Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fox, Henry Edward
FOX, HENRY EDWARD (1755–1811), general, was the third son who reached manhood of Henry Fox, first lord Holland [q. v.], by Lady Georgiana Caroline Lennox, eldest daughter of the second Duke of Richmond, and younger brother of the celebrated orator and statesman, Charles James Fox [q. v.] He was born on 4 March 1755, and a curious quotation from one of his father's letters in 1764, when the boy was but nine years old, shows what his disposition then was. ‘Harry,’ he writes, ‘has a little horse to ride, and the whole stable full to look after. He lives with the horse, stinks, talks, and thinks of nothing but the stable, and is not a very good companion’ (Trevelyan, Early Life of Charles James Fox, p. 276). After a short time at Westminster School, Fox was gazetted to a cornetcy in the 1st or king's dragoon guards in 1770, from which he was promoted lieutenant into the 38th regiment in 1773. This regiment was then quartered at Boston in America, and Henry Fox served all through the war of American independence. On 14 Feb. 1774 he was promoted captain; in 1775 he served at Concord and at the battle of Bunker's Hill; in 1776 he was present at the battles on Long Island and of White Plains; in 1777 he was at the battle of Brandywine and in the advance on Philadelphia, and on 12 July 1777 he was promoted major into the 49th regiment. This regiment was placed under orders for the West Indies, but before it started Fox was promoted lieutenant-colonel of the 38th regiment on 12 Oct. 1778. He continued to serve until the end of the American war of independence, and it is curious to notice that while Charles James Fox was inveighing against the war with the Americans, his brother Henry was constantly employed in it. On his return to England he was received, perhaps for this reason, with the greatest favour by the king, who made him one of his aides-de-camp with the rank of colonel on 12 March 1783. In 1786 he married Marianne, daughter of William Clayton, and sister of the Baroness Howard de Walden. On 20 Dec. 1793 he was promoted major-general, and soon after offered a command in the army under the Duke of York in Flanders. He joined this army during the retreat through Belgium, and was posted to the command of the brigade formerly commanded by Major-general Ralph Abercromby, consisting of the 14th, 37th, and 53rd regiments. With this brigade he served at the battles of Roubaix and Mouveaux, and on 23 May 1794 he performed his greatest feat of arms, the repulse of the whole French army at Pont-à-Chin. He was upon the extreme right of the retreating army, when he was isolated and attacked in force, and his gallant stand and the successful extrication of his brigade is the brightest feature in the history of the whole war in Flanders from 1793 to 1795. On 28 June 1795 Fox was appointed colonel of the 10th regiment, and on 26 June 1799 he was promoted lieutenant-general. On 25 July 1801 he was appointed a local general in the Mediterranean, with his headquarters at Minorca, where he remained until the signature of the peace of Amiens, and in 1803 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the forces in Ireland. His tenure of office there was signalised by the outbreak and the suppression of the rebellion of Robert Emmet, when Fox was seized with the panic which assailed all the Castle authorities, and made elaborate preparations for dispersing the wretched pikemen, who were easily defeated by the ordinary night guard before the troops had begun to concentrate. In 1804 Fox was appointed lieutenant-governor of Gibraltar, which, as the titular governor, the Duke of Kent, did not reside there, practically meant governor of that important fortress. From this office he was removed, after his brother's accession to office in 1806, to the command of the army in Sicily, and he was also appointed ambassador to the court of Naples, then residing at Palermo. Sir John Moore was his second in command, and as Fox was in very bad health, Moore really undertook the entire management of both military and diplomatic matters. When Fox assumed the command, Major-general John Stuart had just won the victory of Maida, and the queen of Naples pressed his successor to undertake a similar expedition on a larger scale, and thus drive the French from Naples. But Fox knew that Stuart's success was very much due to chance, and that it would be ridiculous for the English to leave the island of Sicily for the mainland, where Murat could soon outnumber them. He was the more determined to refuse, since by the directions of his government he had materially weakened his army by sending five thousand men, under Major-general Mackenzie Fraser, to Egypt. This conflict with the Neapolitan court continued until 10 July 1807, when the new English ministry recalled Fox, and after a time replaced him in the supreme military and civil command by Lord William Bentinck. Soon after his return to England Fox was promoted general on 25 July 1808, and made governor of Portsmouth, where he died on 18 July 1811. He left one son, Henry Stephen Fox [q. v.], diplomatist, and two daughters, the elder married to General Sir Henry Bunbury, bart., and the younger to General Sir William Napier, K.C.B.
[Army Lists; Historical Record of the 10th Foot; Hamilton's History of the Grenadier Guards; Jones's Historical Journal of the campaign on the continent in 1794; and for his command in Sicily Bunbury's Narrative of some Passages in the Great War with France.]