GREY, Ford (1655-1701)

GREY, Ford (1655–1701)

suc. fa. 15 June 1675 (a minor) as 3rd Bar. GREY of Warke; cr. 11 May 1695 earl of TANKERVILLE

First sat 22 Feb. 1677; last sat 18 June 1701

bap. 6 Dec. 1655,1 1st s. of Ralph Grey, 2nd Bar. Grey of Warke, and Catherine, da. and h. of Sir Edward Ford of Harting, Suss.; bro. of Ralph Grey, 4th Bar. Grey of Warke. educ. ?St Paul’s School. m. c. July 1674 Mary (d. 19 May 1719), da. of George Berkeley, 9th Bar. Berkeley, 1da. d. 24 June 1701. will 31 May 1696-17 Apr. 1701, pr. 2 Dec. 1701, codicil 16 Dec. 1702.2

PC 5 May 1695-d.; commr. appeals in prizes of war 1695, 1697;3 trade and plantations 1696-9; to treat with French over Hudson Bay 1699;4 treasury 1 June-15 Nov. 1699, first ld. treasury 15 Nov. 1699-9 Dec. 1700; ld. justice June-Sept. 1700;5 ld. privy seal, 5 Nov. 1700-d.6

Associated with: Up Park [Uppark], Harting, Suss.;7 Epping Place, Epping, Essex;8 Charterhouse Yard, Mdx. (sold by 1694);9 King’s (i.e. Soho) Square, Westminster (1683-5);10 Pall Mall, Westminster (by 1698).11

Likenesses: mezzotint, aft. Sir Peter Lely, c. 1684, NPG D29417; line engraving, Cornelius Nicolas Schurtz, aft. Sir Peter Lely, 1689, NPG D18611.

Grey succeeded to his father’s title on 15 June 1675 while still underage.12 Married in the summer of 1674 to Mary, the daughter of the wealthy and well-placed George Berkeley, 9th Baron Berkeley, at his father’s death Grey came into a substantial inheritance, acquiring the Chillingham estates in Northumberland and Epping and Gosfield in Essex. The Northumbrian lands were estimated to be worth £7,000 per annum at the death of his grandfather, William Grey, Baron Grey of Warke, in 1674, while the Epping estate, ‘one of the best copyhold manors in England’, was valued at £1,200 per annum in 1704.13 Through his mother in 1682 he inherited what had in effect been his principal residence since coming to the title, Uppark near Harting in West Sussex.

Less than a year after the death of his father, the young Baron Grey attempted, through a suit in Chancery brought against his mother, to abrogate the debts and annuities charged on the Gosfield estate by his late father, including the maintenance intended for his younger brothers. He claimed, in what was a long-running dispute involving many members of the extended Grey family, that Gosfield had been entailed to the heirs male by his grandfather the first Baron Grey in 1672, and it had not been in his own father’s power to alienate it and place charges on it for other purposes.14 This action reveals the rashness, presumption and belligerence, not to say the egoism, that was to characterize much of the rest of Grey’s life. Upon taking his seat in the Lords, he began a long and turbulent political career that brought him dangerously close both to the executioner’s block and to some of the highest offices in government. At first glance, he would appear to epitomize the dissolute Restoration gallant and rake, especially in light of his passion for his sister-in-law, Lady Henrietta Berkeley, which almost brought ruin to both families and was immortalized in the first published prose work of Aphra Behn, Love-Letters between a Nobleman and his Sister. Yet in his political actions, however extreme, reckless and even treasonous they may appear, he showed a consistent set of political beliefs, which he acted upon both as a fiery member of the country opposition in the 1670s and 1680s and as a member of the Whig ministry from 1695. He showed great parliamentary skills, both in the House as an orator and manager, and ‘out of doors’ in his campaigning for Exclusionist candidates in 1679. Perhaps because of his youth and ‘common touch’—similar in many ways to his good friend and sexual rival James Scott, duke of Monmouth—he was popular with the crowds outside Parliament, an important advantage for the more elderly Anthony Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury. But with the dissolution of Parliament in March 1681 Grey had to take his political energy and penchant for dramatic action outside Parliament and he thus acquired a notorious reputation during the early 1680s, both as a debauché and as a brazen political agitator. His obloquy was only furthered by his distinctly unsuccessful—contemporaries said cowardly—performance as Monmouth’s general of cavalry in the rebellion of 1685. His recovery from the debacle of 1685 is impressive, and reveals his talents for survival and his lack of any sense of remorse or even loyalty. From 1695 he became a key figure in the House for the Whig ministry and offices, honours and titles soon came to him in rapid succession. He was only 45 years old when he died in 1701 but had already lived a life more full of tumult, energy, reverses and recoveries than most.

