FREMANTLE, William Henry (1766-1850), of Englefield Green, Egham, Surr. and Stanhope Street, Mdx.

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



31 July 1806 - 1806
1806 - 19 Feb. 1807
19 Feb. 1807 - 1807
7 May 1808 - 1812
1812 - 17 May 1827

Family and Education

b. 28 Dec. 1766, 4th s. of John Fremantle (d. 1788) of Aston Abbots, Bucks. and Frances, da. and coh. of John Edwards of Bristol. m. 21 Sept. 1797, Selina Mary, da. of Sir John Elwill†, 4th bt., of Englefield Green, wid. of Felton Lionel Hervey, s.p. GCH 1827; kntd. 31 Oct. 1827. d. 19 Oct. 1850.

Offices Held

Ensign 66 Ft. 1782; lt. 105 Ft. 1783, capt. 1783; capt.-lt. 103 Ft. 1783, half-pay 1783-7; capt. 60 Ft. 1787; capt. 58 Ft. 1788, ret. 1789.

A.d.c. and priv. sec. to ld. lt. [I] 1782-3; jt. resident sec. [I] and jt. solicitor in England to revenue commrs. [I] 1789-1801; dep. teller of exch. 1792-1806; sec. to treasury Sept. 1806-Apr. 1807; PC 17 Jan. 1822; commr. bd. of control Feb. 1822-June 1826; treas. of household 1826-37; dep. ranger, Windsor Great Park 1830-d.

Lt. Bucks. yeomanry 1795, capt.-lt. 1797, capt. 1798, Mid. Bucks. 1803.


Fremantle, the confidant of the fat 2nd marquess of Buckingham and whipper-in of his slender Grenvillite Commons squad, who had a pension of £924 a year as quondam Irish revenue solicitor, was returned again for Buckingham’s pocket borough at the 1820 general election. After the failure of his third party experiment, Fremantle had shared his wish for a union with the Liverpool ministry, on suitably favourable terms. He told Buckingham that all his Members had been present at the debate on the civil list, 8 May 1820, and that ‘if we had voted against the government ... we would have diminished their numbers’.1 He presented a petition for inquiry into the metropolitan water supply, 5 July 1820. He secured an inquiry into this problem, 6 Feb., and on 14 June 1821 introduced a regulation bill, which got nowhere.2 Fremantle became ‘quite low spirited’ in the summer of 1820 over the popular clamour in support of Queen Caroline, from which he feared the ‘subversion of all government and authority’. He wanted ‘some volunteer establishments to be formed ... by the well-disposed and loyal who have influence, to check the torrent’. Buckingham, who fancied that the affair had so alienated the king from the Whig opposition that the beleaguered ministry had ‘but one resource’ for increasing its strength, namely the Grenvillites, urged Fremantle in Brighton and ‘in all conversations with people about the Court’ to spread the view that Caroline had ‘put herself at the head of the radical party, and like it, must be put down’. Fremantle, who had the ear of the duke of York, privately considered the king’s conduct ‘abominable’ and ‘an excitement to popular hatred’.3 After the abandonment of the bill of pains and penalties in mid-November he concluded that ministers would ‘meet Parliament without change’; and he regretted the refusal of Lord Grenville, Buckingham’s uncle, to take office ever again, when consulted by the king, 25 Nov. Fremantle dined with the king at Frogmore that evening, but gleaned little. Three weeks later he helped to get up a loyal address from his Surrey neighbourhood of Egham (two miles from Windsor). He was ‘placed ... in great awkwardness’ by the king’s invitation that he and the ‘principal persons’ involved should present it and eat with him, as his coadjutors were ‘all ... perfectly unfit’ socially. He dined with the king a few days later, but ‘nothing passed on the subject of politics’, though he got the impression that ministers had decided to fight on the issue of the omission of the queen’s name from the liturgy. He rejected, as likely to ‘create suspicion’, Buckingham’s suggestion that he might contrive a meeting with the king in order to hint to him that the marquess was ready, as ‘a channel of communication with others’, to help save the day. On 28 Dec. 1820, having got rid of his address by sending it to the home secretary, he had an hour’s audience of the king, whose ‘increased hostility against the opposition, and more personally against Lord Grey’ struck him forcibly. In mid-January 1821 Buckingham encouraged him to ‘set ... [the] wheels rolling’ with Princess Augusta to assure the king that if the government was defeated he could rely on the marquess, Lord Wellesley and a ‘king’s party’ to form a ministry to keep out the Whigs.4

On 24 Jan. 1821 Fremantle told Buckingham that the Commons were ‘evidently determined to support the ministers’, who would struggle on, which vindicated ‘our line of moderate and quiet support’. He had to inform the marquess, whose anger at Lord Castlereagh’s* supposed attack on Grenville’s part in the Milan commission of 1806 he tried to assuage, that while his cousin Charles Williams Wynn, the Grenvillite leader in the Commons, and their associate Joseph Phillimore were ‘decidedly opposed to the opposition’, he was ‘quite satisfied’ that there was almost no chance of the Whigs joining forces with the Grenvillites. Buckingham, still sore, at first ordered Fremantle to stay away from the division on the opposition censure motion, 6 Feb.; but at Grenville’s prompting he subsequently directed him to vote with the government.5 He was a teller for the majority for Catholic relief, 28 Feb., but Buckingham, whose son and heir Lord Temple, Member for Buckinghamshire, was hostile to it, did not share his optimism that the measure would pass the Lords. Both men welcomed ‘the termination of the Neapolitan revolution’.6 Fremantle voted silently against parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821.

A month later Buckingham, anticipating a ministerial reshuffle, ordered Fremantle to make to the duke of Wellington, a member of the cabinet, a ‘strictly confidential’ communication of his wish for a junction, on terms commensurate with ‘what is due to the fair pretensions of myself, my family and those connected with me’. Fremantle, who wished ‘to be placed at any one of the boards of treasury, admiralty or India’, complied, but made the mistake of showing Buckingham’s ‘sacred’ confidential letter to the ‘half-Whig’ Williams Wynn. He had his knuckles rapped, and promised to be more circumspect in future. He believed that an offer would be made during the recess and advised Buckingham to disregard Grenville and his other uncle Tom Grenville†, ‘who sit in their libraries and fancy things and men as they were twenty years ago, and forget we are under a new reign, and such a reign’.7 A ‘strange’ silence from ministers prompted Buckingham to press Fremantle to ask Wellington what was going on. When Fremantle, who believed that ‘the government is so extremely weak and ... disunited ... that they don’t know from day to day ... what will be their proceeding’, saw Wellington on 4 July he learnt that the reshuffle had been postponed, but that changes, on which Buckingham would be consulted, were to be made before the next session. Dismissing the ‘madness’ of Williams Wynn’s idea that the Grenvillites might rejoin the Whigs, he thought Buckingham should ‘now hold yourself liberated from all connection with the government’ but support ‘the formation of any government that can rescue us from the danger of revolution’. At Buckingham’s request, he communicated to Williams Wynn, Wellington and Liverpool a letter stating his wish to assist in the establishment of such a ministry, preferably involving Peel and Canning. By the end of the summer, with the queen dead, Fremantle could report that Liverpool and company were back in the king’s good books.8 In September he disputed Buckingham’s pessimistic view that ministers would ‘try to tide on another session’ and conveniently failed to see Wellington, whom the marquess wished him to inform that he wanted to become first lord of the admiralty (where he would ask for Fremantle to be placed, with a privy councillorship), thinking that Buckingham was prostituting himself. At Brighton in October he gathered from John Croker*, the admiralty secretary, that on the king’s return from Hanover an approach was almost certain to be made to the Grenvillites and Canning.9 When Buckingham took umbrage in mid-November at the ‘unpardonable’ silence of ministers, Fremantle preached patience, arguing that they had to overcome the king’s weakening resistance, though he agreed that if they did ‘try and tide through another session’ the best ‘line should be to form a junction with Canning’. Hearing unofficially on the 21st that Buckingham was to be offered the lord lieutenancy of Ireland, with Williams Wynn as his secretary, Fremantle, who said that he would prefer the treasury or board of control to the admiralty if Buckingham did not head the latter, pressed him to accept; but the marquess replied that he would decline such an ‘insulated’ deal, as he had stipulated for a wider arrangement, with Williams Wynn in the cabinet.10 On 27 Nov. Fremantle met Liverpool by invitation, to hear what he had to propose and relay the news to Buckingham. He suggested that the marquess would probably prefer cabinet office to the proffered dukedom, but in the event Buckingham took the latter and settled terms with the ministry. Part of the arrangement was Fremantle’s being made a privy councillor, with a seat at one of the boards. Buckingham ‘very earnestly’ pressed for his appointment to the treasury, where his experience as secretary under Grenville, 1806-7, would be useful to the government, ‘particularly in assisting Lord Londonderry in ... the management of the House of Commons’. Liverpool promised to do what he could to effect this, but Londonderry told an alarmed Mrs. Arbuthnot, wife of the patronage secretary, that it was ‘quite nonsense to suppose for an instant’ that Fremantle ‘ever could have any confidential intercourse with him’. While Fremantle clearly coveted the treasury place, he professed at the turn of the year to ‘care little’ whether he landed there or at the board of control, which Williams Wynn was to head, and to be ‘perfectly satisfied’ as to Liverpool’s good intentions.11 When he and Williams Wynn were sworn of the privy council on 17 Jan. 1822 his destination remained undecided. According to Lord Bathurst, there was a ludicrous episode, as Fremantle

