Joseph Archibald Grey, 1st Earl Grey, KG, KB, PC, FRS, MP (7 April 1719 - present) is a British statesman who is the current Lord Speaker of the British House of Lords in Parliament, and Secretary of State for the Southern Department. Grey has been an influential member of the government and a driving force behind British policy since the fall of the Caribbean in 1746.
"Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know, my lords, that where laws end, tyranny begins." - Lord Grey
Joseph Grey was born on the 7th of April, 1719 to a Welsh Father by the name of Peter Grey, the Baron Grey and his wife, Lady Hannah Grey (neé Wood) at his family's estate, known as Howick, in the county of Northumberland. His father was a minor lord who had served with distinction during the War of Spanish Succession, and had attained status as the 1st Baron Grey for his distinguished service to the Crown. His mother was a daughter of Horace Wood, son of a Scottish Bishop. Grey, although not growing up as a member of one of the great families of England, nevertheless grew up around wealth attained from his maternal grandfather.
Grey had three younger sibilings; Aura, Henry, and Mercedes, whom he often cared for. Regarding their well-being as his responsibility, a sense of leadership and duty grew inside him. Often, when Peter would be away in London serving in Parliament, Joseph would be left to serve as the head of the household, and it was expected that as the first born son, he would inherit the title of Baron.
His father had made several land purchases, during Grey's youth, including Howick Hall, which eventually became the seat of the Grey Family. It was located just outside the town of Howick and thirty miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Joseph spent the majority of his youth adventuring in the nearby wilderness, and studying with his tutor, Walter Hodges, the later Vice Chancellor of Oxford. In 1729, he was sent to Eton College along with his brother, Henry. It is noted that Joseph disliked Eton, referring to his classmates as a mob of arrogant, clueless, rascals who could be swayed with very little reasoning.
In 1736, Joseph entered as a gentleman commoner at Trinity College, Oxord. There is much evidence that during his college years, Joseph was an avid reader, and was usually well ahead of his classmates and peers. He stayed at Oxford until 1740, at which point he returned home and joined Parliament as MP for the County of Northumberland. He always regretted having not enlisted at the outbreak of the Paradoxian War in 1739, a regret he would carry for the rest of his life.
Rise to prominenceEdit
Entry to ParliamentEdit
Upon his completion at Trinity College, Grey entered Parliament as MP for Northumberland. He took up an affiliation with the Whig sect of Parliament, and was brought under the wing of Lord Cobham and Sir Marcus Cannonshot, Leader of the House of Commons. Grey swiftly became one of the most prominent Whigs in Parliament, and was known for never missing a debate or meeting.
His maiden speech to Parliament attacked the government under Sir Robert McRoberts in 1742 during a parliamentary debate against the Prime Minister's proposed "Treaty of Madrid", which would have limited British imperialism, and merged them with The Paradox. His fiery attacks against McRoberts' government were noted by opposition MP's, most notably the Duke of Newcastle. Eventually, McRoberts lost favour with the King, and a motion of no confidence was passed in Parliament that led to his fall in 1742.
The King invited Lord James "Usman" Strider, the Earl of Wilmington, to form a Ministry following McRoberts' fall from power, which really divided power between The Earl of Harrington as Lord President of the Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, and The Duke of Newcastle as Secretary of State for the Southern Department. Grey did not expect to be given a position in the new government, however, and continued to gain prominence within the House of Commons.
Rise to LordshipEdit
Lord Newcastle has taken note of Grey by this time, and arranged for him to be made the Viscount Howick at his father's death, so that he could represent the government within the House of Lords instead of Commons.
In 1743, Peter Grey died, and Joseph became the 1st Viscount Howick, inheriting all of his father's lands and titles as the eldest son. He joined the House of Lords soon afterwards, and became notable in the chamber than was known for its higher level of influence within the government.
He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1746.
Fall of the West IndiesEdit
The Viscount was finally elevated to a government position in 1746, when he became the Paymaster of the Forces, and responsible for arranging in the transfer of West Indies Forces back to Europe.
