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Charles James Fox

(b. Jan. 24, 1749, Conduit Street, Mayfair – d. Sept. 13, 1806, Chiswick House, Chiswick, London )

Gender: M

Charles James Fox (1749-1806) was the second son of Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland. His father bought him a parliamentary seat when he was only nineteen, and he spent his life in politics, being known as a superb orator, a supporter of American independence and a champion for the rights of parliament against the royal prerogative. He was taken under the wing of Edmund Burke and joined the Rockingham Whigs, becoming a vocal opponent of the Tory leader Lord North and of King George III, who loathed him in return. In July 1780, shortly after the Gordon Riots, he was returned as MP for Westminster with a massive majority. He held the post of Foreign Secretary from 1782-1783 in an unlikely coalition with Lord North, but the administration was dismissed by the king in favour of a government headed by William Pitt the Younger, then only 24 years old. Fox was returned for Westminster in 1784 with a much-reduced majority, after a hard-fought election in which he received the public support of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, with whom he was reputed to have had an affair. During the period of George III’s illness when the Prince of Wales acted as Regent, Fox expected to become Prime Minister, but was outmanoeuvred by Pitt. He supported the aims of the French Revolution, opposed the slave trade, and attempted to improve the civil rights of Catholics and Dissenters. He was a heavy drinker and gambler, and was bankrupted twice. From 1784 until his death he lived with Elizabeth Armistead, an actress and former mistress of the Prince of Wales, whom he secretly married in 1795. He died of cirrhosis of the liver.

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  • Charles James Fox

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Please note that all dates and location information are provisional, initially taken from the library and archive catalogues. As our section editors continue to work through the material we will update our database and the changes will be reflected across the edition.