Grey, Henry George (DNB01)

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GREY, Sir HENRY GEORGE, Viscount Howick, and afterwards third Earl Grey (1802–1894), statesman, eldest son and heir of Charles Grey, second Earl Grey [q. v.], was born on 28 Dec. 1802 at Howick in Northumberland. He was educated under a private tutor and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated M.A. in 1823. During his period of residence he took an active part in the debates of the Union Society, and was elected its treasurer in 1822. From 1807 until his succession to his father's earldom he was known as Viscount Howick.

At the general election in 1826 he was returned for Winchelsea in the whig interest on 9 June, and sat for this borough till 1830. He made his first speech in the House of Commons on the recommitment of the East Retford disfranchisement bill, and proposed a series of resolutions pledging the house to deal with parliamentary corruption. He also showed himself early in his parliamentary career to be a strong supporter of catholic emancipation, and in the reform bill debates proved an active advocate of reform. From the first he took up a somewhat independent position in party politics, and on 4 Feb. 1830 he saved Wellington's administration from defeat by speaking and voting against what he regarded as a purely factious amendment (Walpole, Hist. ii. 535). On 3 Aug. 1830 he was returned for Higham Ferrers, and was appointed under-secretary for the colonies in his father's administration. Influenced by Wakefield's schemes for colonisation [see {{sc|Wakefield, Edward Gibbon}], he introduced an emigration bill in 1831, and was one of the first to oppose the making of large grants of land in the colonies. His policy on this head took the form of alienation in moderate amounts to private persons and the establishment of a fund for promoting emigration out of the price realised.

On 9 May 1831 he was returned for Northumberland, and on 15 Dec. 1832, after the reform bill, for the north division of the county, which seat he held till 1841. In 1833 he resigned his office in consequence of the cabinet being unwilling to undertake immediate emancipation of the slaves in the West Indies. He spoke on 23 April 1833 against Stanley's proposals for a twelve years' apprenticeship (Hansard, xvii. 1231). He was generally supported by the abolitionists, and his attitude brought about the reduction of the period of apprenticeship from twelve to seven years. His exercise of independence was condoned, and he again held office in Lord Grey's administration as under- secretary for home affairs from January to July 1834. In the Melbourne ministry he was admitted to the cabinet with the office of secretary at war, 18 April 1835, and was created a privy councillor. He supported Lord John Russell's motion concerning the Irish church, and his disapproval of the alterations to the Irish corporation bill made in the second chamber was so pronounced that he is reported to have talked of the possibility of the ' lords being swept away like chaff' (Greville, Memoirs, i. iii. 290), an error in judgment which he lived to rectify. In the difficulties with Canada in December 1837 Howick dissented from the course followed by the cabinet in withdrawing the revenues from colonial control and in suspending the constitution, and only gave way after ineffectually threatening resignation (S. Walpole, Life of Lord J. Russell, i. 294). Lord Glenelg he regarded as incompetent, and he wrote to Lord Melbourne on 27 Dec. 1837 expressing the need for change at the colonial office (Melbourne Papers, ed. Lloyd Sanders, p. 381). Again, in January 1839, he announced his intention of resignation, as he was dissatisfied with the colonial secretary's proposals for dealing with the West Indian crisis (ib. i. 313). At the crisis created by Grote's motion with regard to the ballot (June 1839) Howick, though opposed to such legislation, was in favour of freedom for both cabinet and party to vote according to individual opinion. In August the suggestion was made by Lord John Russell that he should be given the post office and called to the House of Lords ; he, however, preferred to retire from the ministry (Torrens, Melbourne, ii. 310 ; Hansard, li. 768), especially objecting to the appointment of Poulett Thomson as governor of Canada. Though now out of office, his interest in parliamentary politics did not slacken, and his amendment (Hansard, lvii. 1073) to the Irish franchise bill in 1841 resulted in the defeat of the government (Walpole, Hist. iii. 523) and the ultimate abandonment of the bill.

