Biography of Charles James Fox

Portrait of Charles James Fox

Charles James Fox was an eighteenth century parliamentarian.

When and Where was he Born?

24th January 1749, London, England.

Family Background:

Charles James Fox was the third Son of Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland. Descended through his Mother Lady Caroline Lennox from King Charles Second of England and King Henry Fourth of France.


Eton College. Hertford College, Oxford.

Timeline of Charles James Fox:

1768: Fox is elected to represent the Constituency of Midhurst in the House of Commons aged only nineteen.

1770: The Prime Minister Frederick North gives him the job of Junior Lord of the Admiralty.

1771: He resigns his post.

1772: He is promoted to become Lord of the Treasury in December.

1773: Charles James Fox is named a Commissioner of the Treasury.

1775: He is sacked from his job for criticising the Journalist and artist Henry Woodfall who was very influential with the Government. Now out of Office he begins to speak out against the taxation of America without their consent and called for a negotiated settlement when war actually broke out. He was also one of the first to speak out about the Rotten Boroughs and advocated that more parliamentary seats should be given to the emerging towns who now had higher populations than some of the Rotton Borough constituencies.

1782: In March when North’s Government falls he becomes Britain’s first Foreign Secretary under the Whig Prime Minister Lord Rockingham. This is a short lived post however as in July Rockingham dies and Fox refuses to serve under his successor Lord Sherburne. Sherburne appoints William Pitt (The Younger) as his Chancellor of the Exchequer and Fox and Pitt who had once been friends now become bitter enemies.

1788: Fox is one of the managers for the House of Commons in the Trial of the Indian Colonialist Warren Hastings.

1789: At the outbreak of the French Revolution Fox is initially enthusiastic describing it as “the greatest event that has happened in the history of the world”. He is horrified however when King Louis the Sixteenth is executed as he expected a Liberal Constitutional monarchy.

1793: War breaks out between Britain and France and Fox calls for a negotiated settlement and although the Radicals agree with him many people in the country think he is a defeatist and unpatriotic.

1794: Although he attacks the excesses of Tom Paine he fights for traditional freedoms and speaks out when there is an attempt to suspend Habeas Corpus. Fox also condemns the slave trade and is a champion of Catholic emancipation.

1795: He marries Elizabeth Armstead.

1806: Lord Grenville becomes Prime Minister and he appoints Charles James Fox again as Foreign Secretary. William Pitt has now died. Fox begins negotiations with the French but is unable to bring the war to an end. On the 10th June he speaks passionately in favour of the abolition of Slave Trade Bill in the House of Commons but is then taken ill.

When and Where did he Die?

13th September 1806, Chiswick House, London, England. (A later autopsy revealed he had a hardened liver, thirty-five gallstones and around seven pints of transparent fluid in his abdomen).

Age at Death:



1795 to Elizabeth Armstead.

Site of Grave:

Westminster Abbey, London, England near William Pitt (the Younger) his great rival.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey, London
(copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:


The Houses of Parliament.

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