1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Grantley, Fletcher Norton

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GRANTLEY, FLETCHER NORTON, 1st Baron (1716–1789), English politician, was the eldest son of Thomas Norton of Grantley, Yorkshire, where he was born on the 23rd of June 1716. He became a barrister in 1739, and, after a period of inactivity, obtained a large and profitable practice, becoming a K.C. in 1754, and afterwards attorney-general for the county palatine of Lancaster. In 1756 he 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 in 1763, prosecuted the 5th Lord Byron for the murder of William Chaworth, losing his office when the marquess of Rockingham came into power in July 1765. In 1769, being now member of parliament for Guildford, Norton became a privy councillor and chief justice in eyre of the forests south of the Trent, and in 1770 was chosen 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 Fox and by the city of London, and received the thanks of the House of Commons. George, however, 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. In 1782 he was made a peer as Baron Grantley of Markenfield. He died in London on the 1st of January 1789. He was succeeded as Baron Grantley by his eldest son William (1742–1822). Wraxall describes 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, and the general impression is that he was a hot-tempered, avaricious and unprincipled man.

See H. 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); and J. A. Manning, Lives of the Speakers (1850).