Foaled in 1855, Fitz-Roland was by Orlando out of Stamp. He was purchased as a yearling from the Royal Stud for 430 guineas. In 1858, he won the 2,000 Guineas as well as the St. James's Palace Stakes at Ascot and the Stockbridge Derby. Fitz-Roland was beaten in the 1858 Derby by Beadsman who was also owned by Hawley.
Sir Joseph Hawley was one of the great racehorse owners of the 19th Century, having four Derby winners, a feat only bettered by the five winners of Lord Egremont (between 1782 and 1826) and the Aga Khan (between 1930 and 1952).