Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Grey, Charles (1804-1870)

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GREY, CHARLES (1804–1870), general, second surviving son of Charles, second Earl Grey, K.G. [q. v.], was born at Howick Hall, Northumberland, on 15 March 1804. In after life he spoke with emotion of the happy, judicious freedom of his boyhood passed at home under his father's eye (Life and Opinions,pp. 404-5). He entered the army in 1820 as second lieutenant in the rifle brigade, and rose rapidly by purchasing unattached steps and exchanging. In this way he became lieutenant in the 23rd royal Welsh fusiliers in 1823, captain in the 43rd light infantry in 1825, major in the 60th rifles in 1828, lieutenant-colonel unattached in 1830, exchanging to the 71st highland infantry in 1833,of which regiment he was lieutenant-colonel from 1833 to 1842. He became brevet-colonel in 1846, a major-general in 1854, lieutenant-general in 1861, general in 1865, and was colonel of the 3rd buffs in 1860-3, and afterwards of his old corps, the 7lst light infantry.

He was for some time private secretary to his father when first lord of the treasury, 1830-4; was one of Queen Victoria's equerries almost from her accession, and acted as private secretary to Prince Albert from 1849 until the prince'e death in December 1861. He then served her majesty in the same capacity up to his death, and also as joint keeper of the privy purse from 1866. He sat in parliament in the liberal interest in 1831 for High Wycombe, and represented the same constituency in the first two reformed parliaments. On the second occasion in 1834 he was opposed by Benjamin Disraeli, who then held radical views, and polled 128 votes against Grey's 147. Grey supported Lord John Russell's motion on Irish church temporalities (1833), and opposed Sir Robert Peel's motion to divide into two bills the ministerial motion for the reform of the Irish church. He also voted against the motion of Sir William Follett to protect from the operation of the Corporation Bill such freemen as had their rights secured to them under the Reform Act. He retired from parliamentary life at the general election consequent on the queen's accession in 1837, after which he was in almost constant attendance on the sovereign. Grey was author of `Some Account of the Life and Opinions of Charles, second Earl Grey,' London, 1861, and of 'Early Years of his Royal Highness the Prince Consort,' London, 1867, compiled under direction of the queen, and translated into the French, German, and Italian languages. He is described by those who knew him well as a man of masculine mind, of great readiness and sound sense, and highly independent character, who faithfully discharged the duties of his important and delicate post.

Grey married, in July 1830, Caroline Eliza, eldest daughter of the late Sir Thomas Farquhar, second baronet, by whom he had two sons, of whom the elder died young, the second, Albert Henry George, is heir to his uncle, the present Earl Grey, and four daughters. A paralytic seizure caused his death, which took place in London on 31 March 1870, in his sixty-seventh year.

[Foster's Peerage, under 'Grey of Howick;' Life and Opinions of Charles, second Earl Grey. K.G.; Army Lists; Parl. Debates, 1831-4; Times, 1 April 1870, 12 April 1870 (reproduction of anarticle in Sat. Review, 9 April 1870). 31 May 1870 (will, personalty sworn under 5,000l.)]

H. M. C.