Fletcher Norton, 1st Baron Grantley

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Grantley
PC
Fletcher Norton.jpg
Fletcher Norton, Speaker of House of Commons, 1770.
Speaker of the House of Commons
In office
1770–1780
Preceded by John Cust
Succeeded by Charles Wolfran Cornwall
Solicitor General for England and Wales
In office
1762–1763
Preceded by Charles Yorke
Succeeded by William de Grey

Fletcher Norton, 1st Baron Grantley PC (23 June 1716 – 1 January 1789) was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1756 to 1782 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Grantley.

Life[edit]

Grantley Hall, North Yorkshire

Norton was the eldest son of Thomas Norton of Grantley, Yorkshire. He was educated at St John's College Cambridge and the Middle Temple, being called to the bar in 1739.[1] After a period of inactivity, he built up a profitable practice, becoming a King's Counsel in 1754, and later attorney-general for the county palatine of Lancaster.

With his father he ordered the building in the mid 1700s of Grantley Hall, near Ripon in North Yorkshire.

In 1756 Norton was elected Member of Parliament for Appleby; he represented Wigan from 1761 to 1768, and was appointed solicitor-general for England and knighted in 1762. He took part in the proceedings against John Wilkes, and, having become Attorney General for England and Wales in 1763, prosecuted William Byron, 5th Baron Byron for the murder of William Chaworth. However, he lost his office when the Marquess of Rockingham came to power in July 1765. [2]

In 1769, as MP for Guildford, Norton became a privy councillor and chief Justice in Eyre of the forests south of the Trent, and in 1770 was elected Speaker of the House of Commons. In 1777, when presenting the bill for the increase of the civil list to the king, he told George III that "parliament has not only granted to your majesty a large present supply, but also a very great additional revenue; great beyond example; great beyond your majesty's highest expense." This speech aroused general attention and caused some irritation; but the Speaker was supported by Charles James Fox and by the city of London, and received the thanks of the House of Commons.[2]

The king did not forget these plain words, and after the general election of 1780, the prime minister, Lord North, and his followers declined to support the re-election of the retiring Speaker, alleging that his health was not equal to the duties of the office, and he was defeated when the voting took place.[2] In 1782 he was made a peer as Baron Grantley of Markenfield in the County of York.[3]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1776.[4]

He died in 1789 at his London home in Lincoln's Inn Fields and was buried at Wonersh, Surrey. In 1741 he had married Grace, the daughter and heiress of Sir William Chapple, Justice of the King’s Bench, 1737-45. They had 5 sons and 2 daughters. He was succeeded as Baron Grantley by his eldest son William (1742–1822).

Nathaniel William Wraxall described Norton as a bold, able and eloquent, but not a popular pleader, and as Speaker he was aggressive and indiscreet. Derided by satirists as "Sir Bullface Doublefee," and described by Horace Walpole as one who rose from obscure infamy to that infamous fame which will long stick to him, his character was also assailed by "Junius".

Family[edit]

Grantley married Grace Chapple, daughter and heir of Sir William Chapple, Justice of the King’s bench, on 21 May 1741. They had four sons and a daughter:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Norton, Fletcher (NRTN734F)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b c "NORTON, Fletcher (1716-89), of Grantley, Yorks. and Wonersh, Surr". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 28 November 2017. 
  3. ^ London Gazette no. 12282. p. 1
  4. ^ "Fellow details". Royal Society. Retrieved 10 December 2017. 
  • Horace Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of George III., edited by G. F. R. Barker (1894);
  • Sir N. W. Wraxall, Historical and Posthumous Memoirs, edited by H. B. Wheatley (1884);
  • J. A. Manning, Lives of the Speakers (1850);
  • Hammond Innes, The Last Voyage: Captain Cook's Lost Diary, (N.Y.: Knopf, 1978).
Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Grantley, Fletcher Norton". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Lee
Philip Honywood
Member of Parliament for Appleby
1756–1761
With: Philip Honywood
Succeeded by
John Stanwix
Philip Honywood
Preceded by
Sir William Meredith, Bt
Hon. Richard Barry
Member of Parliament for Wigan
17611768
With: Simon Luttrell
Succeeded by
George Byng
Beaumont Hotham
Preceded by
Sir John Elwill, Bt
George Onslow
Member of Parliament for Guildford
1768–1782
With: George Onslow
Succeeded by
William Norton
George Onslow
Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles Yorke
Solicitor General for England and Wales
1762–1763
Succeeded by
William de Grey
Preceded by
Charles Yorke
Attorney General for England and Wales
1763–1765
Succeeded by
Charles Yorke
Preceded by
The Earl Cornwallis
Justice in Eyre
south of the Trent

1769–1789
Succeeded by
The Viscount Sydney
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir John Cust
Speaker of the House of Commons
1770–1780
Succeeded by
Charles Wolfran Cornwall
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Grantley
1782–1789
Succeeded by
William Norton