Grant, Robert (1779-1838) (DNB00)

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GRANT, Sir ROBERT (1779–1838), governor of Bombay, second son of Charles Grant [q. v.], the Indian philanthropist and statesman, and brother of Charles Grant, lord Glenelg [q. v.], was born in Bengal in 1779 and came to England in 1790. On 30 Nov. 1795 he was admitted, together with his brother Charles, a pensioner at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He gained the Craven scholarship in 1799, and in 1801 graduated B.A. as third wrangler and second chancellor's medallist. In 1802 he was elected fellow of his college, and took the degree of M.A. in 1804. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 30 Jan. 1807. Some years afterwards he became king's serjeant in the court of the duchy of Lancaster and one of the commissioners of bankrupts. He was elected member of parliament for Elgin burghs in 1818, for Inverness burghs in 1826, for Norwich in 1830 and 1831 (in which year he was sworn a privy councillor), and for the newly constituted borough of Finsbury in 1832. When his brother Charles became president of the board of control in 1830, he was chosen one of the commissioners. In the House of Commons Grant championed the movement for repealing the civil disabilities of the Jews. On 5 April 1830 he successfully moved for leave 'to bring in a bill with this object, and on 23 May moved the second reading, which was rejected by a majority of sixty-three. On 17 April 1833 he carried a resolution in favour of Jewish emancipation, with the aid of Macaulay, Joseph Hume, and O'Connell, and in the same session safely conducted a bill to a third reading, but the House of Lords rejected it. Grant repeated his exploit in 1834, but his bill met the same fate in the upper house. Grant's persistent advocacy of Jewish rights was frequently acknowledged by the Jewish community in London. The House of Lords withstood a settlement of the question till 1858 (cf. Picciotto, Anglo-Jewish History, 388 et seq.; Hansard, Parl. Debates, 1830-4).

Grant became judge advocate-general in 1832, and was appointed governor of Bombay in June 1834. In August of the same year he was knighted, and received the knight grand cross of the royal Hanoverian Guelphic order. He assumed his post as governor in March 1835, and died at Dalpoorie on 9 July 1838 of an attack of apoplexy following a fever. He was buried at St. Mary's Church in Poonah.

Grant published in 1813 an essay entitled 'The Expediency maintained of continuing the System by which the Trade and Government of India are now regulated,' and a 'Sketch of the History of the East India Company from its first foundation to the passing of the Regulation Act of 1773.' These were originally intended to form portions of an extensive work dealing with the whole question of the connection between this country and India. He also published in 1826 a 'View of the System and Merits of the East India College. Haileybury,' being the substance of a speech delivered by him at a meeting of the court of directors in February 1824. After Grant's death, a volume of his sacred poems, containing some of the best known and most beautiful of modern hymns, was edited in 1839 by his brother Charles, lord Glenelg: new editions of the work appeared in 1844 and 1868.

Grant married in 1829 Margaret, only daughter of Sir David Davidson of Cantray, Nairnshire, N.B. He had two sons and two daughters: Sir Charles, K.C.S.I., late member of council in India; Colonel Robert, R.E., deputy adjutant-general; Constance Charemile, who died in childhood; and Sibylla Sophia, married to Granville Ryder, esq.

[Information from the Rev. A. R. Grant and the Hon. and Rev. Latimer Neville; Anderson's Scottish Nation; Bombay Courier; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Gent. Mag. December 1838; Ward's Men of the Reign.]

E. J. R.