The not-so-great and the not-so-good, no. 27: more Fitzroving

Swiftly on to our next specimen.

Getting there may take more than a moment. This is, at first, a story of sex, power and connections, so let’s start by taking a step back.

Malcolm thinks he has the family-tree fettled. His intended target is in the second generation after the previous no.26, Anne Fitzpatrick.

In graphics it looks like this:

He was neither up nor down

We pass quickly on over  the Lord Charles Fitzroy, the second son of Augustus Henry Fitzroy (1735-1811) and his first wife, the flighty Anne Liddell.

Charles (1764-1829) was essentially an army officer, first in Flanders as bag-carrier to the Grand Old Duke of York (which is where the nursery rhyme originates), later running round after George III as aide-de-camp with the consolation prize of rank of Colonel. He was in Ireland as a major-general in the ’98. Safely back home, he was O.C. the Ipswich garrison, rising through the senior echelons to be a full General by the end of the Napoleonic Wars (though he seems never again to have needed to soil his dress uniform outside of the Home Counties).

He served two periods as MP for Bury St Edmunds, between 1787-96 and 1802-18, apparently never once making a speech; and spent his last two decades travelling between Northamptonshire and Berkeley Square.

His first, brief (1795-7) marriage was with Frances, the daughter of Edward Miller Munday, the Derbyshire Tory MP (now, he‘s a story), which produced one son, Charles Augustus. A second marriage, with Lady Frances Anne Stewart, eldest daughter of Robert Stewart, first marquess of Londonderry (nice choice!), engendered two more sons (the elder of whom is Malcolm’s coming topic) and a daughter.

Big stepbrother

Before we move onto the main item, let’s pause to acknowledge Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy  (1796-1858 — as left).

This one took a commission in the Horse Guards and was at Waterloo, which suggests that — unlike his Da — he saw a some real mud and blood.

After the wars:

  • he found himself on half-pay;
  • made a more-than-useful marriage to the daughter of the Duke of Richmond (whose mother was the daughter of the Duke of Gordon);
  • doubtless pulled strings — of which the family seem to have developed quite a few at the highest level;
  • then took up the white man ‘s burden to become a colonial governor, first in Prince Edward Island, then the Leeward Islands;
  • then a sticky job — in 1845 the colonial secretary, Lord Stanley, appointed him to succeed as governor of New South Wales Sir George Gipps the worst Governor New South Wales (thus, perhaps unfairly, the Sydney Morning Herald of 4 July 1846).

It gets down to serious stuff, and even admirable to a degree.

Australia had been transformed from a prison colony to a free, mainly pastoral society (the tipping-point was one of the problems that had plagued Gipps). Fitzroy, against much opposition from London, seems to have had a humane and independent-minded agenda. He benignly brought to an end the era of transportation, dealt with the start of the gold rush, and fostered moves to a new constitution for a federation of the Australian colonies. If Australia has an onlie begetter, he ought to be a contender. Between 1851-55 he was Australia’s first governor-general.

A fatal accident in 1847 killed his first wife, when he was driving her in a carriage. Fitzroy promptly set about earning a reputation as a womaniser, to the considerable excitement and distress of the presbyterian moralists (one of whom, Dr J. D. Lang, denounced him at the farewell ceremonies).

Back in London there were no further appointments for Fitzroy. He endured retirement, married again, and succumbed to fatal boredom.



Filed under Australia, Britain, Homophobia, London, politics, Presbyterian, Tories.

3 responses to “The not-so-great and the not-so-good, no. 27: more Fitzroving

  1. Pingback: Malcolm Redfellow’s Home Service

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  3. Pingback: The not-so-great and the not-so-good, no. 28: Naomi Royde-Smith | Malcolm Redfellow’s Home Service

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