FANE, John II (1775-1850), of Wormsley, nr. Watlington, Oxon. and 9 Great George Street, Mdx.

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



8 Mar. 1824 - 1831

Family and Education

b. 9 July 1775, 1st. s. of John Fane I* and Lady Elizabeth Parker, da. of Thomas Parker†, 3rd earl of Macclesfield. educ. Dr. Samuel Glasse’s sch., Greenford, Mdx. 1783;1 St. John’s, Camb. 1794; L. Inn 1796. m. 6 June 1801, Elizabeth, da. of William Lowndes Stone of Brightwell Park, Watlington, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (3 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1824. d. 4 Oct. 1850.

Offices Held

Capt. commdt. Watlington troop, Oxon. yeoman cav. 1831; maj. Oxon. militia.

Sheriff, Oxon. 1835-6.


Fane signed the requisition for an Oxfordshire meeting to vote a loyal address to the regent in the aftermath of Peterloo, but does not seem to have attended it.2 He was one of the signatories of the protest issued by Oxfordshire Tories after their attempt to carry a loyal address to the king over the Queen Caroline affair had been thwarted by her supporters in January 1821.3 On the death of his father three years later he succeeded to the family estates in Oxfordshire and the Ongar area of Essex.4 He was not first in the field for the county seat which his father had occupied for almost 28 years and was in any case too ill to canvass; but when he came forward a rival who had started before him backed down. At the county meeting to select a candidate, he said that he ‘should endeavour to tread in the steps of his beloved parent, and make his example the rule of his life’; and at his unopposed election he asserted that he would ‘go into Parliament independently, and not attach himself to any party, but always keep in view the preservation of our excellent constitution in church and state’, and that he would ‘pay regard to measures and not to men’.5

Like his father, he gave general support to the Liverpool ministry, but was not afraid to take an independent line on specific issues. He was in the minority for referring the reports of the Scottish judicial commission to a committee of the whole House, 30 Mar. 1824. He presented a Henley petition for inquiry into the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 4 June 1824, but may have voted with government against this on the 11th.6 He presented an Oxfordshire parish petition for repeal of the house and window taxes, 4 Feb., and voted for repeal of the latter, 17 May 1825.7 He voted with government for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb. He divided against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. He presented a Banbury agriculturists’ petition against alteration of the corn laws, 28 Apr.8 He voted steadily against the grant to the duke of Cumberland in May and June 1825. He voted against ministers on the question of the president of the board of trade’s salary, 10 Apr., and was in the protectionist minorities against the emergency admission of foreign corn, 8 May, and the corn bill, 11 May 1826.

At the general election of 1826 he became involved in a contest for the county (the first for 72 years), but his own seat was in no danger, for the intervention of a third man was inspired by dissatisfaction with the parliamentary conduct of the other sitting Member, Ashhurst. At the nomination Fane boasted of having kept his promise of conscientious independence. Pressed for a statement of his views on slavery, he routinely condemned it, but added that ‘if the emancipation of the blacks was immediately and suddenly to take place, I think the heads of a good many whites would be emancipated from their shoulders’. He came second in the poll; his failure to top it was attributed to mismanagement and to the successful efforts of his supporters to ensure Ashhurst’s return.9 He presented several petitions against further alteration of the corn laws, 26 Feb., 19 Mar., and voted against the corn bill, 2 Apr. 1827.10 He voted against the duke of Clarence’s annuity, 2 Mar. He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. On 4 May he was granted a fortnight’s leave on account of the death of his daughter Georgiana the previous day. (He lost two other daughters in September that year and in November 1829.)11 He was in the minority in favour of a separate bankruptcy jurisdiction, 22 May, but voted with the Canning ministry for the grant for Canadian waterways, 12 June 1827. That day he presented a Henley petition for repeal of the Test Acts.12 He did not vote on this issue, 26 Feb. 1828, but he divided against Catholic relief, 12 May. The following day he was in the minority against the provision for Canning’s family. He presented a Banbury petition against the new corn bill, 30 Apr. 1828. As expected by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, and the bishop of Oxford, he opposed Catholic emancipation in 1829.13 He presented hostile petitions, 18 Feb., 10, 20 Mar. He voted against considering emancipation, 6 Mar., and on the 17th complained that ‘the country had been taken by surprise ... [by] a measure which tended to subvert the constitution’ and ‘obliged so many to oppose a government which they would otherwise wish to support’. He was reported as saying that he was ‘inclined’ to support the bill to disfranchise Irish 40s. freeholders; but he was listed in the minorities of 17 against the second reading, 19 Mar., and of 20 for an amendment to permit reregistration, 20 Mar. He voted against receiving the report of the relief bill, 27 Mar., but was absent from the division on the third reading, 30 Mar. 1829.