was so anxious to identify himself that when Wynn said "I Charles Watkin Wynn", Fremantle said so too, until Greville [the clerk] explained to him that he was not Charles Watkin Wynn, but William Henry Fremantle; and that upon this occasion, as he was upon oath, he must submit to differing from the [Grenville] family.

Twelve days later Liverpool told him that he could not presently be accommodated at the treasury, but held out hopes for the future. (Williams Wynn reckoned that this was because Lord Anglesey was unwilling to allow his Member Berkeley Paget to vacate his seat for Milborne Port by being moved from the treasury to another post because he feared a contest there.) Fremantle was placed at the board of control. His initial pleasure at the junction was diminished, and he admitted to Buckingham that personally he was ‘exceedingly sorry, and rather more so as I find I am to go to bed there with Phillimore’, having ‘thought I was entitled to a little better berth than he was’. Nor did he consider it ‘the most creditable thing’ for the Grenvillites ‘that we should all be huddled up in a nest together’; Lord Grey duly noted that ‘the whole patronage of India is surrendered to them’.12

Fremantle, who soon found himself on a bed of nails, presented a Buckingham farmers’ petition for enhanced agricultural protection, 15 Feb. 1822.13 Buckingham enjoined him at the start of the session to ‘stick close’ to the unpredictable Lord Chandos (as Temple was now styled) and to keep his other Members up to the mark. After the humiliating government defeat on the navy estimates, 1 Mar., Buckingham unhelpfully told Fremantle (and Williams Wynn) that ministers should resign to teach the recalcitrant country gentlemen a lesson.14 On 11 Mar. Fremantle reported that the ministry’s situation was ‘precarious’, though he believed it would survive thanks to ‘the fear of the country gentlemen [of] bringing in the opposition’; but Buckingham, who had begun to complain of Williams Wynn’s attitude towards him, thought ‘things are gone too far for that’. Fremantle spoke against abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., and, like Buckingham, was pleased with the ministerial victory by 25 votes. He questioned the duke’s comment that ‘Irish affairs are going on very ill’, as it was ‘not thought so here’.15 He delighted Buckingham by speaking and acting as a majority teller against reception of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne petition for the release of Henry Hunt*, parliamentary reform and inquiry into Peterloo, 22 Mar.; but was pestered by him to ask Canning, who was expected to go to India as governor-general, to take his godson George Pigott* with him. Buckingham eventually let him off the hook.16 He then moaned about the king’s ‘deliberate and marked’ affront in failing to respond to his request for the right of ‘entrée’ to his presence, as his gout made it ‘impossible for me to bear the standing on hot carpets in hot rooms for two or three hours’ at levees, hinting that he would break with Liverpool if not satisfied. Fremantle tried to convince him that there had been no intentional snub, merely an oversight, but he continued to fret about the matter, which seems to have been resolved in April.17 Fremantle hoped that the Grenvillite William Plunket*, who had become Irish attorney-general in the junction with government, would not allow himself to be bullied by the Irish into raising the Catholic question in the House. Like Buckingham, who wrote a remonstrance, he deplored Canning’s unilateral notice of a motion for a bill to relieve Catholic peers, which would embarrass Plunket and create a ‘jumble’. Buckingham, affronted at not having been consulted, was inclined to order all his Members to abstain, but he reluctantly gave way when Grenville and Plunket indicated their intention of supporting the measure and Fremantle told him that ‘whatever one may think of this question, it is not one that the public will go with you upon, in any measure of hostility to the government, much less of separation’, which would lead only to ‘another sixteen years of opposition’. Buckingham commanded him to attend and speak at the private meeting of leading pro-Catholics called for 16 Apr.; but when he arrived in London the day before he was informed by Williams Wynn that the gathering was restricted to Members who had been named to bring in the relief bill of 1821. He was obliged to keep out of it and to give Canning Buckingham’s written exposition of his views.18 On 7 May he croaked that ‘every day lessens my confidence’ in ministers, whose ‘complete want of steadiness, and of an open, manly uniformity of conduct’, notably on the problem of agricultural distress, gave him ‘no hopes of its going on’. Buckingham encouraged him to let Wellington know that after the ‘insults’ heaped on him by cabinet ministers he was not prepared to ‘expose myself to all the obloquy attending the support of these vacillating measures’.19 The heavy defeat of attacks on diplomatic expenditure, including Henry Williams Wynn’s† Swiss embassy, 15, 16 May, lifted Fremantle’s spirits, though he was worried that failure to find a contractor for the deadweight pensions would put ministers at the mercy of the Bank. Buckingham considered ‘both divisions as advantageous to you as your bad system of House of Commons tactics will allow’.20 On 3 June Fremantle made one of his rare interventions in debate when successfully moving rejection of the Greenhoe reform petition on account of its ‘insulting’ language. A few days later Buckingham warned him that ministers’ ‘studied neglect and ill treatment’ would ‘very likely oblige me to break with government’, and asked him to communicate this to Lord Londonderry and Wellington, who seemed ‘better inclined ... than others of their colleagues’. He allowed Fremantle to vote for the aliens bill, which the duke and Williams Wynn were obliged by past votes to oppose, 19 July 1822. Fremantle sat the session out to the bitter and ‘tedious’ end and persuaded Buckingham not to extend feelers to ‘so slippery and uncertain a man’ as Canning, as there was ‘no part of the government who wish for his connection’.21

