FANE, John Thomas (1790-1833), of Baltonsborough and Barton St. David, Som.

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



29 Mar. 1816 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 28 Apr. 1790, 1st s. of Hon. Thomas Fane† (d. 1807) of Brympton, Som. and Ann, da. of Richard Lowe of Locko House, Derbys. m. 10 Aug. 1816, Marianne Shrimpton, da. of John Mills Jackson of Downton, Wilts., 1s. d. 23 Mar. 1833.

Offices Held

Lt. 25 Ft. 1807; lt. 18 Drag. 1809; capt. 69 Ft. 1810; capt. 87 Ft. 1811, Maj. de Meuron’s regt. 1814, half-pay 1816; maj. 61 Ft. 1819; lt.-col. and insp. of militia, Ionian Islands 1821; lt.-col. (half-pay) 22 Drag. 1824; ret. 1832.

Clerk of privy seal 1814-d.


Fane entered the army in 1807, shortly after the death of his father, another soldier and Member for Lyme, under whose will he inherited £4,000 on coming of age; he no doubt later succeeded to most of his estate, which included personal wealth sworn under £20,000.1 Probably through the influence of his father’s brother, the 10th earl of Westmorland, lord privy seal in Lord Liverpool’s administration, he was made a clerk of the privy seal in 1814. As the son of a capital burgess of Lyme Regis, he was elected to the corporation that year.2 In 1816 Westmorland, the patron of the borough, brought him in there, in place of Lord Burghersh, and he was returned without opposition at the following five general elections. In the House, Fane, whose parliamentary behaviour cannot always been distinguished from that of the John Fanes, father and son, who consecutively represented Oxfordshire, was an inactive supporter of Tory administrations.3 In 1819 he joined a new regiment, which was based in Jamaica, so he may not have been the ‘Mr. Fane’ who was granted a fortnight’s leave on urgent private business, 5 June 1820. He was, however, named as a defaulter, 28 June, and was excused, 4 July 1820, on the ground that he thought the order to attend referred to John Fane.4 As ‘Thomas Fane’, he voted against the motion to censure ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., parliamentary reform, 9 May, and Hume’s motion for economy and retrenchment, 27 June. On 23 July 1821 he was appointed a lieutenant-colonel and made inspector of field officers of militia in the Ionian Islands, which presumably explains his lack of parliamentary activity during the following two sessions. He became a half-pay lieutenant-colonel in the 22nd Dragoons in January 1824.

Unless it was John Fane II, he voted against condemning the trial of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He voted for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb. 1825, and (as he had on 28 Feb. 1821) against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr., 9 May 1825. No trace of parliamentary activity has been found for the following session, though he put in one of his rare appearances at Lyme during the general election of 1826.5 It may have been of Fane’s wife that Philipp Von Neumann recorded, 2 Jan. 1827, that ‘I met a friend of mine, Mrs. Fane, who came to Madeira for her husband’s sake, who looks as if he needed it’.6 He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and was granted a fortnight’s leave because of illness in his family, 29 Mar. 1827. He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., Catholic relief, 12 May, and reduction of the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July 1828. Listed by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, as ‘doubtful’ on Catholic emancipation in February 1829, he presented an anti-Catholic petition from Lyme, 11 Feb., and paired against the second, 18 Mar., and voted against the third reading of the relief bill, 30 Mar. In October 1829 Westmorland, who had left the cabinet in 1827, applied to the prime minister for a promotion for him, as a steady and deserving supporter, but the following August he expressed his annoyance that such a friend of administration had not been assisted.7 Fane voted against the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830. He was listed by ministers among their ‘friends’, but was absent from the division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.

Fane, who received army half-pay of £200 and a salary of £320 from his clerkship,8 evidently experienced some personal disaster, probably in mid-1831, which forced him into exile abroad. It apparently related to his sinecure, as Lord Ellenborough noted, 20 June 1831, that Charles Jackson had ‘called, in much distress, Lord Durham [the lord privy seal] having displaced him [as keeper of the records and assistant clerk] in consequence of some pecuniary transactions with Mr. Fane, who is his brother-in-law’.9 In January 1832 king’s bench ruled that Durham should admit a deputy for Fane, as he had been appointed before the Act requiring the holder of the office to carry out his duties in person and was, in any case, unable to serve because he was resident abroad.10 His name does not appear in any of the surviving opposition minority lists on the reintroduced reform bill, and it was probably his cousin and colleague at Lyme, Henry Sutton Fane, who made the anti-reform speeches attributed to ‘Mr. Fane’ in that and the following session. He voted against the second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and third reading of the revised reform bill, 22 Mar. 1832. It is unclear whether it was he or Henry Sutton Fane who voted for Waldo Sibthorp’s amendment respecting Lincoln freeholders, 23 Mar., against the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, (as ‘Colonel Fane’) against going into the committees on the Irish party processions bill, 25 June, and crown colonies relief, 3 Aug., and for Alexander Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 27 June 1832.

Fane, who was not brought forward for the one remaining seat for Lyme at the general election of 1832, died at St. Omer, France, in March 1833.11 An unknown friend, who claimed to have long been a witness ‘to his dreadful sufferings of mind and body’, wrote to Fane’s only child Augustus John (b. 1817), 14 Apr., transmitting his dying sentiments that the boy should take care of his mother and pay no regard to the accusations circulated by their enemies. Fane’s mother Anne wrote to her grandson Augustus, 20 Apr. 1834, that he should ignore the ‘reflections of those whose ill judging mode of life and most erroneous ideas of honourable and praiseworthy conduct have been the means of separating your parents and you from the society and intercourse of myself and family’. She insisted that there was no truth in the allegation that ‘my unkind conduct and that of your father’s family was the cause of his wretched situation’ or ‘that he died from grief and anxiety in consequence of neglect’.12 By his will, dated 29 Oct. 1830, Fane left everything to his wife, who died at Boulogne, 15 Apr. 1836. Administration of the estate was subsequently granted in London, 14 Jan. 1837, and again, 22 Aug. 1840, to their son. He died, unmarried, 21 June 1840, and in August administration of his estate, worth only £200, was granted to his grandmother.13

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 726; PROB 11/1464/573; IR26/125/87.
  • 2. Dorset RO, Lyme Regis borough recs. DC/LR B6/5, 11.
  • 3. Black Bk. (1823), 154; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 463.
  • 4. CJ, lxxv. 395.
  • 5. Western Flying Post, 12 June 1826.
  • 6. Von Neumann Diary, i. 145.
  • 7. Wellington mss WP1/1051/5; 1086/13; 1091/8; 1094/30; 1098/35; 1132/29.
  • 8. Black Bk. (1831), 440.
  • 9. Three Diaries, 95.
  • 10. The Times, 14 Jan. 1832.
  • 11. Gent. Mag. (1833), i. 466.
  • 12. Northants. RO, Westmorland (Apethorpe) mss W(A) 6/XIV.
  • 13. PROB 6/216; 11/1859/157; Gent. Mag. (1836), i. 567; (1840), ii. 217.