Hugh Fortescue, 4th Earl Fortescue

Hugh Fortescue, 4th Earl Fortescue (1854–1932), KCB, ADC, Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Lt. Col. of Royal North Devon Hussars
Hugh Fortescue, 4th Earl Fortescue (1854–1932). Engraving by Joseph Brown from a photograph by John Mayall
"The Devon and Somerset", caricature of Viscount Ebrington by Ape, Vanity Fair 19th February 1887

Hugh Fortescue, 4th Earl Fortescue KCB (16 April 1854 29 October 1932), styled Viscount Ebrington from 1861 to 1905, was an English Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1881 until 1892 and later in the House of Lords having inherited his father's peerages. He was a famous sportsman in the hunting-field.


Fortescue was the son of Hugh Fortescue, 3rd Earl Fortescue (1818–1905), whose main seat was Castle Hill, Filleigh, Devon, by his wife Georgiana Augusta Charlotte Caroline Dawson-Damer, daughter of George Lionel Dawson-Damer. He was known by his courtesy title of Viscount Ebrington until his father's death in 1905, when he inherited the earldom.



He was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] At Cambridge, he was treasurer of the University Pitt Club.[2]

Local career in Devon

He was a captain in the North Devon Hussar Yeoman Cavalry and became Colonel of the North Devon Yeomanry. He was a J.P. for Devon and for South Molton, the town close to the family seat of Castle Hill, Filleigh. He served as Deputy Lieutenant for Devon and was Lord-Lieutenant of Devon from 1903 to 1928. He was also Chairman of Devon County Council. He was Provincial Grand Master of Freemasons in Devon. He was Master of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds.

National career

He was at one time private secretary to Lord President of the Council Earl Spencer.[3] He was ADC to King Edward VII from 1903 to 1910 and received a KCB in 1911. He was ADC to King George V from 1910 to 1921. He served as President and Chairman of the Territorial Force Advisory Council.

Parliamentary career

In 1881 Fortescue was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Tiverton and held the seat until 1885 when representation was reduced to one member under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885.[4] In 1885 he was elected MP for Tavistock.[5] When the Liberals split in 1886 over Home Rule for Ireland, he joined the breakaway Liberal Unionists. He held the seat until 1892.

Purchases Exmoor Forest

When Viscount Ebrington he purchased the reversion of about 20,000 acres comprising the former royal forest of Exmoor from Sir Frederick Knight (1812–1897) who with his father John Knight (d.1851) had introduced livestock farming to that previously undeveloped and barren moorland. Following the early death of Knight's son Frederick Sebright Winn Knight (1851–1879) in 1879 aged 28, Knight sold the reversion of Exmoor Forest to Ebrington, that is to say he retained a life interest.[6] Ebrington used the residence constructed by James Boevey in 1654 at Simonsbath, ten miles NE of Castle Hill, as a hunting lodge and for his work in continuing agricultural development. He instituted an annual horse show at Exford, which helped to increase the quality of hunters used on Exmoor.[7]

Death & burial

He died at the age of 78.

Marriage & progeny

Fortescue married his cousin, Hon. Emily Ormsby-Gore, daughter of William Ormsby-Gore, 2nd Baron Harlech, on 15 July 1886. They had three children:


  1. "Ebrington, Hugh, Viscount (EBRN872H)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. Fletcher, Walter Morley (2011) [1935]. The University Pitt Club: 1835-1935 (First Paperback ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-107-60006-5.
  3. Debretts Guide to the House of Commons 1886
  4. Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
  5. Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.
  6. Reminiscences of Lady Margaret Fortescue, (daughter of 5th Earl) recorded in 2001, in which she states her grandfather purchased Exmoor Forest, i.e. 4th Earl. Lauder, Rosemary, Devon Families, Tiverton, 2002, p.79 appears to be in error when she states the 2nd Earl (d.1861) to have made the purchase
  7. Evered, Philip. Staghunting with the Devon and Somerset, An Account of the Chase of the Wild Red Deer, 1902, p.270

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Massey
John Heathcote-Amery
Member of Parliament for Tiverton
With: John Heathcote-Amery
Succeeded by
Sir William Walrond
Preceded by
Lord Arthur John Edward Russell
Member of Parliament for Tavistock
Succeeded by
Hugh Luttrell
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Lord Clinton
Lord Lieutenant of Devon
Succeeded by
The Lord Mildmay of Flete
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Hugh Fortescue
Earl Fortescue
Succeeded by
Hugh Fortescue
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