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Fox, Charles Richard (1796–1873), army officer and numismatist, eldest child of , and , daughter of Richard Vassall, was born on 6 November 1796 at Brompton Park House, London, eight months before his mother's divorce from Sir Godfrey Webster and his parents' marriage in July 1797. The Hollands took him to Spain from 1802 to 1805. He was at Eton College from January to October 1808, but left to accompany his parents once more to Spain (1808–9). Debarred by illegitimacy from succession to the family peerage, he served first in the navy (1809–13), and was present at the sieges of Cadiz (1810) and Tarragona (1813). After travelling with his parents on the continent in 1814–15, he joined the army as an ensign in June 1815. He became colonel in 1837 and general in 1863.

On 19 June 1824, Fox married Mary FitzClarence (d. 1864), second daughter of the duke of Clarence and his mistress, Dorothy Jordan. She was raised to the rank of a marquess's daughter on 24 May 1831, and was housekeeper of the state apartments, Windsor Castle (1835–45). In 1829 Fox went with his regiment to Halifax, Nova Scotia, but on his father-in-law's accession as William IV he was appointed, on 24 July 1830, equerry to Queen Adelaide and recalled. In March 1831 he was made equerry to the king but resigned over William's attempt in early May 1832 to dispense with Grey's ministry. However, the king appointed him an aide-de-camp on 28 May 1832. As a member of a prominent whig family he sat in parliament for Calne (1831–2) and Tavistock (1833–4). He was elected for Stroud in May 1835, but immediately resigned in favour of the home secretary, Lord John Russell. He stood unsuccessfully for Sandwich, in May 1841, and sat for Tower Hamlets (1841–7). He served at the Board of Ordnance under successive whig governments: as surveyor-general (a junior ministerial post, 1832–4), as secretary to the master-general (1835–41), and then as surveyor-general again (May–September 1841 and 1846–1852). In 1836 his father, as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, appointed him its receiver-general for life.

Possessed of scholarly and antiquarian interests, Fox was elected a member of the Society of Dilettanti in 1837. In 1843 he inherited most of the books and papers of John Allen (1771–1843), of whom he later contributed a brief memoir to Allen's Inquiry into … the Royal Prerogative in England (1849). His early interest in coin collecting was strengthened by his travels in Greece and Turkey in 1820 while aide-de-camp to Sir Frederick Adam at Corfu. In 1840 Sir Alexander Burnes gave him his collection of Bactrian coins. In 1851 he acquired one of the collections of Whittall of Smyrna. He also bought at the Pembroke, Thomas, and Devonshire sales, but in 1852 sold off his duplicates. He published a description of part of his collection, entitled Engravings of Unedited or Rare Greek Coins, part 1: ‘Europe’ (1856). A new edition (1862) included part 2: ‘Asia and Africa’. The collection was purchased (after Fox's death) in 1873 by the Royal Museum, Berlin, the acquisition raising its coin cabinet to international status. The Fox collection consisted of 11,500 Greek coins, among which were 330 in gold, and more than 4000 in silver. It was remarkable for its many rare or unique specimens, and for their admirable state of preservation.

After the death of his first wife on 13 July 1864, Fox married, on 16 August 1865, Katharine, second daughter of John Maberly MP, who survived him. He had no children. Fox died on 13 April 1873, after a long illness, at his house, 1 Addison Road, Kensington, his home since 1827. Fox inherited his father's amiability, and displayed wit without cynicism. He endeavoured to make his house a literary centre, especially for some of the younger antiquaries. In politics he called himself ‘a movement whig’.

C. J. Wright

Sources  

Holland House MSS, BL · Earl of Ilchester [G. S. Holland Fox-Strangways], The home of the Hollands, 1605–1820 (1937) · Earl of Ilchester [G. S. Holland Fox-Strangways], Chronicles of Holland House, 1820–1900 (1937) · J. Allen, Inquiry into the rise and growth of the royal prerogative in England, ed. B. Thorpe, new edn (1849), xviii–xxv · J. Friedlaender, ‘Die Fox'sche Münzsammlung’, Archäologische Zeitung, 31 (1874), 99–103 · J. Friedlaender and A. von Sallet, Das königliche Münzkabinet (1877), 43–5 · Catalogue of Greek coins … being the duplicates of the collection of … C. R. Fox (1852) [sale catalogue] · A. Michaelis, Ancient marbles in Great Britain, trans. C. A. M. Fennell (1882), 64, 165 · JHL, 41 (1796–8), 334 [evidence in Webster Divorce Bill] · m. certs. · d. cert. · H. E. C. Stapylton, The Eton school lists, from 1791 to 1850, 2nd edn (1864), 61 · DNB

Archives  

BL, corresp. relating to numismatics, Add. MS 39997 · BL, family corresp., Add. MSS 51780–51793, 51966, 52057–52058, 52170–52171 · NRA, priv. coll., journals and notebooks |  All Souls Oxf., letters to Sir Charles Richard Vaughan · BL, corresp. with John Allen, Add. MS 52176 · BL, letters to Lady Holland, Add. MS 52150 · Blair Adam, Kinross-shire, Adam of Blair Adam MSS · TNA: PRO, corresp. with Lord John Russell, PRO 30/22 · U. Southampton L., corresp. with Lord Palmerston


Likenesses  

A. Cooper?, oils, c.1815, repro. in Earl of Ilchester [Fox-Strangways], Chronicles · G. Hayter, group portrait, oils, 1833 (The House of Commons, 1833), NPG · C. Landseer, oils, 1836, repro. in Earl of Ilchester [Fox-Strangways], Chronicles · J. Doyle, pen-and-pencil, 1847, BM · J. E. Boehm, medal, 1862, BM · wood-engraving (after photograph), repro. in ILN, 62 (1873), 393

Wealth at death  

under £80,000: probate, 29 April 1873, CGPLA Eng. & Wales