Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
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Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (13 March 1764 – 17 July 1845), known as Viscount Howick between 1806 and 1807, was a British Whig politician who served as
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is the highest or the second-highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, ...
from 1830 to 1834. He was a member of the noble House of Grey. Grey was a long-time leader of multiple reform movements, and during his time as prime minister his government brought about two notable reforms. The
Reform Act 1832 The Representation of the People Act 1832 (also known as the 1832 Reform Act, Great Reform Act or First Reform Act) was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom (indexed as 2 & 3 Will. IV c. 45) that introduced major changes to the elec ...
enacted parliamentary reform, greatly increasing the electorate of the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliamen ...
. The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 led to the abolition of slavery in most of the British Empire, with compensation to be paid to slave-owners. Grey was a strong opponent of the foreign and domestic policies of
William Pitt the Younger William Pitt the Younger (28 May 175923 January 1806) was a British statesman, the youngest and last prime minister of Great Britain (before the Acts of Union 1800) and then first prime minister of the United Kingdom The prime minist ...
in the 1790s. In 1807, he resigned as foreign secretary to protest against
George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain and of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in N ...
's uncompromising rejection of Catholic Emancipation. Grey finally resigned as prime minister in 1834 over disagreements in his cabinet regarding Ireland, and retired from politics. Scholars rank him highly among British prime ministers, believing that he averted much civil strife and enabled Victorian progress. Earl Grey tea may be named after him.


Early life

Descended from a long-established Northumbrian family seated at Howick Hall, Grey was the second but eldest surviving son of General Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey KB (1729–1807) and his wife Elizabeth (1743/4–1822), a daughter of George Grey of Southwick, County Durham. He had four brothers and two sisters. He was educated at Richmond School, followed by Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, acquiring a facility in Latin and in English composition and declamation that enabled him to become one of the foremost parliamentary orators of his generation.


Titles

On 14 November 1807, on the death of his father, Grey became the second Earl Grey, Viscount Howick and Baron Grey of Howick. A few months later, on 30 March 1808, on the death of his father's elder brother Sir Henry Grey, and he became the third Grey Baronet of Howick.


Government career


Elected to Parliament, 1786

Grey was elected to Parliament for the Northumberland constituency on 14 September 1786, aged just 22. He became a part of the Whig circle of Charles James Fox,
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, and the Prince of Wales, and soon became one of the major leaders of the Whig party. He was the youngest manager on the committee for prosecuting Warren Hastings. The Whig historian T. B. Macaulay wrote in 1841: Grey was also noted for advocating Parliamentary reform and Catholic emancipation. His affair with Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, herself an active political campaigner, did him little harm although it nearly caused her to be divorced by her husband.


Foreign secretary, 1806–1807

In 1806, Grey, by then Lord Howick owing to his father's elevation to the peerage as Earl Grey, became a part of the Ministry of All the Talents (a coalition of Foxite Whigs, Grenvillites, and Addingtonites) as
First Lord of the Admiralty The First Lord of the Admiralty, or formally the Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty, was the political head of the English and later British Royal Navy. He was the government's senior adviser on all naval affairs, responsible for the di ...
. Following Fox's death later that year, Howick took over both as foreign secretary and as leader of the Whigs. The ministry broke up in 1807 when George III blocked Catholic Emancipation legislation and required that all ministers individually sign a pledge, which Howick refused to do, that they would not "propose any further concessions to the Catholics".