After Londonderry’s suicide in August 1822, however, Fremantle thought Canning would have to be admitted to the cabinet. He considered that his eventual appointment as foreign secretary and leader of the Commons strengthened the administration, but remained anxious to see Nicholas Vansittart* removed from the exchequer.22 In mid-September Buckingham urged him to press his claim to either the admiralty or the Irish lord lieutenancy if a further reshuffle was necessitated by the removal of a cabinet minister to go in Canning’s place to India; he wished Williams Wynn to be chosen. When Canning, who wanted to find room for William Huskisson*, told Buckingham that he and Liverpool had asked Williams Wynn to take the Speakership in the room of Charles Manners Sutton, whom they preferred for India, the duke refused to contemplate such an arrangement unless he himself was given a place in the cabinet, and ordered Fremantle to put this to Liverpool. Fremantle declined to be drawn into ‘any improper meddling’ with Williams Wynn’s interests and begged Buckingham, who was cross with him, to be patient. He was not very well at this time, suffering from ‘attacks of uneasy sensations in the limbs’, which his nephew and protégé Sir Thomas Francis Fremantle* attributed to ‘derangement of the stomach’ and ‘mental uneasiness, caused by the variety of circumstances which contributed to annoy you during the last session’.23 In early October Buckingham told Liverpool that if Williams Wynn took the chair he would give ‘warm and active support’ to the ministry as an individual, but renounce all his own pretensions and dissolve his ‘official connection with the government’, which, he informed Fremantle, would require him to ask for the resignation of his seat if he wished to retain his office. In the event Williams Wynn turned down the chair and Lord Amherst was sent to India. A relieved Fremantle paid lip service to the probity of Buckingham’s conduct, but advised him that his ‘best’ line ‘for some time at least’ was to stay ‘quiet’ and allow ‘public discussion on men and parties and official situations to be diverted to other quarters’, namely to Canning and his intrigues.24

Fremantle predicted that Canning would ‘soon be leading’ Liverpool, but hoped he would engineer the removal of Vansittart; and when this was accomplished in January 1823 he thought it had produced ‘a much improved administration’.25 Before the session began he was being bombarded with Buckingham’s renewed complaints of senior ministers’ incivility and inattention to him.26 He reported that the first day, 4 Feb., had been ‘most favourable to the government, and ... we are all in tip-top spirits’. Two weeks later he judged that Canning was doing ‘remarkably well’. He disputed Buckingham’s view that Lord Wellesley must be recalled from Ireland: ‘such a complete victory to Orangeism ... would of necessity break up the government’. He privately believed that the peacetime appointment of a lieutenant-general of the ordnance, on which Hume made ‘a desperate attack’, 19 Feb., was ‘an infernal job’.27 Next day he divided against parliamentary reform. On 7 Mar., speaking as commanding officer of a corps of Buckinghamshire yeomanry, he repudiated Hume’s criticisms of the force, arguing that ‘the country was not very grievously taxed in paying £3 a man’ for them. Thanking him for this, Chandos urged him to ‘collect all the strength you can’ to oppose Lord Cranborne’s motion for inquiry into the game laws, 13 Mar., but there was no division.28 Later that month Robert Plumer Ward, clerk of the ordnance and Member for Lord Lonsdale’s borough of Haslemere, opened an unauthorized negotiation with Fremantle for an exchange of seats. It fell through, and Buckingham assured Fremantle that his seat was his for as long as he wanted it, but that if he decided at the next dissolution to retire or to look elsewhere his nephew Sir Thomas would probably be next in line for it.29 At Brighton over Easter, when the king was ill, Fremantle found the scene ‘glum and melancholy’. He moved on to Hastings and Eastbourne before returning to London, where he viewed with some disquiet the prospect of an attack on Plunket’s use of ex-officio informations against the Dublin Orange rioters. As it happened the affair went off ‘triumphantly’, 15 Apr., though Fremantle was in the ministerial minority when Burdett carried a motion for a parliamentary inquiry, 22 Apr. Buckingham then threatened to break with ministers over their declarations of support for the Spanish liberals. He agreed that ‘nothing can display greater weakness than the [official] papers’, but argued that ‘the feeling in the country is so strong in favour of neutrality and of the Spaniards, and also the feeling of Parliament, that ... the government will come out of the discussion triumphantly’. The duke spoke in favour of ministers in the Lords, 24 Apr. After the ‘turbulent discussion’ of Catholic relief, which he did not witness at first hand, 17 Apr., Fremantle concluded that the question ‘is gone to the devil’.30 At Buckingham’s instigation he had at the end of May a ‘confidential’ talk with Wellington, who was willing to try to heal the rift between Williams Wynn and Canning; the duke was satisfied with the outcome. A month later Fremantle, who was incommoded by boils on his buttocks, but was apparently in the House to vote in the minority of 30 in favour of introducing jury trial to New South Wales, 7 July, reckoned that Canning had lost ground to Peel. As the session closed he judged that the government had emerged with ‘more success altogether than one could have expected’ and was encouraged by ‘better accounts’ from Ireland, where he had earlier feared ‘a general insurrection’.31 He agreed with Buckingham’s observation that Canning ‘only waits the opportunity of tripping us up’ and that this was ‘only to be resisted by a steady line of conduct on our parts, pursuing ... the system as it is now carrying on towards Ireland, until we see the opportunity, by the accordance of other members of the government, to meet him with a certainty of success’. That summer he had ‘much intercourse’ with the king, and assured Buckingham that ‘we are all in great favour with him’.32 After recovering from a broken collarbone that autumn he was ‘attacked by a repetition of the horrible boils’ and ‘endured agonies from one in the fleshy part of my thigh’.33 When he informed Buckingham in December 1823 of Wellington’s illness and ‘great difficulties arising from the state of our West India islands’, where he anticipated a slave rebellion, he received a long moan about the admiralty’s refusal to act as he and Chandos wished regarding a friend, an example of ‘the general inattention and indisposition on the part of every individual of government since my friends belonged to it’.34

On the eve of the 1824 session Fremantle, whose damaged shoulder still disturbed his sleep and so produced ‘a feeling of illness’, told his nephew:

I mean to be perfectly indifferent to all that passes in Parliament, but doubt when the scene commences whether I shall have philosophy enough to act up to my intentions. Everything promises at present an easy and quiet session, but when once the House opens I have always observed that business and difficulties arise which were never contemplated.35

He found the debate on the address, 3 Feb., when Canning and Peel explained their conduct on the Catholic question, ‘flat and tiresome’, but at the end of the month he reported that ‘nothing can be going on more prosperously than the government is at present’. Though personally uneasy about the ‘unpopular’ proposal to grant £500,000 for building new churches, he saw that it was ‘impossible now to surrender it without great damage to the character of the government’.36 After the debate on amelioration of the conditions of West Indian slaves, 16 Mar., he reckoned that ‘all real difficulties are completely put by for the session’; and he persuaded Buckingham to ignore Canning’s attack on his Whig brother Lord Nugent* on the Spanish question, 18 Mar.37 He reported rumours of Liverpool’s imminent resignation in early May and speculated that Canning, his likely successor, would seek to recruit the Lansdowne Whigs. He thought the ministerial majority of 48 for the appointment of a select committee on the state of Ireland, 11 May 1824, was ‘very bad’, enjoyed the Whig Tierney’s chastisement of the ‘dirty and intriguing’ Canning and believed that the committee would recommend an insurrection bill and that ‘few of the Irish will be disposed to contend against its enforcement’. Yet he was concerned that the ‘violent and objectionable’ demands made in Irish Catholic petitions threatened to ‘put the game completely in the hands of the anti-Catholics here’.38 At the close of the session he observed that future developments depended ‘entirely on Lord Liverpool’s health’, for he saw no chance of forming a stable administration without him.39 In December 1824 Fremantle wrote to Buckingham, who agreed with him, that ‘the prospect in Ireland is terrific’, that Catholic emancipation conceded now ‘would not cure the evil, and that the Irish Catholics’ intemperance and disloyalty’ had set back their cause and raised the prospect of repression. In this they were at odds with Williams Wynn, who thought emancipation must be carried at all costs. Fremantle predicted that the planned suppression of the Catholic Association would cause ‘the whole mine ... [to] explode’ and advised Buckingham, who wanted his own views made known to the king, not to commit himself prematurely.40 He disbelieved rumours that Wellesley was to be sent from Ireland to India, but promised to urge Buckingham’s pretensions to replace him in Dublin if the change took place.41

