FANE, Hon. Henry Sutton (1804-1857).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1826 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 13 Jan. 1804, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of John, 10th earl of Westmorland (d. 1841), and 2nd w. Jane, da. of Richard Huck Saunders, MD. educ. Harrow 1818. unm. d. 7 May 1857.

Offices Held

2nd lt. 23 Ft. 1822, half-pay 1822; ensign and lt. 2 Ft. Gds. 1823; capt. 1825; capt. 34 Ft. 1825, maj. 1828, lt.-col. 1834; half-pay 1838; col. 1846; brevet col. 19 Ft. 1854.


Fane was the half-brother of the diplomat and former Member for Lyme Lord Burghersh, and became the younger of two surviving sons of the 10th earl of Westmorland and his second wife on the death of his brother Charles Saunders (1802-10). His mother was coheiress, with her sister Anne, wife of the 2nd Viscount Melville, through their father Richard Huck (who took the additional name of Saunders on his marriage in 1777 and died in 1785), to the estates of his wife’s uncle, Admiral Sir Charles Saunders (d. 1775), former Member for Plymouth and Hedon.1 Fane entered the 23rd Foot in July 1822 and exchanged into the Coldstream Guards late the following year, though he spent some time in Dresden, where he was said to be a sociable but idle student.2 He became an unattached captain in October 1825, and in early 1826 accompanied the duke of Devonshire to Russia to attend the coronation of the new tsar. He was elected a freeman of Lyme Regis in August 1825 by gift, and at the general election in 1826 he was returned for that borough, in his absence abroad, by his father, who exercised complete electoral control there.3 In politics he followed the lead of his father, the lord privy seal in the Liverpool administration. His parliamentary activities were sometimes confused with those of his father’s cousin, Sir Henry Fane, and his own first cousin and colleague at Lyme, John Thomas Fane.

It was probably of Henry Sutton Fane that Hudson Gurney* wrote in his diary, 6 Mar. 1827, that the opponents of Catholic relief, including Westmorland, who left office at this time, ‘had sent for Fane in Vienna’ in their efforts to bring in votes; he was listed in the anti-Catholic majority that day. He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He divided against reducing the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, listed him as ‘doubtful’ on Catholic emancipation, but he was also considered as a possible mover or seconder of the address, for which Westmorland had instructed him to vote.4 He duly divided for emancipation, 6, 30 Mar. He objected to the proposed disfranchisement of East Retford, 10 Apr., and, after several postponements, tried to move the writ, 7 May, arguing that although there was some evidence of corruption, it was unconstitutional to deprive the electors of their representation for so long a period and to make changes to the franchise. On 2 June 1829 he presented and endorsed two East Retford petitions for the restitution of its representation, but gained little support when he again moved the writ. He retorted to Peel, the home secretary, that it was ‘a new doctrine, that the House of Commons could suspend the issuing of writs’, and forced a division, in which he was teller for the minority of 44. He subsequently brought the whole matter to Wellington’s attention.5 Fane, who had joined the 34th Foot in December 1828, was obliged, for professional reasons, to travel with his regiment to Nova Scotia in late 1829, despite his father’s attempts to extricate him so that he could attend Parliament.6 His fellow officer Charles Richard Fox* described him in letters to Lord Holland, 6 Nov. and 1 Dec. 1829, as ‘very young but very zealous, gentlemanlike and agreeable’, and ‘a very good-tempered, well disposed young man, very like ... [Lady Westmorland] and sometimes in manners, but he has I think some common sense’. On 10 Jan. 1830 Fox reported that Fane would soon return to England and exchange into another regiment and that he would like Holland ‘to make his acquaintance, for he is clever and uncommonly good tempered, though a little in the "being bored" line which I like, you dislike. He however is not I think really so’.7 Yet nothing came of Westmorland’s request for a promotion for him and, although he may have had leave to attend Parliament, there is no evidence that he did so during the 1830 session.8 He was returned unopposed at the general election that year, as he was again in 1831.

