FYNES, Henry (1781-1852), of Dean's Yard, Westminster and Welwyn House, Herts.

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



1806 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 14 Jan. 1781, 1st s. of Rev. Charles Fynes (afterwards Fynes Clinton), preb. of Westminster and perpetual curate of St. Margaret’s, Westminster by Emma, da. of Job Brough of Newark, Notts. educ. Southwell g.s. 1789-96; Westminster 1796-9; Christ Church, Oxf. 1799-1805; L. Inn 1808. m. (1) 22 June 1809, Harriott (d. 2 Feb. 1810), da. of Rev. Charles Wylde of Nottingham; (2) 6 Jan. 1812, Katherine, da. of Rt. Rev. Henry William Majendie, bp. of Bangor, 1s. d.v.p. 8da. suc. kinsman Isaac Gardiner 1811; fa. 1827 having like him taken the additional name of Clinton 26 Apr. 1821.

Offices Held


Having renounced a career in the church in accordance with the wish of his benefactor Isaac Gardiner that he should become ‘a country gentleman’, Fynes was engaged in classical studies when the 4th Duke of Newcastle, another distant relative, invited him to come in for Aldborough. After the election he wrote: ‘There could not be at that moment in the whole kingdom one more astonished at finding himself called to the duties of a Member of Parliament or more unprepared and unqualified for such a situation’.1 During his first year in the House he attended regularly and studied history and economics to fit himself for a political career. In later life he declared, ‘I had no political instructor or guide to direct and encourage my first efforts ... For the first three years I might have been capable of public business, with a little encouragement and with a moderate share of opportunities.’ He opposed the Catholic bill and in 1807 ‘heartily joined the new ministers’. The Duke of Portland asked Fynes’s patron to agree to his appointment to the Admiralty board, 31 Mar. 1807, to ‘obviate any doubt’ about Newcastle’s political position. The latter assured Portland of his support, but declined office either for himself or his friends.2

His ‘natural reserve’ made Fynes reluctant to speak in debate. ‘There was always something which had as yet escaped my observation, and which was nevertheless necessary for the discussion of the subject; when therefore I could not have satisfied myself, how could I expect to have satisfied others?’ Grief at his wife’s death in premature childbirth drove him back to his literary pursuits for much of 1810 and during his absence he was classed as ‘doubtful