Fremantle approved of the early 1825 legislation to put down the Association, though he doubted its effectiveness. On the duke’s uncles’ preference for doing nothing he commented that ‘it is very well to talk calmly and quietly in one’s closet, of rebellion; but it won’t do for a government to leave people to cut one another’s throats’. His prediction that the motion to consider Catholic relief would be defeated in the Commons by ‘many’ votes was wide of the mark; it was carried by 13, 1 Mar., when he was in the majority.42 That day he declared his opposition to Buxton’s London Water Company bill, having concluded after his stint as chairman of the select committee that the existing companies were providing a decent service. He spoke at some length in defence of Amherst and the hierarchy of the Indian army over their handling of the Barrackpoor mutiny, 24 Mar. He was ‘vexed ... very much’ when Chandos brought up an anti-Catholic petition from Buckingham which offended his father, 18 Apr., but opted to remain silent on it.43 He feared ‘great dissension in the concoction and proceeding on the Catholic bill’ and agreed with Buckingham, who was incensed by the duke of York’s anti-Catholic rant in the Lords, 25 Apr., that the cause had been ‘greatly damaged by its friends’. He went through the motions of voting for the relief bill, 21 Apr., 10 May, but saw the inevitability of its defeat in the Lords and concluded that ‘nothing could have ended worse’, for it had ‘estranged the government’ and ‘created bad blood among them’. Anticipating an autumn dissolution, he observed on 17 June 1825 (when he was a government teller against an amendment to the judges’ salaries bill) that

the general belief prevails that the present state of things cannot last, and that Parliament will not meet again without some conclusion being come to with regard to the Catholic question ... I never can believe that Canning and those who support the Catholic question will allow any proceeding to be brought on in the last session of an expiring Parliament, which will ... raise a clamour in the public mind and establish a No Popery Parliament ... I am quite satisfied that the king, duke of York and the high church party are determined to try the experiment of an anti-Catholic government.

The duke assured him of re-election for Buckingham ‘if it is your bon plaisir’.44

Their relationship was soured soon afterwards as a result of the duke’s asking him in late September 1825, after weeks of silence, to cajole Williams Wynn into getting the cabinet to nominate him to the directors of the East India Company as successor to Lord Amherst in India, claiming to have received from Liverpool and Canning an assurance that ‘I have no competitor’ and threatening to ‘withdraw support from the government’ if ‘slighted’.45 He thought Buckingham was degrading himself and told him as much, joining with Williams Wynn, who had a furious row with the duke, to insist that they ‘could not stir in the business without appearing to recommend the recall of Lord Amherst’, which was a matter for the Company, and that ‘any interference or wish expressed on our part would be much more likely to injure that assist his objects’. He was ‘hurt’ to discover that Buckingham had offered the post of his private secretary to someone other than his nephew.46 On 20 Oct. the duke, having been told by Liverpool that if Amherst was recalled Sir Thomas Munro would replace him, accused Fremantle of ‘backing Wynn in all his paltry subterfuges, and supporting him in all his desertion of me’, gave him a last ‘opportunity of choosing between Wynn and me’ and ordered him to leave Brighton to canvass the directors. A distressed Fremantle, who told his nephew that the affair must end in Buckingham’s ‘complete breach with the government’ and consequently his own retirement, replied reminding the duke of his ‘uniform and fervent display of attachment beyond all bounds to you and your family for upwards of forty years’, protesting his innocence and refusing to budge from Brighton. Buckingham, who now claimed that going to India was essential for his health, wanted him to ‘consult your own conscience and ask yourself have you taken yet one step to assist me’. On 1 Nov. Fremantle stated his case to Chandos, who abused Williams Wynn and warned him that Canning was trying to get rid of the Grenvillites and that if his father persisted in what was a hopeless cause he would accomplish Canning’s object for him and destroy himself in the process. Although Chandos ‘deprecated’ his threat to resign his seat Fremantle wrote later that day to the duke offering to do so if he had forfeited Buckingham’s confidence. The duke assured him that he wished to ‘consider you as ... my oldest, my best, my warmest and steadiest friend’, but Fremantle, nettled by an observation that the duke had ‘felt very severely a want of exertion on a subject very dear to me’, was still inclined to retire. Buckingham replied that the decision not to recall Amherst put an end to the matter, declared undiminished confidence in Fremantle and left the decision to him, but pointed out that his resignation would probably undermine Williams Wynn. Fremantle opted to stay in and put Buckingham on his guard against Canning; but he admitted to his nephew that although Buckingham was ‘now perfectly satisfied of my conduct’, he did ‘not yet see daylight with regard to his future objects’.47

At the beginning of December 1825 Fremantle told Williams Wynn that Amherst’s incapacity was now so notorious that there seemed to be no option but to replace him immediately with Munro, and argued that Buckingham’s nomination ‘at the present moment’ would look like ‘a job’ and was certain to be rejected by the court of directors.48 A few days later Buckingham told him that he had decided to lay his grievance before the king and to break with Williams Wynn now or in the spring, depending on the outcome. Although Fremantle knew that the directors very much wished to recall Amherst, while ministers did not, he was equally well aware that Munro was their chosen replacement. He confidentially told the duke this, but in response was ordered to inform Williams Wynn that unless he fully supported Buckingham’s pretensions in the cabinet and his ‘friends in office do the same and to the same extent out of cabinet’, their political connection would terminate. Fremantle merely transmitted the duke’s words to Williams Wynn by letter and protested to Buckingham that he had ‘no right to demand’ of him that he talk to Williams Wynn on the subject and so reveal to him ‘my breach of duty in betraying the secret and official and government transactions necessarily confided in me’. Rebuked by Buckingham, who accused him of making things worse, he defended himself, but offered to do his best to ‘promote a better understanding’ with Williams Wynn.49 As this problem remained unresolved, Buckingham seized on a report that Wellesley had told the cabinet that he was willing to go from Ireland to India and asked Fremantle to let it be known that he would acquiesce in this if he was appointed to Dublin, though, coming to suspect it as an intrigue by Williams Wynn to deprive him of India, he would refuse a cabinet place without office. Fremantle was advised by Williams Wynn that Liverpool had told Buckingham, in response to his direct enquiry, that there no truth in the Wellesley report. Yet almost immediately Buckingham, who had sent his statement of grievance to the king, complained to Fremantle of a conspiracy against him and directed him to promote ‘the Irish exchange’. He then reprimanded Fremantle for indiscretion in this, renounced Ireland and said he would focus on India alone. Fremantle replied that he had in fact not mentioned the subject; and when Buckingham, trying to force the issue, urged him on 11 Jan. 1826 to ‘throw out either to Canning or Lord Liverpool the possibility of your being obliged to opt between your place and ... seat ... supposing the breach between me and Wynn to continue’, he frankly replied:

The decisive step you have taken with regard to the government renders all further proceedings of your friends impossible. The statement you have laid before the king was handed over ... immediately to Lord Liverpool. I have also heard that it contained direct charges against some ... ministers ... [and] that these charges were more unexpected on the part of Lord Liverpool, because he had previously on the same day received a ... letter from you on the subject of Lord Wellesley without alluding in the slightest degree to the step you had taken ... The matter is much too serious for the intermeddling of any concern of my own ... I am ... perfectly prepared to follow the course you may direct by absenting myself [from Parliament] on the first day, and in this case, as I must decline Canning’s invitation to hear the king’s speech read, I shall previously notify to Lord Liverpool the resignation of my seat at the board of control. Believe me ... I shall consider this no sacrifice.