At the general election in 1841 Howick lost his seat in Northumberland, but on September 1841 was returned for Sunderland. His views with regard to free trade were at this time far in advance of those of his party. Though on 18 Feb. 1839 he had voted with the whole cabinet excepting Poulett Thomson against Villiers's motion to take evidence on the operation of the corn laws (Hansard, xlv. 156), he, in 1843, made his motion for investigating existing causes of distress the occasion for setting out at length the argument in favour of free trade. Though the motion was lost, his argument, in which he stoutly maintained protection of every kind to be robbery of the community at large, created a considerable impression. Howick's clear and decided views served to dispel Lord John Russell's doubts on the subject in 1845, and he laid down as one of the guiding lines of policy for his party the viciousness of 'the whole principle of what is called protection' (letter from Lord Howick to Lord J. Russell, 16 Dec. 1845, English Historical Review, i. 125). Having been raised to the House of Lords by the death of his father (17 July 1845), the new Earl Grey was immediately recognised as the active leader of his party in the second chamber. Hence his objection to serve in a cabinet with Lord Palmerston as foreign secretary in December 1845 proved fatal to Lord John Russell's attempt to form an administration. This action was due entirely to his distrust of Palmerston's management of foreign affairs, especially with regard to France (ib. p. 124). On the successful formation of the administration six months later, in June 1846, Grey withdrew his opposition to Palmerston as foreign secretary, owing to the necessities of the situation, and himself took office as secretary for the colonies, 'the two ministers working together as if they had ever entertained the highest opinion of each other's good temper and discretion' (Campbell, Autobiog. p. 11). He held the post for nearly six years, from June 1846 to February 1852, and during this period led the debates in the Lords for the government. Grey's conduct with regard to the colonies was chiefly governed by his belief in free trade, and representative institutions, and his desire to lessen the responsibiiities and expenses of the mother country. Somewhat unsympathetic, and on all occasions didactic and dogmatic, he has been termed 'singularly unhappy in his management of colonies' (Egerton, British Colonial Policy, p. 318). He was, however, wise enough not to force his favourite projects against decided expressions of colonial feeling. His elaborate scheme for the government of New Zealand, put forward in 1846, being found not workable, a bill was passed suspending the constitution for five years [see Grey, Sir George, Suppl.] In 1847 he attempted unsuccessfully to impose his favourite idea of making municipalities the constituent bodies for representative assemblies, but withdrew the scheme on opinion in the Australian colonies proving adverse. Failing absolutely to appreciate the growing feeling against transportation, he Instituted 'towards the beginning of 1848 a ticket-ofleave system and revoked the order in council of 1840, by which New South Wales had ceased to be a place for the reception of convicts (Colonial Policy, ii. 43-4); his attempt also to land convicts at Cape Colony in 1849 was much resented, and would doubtless have been actively resisted if enforced. He was possessed with the idea that it was practicable to give representative institutions and then stop without giving responsible government (Letters of Lord Elachford, ed. Marindin, 299). In his despatch to Governor Harvey on the granting of constitutions to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1848 he urged him 'to abstain from going further than can be avoided without giving up the principle of executive responsibility (Com. Pap. 1847-8, v. 42-77). In 1848 a charge was made against the colonial secretary by Lord George Bentinck in the House of Commons of having misled the committee of inquiry on the subject of West Indian distress by withholding papers. Grey defended himself in the Lords, pledging his honour that the omission was accidental ; but, however unjustified the charge, the awkward fact of omission was made much use of by his opponents and critics (Wakefield, Art. of Colonisation, p. 248).

In the beginning of 1849 the colonial secretary revived the committee of the privy council for trade and foreign plantations as a deliberative and advisory body (see his Colonial Policy of the Administration of Lord J. Russell, ii. 91), and the constitutions drafted for the Australian colonies in 1850, and for the Cape Colony in 1851, were framed in the first instance at the recommendation of this body. In South Africa Grey acquiesced unwillingly in Sir Harry Smith's establishment of the Orange River sovereignty 'on condition that the management of their own concerns, with the duty of providing for their own defence and for the payment of the expense of the system of government, should be thrown entirely on the emigrant Boers, and on the native tribes among whom they are settled' (Corresp. relative to the State of the Kaffir Tribes, July 1848, p. 68). His view was that if the majority of the inhabitants would not support the authority of the resident, he must be withdrawn' (in. February 1852, p. 243), and he held the opinion that it would be far better for this country if the British territory in South Africa was confined to Cape Town and to Simon's Bay (Colon. Policy, 2nd. ed. ii. 248). This doctrine of colonial administration resulted in the recall of Sir Harry Smith. Grey, however, deserves the entire credit of the appointment of Lord Elgin as governor of Canada. In order to secure the best man for the working out of a dangerous situation, the colonial secretary showed himself superior to party politics, and his instructions as to the policy to be pursued (Grey, Colonial Policy, i. 206, 234) were statesmanlike and worthy of the occasion. On the riots at Montreal following Lord Elgin's consent to the rebellion losses indemnity bill, Lord Grey defended in the House of Lords the governor-general's action, and declared that the principle of responsible government was the only possible method of administration for Canada.

