Grey, Arthur (DNB00)
|←Grey, Anchitell||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23
GREY, ARTHUR, fourteenth Lord Grey de Wilton (1536–1593), the eldest son of William, lord Grey de Wilton [q. v.] and Mary, daughter of Charles, earl of Worcester, was born at Hammes, in the English Pale in France, in 1536 (Banks, Dormant and Extinct Baronage, ii. 231; Lipscombe, Buckinghamshire, iii. 502). Trained up almost from infancy in a knowledge of military matters, he saw active service at the battle of St. Quentin in 1557, and was present at the siege and surrender of Guisnes in 1558. Of this siege he afterwards wrote a long account, incorporated by Holinshed in his ‘Chronicle,’ and since edited by Sir P. de M. Grey Egerton for the Camden Society (1847). After a short detention in France he returned to England, where he seems to have found employment under Cecil, and to have been chiefly occupied in procuring his father's ransom (Cal. State Papers, Foreign, ii. 68, 361, iii. 490). After his father's release he accompanied him on an expedition into the north, nominally to reinforce the garrison at Berwick, but really to keep an eye on the movements of the French in Leith (Froude, Hist. of England, vii. 154). On 28 March 1560 the English army crossed the borders and besieged Leith. During a sharp skirmish with the garrison on 10 April he was wounded, but not dangerously, being able to take part in the subsequent assault (Haynes, Burghley Papers, p. 294; Cal. State Papers, For. v. 28).
On the death of his father on 25 Dec. 1562 he succeeded to the title, and to an inheritance much impoverished by reason of his father's ransom. Taking up his residence at Whaddon in Buckinghamshire, he appears to have quietly devoted himself to his duties as chief magistrate in the county, being particularly zealous in propagating the reformed religion (Lysons, Magna Britannia, p. 662; Cal. State Papers, Dom. i. 564), More than once during his lifetime Whaddon Hall was graced by the presence of Elizabeth in the course of her annual progresses (Nichols, Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, i. 254, iii. 660). In 1571 there was some question of sending him to Ireland as lord deputy in succession to Sir Henry Sidney; but the post, if an honourable one, was a costly one, and the idea of being obliged to go on the queen's terms so preyed upon him as to make him positively ill. Finally the question was decided in favour of Sir William Fitzwilliam (1526–1599) [q. v.] (Grey to Burghley, Lansdowne MSS. xiv. 83; Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, ii. 207). On 17 June 1572 he was installed a knight of the Garter (Cal. State Papers, Dom., i. 446). In the following year he was involved in a serious quarrel with Sir John Fortescue, owing apparently to Grey's appointment as keeper of Whaddon Chase and steward of Olney Park. The quarrel, according to Fortescue, culminated in a brutal attack upon him by Grey and John Zouche in the neighbourhood of Chancery Lane and Temple Bar. For this, or for some unknown reason, Grey was shortly afterwards confined to the Fleet, where he remained for several months, contumaciously refusing to surrender a certain document required from him (Lansdowne MSS. vii. 54, xvi. 21, xviii. 87; State Papers, Dom. Eliz. xciii. 1). How the matter ended we do not know; but Grey had a powerful ally in Lord Burghley, and it may be presumed from the fact that he was one of the peers appointed for the trial of the Duke of Norfolk in 1574 that his detention was of short duration. His conduct gave great offence to Elizabeth, who long rejected his applications for employment. Nevertheless she appointed him lord deputy of Ireland in July 1580. In a letter to the Earl of Sussex Grey deplored the fate which sent him to ‘that unlucky place.’