‘Worried to death by these unpleasant transactions’ and eager to ‘get quit of office, although I give the full estimate of all its advantages’, he told his nephew that ‘the scabbard is thrown away, and I do not see how Lord Liverpool now could even accept his support’.50 Buckingham backed down, assuring Fremantle that ‘as my injuries are yet personal only, I do not wish my friends to consider them to the extent of affecting their present support of the government or, as far as my feelings are concerned, of preventing them from continuing to hold office under it’. Fremantle commented to his nephew that ‘I cannot see how he can possibly extricate himself from the foolish and lamentable predicament in which he has placed himself without a complete separation from the government’, though he conceded that the duke had been ‘ill used’ by ‘the folly and knavery’ of Williams Wynn. He deplored the ‘complete hash’ which the duke had created, thereby losing ‘all chance of official appointment’, and condemned Chandos for his part in the affair.51 With Buckingham, apparently chastened, ‘in a much more tranquil state’, Fremantle wrote him a bland letter ‘telling him the common occurrences of the day’, 25 Jan. 1826, ‘that he may not think I am caballing against him’, but anticipated ‘some unpleasant reply exacting some unpleasant duty which I cannot perform’. All he got was a threat that if Buckingham did not soon receive ‘a satisfactory answer’ to his remonstrance, he would ‘demand an audience of the king, and if reparation is then denied me, I shall withdraw myself and my influence from government wholly and entirely’.52

Fremantle was soon in hot water again. He annoyed Buckingham by ‘unnecessarily’ speaking on the address, 3 Feb. 1826, in defence of Amherst’s regime in India, holding out hopes of ‘a successful termination of hostilities’. The duke conceded that as an official man he was bound to vote with his colleagues, but saw ‘no obligation on you to play the orator, against the feelings of your oldest friend on the point above others on which he feels himself the deepest injured’. He demanded a ‘promise to take no part, by speaking, on any subject connected with Lord Amherst’s recall’; refusal would entail surrender of his seat. In an interview with Chandos set up by Buckingham, 7 Feb., Fremantle agreed to keep quiet on Amherst, but argued that he must be at liberty to speak on general Indian matters and said he would be ‘extremely happy to be released from the very painful situation in which I was placed by my continuance in office’. Chandos was satisfied and waved aside his offer of resignation.53 Fremantle, who is not known to have spoken in debate again, told his nephew a fortnight later that ‘I am getting on better with the duke and Chandos, but in truth the whole matter rests now on a bed of candles which must blaze out shortly’, for their object was to ‘drive out Wynn and to continue friends with government’. He warned Chandos not to risk provoking a damaging reply from Canning by airing his father’s Indian grievance in the House and, having talked to the duke’s uncles, was satisfied that they at least were ‘contented’ with his recent conduct. Soon afterwards Buckingham reproached him for his failure to write and seeming to ‘participate in your principal’s avoidance of me’.54 He only paired against condemnation of the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar. He accepted Buckingham’s invitation to Stowe in mid-March, feeling that he had ‘brought matters to a better bearing’ with him. In early April, however, having been confidentially informed by the duke that he had made his personal peace with Williams Wynn and told him that ‘we had much better continue our course together, whilst we think alike, but not necessarily in the same boat’, and that he therefore required Fremantle’s ‘zealous assistance and advice’ in order to ‘ascertain what are the feelings of Lord Liverpool towards me’, he wrote to his nephew:

I think the duke the most unaccountable man I ever knew. He cannot act straightforward ... [He wants me] to play a game separate and distinct from Wynn. This while I am in office I cannot and will not do. I know Wynn has told him distinctly that the step he took with regard to the king has so completely alienated the ministers from him ... that he [Wynn] cannot even if a vacancy occurred in India or Ireland promote ... the appointment of the duke ... What otherwise can he mean by his appeal to my zealous assistance ... but that I should interfere with somebody or do something to remedy the evil which his intemperance has created, and to place myself as an agent for the purpose in the room of Wynn ... I shall say ... that I am at his orders to quit office at a moment’s notice from him, but that as long as I retain it, I must both publicly and privately uphold the conduct of my principal ... As to talking of a personal reconciliation and a political union, with separate interests and separate objects, it is really disgraceful and I will be no party to it ... As to Lord Liverpool and the government, from the king downwards with few exceptions, I believe they would be more delighted to get rid of the whole boutique of Grenvilles, and this I told him; and I [am] sure in his heart he thinks so ... [for] they get no support from them and are plagued individually by each for separate and excessive favours.

In fact he assured Buckingham of his continued loyalty, while reminding him that he was ‘in the same boat with Wynn’, promised to try to ascertain Liverpool’s disposition, but advised him to ‘leave matters to cool as they now stand, for nothing can remove the difficulties arising from your appeal to the king but a little time’ and refused to approach the premier directly. Buckingham retorted that his connection with government through Williams Wynn was over, and that ‘whether it is to continue under any other shape must depend upon the conduct of government towards me, which must be brought to an issue before the dissolution’.55 Fremantle voted against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr. Four days later he sent Buckingham a brief resume of Indian news and a comment that ‘much damage has been done to the government by the indecisive folly’ of bringing forward the question of the salary of the president of the board of trade (on which he had divided with his colleagues, 10 Apr.) Buckingham accused him of trying to conceal the approaching crisis in India and gave him an ultimatum:

Pray don’t, if you wish our friendship to continue, act ministerially with me, because Wynn chooses to do so ... You only blind yourself by endeavouring to throw dust into my eyes. You said very truly at Stowe that my political strength could only be shown by bringing it forward en masse. That can only be done next Parliament by returning those who will look exclusively to my objects, and will exert themselves to gain them in every possible way. If you feel that you cannot do this, situated as you are with Wynn, and that you really wish to abide by me, my wishes would be that you should go to Lord Liverpool and try to exchange your situation for one at the treasury or admiralty.

A stunned Fremantle told Buckingham that he would resign his place immediately, being additionally motivated to do so by his wife’s ‘declining’ health and his own ‘advanced age’ (he was not yet 60), but left it to the duke as to whether he should resign his seat. At the same time he reported his 25-year-old naval officer nephew Charles Fremantle’s commitment on a capital charge of the aggravated rape of a female servant at his Portsmouth lodgings. As if he had never issued his ultimatum, Buckingham set about getting the young man ‘out of the sad scrape’, offering ‘bail to any amount’ and advising Fremantle ‘at all hazards to buy off the evidence’ in order to keep the scandal out of the press. Bail was granted and on Buckingham’s advice a dubious attorney was employed to ‘get rid of the evidence’. The ‘unpleasant business’ was successfully covered up, and in the course of time Charles Fremantle became an admiral.56

