GREVILLE, Sir FULKE, first Lord Brooke (1554–1628), poet, only son of Sir Fulke Greville, by Ann, daughter of Ralph Neville, earl of Westmorland, was born at the family seat, Beauchamp Court, Warwickshire, in 1554. The father, who is eulogised by Camden (Britannia, i. 607) 'for the sweetness of his temper,' was a great Warwickshire landowner, 'much given to hospitality,' who was knighted in 1565, was elected M.P. for his county in 1580 and 1588, and died in 1606. To Lord Brooke's grandfather, also Sir Fulke Greville, the family owed its high position in Warwickshire. This Sir Fulke—younger son of Sir Edward Greville of Milcote—was a notable soldier in the reign of Henry VIII, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Willoughby, and grand-daughter and heiress of Sir Robert Willoughby, lord Brooke. By this marriage the great mansion of Beauchamp Court came, with much other property, into Sir Fulke's possession. In 1541 Henry VIII gave him the site of Alcester monastery with many neighbouring estates, and he thus became one of the largest proprietors in the county. He was sheriff of Warwickshire in 1543 and 1548, and M.P. in 1547 and 1554. He died 10 Nov. 1559, and was buried in Alcester Church. His widow died in 1560 and was buried by his side.
Young Fulke Greville, the first Sir Fulke's grandson, was sent on 17 Oct. 1564, when ten years old, to the newly founded Shrewsbury School. Philip Sidney, who was of the same age, entered the school on the same day, and the intimacy which sprang up between the boys developed into a lifelong attachment. Greville proceeded to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he matriculated as a fellow-commoner 20 May 1568. The statement that he was a member of Trinity College is erroneous. The suggestive letter of advice about Cambridge studies sent by Robert, earl of Essex, to one 'Sir Foulke Greville' on his going to the university must have been addressed to a cousin, Fulke, father of Robert Greville, second lord Brooke [q.v.] It cannot be dated earlier than 1595, and is doubtless from the pen of Bacon (Spedding, Bacon, ii. 21). Although Sidney went to Oxford, Greville maintained a close connection with him in his university days, and came to know his father, Sir Henry Sidney, president of Wales. Sir Henry was sufficiently impressed with his abilities to give him a small office connected with the court of marches as early as 1576, but Greville resigned the post in 1577 and came with Philip Sidney to court. Greville at once attracted the queen's favour, and `had the longest lease and the smoothest time without rub of any of her favourites' (Naunton, Fragmenta Regalia, ed. Arber, p. 50). Bacon writes that he used his influence with the queen honourably, 'and did many men good.' But disagreements between her and Greville were at times inevitable. Elizabeth appreciated his society so highly that she refused him permission to gratify his desire for foreign travel. He nevertheless ventured abroad at times despite her orders, and suffered accordingly from her displeasure. In February 1577 he accompanied Sidney to Heidelberg, where his friend went to present the queen's condolences and assurances of goodwill to Princes Lewis and John Casimir, who had just lost their father, the elector palatine. In 1578 he went to Dover to embark for the Low Countries to witness the war proceeding there, but Sir Edward Dyer was sent with `a princely mandate' to 'stay' him. He managed, however, to accompany Secretary Walsingham on a diplomatic mission to Flanders a month or so later, but on his return 'was forbidden the queen's presence for many months.' In 1579 he accompanied Sidney's friend and tutor Languet on his return to Germany, and when coming home had an interesting interview with William the Silent, prince of Orange, of which he gives an account in his 'Life of Sidney' (1652, pp. 22 et seq.) On Whit-Monday, 15 May 1581, Greville, with Sidney, the Earl of Arundel, and Lord Windsor, arranged an elaborate pageant and tournament at Whitehall for the entertainment of the queen and the envoys from France who had come to discuss her marriage with the Duke of Anjou. On the departure of Anjou from London in February of the next year, Greville was one of the courtiers directed by the queen to attend the duke to Antwerp.
Greville fully shared Sidney's literary tastes. Sir Edward Dyer [q. v.] was a friend of both, and the three formed an important centre of literary influence at court. 'Two pastoralls made by Sir P. Sidney upon his meeting with his two worthy friends and fellow-poets, Sir Edward Dier and Maister Fulke Greuill,' open Davison's 'Poetical Rapsody,' 1602; the first poem appeared originally in 'England's Helicon' (1600). Sidney expresses the deepest affection for both Dyer and Greville. The three friends were members of the literary society formed by Gabriel Harvey, and called by him the 'Areopagus,' whose chief object was to acclimatise classical rules in English literature. In 1583 Giordano Bruno came to England, and Greville received him with enthusiasm. In Greville's house in London Bruno held several of those disputations which he