Born 1705 Died 1774
Henry Fox, second son of Sir Stephen Fox, was born on the 28th of September 1705. Inheriting a large share of the riches which his father had accumulated, he squandered it soon after attaining his majority, and went to the Continent to escape from his creditors. There he made the acquaintance of a countrywoman of fortune, who became his patroness and was so lavish with her purse that, after several years' absence, he was in a position to return home and, in 1735, to enter parliament as member for Hindon in Wiltshire. He became the favourite pupil and devoted supporter of Sir Robert Walpole, achieving unequalled and unenviable proficiency in the worst political arts of his master and model. As a speaker he was fluent and self-possessed, imperturbable under attack, audacious in exposition or retort, and able to hold his own against Pitt himself. Thus he made himself a power in the House of Commons and an indispensable member of several administrations. He was surveyor-general of works from 1737 to 1742, was member for Windsor from 1741 to 1761; Lord of the Treasury in 1743, Secretary at War and member of the privy council in 1746, and in 1755 became Leader of the House of Commons, secretary of state and a member of the cabinet under the Duke of Newcastle.
In 1757, in the rearrangements of the government, Fox was ultimately excluded from the cabinet, and given the post of paymaster of the forces. During the war, which Pitt conducted with extraordinary vigour, and in which the nation was intoxicated with glory, Fox devoted himself mainly to accumulating a vast fortune. In 1762 he again accepted the leadership of the House, with a seat in the cabinet, under the Earl of Bute, and exercised his skill in cajolery and corruption to induce the House of Commons to approve of the Treaty of Paris of 1763; as a recompense, he was raised to the House of Lords with the title of Baron Holland of Foxley, Wiltshire, on the 6th of April 1763.
In 1765 he was forced to resign the paymaster-generalship, and four years later a petition of the livery of the city of London against the ministers referred to him as "the public defaulter of unaccounted millions". The proceedings brought against him in the court of exchequer were stayed by a royal warrant; and in a statement published by him he proved that in the delays in making up the accounts of his office he had transgressed neither the law nor the custom of the time. From the interest on the outstanding balances he had, none the less, amassed a princely fortune. He strove, but in vain, to obtain promotion to the dignity of an earl, a dignity upon which he had set his heart, and he died at Holland House, Kensington, on the 1st of July 1774, a sorely disappointed man, with a reputation for cunning and unscrupulousness which cannot easily be matched, and with an unpopularity which justifies the conclusion that he was the most thoroughly hated statesman of his day.
Lord Holland married in 1744 Lady Georgina Caroline Lennox, daughter of the Duke of Richmond, who was created Baroness Holland, of Holland, Lincolnshire, in 1762. There were four sons of the marriage: Stephen, 2nd Lord Holland (d. 1774); Henry (d. an infant); Charles James (the celebrated statesman); and Henry Edward (1755-1811), soldier and diplomatist.
See Walpole's and other memoirs of the time, also the article Charles James Fox.
Being the entry for HOLLAND, HENRY FOX, 1ST BARON in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.