Fremantle, who was pleased with the ‘great triumph against the reformers’ in the heavy defeat of Russell’s motion, 27 Apr., and evidently had not sought another place from Liverpool, was on 1 May 1826 offered, at the king’s insistence, the vacant post of treasurer of the household (worth £904 a year). He accepted immediately (as he was bound to do), ascertained from the premier that it had no connection with recent dealings between the ministry and Buckingham and then informed the duke, expressing the hope that he could keep his seat. While Buckingham professed pleasure on Fremantle’s behalf, he chose to interpret the appointment as a mark of royal and ministerial hostility to himself and advised Fremantle to weigh all the implications of potential conflict and embarrassment before deciding to continue as Member for Buckingham, and to consult Grenville and Chandos. Fremantle begged Buckingham to believe that his selection was no ‘unfriendly act’ and, bolstered by Grenville’s opinion, argued that it did not change his situation as the duke’s Member and that in the event of Buckingham’s opposing the administration he would be obliged, as previously, to relinquish either his office or his seat. The duke initially agreed to retain him, but, on the pretext that returning him at a general election rather than a by-election (it having been decided to delay his formal appointment to avoid the inconvenience of two elections in a few weeks) altered the equation and said it was now essential for him to know ‘the footing on which I stand with government’ before he brought in ‘any official man’ whose loyalties might be divided. Ordered to clarify this, preferably in concert with Chandos, Fremantle saw the latter and persuaded him to tell his father that if he would not personally approach the king or Liverpool, Chandos would do so. The duke evidently agreed to communicate with Liverpool, but first insisted on Fremantle’s procuring ‘the fullest information’ as well as fishing again for news of Amherst’s possible replacement by Wellesley. Fremantle repeated his belief that Liverpool was not ‘unfriendly’ but that he would ‘never enter into any engagement’ about India or Ireland, and pointed out that his new place hardly betokened royal hostility. Buckingham continued to carp, stated his wish for ‘a general and very slight expression of continued good disposition’ from Liverpool and pronounced his own ‘political career ... closed’, declaring that after the elections he would ‘go abroad, with every prospect blasted and feeling outraged’. Only a week before the dissolution (2 June) he charged Chandos to get Fremantle to seek an audience of the king ‘distinctly to state the dilemma in which he is, and from which the king alone can rescue him’, and complained that Williams Wynn’s family had circulated a story that the king had ‘treated the whole business as a subject of ridicule’. Fremantle refused to comply and denied that Buckingham was a laughing stock, but left the decision over the seat in his hands. Buckingham, advised by Chandos, who had earlier abused Fremantle for disloyalty, not to quarrel irrevocably with ministers, eventually offered on 26 May 1826 to return him again ‘on condition that should I find myself obliged to separate from the government ... you will upon being called upon to do so, not hesitate to restore me my seat’. Fremantle accepted on these terms, which he considered ‘fair’.57

Fremantle was privately appalled by Chandos’s arousal of anti-Catholic feeling in Buckinghamshire, which he attributed to a ‘malady of mind’, and disgusted with his father’s tame ‘submission’. He also confided to his nephew Sir Thomas, who was anxious for employment, his view that Buckingham and Chandos had so exasperated ministers with their importunity and recalcitrance that ‘the connection with him is now undoubtedly a hindrance instead of an advantage’.58 He tried to convince Buckingham, who raised the subject again, that there was no chance of Amherst being soon recalled. On the eve of the opening of the new Parliament in November 1826 he encouraged the duke to bury the hatchet with Williams Wynn, but found him intractable as far as their political connection went and demanding humiliating terms for a personal reconciliation, which Williams Wynn could not accept. At the close of the year Buckingham was still harping on the possibility of Amherst’s recall, and pestered Fremantle to find out how Liverpool and Williams Wynn regarded his pretensions. Fremantle told his nephew that Buckingham was ‘in a very good odour with me but I think cross and out of humour’, probably thanks to Chandos’s mischief. He was relieved that he had no official role to play in the arrangement for the duke of York’s funeral in January 1827.59 At the end of the month he informed Sir Thomas that Buckingham ‘now stands upon no foundation whatever’, without a friend in power or opposition, and having ‘alienated the king’. A week later the duke, hearing that Amherst had resigned, sent him a copy of his application to Liverpool for the post and asked him, ‘as a proof of your personal friendship to me’, to ‘call upon Lord Liverpool and press my object’. Fremantle, who noted that this ‘opens all the old sores and must drive him ... to a single insular independent opposition to both ministers and opposition’, saw the premier on 10 Feb. Liverpool indignantly revealed to him that after all that had occurred in 1825-6, Buckingham had just before Christmas offered to coalesce with Canning to turn him out and that Canning had rejected this and made it known to the king and Liverpool. The premier sent Buckingham a flat refusal and Fremantle, warning him in advance, begged him not to respond ‘without some days reflection’.60 After a talk with Chandos, who argued that Buckingham was bound now to separate himself from the government, 12 Feb., Fremantle (at Chandos’s request) wrote to the duke beseeching him not to take a precipitate step which could only destroy him by isolating him ‘in hostility with the king, his ministers and the opposition, without the support of any one party, or even the concurrence of your own family, whereas by forbearing all public demonstration of hostility you disarm those who are now opposed to you, and place yourself in a situation to profit by future occurrences’. Buckingham agreed to the extent that he would not further ‘annoy’ the king, but he insisted on ‘still trying to force the thing’, as Fremantle observed, by writing to Wellington and sending Chandos to see Liverpool. The outcome was so ‘repulsive’ that the duke, who condemned Williams Wynn as a traitor, was tempted to take the final step, but he decided to wait until he heard from Wellington. Fremantle commented to his nephew that ‘all the fat’s in the fire again’ with regard to India and that while Buckingham had been ‘unfairly used’ by Williams Wynn in leading him to believe in 1825 that he would be made governor-general, he had no other case and was allowing Chandos to steer him ‘to his political disgrace’.61 Liverpool’s incapacitating stroke on 17 Feb., which in Fremantle’s view raised ‘insurmountable’ difficulties, prompted Buckingham, who could scarcely conceal his delight, to ‘consider this a complete change of ministry’ and to stipulate that any communication to him and his ‘friends’ should be made directly and not through Williams Wynn. Fremantle privately doubted ‘very much’ that he would ‘profit by occurrences ... under any contingency’: ‘I bless my stars every hour that I am out of his boutique and do not feel bound to follow his politics’. He entreated the duke not to take any hasty step, as whatever ministry emerged from the crisis was ‘not likely to be a permanent one’. He was accused in return of having carried a ‘message’ to Williams Wynn and was required to ‘pledge yourself to nothing’ on the corn law question, on which the duke expected to clash with ministers. Fremantle denied the charge about Williams Wynn, but readily agreed not to commit himself on corn. After condemning Canning’s proposals for relaxation of the laws, 1 Mar., as ‘bare-faced robbery of the farmers’, Buckingham told him that he would ‘not support a government capable of treachery and ill usage which ... may be formed’ and intimated that he would require Fremantle’s ‘support in the House ... on the question of higher protecting duties’.62 He voted in the minority for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. Like the Duke, he was disgusted with Chandos’s ‘unfeeling joy’ over ‘a victory which is really a most calamitous event, for the numbers are so small that it cannot lead to settle or tranquillize the question’. He considered the duke’s ‘reasoning’ on the corn question ‘fallacious’, but was prepared to ‘satisfy him with my vote, which will go to oppose prohibition but admit (contrary to my own feelings but in accordance with his) a small increase of duties’.63

At the beginning of April 1827, as the ministerial uncertainty continued, Fremantle was ordered by Buckingham to confirm to Wellington that in the terms on which he and his squad had allied with the Liverpool ministry in 1822, Williams Wynn had not been specifically named as the recipient of the available cabinet place.64 On 14 Apr. Buckingham summoned Fremantle and told him that Canning, the new premier, had rejected his application for India. After ‘a warm conversation’ Fremantle said that their opinions were now ‘so perfectly different’ that he would resign his seat whenever he was ‘called upon ... to vote against the king’s government’. He immediately notified Williams Wynn and warned Sir Thomas that although the duke had now made some difficulties about returning him in his place and ‘things may change ... before he makes up his mind to decided opposition’, he should be ready to accept the offer if it came. He was then reprimanded by the duke for mentioning the subject to Sir Thomas and told that he would probably return an experienced parliamentarian to be his ‘organ’. Reporting this to his nephew, Fremantle observed that Buckingham, under Chandos’s pernicious influence, was trying to squirm out of his earlier engagement:

