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Fletcher Norton, 1st Baron Grantley PC (23 June 1716 – 1 January 1789) was an English politician.

He was the eldest son of Thomas Norton of Grantley, Yorkshire. He became a barrister in 1739, and, after a period of inactivity, built up a profitable practice, becoming a King's Counsel in 1754, and later 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 for England and Wales in 1763, prosecuted William Byron, 5th Baron Byron for the murder of William Chaworth. However, he lost his office when the Marquess of Rockingham came to power in July 1765.

In 1769, as MP for Guildford, Norton became a privy councillor and chief Justice in Eyre of the forests south of the Trent, and in 1770 was elected 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 Charles James Fox and by the city of London, and received the thanks of the House of Commons.

The king 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 was succeeded as Baron Grantley by his eldest son William (1742–1822). Nathaniel William 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".

See H Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of George III., edited by GFR Barker (1894); Sir NW Wraxall, Historical and Posthumous Memoirs, edited by HB Wheatley (1884); and JA Manning, Lives of the Speakers (1850).

References

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Lee
Member for Appleby
1756–1761
Succeeded by
John Stanwix
Preceded by
Sir William Meredith, 3rd Baronet
Member for Wigan
1761–1768
Succeeded by
George Byng
Preceded by
Sir John Elwill
Member for Guildford
1768–1782
Succeeded by
William Norton
Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles Yorke
Solicitor General for England and Wales
1762–1763
Succeeded by
William de Grey
Preceded by
The Earl Cornwallis
Justice in Eyre
south of the Trent

1769–1789
Succeeded by
The Viscount Sydney
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir John Cust
Speaker of the House of Commons
1770–1780
Succeeded by
Charles Wolfran Cornwall
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Grantley
1782–1789
Succeeded by
William Norton
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