Country Peer, 1677-81

Grey first sat in the House on 22 Feb. 1677 and was quickly named to a number of select committees, principally on private bills. On 13 Apr. he was named as a reporter for a conference at which the Commons presented their objections to the Lords’ amendment to the supply bill for building more warships. He was then placed on the committee to draw up the explanation for the House’s continuing insistence on this amendment and was most likely a manager for the free conferences held on 14 and 16 Apr., after which the House receded from its amendment. Grey was not an assiduous attender of the House in 1677-8. He came to 53 per cent of the sittings in 1677 and left the House on 14 Apr., attending none of the sittings when Parliament briefly reconvened in late May. He returned to the House when Parliament assembled on 28 Jan. 1678, but still he only attended 38 per cent of the sittings of this latter part of the session. On 4 Apr. he voted Philip Herbert, 7th earl of Pembroke, guilty of manslaughter. He came to slightly more sittings in the session of spring 1678 when his attendance stood at 53 per cent.

Shaftesbury considered Grey as singly ‘worthy’ in his political analysis of the peers in the spring of 1677, at which time Grey would still have been largely unknown to him. But in the session of autumn 1678, during which he attended 61 per cent of the sittings, he became one of Shaftesbury’s most loyal and able political associates. His political positions may partly be attributed to the Presbyterian and Parliamentarian history of his family. His grandfather had been Speaker of the Lords during the Civil War and promoter of a ‘godly’ and Presbyterian Church settlement, although there is admittedly little similarity between the 3rd Baron’s shameless actions and the deep sense of personal sin and reprobation expressed in his grandfather’s long will.15 In addition, the 3rd Baron’s great-uncle had been Cromwell’s general Henry Ireton, and his son by the lord protector’s daughter, Henry Ireton, remained one of Grey’s closest advisers throughout his life.16

From late 1678 Grey became an integral part of Shaftesbury’s campaign of ‘country’ agitation against both James Stuart, duke of York, and Thomas Osborne, earl of Danby. As a list of Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton noted, Grey’s proxy for the session was held by Shaftesbury. It was assigned to him on 15 Nov. 1678, a day when an important division was held in committee of the whole House on the motion to exclude from the House those lords who refused to sign the Test bill’s declaration against transubstantiation. Shaftesbury voted for the motion and presumably was able to cast Grey’s vote in its favour as well. Certainly, Wharton listed Grey as voting for it, even though his name is not on the attendance list for that day.17 On 28 Nov., only three days after his return to the House, Grey was a manager for the conference in which the Commons presented their address requesting the queen’s removal from Whitehall upon suspicion of complicity in the attempts to kill the king. Grey may have been one of the few in the House in favour of the motion that the queen should be removed from court, but while one source listing those voting for the motion mentions a ‘Lord Grey’, another, drawn up by Wharton, includes a ‘Lord de Gray’, which may refer to the short-lived Charles Yelverton, 14th Baron Grey of Ruthin, who was also present in the House that day.18 On 9 Dec. 1678 Grey was a manager for the conference at which the House explained their fears of a large standing army in England if the forces in Flanders were brought back before the troops in the kingdom itself were disbanded. In the last days of the session he stood against the House’s resolution that the funds raised for the disbandment should be placed in the exchequer instead of the chamber of London (as the Commons had specified) and he signed dissents on both 20 and 26 Dec. against the House’s continuing insistence on this point. He was an opponent of Danby and on 23 Dec. he joined in the dissent from the vote against requiring the lord treasurer to withdraw from the chamber after the articles of impeachment against him had been read. Four days later he voted in favour of Danby’s commitment and subscribed to the protest when that motion was rejected. On 23 Dec. he was one of the small group of peers, with Shaftesbury and George Villiers, 2nd duke of Buckingham, who were chosen to attend the king to plead for a pardon for Miles Prance, so that he could give testimony with indemnity. These country peers were also assigned by the House to examine Prance in his cell in Newgate, but the prorogation on 30 Dec., and the eventual dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament on 24 Jan. 1679, put a halt to those proceedings.

