FORTESCUE, William Charles (1764-1829), of Ravensdale Park, co. Louth.

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



1801 - 30 Sept. 1806

Family and Education

b. 12 Oct. 1764, 2nd but o. surv. s. of James Fortescue, MP [I], yr. bro. of William Henry, 1st Earl of Clermont [I], by Mary Henrietta, da. of Thomas Orby Hunter of Crowland Abbey, Lincs. unm. suc. fa. 1782; uncle by spec. rem. as 2nd Visct. Clermont [I] 30 Sept. 1806.

Offices Held

Cornet 18 Drag. 1781; lt. 51 Ft. 1782, 34 Ft. 1786, capt. 1792; capt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1793, maj. 1794, lt.-col. half-pay 1800, ret. 1801.

MP [I] 1795-1800.

Trustee, linen board [I] 1801.

Commdt. Ravensdale yeoman cav.


Fortescue was Member for county Louth during the last five years of the Irish parliament and in 1799 opposed the Union. He subsequently rallied to it and, by his opposition to Ponsonby’s resolution, helped to carry it. He had not taken his seat in the Imperial Parliament by 25 Mar 1801, but was considered a supporter of government. He appeared in the session of 1801/2. On 2 Aug. 1803 he voted for Fox’s amendment for a council of general officers and on his return to Ireland soon afterwards was described by the viceroy as ‘an opponent’ of Addington’s ministry.1

In the spring of 1804, his uncle Clermont instructed him to vote with Pitt. He was evidently a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry, though not to be relied on for attendance. He voted against the Catholic claims, 14 May 1805. Although he was described by Sir John Newport as an opponent of the Grenville ministry, 1 June 1806,2 Fortescue’s conduct was thus glossed over in a message from his uncle to Lord Grenville later that month:

Lord Clermont desires you will not conceive Fortescue, the Irish Member, his nephew, to be in opposition. This he has thought it necessary to explain, as Fortescue has been making as if he was in opposition the whole session; but Lord Clermont has sworn, and Fortescue has sworn too, that his wish and intention is to support your government.

Lord Temple, the bearer of the message through Parnell, added ‘I take it for granted that this is preparatory to some attempt at a job’.3 Fortescue, who made no known speech in the House, was removed from it on succeeding to his uncle’s viscountcy, 30 Sept. 1806. He died 24 June 1829.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Arthur Aspinall


  • 1. Add. 35702, f. 308.
  • 2. NLS mss 12917.
  • 3. HMC Fortescue, viii. 411.