It appears from Grey's correspondence, that he was successful in his task, and gained the confidence of Lord Newcastle as a result. He was able to successfuly evacuate the majority of the "British Co. Elites" Squadron from the Caribbean, and back to Europe, with minimal casualties.
He did lose a regiment of soldiers under General James Warshot, however, and his political opponents quickly seized the oppurtunity to discredit him. His popularity with the people nevertheless went on unscathed.
Special Envoy to SwitzerlandEdit
Newcastle dismissed Grey as Paymaster after only a month and a half, and appointed him as Special Envoy to the Swiss, a new position meant to assist the British Ambassador to Switzerland in light of the recent death of King William II, who was a noted supporter of the British.
Grey travelled to Switzerland at once, and took office alongside the Ambassador, Sir Richard Venables. The new King, David I, was a noted imperialist, and known for his immature and brash antics. Grey immediately took a dislike to him, and the feeling was almost mutual.
For seven months, Grey quarrelled with King David, and even began to secretly finance the opposition, which David's government had outlawed. In the spring of 1747, David invaded Prussia and instated himself as King. Grey was expelled from the new country, but continued to interfere with the King's schemes. Finally, in June 1747, David was overthrown by Jon Scotsman, and fled to Russia.
Scotsman allowed Grey to return, and Grey assisted the son of King William, Alexander I, in regaining power in Switzerland. With the support of Britain through his alliance with Grey, Alexander successfuly restored the Kingdom of the Swiss, and made Joseph the Count of St. Gallen in thanks.
Grey would later serve as the chief minister of Switzerland for the entirety of 1748, and continued to serve as Vice Advisor of the King for many years afterwards.
The East India CompanyEdit
In September of 1747, a year after Grey became Special Envoy, Newcastle positioned Grey as the representative of the government, which owned the most shares, in the East India Company. As representative of the largest shareholder, Grey became the Chairman of the EITC Court of Directors, and thus the Governor of the Company. He immediately restored the East India House with his collegue Sir Richard Venables, and began a reform process of the Company.
Grey was petitioned by the government to reform the entirety of the EITC private military in India, and Grey set upon completing this task. He was by now the most outspoken member of the House of Lords, and one of the most noted officials in the government. He had effectively become the image of a new generation of statesmen, and was popular throughout the commons for his anti-corruption platform.
After serving as Chairman of the EITC Directors for two months, he was appointed by the King on the advice of Lord Newcastle as Lord Speaker of the House of Lords, and the de facto leader of Parliament in general.
Upon Grey's appointment as Lord Speaker, he completely reformed the parliamentary process. For the first time, parliamentary sovereignty was established in Britain. Grey was applauded for his work in this area, and effectively became the most powerful official in the government, after Newcastle.
He continued to work as the EITC Chairman, however he had by now allotted most of the responsibilities and duties of the office to the remaining Directors of the Court. He was now totally focused on reforming Parliament and ensuring that democracy would remain in Britain.
Among the reforms was the decision to swap monthly parliamentary sessions for new 90 day sessions twice a year. Grey opened the Winter Session of 1747 to a complete success, and much praise from the British public, leading to his system gaining the confidence of the nation as a whole.
Grey would continue to serve as Lord Speaker for the next six years, the longest serving Speaker of either House.
The next year would throw Lord Grey into the spotlight, and would make him a household name throughout most of Europe. In March of 1748, an assassin only known as "Piri Reis", working for the terrorist organization, the Sarunu, would trigger an assassination attempt on Lord Newcastle when he shoots him in the chest while disguised as a Royal guard. Newcastle is immediately taken from the scene, and Grey is appointed Acting Prime Minister.
In his first act as acting head of government, Grey orders a raid in Kiev to capture the mastermind of the plot, Ronald Cobens. After special forces seize the terrorist, he cuts a deal with Grey to allow his insurgent troops to be caught by the British, while he walks free.