As Danby himself predicted, Grey continued his attacks on the former lord treasurer in the first Exclusion Parliament. He attended 69 per cent of sittings in its second session. On 22 Mar. 1679 Grey was appointed to the committee of 13 members—almost entirely made up of country peers such as himself, Shaftesbury, Wharton, Monmouth, George Savile, Viscount (later marquess of) Halifax, Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey, and John Egerton, 2nd earl of Bridgwater—assigned to draft a bill barring Danby from ever again holding office or attending the king. He was also named a manager of the conference held that day to discuss this bill. The Commons instead produced their own bill threatening Danby with attainder unless he surrendered himself to face the charges against him. Grey voted in favour of all versions of this attainder bill, both the House’s first amended bill, which effectively reduced the penalty to banishment, and the final version of the bill, closer to the Commons’ original intention, which passed the House on 14 April. He was even appointed one of the members of the House—with Monmouth, Halifax, Anglesey and Bridgwater—delegated to attend the king at court to present him with the bill and urge his speedy assent to it. During this period Grey also put his name to the dissent of 7 Apr. against the decision that John Sidway should be committed for making false allegations against Peter Gunning, bishop of Ely, and other bishops. Danby surrendered himself by the deadline of 21 Apr. set in his Act of Attainder and the debates soon turned to the procedure for the trials of both Danby and the five Catholic lords. On 8 May Grey was made a reporter for the conference in which the Commons suggested that there should be a joint committee of both Houses to settle the details of the trials and he entered his dissent when the House rejected this proposal. That same afternoon he was named as a reporter for the conference in which the Commons stated their objections to the House’s amendments to the supply bill, but the House more readily receded from their changes in this case, mindful of the urgency of voting through supply. On 10 May he was one of the many dissenters when the Commons’ suggestion for a joint committee to sort out the procedure for the trials was once again rejected. The following day the House relented and agreed to a joint committee, but Grey was not appointed to it. On 13 May Grey joined in the dissent of 21 country peers from the resolution that the bishops would be allowed to take part in the trials, despite their capital nature. Ten days later the country peers, once again including Grey, dissented from the House’s instructions to its representatives on the joint committee that they were to insist on the right of the bishops to attend the trials and on the condition that the trials of the five Catholic peers were to take place before that of Danby. Grey was appointed on 26 May a reporter for a conference to ‘maintain a good correspondence’ between the Houses, and the following day he subscribed to the dissent of 28 peers from the House’s continuing insistence on the bishops’ rights to assist in capital trials. Grey’s last activity that day, and indeed in that Parliament, was perhaps both his most important and his characteristic, for he may have been instrumental, through underhanded methods, in having the habeas corpus bill passed, one of the few successful legislative measures from that Parliament. On 27 May Grey, acting as teller in a division on whether to hold a last-minute conference requested by the Commons to discuss the bill, was said to have counted, ‘as a jest at first’, a particularly fat peer as ten votes in favour of the conference. Noticing that his opposite teller, James Bertie, 5th Baron Norreys, reputedly ‘a man subject to vapours’, was not paying attention, Grey decided to turn his jest to advantage and maintained this false tally. According to the manuscript minutes the vote in favour of a conference won by only 57 to 55, even though the attendance list for the House on that day only counts 107 peers present. The Commons agreed with the House’s amendments in the free conference, and the habeas corpus bill received the royal assent that afternoon before the king prorogued Parliament.19

From 1677, if not before, Grey had been a friend, as well as a romantic rival, of his near contemporary the duke of Monmouth, with whom he shared a love of country sports, as well as of gallantry and womanizing. It was an open secret from at least 1677 that Grey’s wife had been conducting an affair with Monmouth, perhaps a continuation of a liaison inaugurated before her marriage to Grey. The affair appears to have been largely countenanced by Grey himself, as is suggested by a number of bawdy poems and lampoons, as well as from comments in contemporary correspondence.20 The liaison did not split Grey from Monmouth and may even have drawn them closer together, especially as Grey’s own sexual attentions were soon drawn elsewhere even more illicit. The two men continued to work in tandem in politics and when Monmouth was in June 1679 appointed general of the English forces raised to suppress the rebellion in Scotland, his friend Grey was chosen to serve as a colonel of a regiment of foot under him. Grey, though, refused the commission, citing an act of 1641 which he interpreted as prohibiting English military intervention in the affairs of Scotland. This may have been an attempt to further signal his distance from the court and government through his unwillingness to accept a commission from it, as he nevertheless went on to serve under Monmouth as a ‘volunteer’ in the campaign.21 Roger North later put his own Tory gloss on this peculiar episode:

