Grey, Henry (1778-1859) (DNB00)

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GREY, HENRY, D.D. (1778–1859), free church minister, was born on 11 Feb. 1778, at Alnwick, Northumberland, where his father was a medical practitioner. His education was chiefly left to his mother, who had an early breach with his father, and removed with her son to Edinburgh, where he passed through the usual course of study, preparatory to entering on the office of the ministry in the established church. Grey's sympathies were wholly with the evangelical portion of the church, then gradually acquiring position and power, and his earnest piety, fine talents, and attractive appearance and manner soon won for him attention and preferment. His first charge was the parish of Stenton in East Lothian, a retired and quiet place, where he found little either of social or spiritual life, but where for twelve years he laboured with great diligence, and not without encouragement. In 1813 he was called to fill the pulpit of St. Cuthbert's Chapel of ease, a charge recently formed through the labours of Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood, and his colleague-minister of St. Cuthbert's parish, well situated at that time for the upper classes of Edinburgh, although now utterly apart from their abodes. Hitherto it had been a general complaint that the evangelical clergy were far behind their 'moderate' brethren in scholarship and in general culture; but Grey's discourses were presented in a scholarly style, with charming purity of elocution and intense fervency. This way of presenting evangelical truth to the more cultivated classes of Edinburgh was Grey's great service, and in this respect he was the pioneer of others whose eclipsed his own, notably Dr. Andrew Thomson and Dr. Thomas Chalmers [q. v.] In 1821 he was appointed to the New North Church, one of the parish churches of Edinburgh, and four years after to St. Mary's, a new church erected by the town council in a part of the new town. Four years after this last translation Grey found himself in a painful personal conflict with Dr. Andrew Thomson, in connection with what was known as the Apocrypha controversy, in which they took opposite sides. This collision excited a great amount of notice, and was the more painful because the two men were on the same side in theology, and had been warm personal friends. In the great ecclesiastical struggle of the next few years Grey warmly espoused the side of the church against the civil courts, and in 1843 he left the established church, and had a new church built for him in the parish of St. Mary's. In the year after the disruption, 1844, he was chosen to fill the chair of the general assembly, which he did with marked ability and spirit, and with great acceptance. In the jubilee year of his ministry a public testimonial was presented to him, which was turned into a foundation for the `Grey scholarships' in the New College, Edinburgh. While very decided in the part he took in the great church controversy, Grey was a man of essentially catholic nature. He had taken an active part in the agitation against West Indian slavery, and in the movement for political reform, not without exposing himself, in the latter case, to much adverse criticism on the part of many who agreed with his religious views, but were opposed to the party of political progress. He cultivated a wider circle of acquaintances than most of his brethren, and was highly esteemed in other communions than his own. He died suddenly in his eighty-first year on 13 Jan. 1859.

[Scott's Fasti; Kay's Portraits, vol.ii.; Anderson's Sketches of Edinburgh Clergy; Memoir of the Rev. Henry Grey, D.D., prefixed to Thoughts in the Evening of Life, by (his son-in-law) the Rev. C. M. Birrell, Liverpool, 1871 ; Edinburgh newspapers, 14 Jan. 1859; Home and Foreign Record of the Free Church, March 1859 ; personal knowledge.]

W. G. B.