Grey arranged the deal, and thereafter the entire Sarunu insurgent militia was captured in one sweep. Soon after, Newcastle recovered from his injuries, and retained his position as Prime Minister. From here on out, Grey was officially the most powerful man in Britain behind Newcastle, and he had very big plans.
The first Newcastle Ministry was dissolved in 1749, after it could no longer hold on to a majority in Parliament. Grey, now the most influential member of Parliament as a whole, was sought out by Newcastle and together they formed a coalition by creating the Second Newcastle Ministry, commonly referred to as the Newcastle-Grey Ministry. In this system, Lord Newcastle would continue to serve as Prime Minister, while Lord Grey would become Secretary of State for the Southern Department (Foreign Secretary).
Following Grey's appointment as Southern Secretary, he began to coordinate with Lord Newcastle on many aspects of the government, and became a leading member of the cabinet. Newcastle decided to bring in a new generation of politicians into the fold, and appointed several young men to his cabinet besides Grey, including his nephew the Earl of Chicester, and the Earl of Portsmouth.
Joseph's sister, Mercedes, would soon wed The Earl of Portsmouth, Lord Nathaniel Huntington, which would create a very important a political alliance between the Grey family and the Huntington family.
As Southern Secretary, Grey would essentially become responsible for all foreign affairs, while internal affairs were largely left to the Northern Secretary at the time, Lord Huntington. Grey would spend the majority of the year travelling to and from various European states, and serving as an intermediary on several debates.
He continued to hold the post of Ambassador to Switzerland while serving as Southern Secretary, and was known to make almost monthly visits to the Kingdom. As Southern Secretary he attended the Congress of Vienna as a senior representative of Britain, and was one of the 17 signatories to the Vienna Accords. He would go on to bring the issue before Parliament two weeks later.
Grey would marry his long time fiancee, Elizabeth Keelburn, in 1750 at a private ceremony.
In June of 1750, an international incident occurred following the leaking of Swiss top secret intelligence by Spanish officials, which narrowly avoided escalating into full scale war. Following the success of British mediators, the tension between the Swiss and Danish was ended. However, this was occurring at a time when Parliament was reviewing terms of a new treaty that Newcastle's government was negotiating with the Spanish Syndicate, Spain's new government under Premier Leonardo.
Due to these circumstances, and evidence that indicated the ill-will of the Spanish government, Grey switched his vote to oppose and went on to champion the opposition movement against the treaty. When the Houses of Parliament voted for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to open an inquiry into the June Crisis, Grey was appointed as Vice-chair.
Following the JCPC's investigation of the Spanish Syndicate, it was ruled that an alliance between Spain and Britain would not have been of benefit. The British government effectively cut ties with Spain, although three weeks later, Lord Newcastle and Lord Grey were dispatched to Barcelona to speak with Premier Leonardo and his Vice-Premier, however these talks ended up fruitless.
Eventually, King Ferdinand Clemente would seize power back and exile Leonardo Cortes and Baron Crossland from Spain. The Syndicate moved its government to Seville, however without the support of the military and their assets taken, they were forced to flee the nation and set up a government-in-exile in Morrocco, however this was very poorly underfunded and eventually faded away.
Following the collapse of the Syndicate and the general peace that settled over Europe, Parliament was called into recess, and Grey returned to Howick for a month and a half to recuperate and take his mind off the politics. Upon his return in mid-September, he became in deep opposition to the Earl of Chicester's reformation plans for the Privy Council, although he would eventually work out a suitable middle ground.
MORE TO BE ADDED SOON
Titles, Honours, and ArmsEdit
- Mr Joseph Grey (1719 - 1740)
- The Honourable Joseph Grey, MP (1740 - 1743)
- The Right Honourable Viscount Howick, FRS, MP (1743 - 1746)
- The Right Honourable Viscount Howick, KB, FRS, MP (1746 - 1748)
- The Right Honourable Earl Grey, KG, KB, PC, FRS, MP (1748 - present)