Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey

Are you a RAPper or a RAPscallion?

SUBMISSIONSSubmission_Guidelines.html
CONTACTContact_Us.html

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey

“Earl Grey”


Born 03/13/1764  Falloden, Northumberland

Died 07/17/1845  Howick Hall, Howick, Northumberland


Major Acts:

Reform Act 1832 - reformed the electoral process

Slavery Abolition Act 1833 - abolished slavery throughout all the Empire

Ministry

11/22/1830.....................07/16/1834


    Lord Grey — First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Lords

    Lord Brougham — Lord Chancellor

    Lord Lansdowne — Lord President of the Council

    Lord Durham — Lord Privy Seal

    Lord Melbourne — Secretary of State for the Home Department

    Lord Palmerston — Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

    Lord Goderich — Secretary of State for War and the Colonies

    Sir James Graham — First Lord of the Admiralty

    Lord Althorp — Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons

    Charles Grant — President of the Board of Control

    Lord Holland — Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

    The Duke of Richmond — Postmaster-General

    Lord Carlisle — Minister without Portfolio


Changes


    June, 1831 — Lord John Russell, the Paymaster of the Forces, and Edward Smith-Stanley, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, 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.

Known as Viscount Howick between 1806 and 1807, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 22 November 1830 to 16 July 1834. A member of the Whig Party, he backed significant reform of the British government and was among the primary architects of the Reform Act 1832. In addition to his political achievements, he famously gave his name to Earl Grey tea.


But truly the most fascinating thing about the Earl is that he was a lover of Georgiana Cavendish, the notorious Duchess of Devonshire. Their affair produced an illegitimate daughter who was then later taken to the 1st Earl, Charles’ father to be raised.

Early life

Descended from a long-established Northumbrian family seated at Howick Hall, Grey was the second but eldest surviving son of General Sir Charles Grey KB (1729–1807) and his wife, Elizabeth (1743/4–1822), daughter of George Grey of Southwick, co. 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. 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, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 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:


“At an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still contending for prizes and fellowships at college, he had won for himself a conspicuous place in Parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and his unblemished honour. At twenty-three he had been thought worthy to be ranked with the veteran statesmen who appeared as the delegates of the British Commons, at the bar of the British nobility. All who stood at that bar, save him alone, are gone, culprit, advocates, accusers. To the generation which is now in the vigour of life, he is the sole representative of a great age which has passed away. But those who, within the last ten years, have listened with delight, till the morning sun shone on the tapestries of the House of Lords, to the lofty and animated eloquence of Charles Earl Grey, are able to form some estimate of the powers of a race of men among whom he was not the foremost.”


Grey was also noted for advocating Parliamentary reform and Catholic emancipation. His affair with the Duchess of Devonshire, herself an active political campaigner, did him little harm although it nearly caused her to be divorced by her husband.


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. Following Fox's death later that year, Howick took over both as Foreign Secretary and as leader of the Whigs.


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.


Prime Minister and the Great Reform Act

In 1830, the Whigs finally returned to power, with Grey as Prime Minister. His Ministry was a notable one, seeing passage of the Reform Act 1832, which finally saw the reform of the House of Commons, and the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833. As the years had passed, however, Grey had become more conservative, and he was cautious about initiating more far-reaching reforms. In 1834 Grey retired from public life, leaving Lord Melbourne as his successor.


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 organized in his honour at Edinburgh 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.


Retirement

Grey spent his last years in contented, if sometimes fretful, retirement at Howick, with his books, his family, and his dogs. He 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 there on the 26th in the presence of his family, close friends, and the labourers on his estate.


Commemoration

Earl Grey tea, a blend which uses bergamot oil to flavour the beverage, is named after Grey. He is commemorated by Grey's Monument in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, which consists of a statue of Lord Grey standing atop a 41 m (135 ft) high column. The monument was once struck by lightning and Earl Grey's head was seen lying in the gutter in Grey Street. The monument lends its name to Monument Metro station on the Tyne and Wear Metro located directly underneath. Grey Street in Newcastle upon Tyne and Grey College, Durham are also named after Grey.


Family and the Affair with Georgiana

Grey married Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby (1776 – 1861), only daughter of William Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby and Hon. Louisa Molesworth in 1794. The marriage was a fruitful one; between 1796 and 1819 the couple had ten sons and six daughters.




Mary was frequently pregnant and during his absences in London or elsewhere Grey had a series of affairs with other women.


The first, most notorious, and most significant, which antedated his engagement to his future wife, was with Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire,
whom he met at Devonshire House – the centre of Whig society in London in the 1780s and 1790s – shortly after his arrival in the capital as a young recruit to the House of Commons.


Impetuous and headstrong, Grey pursued Georgiana with persistence until she gave in to his attentions. She became pregnant by Grey in 1791, but she refused to leave her husband the duke, and live with Grey, when the duke threatened that if she did so she would never see their children again.


She went abroad with Elizabeth Foster, and on 20 February 1792 at Aix-en-Provence, gave birth to a daughter who was given the name Eliza Courtney. After their return to England in September 1793 the child was taken to Fallodon and brought up by Grey's parents as though she were his sister.


This affair was a significant step in the process by which he became a member of the Whig party, led by Charles James Fox.

 

“The only way with newspaper attacks is, as the Irish say, ‘to keep never minding’. This has been my practice through life.”

Prime Minister                                                                                    Date Takes Office    Date Leaves Office

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     04/02/1783            12/19/1783

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 12/19/1783             03/14/1801

Henry Addington 1st Viscount Sidmouth                                   03/14/1801             05/10/1804

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 05/10/1804             01/23/1806

William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville                     02/11/1806            03/31/1807

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     03/31/1807            10/04/1809

Spencer Perceval                                                                             04/10/1809            05/11/1812

Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool                        06/08/1812            04/09/1827

George Canning                                                                               04/10/1827            08/08/1827

Frederick John Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich                    08/31/1827            01/21/1828

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   01/22/1828            11/16/1830

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey                                                         11/22/1830            07/16/1834

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     07/16/1834            11/14/1834

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   11/14/1834            12/10/1834

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet                                                        12/10/1834            04/08/1835

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     04/18/1835            08/30/1841

Back to Regency Prime Ministers