Fane was listed by ministers among their ‘friends’, but he was absent from the division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar. 1831. He criticized ministers’ changes to the bill, 14 Apr., when he called the reduction in the number of Members for Ireland and Scotland ‘a national insult to these united kingdoms’. Arguing that the best system of representation was one which secured ‘impartial justice, equal rights and equal laws’, 19 Apr., he condemned the bill as extreme, ineffective and unrepresentative of the varied interests of the country, and concluded by declaring that ‘I envy not that man his heart who concedes this bill, a bill founded on corruption and traffic, and directed to the basest passions of the people’. He duly voted for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment that day. He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced bill, 6 July. On 12 July, when he alleged that ministers had proposed the bill ‘solely to relieve themselves from the difficulties in which their imbecility as ministers had involved them’, he voted at least five times to adjourn the proceedings on it, though in the early hours of the following morning he admitted the absurdity of continuing to divide the House. He voted in favour of using the 1831 census to determine the boroughs in schedules A and B, 19 July, and to postpone consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July. He was almost certainly the ‘Mr. Fane’ who made a perfunctory gesture of opposition to the abolition of one seat for Lyme, 29 July. He voted to censure the Irish government over the Dublin election, 23 Aug., and for issuing the Liverpool writ, 5 Sept. Although the speeches are credited to John Thomas Fane in the index to Parliamentary Debates, it was presumably he who objected to the £10 franchise, 26 Aug., the delegation of parliamentary powers involved in the appointment of boundary commissioners, 1 Sept., the unconstitutional removal of the franchise, 20 Sept., and the revolutionary character of the bill, 10 Oct. He voted against the third reading, 19 Sept., and passage of the bill, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. 1831.

He voted against the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and going into committee on it, 20 Jan., and was probably the Fane who spoke inaudibly against the inclusion of 30 boroughs in schedule B, 23 Jan. 1832.9 He divided against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading of the bill, 22 Mar. 1832. He was probably the ‘Mr. Fane’ who condemned ministers’ hostile policy towards France, 26 Mar., advocated changes to the anatomy bill, 11 Apr., 11 May, and urged immediate consideration of the corn laws, 1 June. He made an angry speech against reform, 5 June, calling the now no longer independent House of Lords ‘a stinking carcase, a very putrefaction, a stinking nuisance in the nostrils of the people’. He criticized the £10 franchise as going beyond the real wishes of the people, and declared that

I see below me some friends of mine, scions of the Whig aristocracy, who possess large domains, which they have derived from their ancestors and I fear they will live to see all our institutions overwhelmed in a common destruction, as happened in France.

Unless it was John Thomas Fane, he voted in the majority for Alexander Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 27 June, and criticized giving undue power to Parliament to disfranchise boroughs, 6 Aug. It may have been he who made interventions on the cases of Alexander Somerville, 3 July, and Governor Darling, 1 Aug., increased expenditure, 6, 18 July, 8 Aug., and Greece, 6 Aug. He divided against the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July, and spoke in defence of Belgium, 16 July. Although he claimed to have supported the Maynooth grant in the past, he spoke and voted in the minority of eight against it, 27 July 1832.

As Westmorland ‘could not be brought to the scratch’ for him at Lyme, Fane left the House at the dissolution later that year.10 In November 1834 Wellington reported that leave from the army might be obtained for him if he ‘was in Parliament or likely to be in Parliament’, and he was considered as a possible candidate for Lyme during the ensuing general election, but he never sat again.11 After Westmorland’s death in December 1841 he inherited £2,000 and came into Sir Charles Saunders’s estates in Prince Edward Island. Thereafter he lived at Cotterstock Hall, near Oundle, Northamptonshire, the residence of his mother, who predeceased him by only six weeks. He died in May 1857, leaving his entire estate to his first cousin the 3rd Viscount Melville.12

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. Burke PB (1930), 2457.
  • 2. Wellington mss WP1/778/11.
  • 3. Dorset RO, Lyme Regis borough recs. DC/LR B6/13; Western Flying Post, 12 June 1826.
  • 4. Add. 40398, f. 87; Wellington mss WP1/994/24.
  • 5. Wellington mss WP1/1023/27; 1029/5.
  • 6. Ibid. WP1/1030/22; 1031/38.
  • 7. Add. 51785.
  • 8. Wellington mss WP1/1094/30; 1098/35; Add. 51786, Holland to Fox, 13 June 1830.
  • 9. The Times, 24 Jan. 1832.
  • 10. Lonsdale mss, Beckett to Lowther, 4 Dec. 1832.
  • 11. Wellington Pol. Corresp. ii. 55, 230.
  • 12. PROB 11/1958/142; 2254/536; 2095/461; Gent. Mag. (1857), i. 742; O. Barron, Northants. Fams. 109.