FANE, John (1751-1824), of Wormsley, Oxon.

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



1796 - 8 Feb. 1824

Family and Education

b. 6 Jan. 1751, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Henry Fane of Wormsley by 3rd w., and bro. of Francis Fane*. educ. Corpus Christi, Camb. 1768. m. 1 Dec. 1773, Lady Elizabeth Parker, da. of Thomas Parker, 3rd Earl of Macclesfield, 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 1777.

Offices Held

Member board of agriculture 1803, vice-pres. 1815.

Capt. Lewknor vols. 1803, lt.-col. commdt. S. Oxf. militia 1809.


Fane was the choice of the independent gentry of Oxfordshire for a county seat when a vacancy arose at the election of 1796. His principal interest was agricultural improvement, on which he corresponded with such pundits as Arthur Young. He left little mark in public life, though he represented the county for 28 years. Thomas Creevey*, speaking of his voting behaviour in 1821, implied that Fane was the sort of Member administration could normally expect to support them through thick and thin and that he was no credit to them.1 But his voting behaviour over the years—he seldom opened his mouth in the House—indicated that he could be sufficiently independent.

Fane offered no opposition to Pitt’s or Addington’s ministries. On 1 Mar. 1797 he was appointed to the secret committee on the Bank of England. In May 1802 he was a steward of Pitt’s birthday dinner.2 He was chairman of the London election committee which reported on 3 Mar. 1804. On 11 June 1804 he joined Addington in opposition to the additional force bill proposed by Pitt on his return to power.3 This was after being listed ‘doubtful’ by the Pittites the month before. By September they anticipated his support, but he proceeded to vote with opposition on defence, 21 Feb. 1805, for the continuation of the naval commission of inquiry, 1 Mar., and for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 6 Mar. He was in the government minority on Melville’s case, 8 Apr., and chosen for the committee to investigate the tenth naval report, 25 Apr., but voted with opposition against the Duke of Atholl’s claims, 7 June. A month later he was listed ‘doubtful Pittite’. He was probably the ‘Mr Fane’ who voted against the Grenville ministry on Indian affairs, 21 Apr. 1806, and he opposed them on the Hampshire election petition, 13 Feb. 1807. He was listed a staunch friend of the abolition of the slave trade. He brought up the report of the Thetford election committee, 4 Feb. 1807.

Fane did not oppose the Portland ministry until 17 Mar. 1809, when he was twice in the minority against the Duke of York’s conduct, but he secured the discharge of Capt. Sandon, confined in Newgate by the House for gross prevarication in his evidence to them, 28 Mar. He voted for the address, 23 Jan. 1810, but opposed ministers on the Scheldt expedition, 23 Feb., 5 and 30 Mar. Indeed Robert Ward* complained, 30 Mar., ‘Fane of Oxfordshire voted against us all through’.4 The Whigs, however, listed him a government man at that time. He opposed the discharge of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr. 1810. He was in the government minority on the Regency question, 1 Jan. 1811, and was reported a month later as a great admirer of Spencer Perceval.5 In February 1812 he three times voted for Bankes’s attacks on sinecures and on 4 May voted for sinecure reform: he further voted in favour of the sinecure bill, 29 Mar. 1813.

Fane was hostile to Catholic relief. In 1798 he had written repeatedly to Pitt to protest at the erection of a Catholic chapel at Thame.6 He voted against Catholic claims, 22 June 1812, throughout in 1813 and again in 1816 and 1817. He was listed a supporter by the Treasury after the election of 1812. He was in the minority against the alteration of the Corn Laws on 23 Feb. 1815. That session he also indicated his opposition on the civil list questions, 14 Apr., 8 May, voted for inquiry into the Prince Regent’s expenditure, 31 May, and against the additional grant to the Duke of Cumberland, 3 July. Next session he opposed the army estimates, 6 Mar., the Household troops estimates, 11 Mar., and the continuation of the property tax, 18 Mar. He also supported a committee of investigation into public offices with a view to retrenchment, 7 May. On the civil list he vacillated that month, appearing in the government majority on 6 May, but in opposition on 24 May. On 17 June he was in the government minority on the public revenue bill. In the session of 1817 he joined opposition on the composition of the finance committee, 7 Feb., retrenchment at the Admiralty, 17, 25 Feb., and on the salt duties, 25 Apr. He supported the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and its mode of operation, 11 Feb. 1818. He opposed the ducal marriage grants, despite ministerial cajolements, 13, 15 Apr. and 15 May 1818, and opposed the chancellor’s proposal for the extension of forgery prevention to all negotiable credit, 14 May. He was against promoting popular education, 3 June. His conduct during that Parliament was approved at the election of 1818.7

In the ensuing Parliament, he opposed the Windsor establishment, 22, 25 Feb. and the royal household bill, 19 Mar. 1819. He was in the majorities on the case of Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar., against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June. He supported investigation of abuse of charitable foundations, 23 June, and opposed the excise duties bill, 25 June. He was one of those Members who remained in town as late as 23 Dec. 1819 to support the legislation restricting civil liberty.

Fane died 8 Feb. 1824. According to a glowing obituary: ‘He supported ministers when, in his opinion, their measures had a tendency to benefit his country: he opposed them when he believed their proceedings were inimical to its interests’. His qualities as a country gentleman, landlord, and magistrate were extolled: his funeral matched ‘the unostentatious character of his life’.8

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1824), i. 180; Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, ii. 21.
  • 2. The Times, 21 May 1802.
  • 3. Sidmouth mss, Addington to Yorke, 13 June 1804.
  • 4. Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lonsdale, 31 Mar. 1810.
  • 5. Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 391.
  • 6. PRO 30/8/134, ff. 94-99.
  • 7. The Late Elections (1818), 249.
  • 8. Gent. Mag. (1824), i. 180.