FAZAKERLEY, John Nicholas (1787-1852), of West Hill, I.o.W. and Stoodleigh, Bampton, Devon
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Family and Education
b. on or bef. 7 Mar. 1787, 1st s. of John Fazakerley, formerly Radcliffe, of Prescot, Lancs. by w. Catherine. educ. Eton 1799-1802; Christ Church, Oxf. 1805; Edinburgh Univ. 1807-8; European tour. m. May 1822, Hon. Eleanor Montagu, da. of Matthew Montagu*, 4th Baron Rokeby, 1s. surv. 2da. suc. fa. 1796.
Fazakerley, who came of an old Lancashire family, has been erroneously described as the great-grandson of Nicholas Fazakerley of Prescot (d.1767), the Jacobite MP for Preston, who left no surviving male issue. He was, however, of the same family and his grandfather, Thomas Radcliffe of Ormskirk became, after a Chancery suit, heir at law to the aforesaid Nicholas Fazakerley, his second cousin once removed, and took his name.1 On the strength of this fortune, Fazakerley’s father led a gentlemanly existence; he was, moreover, a Friend of the People. In 1808, when Fazakerley was travelling to Spain, he was furnished with a letter of introduction to Lord Holland by Richard Fitzpatrick*, who described him as an intimate friend of Robert Price* both at Oxford and Edinburgh universities, where Fazakerley had distinguished himself by his ‘talents and acquirements’. Fitzpatrick went on: ‘He is moreover a man of fortune, and as I understand him to be a good Whig, I hope he may soon distinguish himself in Parliament’.2
When he returned from his extensive travels in 1812, Robert Price, like him a founder member of Grillion’s Club, informed Lord Milton, 26 Aug., that Fazakerley, ‘a good politician’, who had money and wanted a seat in Parliament, had written to him for help; as he was ‘a great admirer of Fox’ and likely to agree with Earl Fitzwilliam, Milton’s father, in politics—except on parliamentary reform, which Fazakerley favoured, though not violently—Price hoped that Fitzwilliam could do something for him. So it was that he came in unopposed for Lincoln on the Monson interest, recommended to Lady Monson by Fitzwilliam. He had to pay expenses amounting to about £1,500.3
Described by Canning as ‘almost committed to opposition’, Fazakerley voted with them on the gold coin bill, 8 Dec. 1812, and the vice-chancellor bill 11 Feb. 1813. In May 1813 he was described by John William Ward as one of two ‘stout healthy young Whigs, who never were ill before’, who ‘fell sick’ upon the occasion of the Catholic relief bill.4 To his great regret, he was obliged to stay away and on medical advice prepared to spend the winter abroad rather than lead a life of ‘perpetual precaution’ at home. He went to Portugal in company with the Duke and Duchess of Bedford. On his return home in the following summer he took up residence on the Isle of Wight. Robert Price had written before Fazakerley embarked that ‘his seat in Parliament will not therefore have been of any great use to him, nor will he have been of any great use to Parliament; I think however he is quite in the right to go and I rely upon his seat in Parliament for bringing him back again’. The winter of 1814 was also spent abroad and Fazakerley, who obtained an interview with Buonaparte on Elba, returned from Italy, where he had been in the company of Lord John Russell, in the spring of 1815. He resumed attendance in the House, to judge by a vote with opposition, by 8 May.5 Later that month and again in 1817 he was present to vote for Catholic relief.
Although he was highly thought of by his Whig friends—Horner described him as ‘one of the best as well as cleverest creatures in the world’ and Charles Monck as ‘the most civilized person in the world, and most agreeable and good’6—Fazakerley disappointed as a speaker in the House. His maiden speech, 19 Feb. 1816, was a short set piece seconding Milton’s motion for an address against continental alliances. On 11 Feb. 1818 he moved for information about bringing to justice the agents provocateurs who had caused the persecution of innocent persons under the suspension of habeas corpus. He proved no match for Bragge Bathurst, the government spokesman, and Milton had to come to his rescue; the motion was lost by 111 votes to 52. On 2 Dec. 1819, Fazakerley, who had been suspected of intending to desert the opposition on the address the week before,7 objected to the seditious meetings prevention bill, not on principle, for he saw its necessity, but because he wished to see its operation confined to the five or six disaffected counties. This line of argument proved unpromising. He nevertheless voted with opposition as late as 21 Dec.
Fazakerley had given up Lincoln in 1818, after a fresh bout of illness had kept him away from the House for three months, having announced as early as July 1816 that he intended to do so. He let himself in for ‘plenty of trouble’ by contesting Grimsby instead,8 but he headed the poll in 1818. He was a stout supporter of Tierney’s leadership of the Whigs in the House of Commons and regarded Lansdowne as the obvious leader in the Lords. He thought this arrangement could save the Whigs from the ‘outrages and contamination of the Mountain’, from whom he welcomed the prospect of a ‘distinct rupture’.9 He had opposed Burdett’s motion for parliamentary reform, 20 May 1817, and on 2 June 1818 he counted out the House when Cobbett’s reform petition was being read.
Fazakerley remained a firm favourite in Whig society. He could not stomach the expense of a Grimsby election again, owing his seats after 1820 to his ‘great friend’ Lord John Russell and, once more, to Earl Fitzwilliam. Despite increasingly robust health, he still made little mark in Parliament and continued to travel abroad frequently. He died 16 July 1852 ‘in his 66th year’.10
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. W. D. Pink, Parl. Rep. Lancs. 163; Soc. of Genealogists, Fazakerley docs, Whitfield mss.
- 2. Add. 51799, Fitzpatrick to Holland, 16 Nov. 1808.
- 3. Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F108/21, S83a; Monson mss, election bills 1812.
- 4. Bagot mss, Canning to Bagot, 9 Nov. 1812; Ward, Letters to ‘Ivy’, 203.
- 5. Add. 51644, Horner to Lady Holland [1 June]; 51576, Fazakerley to same, passim; Fitzwilliam mss, box 81, Price to Milton, 24 Oct. 1813; Colchester, iii. 234; Horner mss 6, f. 139;
- 6. Horner mss 7, f. 279; Grimsby Pub. Lib. Tennyson mss, Monck to Tennyson, 23 June 1818.
- 7. NLW, Coedymaen mss 12, f. 930.
- 8. Add. 51576, Fazakerley to Lady Holland [18 June 1818].
- 9. Fitzwilliam mss, box 93, Fazakerley to Milton, 11 Aug.; Add. 51576, same to Lady Holland, 3 Sept. 1818.
- 10. Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F48/161; Early Corresp. Lord John Russell, i. 218; Gent. Mag. (1852), ii. 315. Fazakerley lived latterly at Burwood Park, Surr.