Ireland was everywhere in a state of rebellion. Doubtful of his own ability to cope with the difficulties before him, he earnestly solicited the advice of the Earl of Sussex and Sir Henry Sidney; while Elizabeth, fearing that his religious zeal might only make matters worse, added to his instructions a private caution not to be overstrict in matters of religion (Cal. Carew MSS. ii. 277; Cox, Hib.-Anglic.; State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lxxix. 25). On Friday morning, 12 Aug., he landed at Dublin with the poet Spenser as his secretary (Lib. Hib.) The news of his appointment had already exercised a salutary influence on the situation of affairs, and prevented many from joining Lord Baltinglas in his rebellion (Cal. Papers, Ireland, ii. 237). At the time of his arrival Sir William Pelham, on whom the government had devolved since the death of Sir William Drury [q. v.], was busily engaged in prosecuting the war against the Earl of Desmond in Munster. Grey, however, took advantage of a clause in his patent to take upon himself the government of the country without waiting for formal investiture, and resolved to attack Lord Baltinglas, who, with Pheagh Mac Hugh O'Byrne and other rebels, had secured themselves in the fastnesses of Glendalough in Wicklow (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz., lxxvi. 40; Spenser, State of Ireland; Camden, Annales; Cal. Hatfield MSS. ii. 339). The expedition, owing to an ‘unlucky accident,’ or, as Grey added reverently, ‘through God's appointment,’ proved a terrible disaster, ‘and baleful Oure, late stained with English blood,’ furnished him with a severe but salutary lesson in the methods of Irish warfare (Cal. Papers, Ireland, ii. 247). The disaster was an accident, and Elizabeth was easily appeased by Burghley (State Papers, lxxvi. 27). Early in September Pelham arrived in Dublin; but hardly had Grey received from him the sword of state when the news arrived that a foreign force had landed in Kerry, and were entrenching themselves in the Fort del Ore. Fortunately the north was quiet, and Grey hoped with a butt or two of sack to confirm Turlough O'Neill in his allegiance. Accordingly, leaving the Earl of Kildare to prosecute the war against Lord Baltinglas and the rebels of the Pale, he took his way, accompanied by Captains Rawley and Zouche, at the head of eight hundred men, towards Limerick. The weather was bad and the ways almost impassable, and it was not until 7 Nov. that he was able to sit down formally before the Fort del Ore. On the 10th the fort surrendered at discretion. 'Morning came,' he wrote to Elizabeth; 'I presented my companies in battaile before ye Forte. Ye coronell comes forth wth x or xii of his chiefe ientlemen trayling theyr ensignes rolled up, & presented ym unto mee wth theyr liues & ye Forte. I sent streight certein gentlemen in to see their weapons and armures layed downe & to gard ye munition and victaile there lefte for spoile. Then pute I in certeyn bands, who streight fell to execution. There were 600 slayne … whereof 400 were as gallant and goodly personages as of any [illeg.] I euer beheld. So hath yt pleased ye L. of hostes to deliuer yr enemie into yr Hig. handes, and so too, as, one onely excepted, not one of yours is els lost or hurte' (State Papers, Ireland, Eliz. lxxviii.29; O'sulleven, Hist. Ibern. Compendium, pp. 112, 115, 116). Meanwhile the Leinster rebels were busy pillaging and burning the towns of the Pale, while the Earl of Kildare was conniving or helplessly looking on. Accordingly leaving Zouche and the Earl of Ormonde to complete his work in Munster, Grey returned by forced marches to Dublin, just in time to frustrate a plot to overthrow the government (Cal. Papers, Ireland, ii. 273). Hardly, however, had he averted this danger and incarcerated the Earl of Kildare and Lord Delvin, on suspicion of complicity in the plot, when his attention was distracted by fresh disturbances in the north, where a renewal of hostilities was threatened between O'Donnell and Turlough O'Neill. After a hurried expedition into Carlow against the Kavanaghs and their allies, who were as usual burning and plundering whatever they could lay their hands on, he turned his steps in July 1581 northward against Turlough O'Neill (ib. ii. 314). His success in this direction exceeded his most sanguine expectations. On 2 Aug. O'Neill consented to ratify the treaty of September 1580, and to abide by the decision of the commissioners to be appointed to arbitrate between him and O'Donnell (ib. ii. 315). Retracing his steps he determined to prosecute the rebels of Leinster, Baltinglas, Pheagh Mac Hugh, and the rest, with the utmost vigour (ib. ii. 314). But the unexpected submission of O'Neill had completely