FOX, Hon. Stephen (1745-74), of Winterslow, nr. Salisbury, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 20 Feb. 1745, 1st s. of Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, and bro. of Hon. Charles James Fox. educ. Eton 1756-9; Grand Tour 1760-5. m. 20 Apr. 1766, Lady Mary Fitzpatrick, da. of John, 1st Earl of Upper Ossory [I], 1s. 3da. suc. fa. as 2nd Baron 1 July 1774.
Clerk of the pells [I] 1 July 1774- d.
Stephen Fox was the favourite child of his mother, as Charles James was of his father; he had most of his brother’s faults but little of his ability. ‘I fear, let his future fortune be ever so great,’ wrote his tutor George Macartney to Holland on 16 Dec. 1762,1 ‘he will always be distressed in his circumstances.’ On his marriage Holland wrote, in a document drawn up for the Duke of Bedford, Lady Mary Fitzpatrick’s guardian:2
Lord Holland proposes to give his son immediately all his landed estate, except that in Somersetshire and in Kent, which are intended for Charles.
The landed estate which he proposes to give his son immediately is almost all in Wiltshire ... It is very considerable, and will not produce less than three thousand five hundred pounds a year immediately, and soon a thousand pound a year more. His house in town, the income of a large sum of money, and place of clerk of the pells in Ireland, will come to him on Lord Holland’s death.
By 1769 Fox owed over £20,000; by 1773, over £100,000. Holland paid his debts, as well as Charles’s. ‘You have already among you had almost our all,’ wrote Lady Holland to Fox in November 1773. And in an undated letter, about the same time:3
Lord Holland is much the same; better, I fear, I must never expect to see him. Oh! Ste., this last attack, whatever it was, I’m confident has been owing to the disagreeable business he has of late been engaged in on your account. Lord Holland’s ill state of health, I’m persuaded, is solely owing to the vexations of his mind, which have been too powerful for a benevolent, friendly-feeling heart like his. Rigby, Calcraft, etc., began; the Duke of Leinster, Lord Hillsborough, Sarah greatly contributed; and Charles and you have put the finishing stroke. How painful this idea must be to you I know. Charles does not yet feel it, but he will severely one day; so he ought. And indeed, Ste., fondly as I once loved you both, I do not scruple distressing you by telling you how much you are in the wrong; indeed, indeed, you ought to feel it, and let it be deeply imprinted on your mind.
Fox was returned for Salisbury after a contest. In politics he followed the same line as his brother. He supported Administration 1768-72; opposed the royal marriage bill; voted for the naval captains’ petition, 9 Feb. 1773, but was classed in the King’s list as a friend; and voted with Administration on Grenville’s Act, 25 Feb. 1774. At first he supported North’s punitive measures against America. He told the House, during the debate on the bill to regulate the government of Massachusetts Bay, 28 Mar. 1774, that he ‘approved vigorous measures, but said the disorders had arisen neither from the Stamp Act nor its repeal, but that all colonies as they acquire strength look with a jealous eye on the mother country’.4 Still on 6 May 1774 he voted against the bill to regulate the administration of justice in Massachusetts Bay. Over 30 speeches by him are recorded.
He died 26 Nov. 1774.