Hugh Fortescue, 2nd Earl Fortescue

Is your surname Fortescue?

Research the Fortescue family

Hugh Fortescue, 2nd Earl Fortescue's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


About Hugh Fortescue, 2nd Earl Fortescue,_2nd_Earl_Fortescue

Hugh Fortescue, 2nd Earl Fortescue KG, PC (13 February 1783 – 14 September 1861), styled Viscount Ebrington from 1789 to 1841, was a British Whig politician. He served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1839 to 1841.

Background and education

Fortescue was the eldest son of Hugh Fortescue, 1st Earl Fortescue, and Hester Grenville, daughter of Prime Minister George Grenville. He was educated at Eton and Brasenose College, Oxford.

Political career

Fortescue first became an MP, for Barnstaple, just after his 21st birthday, and sat for various constituencies almost continuously until 1839. The latter year he was summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in his father's junior title of Baron Fortescue, and then served under Lord Melbourne as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1839 to 1841 (when he succeeded his father in the earldom) and under Lord John Russell as Lord Steward from 1846 to 1850. He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1839 and created a Knight of the Garter in 1856. Fortescue belonged to that section of the Whig party that welcomed much of the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon hoping for radical change in Britain. After Napoleon's first abdication and exile to Elba he arranged visits by other prominent Whigs to the Emperor.


A statue of the Earl stands in Exeter Castle Yard, and his marble bust is displayed on the staircase of the Memorial Hall in West Buckland School. 49 of the Fortescue family portraits were saved from the disastrous fire at Castle Hill of 9 March 1934 with minor smoke damage, but were shortly afterwards all destroyed by fire when the delivery lorry returning them from the restorer caught fire whilst parked overnight pending their return to Castle Hill.

Co-founds West Buckland School

In 1858 together with Rev. J.L. Brereton, Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral and Rector of West Buckland, he founded the Devon County School, situated on land between West Buckland and East Buckland donated by him from his North Devon estate centered at Filleigh. The school was intended to provide a top quality education to local boys, including therefore the sons of many of his tenant farmers, and continues to exist today as West Buckland School, now an independent private school. A marble bust of Earl Fortescue, sculpted in 1861 by Edward Bowring Stephens (1815-1882), stands on the staircase of the Memorial Hall of the school.

Marriage & progeny

Lord Fortescue married twice:

Firstly in 1817 to Lady Susan Ryder (d.1827), daughter of Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby. They had the following issue:

Hugh Fortescue, 3rd Earl Fortescue (1818–1905)

Hon. John Fortescue, MP

Hon. Dudley Fortescue, MP

Secondly in 1841, 14 years after the death of his first wife, to Elizabeth Geale (d. May 1896), daughter of Piers Geale and widow of Sir Marcus Somerville, 4th Baronet (c. 1775–1831).

Death & succession

Fortescue died in September 1861, aged 78, and was succeeded by his eldest son from his first marriage, Hugh Fortescue, 3rd Earl Fortescue.

Other References

view all

Hugh Fortescue, 2nd Earl Fortescue's Timeline

February 13, 1783
Whitehall, London, Middlesex, England
April 4, 1818
Age 35
England, United Kingdom
August 4, 1820
Age 37
September 14, 1861
Age 78