I feel perfectly satisfied ... that the duke has no earthly reason to complain of my conduct towards him in an one instance of my life, political or personal ... I am yet quite uncertain when he will decide on my retreat, and perfectly indifferent to it ... He has so destroyed his interest and power, by all the detestable intrigues he has been working through underlings, and is so misinformed and prejudiced by the rash and absurd conduct of Lord Chandos, that he is now left without an union political or personal ... I really and sincerely pity the duke, whose heart is naturally kind, and who can at times hear reason, and be convinced by it. Not so his son, who is now outrageous at being disappointed in getting rid of his father to India ... I sincerely love the duke of Buckingham and I respect and venerate his family, and I know he has been made the victim of this object and has been degraded by it.65

Fremantle advised his indignant nephew, 24 Apr., to stay cool and court Chandos, despite the duke’s ‘gross breach of promise’. That day Buckingham, now professing that ‘I cannot support Mr. Canning’s government backed by the Whigs’, spoke to Sir Thomas at Aylesbury quarter sessions about the seat, without demanding an immediate answer, and informed Fremantle that it was up to him to decide whether or not to vacate. Next day Fremantle urged Sir Thomas to accept in principle, although he believed that the duke would ‘pause before he gives me the order to vote against government’, as ‘my resignation of the seat will be at once the token of his decided hostility’. He also told Knighton, the king’s secretary, of his wish ‘if possible to secure ... [another] seat in order that I might now more fully evince my personal gratitude and devotion’ to the king: he suggested arrangements by which he might be accommodated at New Windsor, ‘where I am so well known, and where I think I could be of use to His Majesty by my constant residence in the neighbourhood’. On 28 Apr. Canning offered to find him a berth at the first opportunity, but next day expressed to Knighton dismay at a report that he was to be made first commissioner of woods and forests:

It is impossible to appoint him to such an office without offending every man holding or hoping for privy councillor’s office. He had never taken, nor can he take, any effective part in debate. The very fact of his being so nearly connected with the Court would invite attention to his department ... I wish Fremantle well ... but to put him so forward ... would ... be invidious on his own account, and most inconvenient to the government.66

That day Buckingham ordered him to see Chandos about resigning his seat, which he would have to do, being ‘hampered by your office’, even if the duke’s line was no more decided than one of ‘not supporting’. Fremantle duly did so and, ‘without rancour or reproach’, placed his seat, which his nephew had accepted, at the duke’s disposal, though he kept to himself his belief that Buckingham’s argument that Canning’s coalition in office with the Lansdowne Whigs had ‘injured’ the Catholic cause was ‘inconsistent with common reasoning’. As his last act as Buckingham’s Member he was instructed to make it known that the duke had ‘not joined Mr. Peel’s opposition’ and was acting unilaterally.67 He vacated his seat on 17 May 1827, the more readily, as he confided to Sir Thomas, because he had discovered that Buckingham was ‘playing another game with Canning which may possibly but not probably end in his supporting him’; he was ‘determined ... not to be implicated’. Planta, the patronage secretary, assured him that he would ‘take the earliest opportunity of finding’ him a seat.68

In mid-July 1827 Fremantle rejected what was apparently his nephew’s offer to return the seat to him:

Nothing on earth should ever induce me once more to place myself in the unpleasant situation in which I found myself for the last three years ... I care very little about once more coming into Parliament, excepting as an occupation and coffee house. I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of Canning on the subject. If he does not fulfil his promise I cannot help myself, and I shall not further urge him as I do not wish to be under too great an obligation to him.

Canning’s death and replacement by Lord Goderich, ‘a personal friend’, opened ‘a fresh application’ for him, but he still professed to be ‘very indifferent about Parliament’. He was mentioned in ministerial circles as a possible candidate for Plymouth on the admiralty interest in mid-September, and in early October he half expected to be offered Hastings or Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, but nothing came of these speculations.69 He was ‘surprised’ and delighted to be made a knight grand cross of Hanover that autumn.70 As well as fulfilling his duties as a courtier, firmly in the king’s confidence, and keeping his ear to the political ground, he sought to guide his nephew’s tricky course between Chandos and Buckingham, especially during the latter’s absence in Italy from August 1827 until November 1829. At the start of that year, when the duke was playing a double game towards the Wellington ministry, he observed to Sir Thomas that the duke’s

conduct ... is of a piece with all he has done for the last ten years, never fixing to any one point, deceiving every party and every friend he deals with, and having no scruple of writing right hand and left, imagining that people would not show and compare his letters ... No party will have him ... I am really so hurt at all the duke has done (not as regards myself) but as affecting the great influence and power the Grenvilles possessed that I never think about it without putting myself in a passion.71

With the king’s backing he had approached the ministry for a seat in its early days in 1828, but Wellington ‘never encouraged him to hope that he would pay for a seat for him’. At the end of 1829 he renewed his application to Peel, the home secretary, rehearsing Liverpool’s assurance of 1826 that as by taking the household post he had given up £600 a year, he would be catered for if he lost his seat for Buckingham, and Canning’s ‘promise ... followed by a personal excuse for not naming me to the first vacancy which occurred’. He now claimed to be ‘anxious’ to get back into the House, but because of the king’s current hostility to the ministry nothing was done for him.72 He was retained in his Court place by William IV, who evidently renewed his late brother’s promise of support for the Castle seat at New Windsor in the event of a vacancy; but when this prospect arose in the early weeks of the Grey administration, an attempt by the king to insinuate Fremantle was thwarted.73 Fremantle would soon have been in a fix, for he surely could not have swallowed the reform bill, which he considered ‘the commencement of revolution’ under ‘the supremacy of the demagogue faction’.74 He was ‘vexed beyond measure’ at the ‘double dealing’ of Buckingham and Chandos over Sir Thomas’s candidature for Buckingham at the 1832 general election.75 He left the household on the accession of Victoria. In the autumn of 1845 he tried to stir Peel’s ministry, in which his nephew held office, into decisive action to secure the return of a Conservative for New Windsor.76 Fremantle, who was widowed in 1841, died at Holly Grove, Windsor Great Park, his residence as deputy-ranger, in October 1850, ‘after an illness of twenty three hours’. By his will, dated 7 Feb. 1847, he created a trust fund of £20,000 for the benefit of his niece Georgiana Fremantle and the children of his late nephew John Fremantle. He gave £1,000 each to his other three Fremantle nephews besides Sir Thomas, to whom, having helped him generously 30 years earlier, he left 400 shares in the Brighton and South Coast Railway (which realized £40,740), the residue of his personal estate and all his real estate, including property at Hardwick, near Aylesbury.77