Years in opposition, 1807–1830

The government fell from power the next year, and, after a brief period as a member of parliament for Appleby from May to July 1807, Howick went to the Lords, succeeding his father as Earl Grey. He continued in opposition for the next 23 years. There were times during this period when Grey came close to joining the Government. In 1811, the Prince Regent tried to court Grey and his ally William Grenville to join the
Spencer Perceval Spencer Perceval (1 November 1762 – 11 May 1812) was a British statesman and barrister who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of governm ...
ministry following the resignation of Lord Wellesley. Grey and Grenville declined because the Prince Regent refused to make concessions regarding Catholic Emancipation. Grey's relationship with the Prince was strained further when his estranged daughter and heiress, Princess Charlotte, turned to him for advice on how to avoid her father's choice of husband for her. On the
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, Grey took the standard Whig party line. After being initially enthused by the Spanish uprising against Napoleon, Grey became convinced of the French emperor's invincibility following the defeat and death of Sir John Moore, the leader of the British forces in the
Peninsular War The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was the military conflict fought in the Iberian Peninsula by Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom ...
. Grey was then slow to recognise the military successes of Moore's successor, the
Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish people, Anglo-Irish soldier and Tories (British political party), Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of Uni ...
. When Napoleon first abdicated in 1814, Grey objected to the restoration of the Bourbons' authoritarian monarchy; and when Napoleon was reinstalled the following year, he said that the change was an internal French matter. In 1826, believing that the Whig party no longer paid any attention to his opinions, Grey stood down as leader in favour of Lord Lansdowne. The following year, when George Canning succeeded Lord Liverpool as prime minister, it was, therefore, Lansdowne and not Grey who was asked to join the Government, which needed strengthening following the resignations of
Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British Conservative statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834–1835 and 1841–1846) simultaneously serving as Chancellor of the Exchequ ...
and the
Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish people, Anglo-Irish soldier and Tories (British political party), Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of Uni ...
. When Wellington became prime minister in 1828, George IV (as the Prince Regent had become) singled out Grey as the one person he could not appoint to the Government.


Prime minister (1830–1834)

In 1830, following the death of George IV and when the
Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish people, Anglo-Irish soldier and Tories (British political party), Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of Uni ...
resigned on the question of Parliamentary reform, the Whigs finally returned to power, with Grey as prime minister. In 1831, he was made a member of the
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. His term was a notable one, seeing the passage of the
Reform Act 1832 The Representation of the People Act 1832 (also known as the 1832 Reform Act, Great Reform Act or First Reform Act) was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom (indexed as 2 & 3 Will. IV c. 45) that introduced major changes to the elec ...
, which finally saw the reform of the House of Commons, and the abolition of slavery throughout almost all of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as th ...
in 1833 with the Slavery Abolition Act. As the years had passed, however, Grey had become more conservative, and he was cautious about initiating more far-reaching reforms, particularly since he knew that the King was at best only a reluctant supporter of reform. Grey contributed to a plan to found a new colony in South Australia: in 1831 a "Proposal to His Majesty's Government for founding a colony on the Southern Coast of Australia" was prepared under the auspices of Robert Gouger, Anthony Bacon,
Jeremy Bentham Jeremy Bentham (; 15 February 1748 Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates">O.S._4_February_1747.html" ;"title="Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.html" ;"title="nowiki/>Old Style and New Style dates">O.S. 4 February 1747">Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.htm ...
and Grey, but its ideas were considered too radical, and it was unable to attract the required investment. In the same year, Grey was appointed to serve on the Government Commission upon Emigration (which was wound up in 1832). It was the issue of Ireland which precipitated the end of Grey's premiership in 1834. Lord Anglesey, the
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (), or more formally Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland, was the title of the chief governor of Ireland from the Williamite Wars of 1690 until the Partition of Ireland in 1922. This spanned the Ki ...
, preferred conciliatory reform including the partial redistribution of the income from the tithes to the
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and away from the established
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, a policy known as "appropriation". The
Chief Secretary for Ireland The Chief Secretary for Ireland was a key political office in the British administration in Ireland. Nominally subordinate to the Lord Lieutenant, and officially the "Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant", from the early 19th century u ...
, Lord Stanley, however, preferred coercive measures. The cabinet was divided, and when Lord John Russell drew attention in the House of Commons to their differences over appropriation, Stanley and others resigned. This triggered Grey to retire from public life, leaving
Lord Melbourne William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, (15 March 177924 November 1848), in some sources called Henry William Lamb, was a British Whig politician who served as Home Secretary (1830–1834) and Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or ...
as his successor. Unlike most politicians, he seems to have genuinely preferred a private life; colleagues remarked caustically that he threatened to resign at every setback. Grey returned to Howick but kept a close eye on the policies of the new cabinet under Melbourne, whom he, and especially his family, regarded as a mere understudy until he began to act in ways of which they disapproved. Grey became more critical as the decade went on, being particularly inclined to see the hand of Daniel O'Connell behind the scenes and blaming Melbourne for subservience to the Radicals with whom he identified the Irish patriot. He made no allowances for Melbourne's need to keep the radicals on his side to preserve his shrinking majority in the Commons, and in particular, he resented any slight on his own great achievement, the Reform Act, which he saw as a final solution of the question for the foreseeable future. He continually stressed its conservative nature. As he declared in his last great public speech, at the Grey Festival organised in his honour at
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in September 1834, its purpose was to strengthen and preserve the established constitution, to make it more acceptable to the people at large, and especially the middle classes, who had been the principal beneficiaries of the Reform Act, and to establish the principle that future changes would be gradual, "according to the increased intelligence of the people, and the necessities of the times". It was the speech of a conservative statesman.E. A. Smith,
Grey, Charles, second Earl Grey (1764–1845)
, ''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography'', Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, May 2009, accessed 13 February 2010.