Although the Ultra leaders did not count Fane as one of their group, emancipation largely alienated him from the ministry: Goulburn, the chancellor of the exchequer, observed in May 1830 that he ‘more often votes with the Tories than with us’.14 He voted for the amendment to the address, 4 Feb., and against the army estimates, 19 Feb. He paired against the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and was given a week’s leave to attend to urgent private business, 1 Mar. He presented Oxfordshire petitions complaining of agricultural distress and calling for repeal of the beer and malt duties, 16 Feb., 7 Apr., 6 May. He voted against government on the grant for the volunteers, 9 Mar., the treasurership of the navy, 12 Mar., the admiralty establishment, 22 Mar., the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar., and the ordnance estimates, 29 Mar. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr. He presented a Henley petition for abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 6 May. He was in the opposition minorities on the public buildings grant, 3 May, the salary of the assistant secretary to the treasury, 10 May, privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May, and the grant for South American missions, 7 June. He voted against the second reading of the sale of beer bill, 4 May, presented a Wallingford petition against consumption on retail premises, 13 May, and on 21 June 1830 voted for Knatchbull’s amendment to that effect.

Fane had to fight another contest at the general election of 1830, when he offered again for the county on ‘independent principles’. At the nomination, he said that while he had opposed Catholic emancipation in an attempt to preserve the constitution, he would now ‘lose my life rather than see it repealed’. He comfortably topped the poll.15 Ministers listed him as one of the ‘doubtful doubtfuls’, with the subsequent endorsement of ‘enemy’. He was absent from the division on the civil list which brought them down, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented petitions for the abolition of slavery, 3, 16, 25 Nov. 1830, 2 Mar. 1831. On 16 Mar. 1831 he presented a Chipping Norton petition in favour of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, as he did one from Henley, 22 Mar. That day, perhaps in deference to constituency opinion, he voted silently for the second reading. On 24 Mar., however, he said that the measure would ‘not benefit one man or any set of men’ and would ‘tend to destroy that which is the fundamental basis of the British constitution’; and on the 28th, while admitting that there was ‘a strong, perhaps a popular, feeling in favour of reform’, he denied that there was support for ‘disfranchising ... the labouring classes’ or reducing the size of the House. He voted for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment to the bill, 19 Apr. 1831. At the consequent dissolution, anticipating a victory for the reformers in Oxfordshire, he announced his retirement, on the plea that ‘having stood two contests ... neither my circumstances nor constitution are equal to another canvass’.16

Fane, who served as sheriff of Oxfordshire in 1835, died at Wormsley in October 1850. By his will, dated 28 Mar. 1842, he left his wife an annuity of £500 charged on the Essex estates and set up trust funds for his surviving younger children.17 The family estates, including property in Dorset which had come to him through his father’s half-sister Mary Stapleton (d. 1835), passed to his eldest son John William Fane (1804-75), Conservative Member for Oxfordshire, 1862-8.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Heber Letters, 19.
  • 2. Jackson’s Oxford Jnl. 30 Oct., 13 Nov. 1820.
  • 3. Oxford University and City Herald, 27 Jan. 1821.
  • 4. PROB 11/1685/291; IR26/999/354.
  • 5. Jackson’s Oxford Jnl. 14, 21, 28 Feb., 13 Mar.; Oxford University and City Herald, 13 Mar. 1824.
  • 6. The Times, 5 June 1824.
  • 7. Ibid. 5 Feb. 1825.
  • 8. Ibid. 29 Apr. 1825.
  • 9. Ibid. 16, 19-21 June; Jackson’s Oxford Jnl. 17, 24 June 1826.
  • 10. The Times, 27 Feb., 20 Mar. 1827.
  • 11. Gent. Mag. (1827), i. 475; ii. 380; (1829), ii. 648.
  • 12. The Times, 13 June 1827.
  • 13. Add. 40343, f. 353.
  • 14. Add. 40333, f. 99.
  • 15. Jackson’s Oxford Jnl. 3 July, 7, 14 Aug. 1830.
  • 16. Ibid. 30 Apr. 1831.
  • 17. PROB 11/2122/810; IR26/1868/557.