FANE, John, Lord Burghersh (1784-1859), of Apethorpe, Northants.

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



16 Mar. 1806 - Mar. 1816

Family and Education

b. 3 Feb. 1784, o.s. of John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland, by 1st w. Sarah Anne, da. and h. of Robert Child, London banker, of Osterley Park, Mdx. educ. Cheam; Harrow 1797-9; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1802. m. 26 June 1811, Priscilla Anne Wellesley Pole, da. of Hon. William Wellesley Pole*, 5s. 3da. CB 4 June 1815; GCH 23 Apr. 1817; KCB 15 Feb. 1838; suc. fa. as 11th Earl of Westmorland 15 Dec. 1841; GCB 24 June 1846.

Offices Held

Ensign, 11 Ft. 1803; lt. Northants. militia 1803, 7 Ft. 1804; capt. 23 Ft. 1805; capt. 3 Drag. Gds. 1805; asst. adj.-gen. Sicily and Egypt 1806-7; maj. 91 Ft. 1810; lt.-col. 63 Ft. 1811; mil. commr. to allied H.Q. 1813-14; extra. a.d.c. to Prince Regent 1814-25; col. 1814, maj.-gen. 1825, lt.-gen. 1838; col. 56 Ft. 1842-d.; gen. 1854.

Envoy to Tuscany Aug. 1814-30; minister, Parma 1818-20; envoy, Parma 1820-31; envoy, Modena and Lucca 1818-31; PC 28 Mar. 1822; spec. mission, Rome 1823, Sicily 1825; envoy to Prussia 1841-51; minister, Anhalt-Dessau 1847-51, Mecklenburg-Schwerin 1847-51, Mecklenburg-Strelitz 1847-51; ambassador to Austria 1851-5; envoy to Belgium 1856.


Lord Burghersh was to have been provided with a seat in Parliament by his uncle Lord Lonsdale, who as early as 1802 was contemplating his return for Cockermouth when he came of age. In the event he was returned for Lyme on the family interest. Three days afterwards he joined Brooks’s Club, but he voted against the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. He was then whisked off to Sicily and Egypt as assistant adjutant-general (1806-7). He supported Portland’s administration in which his father had a cabinet seat, without showing any political convictions, surfacing in debate only once, on the price of wheat, 3 June 1808. He informed his father from the Peninsula, where he had proceeded as aide-de-camp to Sir Arthur Wellesley, 18 Sept. 1809, that ‘the military is a profession which I most sincerely love’.1 Nevertheless his rapid promotion from major (4 May 1809) to lieutenant-colonel ‘a few days afterwards’, and ‘over the heads of 600 officers’ had provoked a motion by Col. Shipley, 24 May, who pointed out that it was against regulations. When Castlereagh defended Burghersh’s reputation as a rising young officer, Lord Temple retorted: ‘rising he certainly would be, whilst he continued to receive such efficient and active assistance from his Majesty’s ministers’. Shipley’s motion was successful by 72 votes to 67. Westmorland, who was obliged to defend his son’s promotion in the Lords at the same time, had to ask the King not to sign the warrant. Shipley congratulated the House on 1 June. Lord Ellenborough commented of Burghersh’s plight, ‘providence owes him some indemnity for the father it has given him’.2

Burghersh, considered ‘a talkative and good natured man’, was listed ‘against the Opposition’ in 1810. Late that year he returned from the Peninsula on sick leave, entertained Perceval to campaign news and voted with ministers on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811. At this time he hankered after diplomatic employment, hoping to be sent to Austria.3 On 24 Feb. 1812, back in England again, he voted against sinecure reform and again on 4 May. He also voted against a stronger administration, 21 May 1812. After the ensuing election, he appeared on the Treasury list of supporters. On 13 May 1813 he was in the majority for the Catholic relief bill, but was absent on 24 May. He was appointed military commissioner for the Allies, and after the capture of Paris was sent to Florence as envoy, the commencement of a distinguished diplomatic career,4 which caused him to vacate his seat in Parliament in March 1816. In 1832 he contested Lyme unsuccessfully as a Tory.

Burghersh’s correspondence with his family from the Peninsula and from his diplomatic assignments has been published; he also wrote memoirs of Wellington’s campaigns (1820) and of allied operations (1822). He was a keen composer of operas and sacred music and founder of the Royal Academy of Music (1823). He died 16 Oct. 1859.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 57; Burghersh Corresp. 28.
  • 2. Parl. Deb. xiv. 670, 694; Dorset RO, Bond mss D367, Jekyll to Bond, 6 June 1809.
  • 3. Leveson Gower, ii. 56; Glenbervie Diaries, ii. 131; Phipps, i. 363; Bath Archives ed. Lady Jackson, i. 214, 228.
  • 4. DNB.