cowed them, and even Pheagh Mac Hugh offered to submit, proffering as pledges of his good behaviour his own son and uncle (Murdin, Burghley Papers, p. 356). Their submission came very opportunely, for Grey had long suspected the Earl of Ormonde of undue tenderness towards his relatives of the house of Desmond in his conduct of the war in Munster. He resolved to visit the province in person, and started about the middle of September (Cal. Papers, Ireland, ii. 317). There he found everything at low ebb, owing, he complained, to the pernicious practice of granting general pardons to the rebels, 'whereby the soldiers were letted from the destruction of their corn' (Murdin, Burghley Papers, p. 363). After visiting Waterford, Dungarvan, Lismore, Youghal, and Cork, he appointed Colonel Zouche to the chief command, and shortly afterwards returned to Dublin. Grey was shrewd enough to recognise that his success was only temporary, and that the Irish were only biding their time. His enemies irritated him by persistent, though easily rebutted, charges. Elizabeth's temporising policy in religious matters ill harmonised with his fervent zeal. His very success seemed to create fresh difficulties, and it was with ill-concealed disgust that he received her order for the reduction of the army to three thousand men (Cal. Papers, Ireland, ii. 335, 345). His position became more and more intolerable, and hardly a post left Ireland without an earnest petition from him for his recall. At last the welcome letter arrived, and committing the government to Archbishop Loftus and Treasurer Wallop, he set sail for England on 31 Aug. 1582. His wife and family still remained in Dublin, and his friends were not without hope that he might be restored to them with fuller powers. But on 5 Nov. the Bishop of Meath wrote sorrowfully that the departure of the deputy's 'virtuous and godly lady taketh away all hope to see his lordship again' (ib. ii. 410).
Overwhelmed by debt, mainly incurred in Ireland, Grey retired to Whaddon, where he passed the remainder of his life. In 1586 there was some talk of sending him into the Low Countries at the urgent request of the Earl of Leicester, and Elizabeth offered to remit part of his debt and 'stall' the rest if he would consent to go. For a year the negotiations hung fire, when they were abruptly terminated, just on the eve of his departure, by the return of Leicester (Leycester Correspondence, pp. 55, 302-4, 449, 452). In the same year he was appointed one of the commissioners for the trial of Mary Queen of Scots, and on the occasion of the trial of the secretary, William Davison [q. v.], in the year following he delivered a forcible and courageous speech—'religionis ardore inflammatus,' says Camden—in his defence. In anticipation of the Spanish invasion he was in October 1587 commissioned to muster and arm the tenants of Wilton and Brampton in Hertfordshire, and was one of those to whom the task of placing the kingdom in a state of defence was entrusted in the following year (Cal. State Papers, Dom., ii. 433; Addenda, iii. 248). The rest of his life was uneventful, and he died on 14 Oct. 1593, aged 57, and was buried at Whaddon, where a monument was erected to his memory (Lipscombe, Buckinghamshire, iii. 502).
Grey married: first, Dorothy, natural daughter of Richard, lord Zouche of Haryngworth, by whom he had an only daughter, Elizabeth, who married Sir Francis Gardiner of Winchester; secondly, Jane Sibylla, daughter of Sir Richard Morison of Cashiobury in Hertfordshire, and widow of Francis, second earl of Bedford, by whom he had Thomas, his heir [q. v.]; William, who died in 1605, aged 13, and was buried in Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford; and a daughter Bridget, who married Sir Rowland Egerton of Egerton and Oulton, Cheshire.[Banks's Dormant and Extinct Baronage; Lipscombe's Buckinghamshire; Lysons's Magna Britannia; Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth; Haynes's Burghley Papers; Murdin's Burghley Papers; Calendars of State Papers, Foreign, Domestic, and Irish; Calendar Carew MSS.; Calendar Hatfield MSS.; Lansdowne MSS.; Spenser's Present State of Ireland, and Faerie Queene,bk.v., containing the well-known defence of Grey's Irish policy, 'the champion of true justice, Artegall,' of great poetic beauty and personal interest, but of slight historic value; Camden's Annales; Liber Hiberniæ; Cox's Hibernia Anglicana; O'Sullevan's Historiæ Ibernise Compendium; Leycester Correspondence (Camd. Soc.); A Commentary of the Services and Charges of William, lord Grey of Wilton. K.G., by his son Arthur, lord Grey of Wilton, K.G. (Camd. Soc.); Froude's Hist. of England; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors; Church's Spenser.]