The Baron Holland was a title in the peerage of Great Britain extant between the years 1762 and 1859 and to be distinguished from the earlier fourteenth century peerage titles bestowed on the family of Holand. (See Baron Holand.) There were in fact two separate titles of Baron Holland, being those of the Baron Holland of Holland and the Baron Holland of Foxley, but since both were held within the Fox family (and largely held by the same individuals) they can be considered together.
The Fox family owed their prominence to the series of fortunate events that propelled Stephen Fox, the younger son of a yeoman farmer, to the manager of the royal household during Charles II's exile in the Hague, and subsequent wealth and social status following the Restoration of 1660. Henry Fox was the second son of this Stephen Fox by his second marriage to Christiana Hope, and thus the younger brother of the Stephen Fox who became the Earl of Ilchester in 1756. Henry became the protege of Robert Walpole and rose to become one of the leading politicians of the day, albeit one with a reputation for unscrupulousness and graft, having amassed a "princely fortune" during his time as Paymaster-General. He was nevertheless created the Baron Holland of Foxley on the 6th April 1763 largely as a reward for his efforts in persuading the House of Commons to approve the Treaty of Paris. Henry married Georgiana Caroline Lennox, daughter of the Duke of Richmond, who had herself been created the Baroness Holland of Holland on the 7th March 1762 with remainder to her heirs male.
Henry died at his home at Holland House in Kensington on the 1st July 1774; his wife Georgina surviving him by less than a month and dying later that month on the 24th. Henry and Georgiana had four sons, the most notable being one of their younger sons Charles James Fox the radical Whig politician, but it was their eldest son Stephen who succeeded his father as Baron Holland of Foxley, and then a few weeks later his mother as Baron Holland of Holland. Sadly the 2nd Baron himself died less than six months later on the 16th December 1774 and so his titles passed to his eldest son, Henry Richard, born 21st November 1773, who thus became the 3rd Baron at the age of one.
Henry Richard remained true to the family tradition of loyalty to the Whig party, and for many years led the Whig opposition in the House of Lords, with his home at Holland House becoming the effective headquarters of the Whig party and the centre of what became known as the Holland House Circle. It might be said however, that he became better known for his private rather than his public life, as in 1793 he induced the wife of one Godfrey Webster to run away with him. A divorce was subsequently obtained and Henry married the former Mrs Webster on the 6th July 1797. His new wife was originally Elizabeth Vassall, the daughter of a rich Jamaican planter named Richard Vassall and in 1800 Henry adopted the name of Vassall-Fox in recognition of the inheritance that came his way. Elizabeth bore him three sons, the eldest of whom, Charles Richard Fox, was born whilst she was still married to her previous husband and thus illegitimate. As regards his two legitimate sons, the eldest Stephen died young in 1800, and so the title passed to the younger son Henry Edward with his death on the 22nd October 1840.
Henry Edward, the 4th Baron was briefly the Member of Parliament for Horsham between 1826 and 1827, before embarking on a diplomatic career. He married Mary Augusta Coventry, daughter of George William Coventry, 8th Earl of Coventry, but died without issue in Naples on the 18th December 1859 at the age of fifty-seven. There being no other further surviving male descendants of the 1st Baron Henry and his wife Georgiana, the 4th Baron's death rendered both his titles extinct.
THE BARONS HOLLAND
As Baron Holland of Holland
As Baron Holland of Foxley
- The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entries for HOLLAND, HENRY FOX, 1ST BARON and HOLLAND, HENRY RICHARD VASSALL-FOX, 3RD BARON
- Stirnet Genealogy at
- A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain at www.thepeerage.com