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, i. 20.
  • 2. Ibid. 6 July 1820; CJ, lxxvi. 40, 488.
  • 3. Buckingham, i. 50-51, 59-61, 67, 71-72; Bucks. RO, Fremantle mss D/FR/46/11/31-33, 38, 39; 51/5/4.
  • 4. Buckingham, i. 81-83, 88-89, 92-93, 97-99; Fremantle mss 46/11/37-39, 41; 46/12/37.
  • 5. Buckingham, i. 111-16; Fremantle mss 46/11/42, 45, 46; 46/12/35, 36.
  • 6. Buckingham, i. 140-1, 147-8; Fremantle mss 46/11/50; 46/12/34.
  • 7. Fremantle mss 46/12/28-31; 51/5/11, 13; Buckingham, i. 161-5, 166-70.
  • 8. Fremantle mss 46/11/52-54; 46/12/27; 51/5/14, 15; Buckingham, i. 171-8, 181-2, 194, 195-7.
  • 9. Buckingham, i. 199-202, 211-13, 219; Fremantle mss 46/12/26.
  • 10. Fremantle mss 46/11/57, 58; Buckingham, i. 225-8.
  • 11. Buckingham, i. 231, 232-5, 237, 255-8, 263; Fremantle mss 46/11/59-61; 46/12/24, 25; 49/1/21; 138/2/2; Geo. IV Letters, ii. 969; Hobhouse Diary, 82; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 133; Add. 38290, f. 155.
  • 12. Harrowby mss XIV, f. 115; Buckingham, i. 264-6, 271-2, 275, 280, 281-2; Hobhouse Diary, 85; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 23 Jan.; Fitzwilliam mss, Grey to Fitzwilliam, 1 Feb. 1822; J.J. Sack, The Grenvillites, 190-1.
  • 13. The Times, 16 Feb. 1822.
  • 14. Fremantle mss 46/10/15, 17.
  • 15. Buckingham, i. 294-7; Fremantle mss 46/10/19, 20.
  • 16. Fremantle mss 46/10/21-23.
  • 17. Ibid. 46/10/24-27; Buckingham, i. 307-8, 312, 316.
  • 18. Buckingham, i. 298-9, 304-5, 308, 312-13, 314, 316-17; Fremantle mss 46/10/24-29, 56.
  • 19. Buckingham, i. 322; Fremantle mss 46/10/32; 46/12/22.
  • 20. Buckingham, i. 325, 337; Fremantle mss 46/12/79.
  • 21. Fremantle mss 46/11/63; 46/12/77, 78.
  • 22. Ibid. 46/10/36; Buckingham, i. 364, 372, 374.
  • 23. Fremantle mss 46/10/43; 46/12/41, 74, 75; Buckingham, i. 379-80, 382-4.
  • 24. Fremantle mss 46/12/72, 73; BL, Drupmore mss, Buckingham to Grenville, 3 Oct. 1822; Buckingham, i. 390-1.
  • 25. Buckingham, i. 393, 417.
  • 26. Fremantle mss 46/10/39; 46/11/68.
  • 27. Buckingham, i. 423-5, 426, 433-4; Fremantle mss 46/11/71; 46/12/71.
  • 28. Fremantle mss 46/11/78.
  • 29. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 25 Mar. 1823; Fremantle mss 51/5/17.
  • 30. Buckingham, i. 444-5, 447, 454-5, 456-9; Fremantle mss 46/11/80.
  • 31. Buckingham, i. 456-9, 469, 475; Fremantle mss 46/11/81.
  • 32. Fremantle mss 46/11/84; Buckingham, i. 481, 488-9; ii. 7-8.
  • 33. Fremantle mss 46/87; 138/14/10.
  • 34. Buckingham, ii. 21-22, 3334; Fremantle mss 46/11/88, 90, 91.
  • 35. Fremantle mss 138/14/9.
  • 36. Buckingham, ii. 42, 50, 51-52; Fremantle mss 46/12/66.
  • 37. Buckingham, ii. 55; Fremantle mss 46/11/95, 96.
  • 38. Buckingham, ii. 67-70, 75-76, 79; Fremantle mss 51/5/21.
  • 39. Buckingham, ii. 91, 103; Fremantle mss 46/11/104; 51/5/22.
  • 40. Buckingham, ii. 168-70, 178-9, 180-1, 182-3; Fremantle mss 46/11/111, 115, 122.
  • 41. Buckingham, ii. 190-1, 195, 197-8; Fremantle mss 46/12/47.
  • 42. Buckingham, ii. 202-4, 206-7, 208-12, 215-17.
  • 43. NLW, Coedymaen mss, bdle. 18, Fremantle to Williams Wynn [18 Apr. 1825] (two letters).
  • 44. Buckingham, ii. 225, 228-9, 238-40, 243-4, 250, 265, 267-8; Fremantle mss 46/11/118-18.
  • 45. Coedymaen mss, bdle. 18, Fremantle to Williams Wynn, 28 Aug. 1825; Fremantle mss 46/12/64.
  • 46. Fremantle mss 138/12/8, 9.
  • 47. Ibid. 46/11/119; 46/12/ 56-61, 63, 67; 51/5/23; 138/12/5, 6.
  • 48. Coedymaen mss, bdle. 18, Fremantle to Williams Wynn, 2 Dec. 1825.
  • 49. Fremantle mss 46/11/120, 121; 46/12/50-54, 65; 138/12/2; Buckingham, ii. 286-9.
  • 50. Fremantle mss 46/11/124-7; 46/12/46, 49, 80; 138/12/1; Buckingham, ii. 289.
  • 51. Fremantle mss 46/12/81; 138/12/4.
  • 52. Ibid. 46/11/128; 138/12/3.
  • 53. Ibid. 46/12/43; 51/8/1.
  • 54. Ibid. 46/11/131; 138/16/18.
  • 55. Ibid. 46/12/83, 84; 138/16/15; Fremantle to Buckingham, 4 Apr. 1826.
  • 56. Buckingham, ii. 297-300; Fremantle mss 46/12/85, 86; 51/5/26; 138/16/3, 4, 6, 7; Fremantle to Buckingham, 20 Apr., Buckingham to Fremantle, 9 July 1826.
  • 57. Fremantle mss 48, Liverpool to Fremantle and reply, 1 May; 46/11/132-7; 46/12/87-94; 138/16/7; Sack, 207.
  • 58. Fremantle mss 46/11/145; 136/16/1;136/18/7; 138/26/4.
  • 59. Ibid. 46/11/148, 149, 152; 49/1/24; 138/21/1/1, 3.
  • 60. Ibid. 46/12/96, 98, 99; 138/21/1/5.
  • 61. Ibid. 46/12/100-102; 138/21/1/8.
  • 62. Ibid. 46/11/153, 155; 46/12/103-5; 138/21/1/9.
  • 63. Ibid. 46/11/155; 138/21/1/10.
  • 64. Canning’s Ministry, 65, 69, 76; Fremantle mss 51/8/5.
  • 65. Canning’s Ministry, 123; Fremantle mss 46/12/107; 49/1/15, 16; 138/21/2/1, 3, 5.
  • 66. Fremantle mss 46/11/154; 49/1/13-17; 51/11/6; 138/21/2/7, 8; Canning’s Ministry, 274.
  • 67. Fremantle mss 46/12/108-114; 138/21/1.
  • 68. Ibid. 46/10/4, 47, 48, 50; 138/21/2/9, 10.
  • 69. Ibid. 138/21/2/13-15, 17; 138/22/1/2; Lansdowne mss, Spring Rice to Lansdowne, 17 Sept. 1827.
  • 70. Fremantle mss 138/21/2/19.
  • 71. Ibid. 139/10/5.
  • 72. Add. 40308, f. 307; 40399, f. 409; Wellington mss WP1/1065/61.
  • 73. Grey mss, Taylor to Grey, 6 Dec.1830.
  • 74. Fremantle mss 139/20/22-27.
  • 75. Ibid. 49/1/12.
  • 76. Add. 40575, ff. 17, 27, 29.
  • 77. Gent. Mag. (1851), i. 92; PROB 11/2122/810; IR26/1868/560.