Lord Grey's ministry, November 1830 – July 1834

*Lord Grey — First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Lords * Lord Brougham —
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* Lord Lansdowne
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* Lord Durham — Lord Privy Seal *
Lord Melbourne William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, (15 March 177924 November 1848), in some sources called Henry William Lamb, was a British Whig politician who served as Home Secretary (1830–1834) and Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or ...
Secretary of State for the Home Department *
Lord Palmerston Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, (20 October 1784 – 18 October 1865) was a British statesman who was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century. Palmerston dominated British foreign policy during the peri ...
 — Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs * Lord GoderichSecretary of State for War and the Colonies * Sir James Graham
First Lord of the Admiralty The First Lord of the Admiralty, or formally the Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty, was the political head of the English and later British Royal Navy. He was the government's senior adviser on all naval affairs, responsible for the di ...
* Lord Althorp
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and Leader of the House of Commons * Charles GrantPresident of the Board of Control * Lord HollandChancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster * The Duke of RichmondPostmaster General * Lord CarlisleMinister without Portfolio Changes *June 1831 — Lord John Russell, the Paymaster of the Forces, and Edward Smith-Stanley, the
Chief Secretary for Ireland The Chief Secretary for Ireland was a key political office in the British administration in Ireland. Nominally subordinate to the Lord Lieutenant, and officially the "Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant", from the early 19th century u ...
, join the Cabinet. *April 1833 — Lord Goderich, now Lord Ripon, succeeds Lord Durham as Lord Privy Seal. Edward Smith-Stanley succeeds Ripon as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. His successor as Chief Secretary for Ireland is not in the Cabinet. Edward Ellice, the Secretary at War, joins the Cabinet. *June 1834 — Thomas Spring Rice succeeds Stanley as Colonial Secretary. Lord Carlisle succeeds Ripon as Lord Privy Seal. Lord Auckland succeeds Graham as First Lord of the Admiralty. The Duke of Richmond leaves the Cabinet. His successor as Postmaster General is not in the Cabinet. Charles Poulett Thomson, the President of the Board of Trade, and James Abercrombie, the Master of the Mint, join the Cabinet.


Personal life

Before his marriage, Grey had an affair with the married Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. Grey met Cavendish while attending a Whig society meeting in Devonshire House, and they became lovers. In 1791 she became pregnant and was sent to France, where she gave birth to an
illegitimate Legitimacy, in traditional Western common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written ...
daughter, who was raised by Grey's parents: * Eliza Courtney (20 February 1792 – 2 May 1859). She married Robert Ellice.


