Grey, Leonard (DNB00)

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GREY or GRAY, Lord LEONARD, Viscount Grane in the Irish peerage (d. 1541), Statesman, sixth son of Thomas Grey (1451-1501) [q. v.], first marquis of Dorset, is said in his youth to have dabbled in the black arts of treasure-seeking. He was for a time carver to the household of Henry VIII, and was appointed marshal of the English army in Ireland, where he arrived on 28 July 1535. Grey's sister Elizabeth was the second wife of Gerald Fitzgerald, ninth earl of Kildare [q, v.], and her stepson, Thomas Fitzgerald, tenth earl of Kildare [q. v.], was in rebellion when Grey arrived. The young earl offered to surrender to Grey on his personal safety being guaranteed. Grey gave satisfactory promises, and conducted the earl to London, where he was imprisoned. Grey pleaded hard for his pardon, but gifts of land and money from Henry VIII put an end to his advocacy (State Papers, Hen. VIII, ed. Gairdner, ix. 197),and Kildare was executed(3 Feb.1537). Meanwhile Grey had returned to Ireland. In October 1535 he was created a viscount, taking his title from the dissolved convent of Grane in Leinster, which had been granted to him.

On 1 Jan. 1535-6 Grey was elected by the privy council at Dublin to fill the office of deputy-governor of Ireland, rendered vacant by the death of Sir William Skeffington on the preceding day. James Fitzjohn Fitzgerald [q. v.], fourteenth earl of Desmond, allied with O'Brien of Thomond, headed the discontents in Ireland, and soon broke into open insurrection. Grey marched against the rebels (25 July), and seized Desmond's castle in Lough Gur. Although Grey's campaign was brilliantly devised, his own soldiers had proved mutinous, and the results were indecisive, but Grey was rewarded by large grants of land. Desmond soon afterwards offered his two sons as hostages to Grey, and agreed, at Grey's suggestion, to submit his claims to the earldom, which were disputed, to arbitration. Grey presided over the parliameat in Ireland in 1636-7, in which were enacted the important statutes for the abolition of papal authority, the attainder of the Earl of Kildare, the establishment of Henry VIII as head of the church, and the dissolution of houses of religion. Grey occasionally acted independently of the privy council at Dublin, with many of whose members, and especially with the Earl of Ormonde, he was soon on very bad terms. Serious complaints of Grey's conduct were sent to the king's advisers in England by discontented officials at Dublin, who alleged that Grey's temper was ungovernable, and that his main objects were the rapid acquisition of wealth and the re-establishment of the fortunes of his sister and other relatives and adherents of the attainted Earl of Kildare. On 31 July 1537 Henry VIII sent over a commission of four, headed by George Paulet, to investigate the charges against Grey, but the commissioners listened to the various factions, and came to no definite conclusion. The escape from Ireland of the young Gerald Fitzgerald, heir to the earldom of Kildare and son of Grey's sister Elizabeth, was ascribed to Grey's connivance, but he repudiated the charge, and averred that he had laboured to capture the child alive or dead. The members of the council clearly feared the effect upon their own fortunes of the restoration of the house of Kildare. To reduce the power of Ormonde, his leading opponent in the council, Grey made friends with Desmond, Ormonde's enemy, and went in his company through Cork and Kerry into Thomond, where he met on amicable terms the chief of the O'Briens. On his return to Dublin, he sent to Henry VIII a triumphant account of his reception by the Irish chieftains in the south, much to the irritation of the English officials in Dublin. Ormonde charged him openly with treasonable negotiations with the Irish. Grey retaliated with the same kind of accusation. A reconciliation was patched up in August 1539. Later in the autumn Desmond, whose alliance Grey had ostentatiously solicited a few months earlier, was found to be meditating revolt, and other chieftains whom Grey had befriended followed Desmond's example. Grey soon reduced the rebels, and Henry VIII applauded his gallantry. Early in 1540 Grey applied for leave of absence, on the ground that he was about to marry. The request was granted, but before he could leave Dublin the Geraldines, that is to say the supporters of the earls of Kildare, on the borders of the Pale began a series of attacks on the settlers within the Pale. Grey seems to have openly supported the Geraldine malefactors, and to have encouraged their raids. Representing that the country was at peace, he sailed for England in April 1540. News of the disturbances on the Pale borders, which increased in his absence, reached the king before Grey sought an audience. On Grey's arrival in London he was indicted for treasonable acts in Ireland, and sent to the Tower. Ormonde and others were summoned from Dublin to inform Henry of what had taken place, and they carried with them an indictment of ninety counts. In December 1540 the privy council at London decided that Grey had committed 'heinous offences' against the king by supporting the maraudings of the native Irish. The council stated that they considered Grey to have been influenced by his affection for the Geraldines, and by the marriage between his sister and the late Earl of Kildare. Grey was brought to trial, pleaded guilty, was condemned to death, and was beheaded on Tower Hill, London, on 28 July 1541. An inventory of plate and other property of Grey, left at his residence in St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, was published in the 'Chartularies' of that institution, 1884.

[State Papers, Ireland, Henry VIII, Public Record Office, London; Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England, 1837; Ellis's Orig. Letters, 2nd ser.vol.ii. 1827; Patent Rolls, Ireland, Hen. VIII; Annales Rerum Hibernicarum, 1664; Froude's Hist. of England; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors; Facsimiles of National MSS. of Ireland, 1882; Chartularies of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, 1884.]

J. T. G.