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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Grey, Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl

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GREY, ALBERT HENRY GEORGE GREY, 4th Earl (1851-1917), British statesman, was the son of Gen. Charles Grey, Queen Victoria's private secretary, and grandson of the 2nd Earl, the Whig Prime Minister who passed the Reform bill of 1832. Born Nov. 20 1851, he was educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a first-class in the law and history tripos, 1873. As his uncle the 3rd Earl had no children, Albert Grey was the heir-presumptive to the earldom, and he endeavoured to win a seat in Parliament as a Liberal, when a by-election occurred in S. Northumberland in the spring of 1878. It was at first announced that he had been returned by two votes; but a scrutiny eventually seated his Conservative opponent, who became afterwards Mr. Justice Ridley. However, he won the seat by a large majority at the General Election in 1880 and, after the Reform bill of 1884 had altered the constituency, sat for Tyneside for a few months in 1885-6. The Liberalism which he displayed as a member of Parliament and developed greatly in a crowded after-life was unlike the conventional Radicalism of the period. He was an enthusiastic social reformer, and a passionate imperialist. It was inevitable that he should follow Hartington rather than Gladstone over Irish Home Rule. He was one of the 93 dissentient Liberals who by voting against the Liberal Government decided the fate of the Home Rule bill of 1886.

Standing as a Liberal Unionist, he lost his seat at the General Election of that year, and did not reappear in Parliament till he succeeded his uncle in the earldom in 1894. The interval had been largely filled with travel — chiefly along the byways of the British Empire. He was in S. Africa when his uncle died, and his knowledge of, and interest in, that country led to his appointment in 1895, after the Jameson raid, as administrator of Rhodesia in succession to Dr. Jameson. His difficulties were great. The settlers were still few and scattered, and were regarded with jealousy and mistrust by their neighbours, the Transvaal Boers. In 1896 there came the second Matabele War, only brought to a close by Cecil Rhodes's personal intervention. Racial, administrative, and economic problems of an intricate kind pressed upon him and were not always wisely decided; and it says much for his personal charm that he carried away with him on his retirement the warm affection of the Rhodesians. He had become himself a close friend and ardent admirer of Cecil Rhodes; and it was natural that on returning to England he should join the board of the Chartered Co. in 1899, a directorship which he held until he went to Canada. He visited Lord Milner in S. Africa after the Boer War; and returned once more in 1912 to unveil the Rhodes memorial on Table Mountain.

Canada, however, where he went as governor-general in 1904, was the part of the British Empire to hold the first place in his affections. He was no stranger there, but had visited the dominion twice already, being a brother-in-law of his predecessor, Lord Minto. His enthusiasm for the land and the people, his idealistic outlook, his bright but simple manner, his utter lack of conventionality and stiffness, his fondness for travelling and nature and sport captivated the Canadian heart. He formed a firm and cordial friendship with the Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier; but that did not prevent him from welcoming and winning the attachment of Sir Wilfrid's successor, Sir Robert Borden. Similarly he was able to celebrate worthily, in the presence of the then Prince of Wales, the acquisition by Quebec of the Plains of Abraham for public purposes, without hurting the susceptibilities of the French-Canadians. His term of office was twice prolonged; but Canada was loth to see him go in Oct. 1911, even though his successor was to be the Duke of Connaught.

Never much of a party man, he was still less so after his return to public life in England. He devoted himself to the causes which appealed to him. Of these, the federation of the Empire was the first, and he would only contemplate Irish Home Rule as part of a Federal scheme. State liquor control was another of his pet ideas; and he helped greatly towards licensing reform by the institution of the Public House Trust, in which he took a leading part. He worked hard also for Proportional Representation. Perhaps the good of agriculture came next in his affections to the claims of empire; and he forwarded all promising schemes for its betterment and organization. He died at Howick, after a serious operation, on Aug. 29, 1917.

Lord Grey married Alice, daughter of Robert Stayner Holford, and had, besides daughters, a son who succeeded him in the earldom and who married the daughter of the 2nd Earl of Selborne. (G. E. B.)