In 1853 he published 'The Colonial Policy of Lord John Russell's Administration' (2 vols.) in the form of a series of letters addressed to the late prime minister ; therein he boasted that during his period of office a remarkable development in both the population and the resources of the colonies had taken place, a commercial revolution deeply affecting the colonies had been safely passed through, and a great reduction of the colonial charges imposed on the treasury had been effected (Colonial Policy, ii. 303). He was also satisfied that the granting of the management of their own affairs had not interfered with the maintenance of the welfare of the empire as a whole, and exhibited no sympathy with those members of his party who looked forward to the severance of colonial ties with an easy assurance ; such an event he regarded 'as a grievous calamity, lowering by many steps the rank of this country among the nations of the world' (ib. p. 305). He maintained that parliament by adopting free trade had not abandoned the duty and power of regulating the, commercial policy of the British empire,' and in later years considered that the surrender of authority by the imperial government and the consequent abandonment by British colonies of the free-trade policy had been injurious to the whole empire (see his Commercial Policy of the British Colonies and the McKinley Tariff, p. 17.).

In Lord Aberdeen's coalition ministry of March 1852 Grey was not included, and although his interest in politics never nagged, he did not sit in another cabinet. From the spring of 1852, when he withdrew from the colonial office, until his death, forty-two years later, he played the part of critic to both parties, and in consequence received the support of neither. Always opposed to the Crimean war, he resisted Gladstone's proposals for increased income tax and the issue of exchequer bills ; but his motion in the House of Lords, 25 May 1855, in praise of the candour and pacific spirit of the Russian emperor excited such general opposition that the vote was not pressed. In similar fashion in 1857 he condemned the Chinese policy of the government, maintaining that from the first it should have been conciliatory, but his views were not accepted in the House of Lords. He vigorously pronounced against the annexation of Nice and Savoy by France, and urged the government to do their utmost to prevent a course so pregnant with evil for the future.

On the Fenian outbreak in Ireland and consequent suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, 26 Feb. 1866, Lord Grey propounded a series of resolutions on Irish grievances, and he insisted on the necessity of remedial measures. He urged the injustice of appropriating Irish church revenues for the exclusive benefit of a minority, and demanded security for permanent improvements by occupiers of land. His motion was negatived without a division, but his early sympathy with Irish grievances was not forgotten, and rendered the voice that he subsequently raised against Gladstone's policy of home rule the more influential.

Ever critical and independent in attitude, he opposed the ministerial Ballot Act in 1872, urging the need for facilities of discovering on scrutiny how each elector had voted. Although he fell foul of conservative foreign policy, complaining of the want of candour in Lord Salisbury in the conduct of the Anglo-Russian treaty arranged with Count Schouvaloff in May 1878, and protesting against the 'spoliation' of Roumania and the retrocession of Bessarabia (Times, May 1878), yet at the general election of 1880 he supported the conservative candidates for the north division of Northumberland, addressing a letter on the subject to Mr. G. A. Grey. Always a supporter of the established church he took the lead in November 1885 in framing a declaration by liberal peers and others against disestablishment (Selborne, Personal and Political Memorials, ii. 181). The home-rule policy developed by Gladstone in 1885–6 he uncompromisingly opposed, and his letters in the 'Times' on this subject, as well as on English policy in Africa and Egypt, housing of the poor, bimetallism, and tithes, were always clearly written and decided in tone.

Grey died on 9 Oct. 1894 at Howick in Northumberland, where he was buried. He married, on 9 Aug. 1832, Maria, third daughter of Sir Joseph Copley, bart., of Sprotborough; she died on 14 Sept. 1879. He left no issue, and was succeeded by his nephew, Albert Henry George Grey, fourth Earl Grey.

As a statesman Grey's critical faculty, never dormant, interfered alike with his usefulness and his advancement. He was equal to any office he undertook, and an indefatigable worker (Melbourne Papers, ed. Lloyd Sanders, p. 381), but in the opinion of Greville, who did not like him, was mainly characterised by 'his contempt for the opinion of others, and the tenacity with which he clung to his own' (Memoirs, 2nd part, iii. 303). Sir Charles Wood, however, thought him one of the pleasantest colleagues he had ever had (Sir Algernon West, Recollections, p. 270), and the Prince Consort found him open to argument and, if worsted, ready to own it at once, though very positive in his views and fond of discussion (Martin, Life of Prince Consort).

A portrait of Grey in oils by Saye is at Howick in the possession of the present Earl Grey.

In addition to the work mentioned in the text, Lord Grey wrote: 1. 'Parliamentary Government considered with reference to Reform of Parliament,' 1858. 2. 'Free Trade with France, comprising Letters from the "Times,"' 1881. 3. 'Ireland, the Causes of its Present Position,' 1888. 4. 'The Commercial Policy of British Colonies and the McKinley Tariff,' 1892.

Ten of his speeches between 1831 and 1877 were published in pamphlet form.

[Hansard's Debates; Times, 10 Oct. 1894; Sir C. Adderley's Review of the Colonial Policy of Lord J. Russell's Administration; Edinb. Rev. cxxxvii. 98; Lord Grey's own writings and works mentioned in the text.]

W. C.-r.