Marriage and legitimate children

On 18 November 1794, Grey married Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby (1776–1861), only daughter of William Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby of Imokilly and Louisa Molesworth. The marriage was a fruitful one; between 1796 and 1819 the couple had ten sons and six daughters: *unnamed daughter (stillborn, 1796) *Louisa Elizabeth Grey (7 April 1797 – 26 November 1841). She married John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, on 9 December 1816. They had five children, including Charles William, Grey's favourite grandson, who died young. *Elizabeth Grey (10 July 1798 – 8 November 1880). She married John Crocker Bulteel on 13 May 1826. They had five children. *Caroline Grey (30 August 1799 – 28 April 1875). She married Captain George Barrington on 15 January 1827. They had two children *Georgiana Grey (17 February 1801 – 13 September 1900), who never married. * Henry George Grey, 3rd Earl Grey (28 December 1802 – 9 October 1894). He married Maria Copley on 9 August 1832. * General Charles Grey (15 March 1804 – 31 March 1870). He married Caroline Farquhar on 26 July 1836. They had seven children, including Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey. * Admiral Sir Frederick William Grey (23 August 1805 – 2 May 1878). He married Barbarina Sullivan on 20 July 1846. * Mary Grey (2 May 1807 – 6 July 1884). She married Charles Wood, 1st Viscount Halifax, on 29 July 1829. They had seven children. *William Grey (13 May 1808 – 11 February 1815), who died at the age of six. *Admiral George Grey (16 May 1809 – 3 October 1891). He married Jane Stuart (daughter of Patrick Stuart (British Army general)) on 20 January 1845. They had eleven children. *Thomas Grey (29 December 1810 – 8 July 1826), who died at the age of fifteen. *Rev. John Grey MA, DD (2 March 1812 – 11 November 1895), Canon of Durham, Rector of Houghton-le-Spring. He married Lady Georgiana Hervey (daughter of Frederick William Hervey, 1st Marquess of Bristol) in July 1836. They had three children. He remarried Helen Spalding (maternal granddaughter of John Henry Upton, 1st Viscount Templetown) on 11 April 1874. *Rev. Francis Richard Grey MA (31 March 1813 – 22 March 1890), Canon of Durham, Canon of Newcastle, Rector of Morpeth. He married Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of George Howard, 6th Earl of Carlisle on 12 August 1840. *Captain Henry Cavendish Grey (16 October 1814 – 5 September 1880) *William George Grey (15 February 1819 – 19 December 1865). He married Theresa Stedink on 20 September 1858.


Later years and death

Grey spent his last years in contented, if sometimes fretful, retirement at Howick with his books, his family, and his dogs. The one great personal blow he suffered in old age was the death of his favourite grandson, Charles, at the age of 13. Grey became physically feeble in his last years and died quietly in his bed on 17 July 1845, forty-four years to the day since going to live at Howick. He was buried in the Church of St Michael and All Angels there on the 26th in the presence of his family, close friends, and the labourers on his estate. His biographer G. M. Trevelyan argues:


Legacy

Grey is commemorated by Grey's Monument in the centre of
Newcastle upon Tyne Newcastle upon Tyne ( RP: , ), or simply Newcastle, is a city and metropolitan borough in Tyne and Wear Tyne and Wear () is a metropolitan county in North East England, situated around the mouths of the rivers Tyne and Wear. It wa ...
, which consists of a
statue A statue is a free-standing sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts The visual arts are art forms such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, filmmaking, design, craft ...
of Lord Grey standing atop a high
column A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering Structural engineering is a sub-discipline of civil engineering in which structural engineers are trained to design the 'bones and muscles' that create the form and shape of ma ...
. The monument was damaged by lightning in 1941 and the statue's head was knocked off. The monument lends its name to Monument Metro station on the Tyne and Wear Metro, located directly underneath. Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne, which runs south-east from the monument, is also named after Grey. Durham University's Grey College is named after Grey, who as prime minister in 1832 supported the Act of Parliament that established the university. Earl Grey tea, a blend which uses bergamot oil to flavour the brew, is commonly believed to be named after Grey, although the term was apparently first used decades after his death.


References


Further reading

* Brett, Peter. "Grey, Charles, 2nd Earl Grey" in * * * Pennington, D.H."British Prime Ministers : II Earl Grey." ''History Today'' (May 1951) 1#5 pp 21–27 online]. * Phillips, John A., and Charles Wetherell. "The Great Reform Act of 1832 and the political modernization of England." ''American historical review'' 100.2 (1995): 411–436
in JSTOR
*
online free


Other sources

* * * * * Temperley, Harold and L.M. Penson, eds. ''Foundations of British Foreign Policy: From Pitt (1792) to Salisbury (1902)'' (1938), primary source
online


External links

* * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Grey, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl 1764 births 1845 deaths 19th-century prime ministers of the United Kingdom Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom British Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs Lords of the Admiralty Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom Whig (British political party) MPs People educated at Eton College Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge Garter Knights appointed by William IV People from Howick, Northumberland Earls Grey Charles Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Tavistock Members of the Parliament of Great Britain for English constituencies Leaders of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom Leaders of the House of Lords British MPs 1784–1790 British MPs 1790–1796 British MPs 1796–1800 UK MPs 1801–1802 UK MPs 1802–1806 UK MPs 1806–1807 UK MPs 1807–1812 UK MPs who inherited peerages Politicians awarded knighthoods