forthwith dismissed from the army, not being allowed to sell out, thus losing the £6,500 which he had paid for his regiment in 1717. Thenceforth he became one of Walpole’s most vehement enemies, going so far as to subsidize mobs to burn him in effigy in 1742.6 Though reinstated in the army after Walpole’s fall, with retrospective promotion, he was not given another regiment, nor would the King agree to reimburse his £6,500, despite repeated applications based on the treatment of the officers from whom he had bought his regiments.7 ‘His resentment’, Horace Walpole writes, ‘led him to imbibe all the nonsensical tenets of the Jacobites’.8 From 1743 onwards he was privy to the Jacobite negotiations with France, which led to the Forty-five. He was mentioned by the Pretender in December 1743 as one of his ‘principal friends’ in England; was included in the prospective council of the Young Pretender on becoming Regent of England;9 was one of the prominent Tories who agreed to support the Prince of Wales’s programme in 1747; and with the Duke of Beaufort presided at a meeting of English Jacobites held during the Young Pretender’s secret visit to London in September 1750.10 He was also one of the few trusted with the secret of the Prussian plot of 1752-3.11 In 1759 he was elected chancellor of Oxford University, where he was installed ‘all be-James’d with true-blue ribbands’.12 He died 26 Aug. 1762.