this vain scruple shows clearly the impudence of the faction at that time, that would insist, in the face of the government, upon arrant nonsense … And it argues also a concern of theirs for the [Scottish] rebels; why else should they, by foolish cavils, endeavour to stay the forces going in aid to suppress them.22

Following the unexpected dissolution of the Parliament on 12 July 1679, Grey proved himself highly adept at managing the elections for the Parliament scheduled for October. His brother Ralph, while still underage, was returned on the family interest for Berwick-upon-Tweed, which lay close to Chillingham Castle, for all three of the Exclusion Parliaments of 1679-81.23 Grey supported Sir Robert Peyton for the Middlesex county seat and joined him in early September in leading a group of voters to the hustings at Brentford where they were met by a similar convoy of 1,000 voters led by Buckingham and the other exclusionist candidate, Sir William Roberts.24 A pro-exclusionist pamphlet recounting the events of the Essex election describes how,

the ever noble and renowned Lord Grey met the Colonel [Henry Mildmay, the exclusionist candidate] in a most sumptuous habit, with his led horses in rich trappings, and about 2,000 horse attending him; then the Lord Grey with the Colonel began to march into the town, where they were met with near 2,000 horse more, and so passing through the town into the field in very good order, with their mouths loudly hollowing for A Mildmay only and crying out, God bless my Lord Grey.

Mildmay and his partner John Lamotte Honeywood won the poll and ‘the truly noble Lord Grey’ ended the election with a speech to the freemen of Essex extolling them for their ‘zeal and courage for the maintaining your liberties, and the Protestant religion’.25 For the borough of Chichester, located near his principal country house of Up Park, Grey ensured the election for all three Exclusion Parliaments of the old republican plotter John Braman, who was later involved with Grey and his co-conspirators in planning insurgency against the Stuart brothers in 1683.26 Guy Carleton, bishop of Chichester, provided the secretary of state Henry Coventry with an account of Grey’s aggressive tactics in overseeing Braman’s election, largely through the votes of ‘the fanatic party’ there.27 Carleton later noted Grey’s political and popular influence when describing to William Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, the triumphal visit of Monmouth to Chichester in February 1680: ‘the elector-general Grey (for so is his title in this country) being here in Chichester went out to bring him [Monmouth] into the city attended with broken shopkeepers, butchers, carpenters, smiths and such like people, all dissenters and petitioners, to the number of 50 or three score’.28 Two years later the secretary of state Sir Leoline Jenkins was informed that Monmouth’s party in Chichester was powerful: ‘they are as factious a sort of people as any in England and … are ready at an hour’s warning to serve the duke of Monmouth and Lord Grey’.29

During the long series of prorogations which delayed the meeting of Parliament, Grey was an active member of the Green Ribbon Club and of other Whig groups dining in the taverns of London.30 With his noble colleagues such as Shaftesbury, Theophilus Hastings, 7th earl of Huntingdon, Edward Howard, 3rd Baron Howard of Escrick and Henry Herbert, 4th Baron Herbert of Chirbury, he began to meet in weekly gatherings at the Swan Tavern to discuss political strategy.31 These peers engaged in several provocative acts in the winter of 1679-80 indicating their fears of popery and ‘arbitrary rule’, elements of both of which he saw in the actions of the royal brothers. He was one of those who attended Titus Oates’s suit on 25 Nov. 1679 against Knox and Lane, in order to show support for Oates’s allegations of the Plot.32 On 1 Dec. Grey was one of the Swan Tavern group present at a dinner at the house of the Whig lord mayor of London, Sir Robert Clayton, at which there was a confrontation between the opposition peers and an unexpected guest, the lord chief justice, Sir William Scroggs.33 Grey was one of the 16 peers who signed the petition to Charles II calling on him to summon the new Parliament speedily and was among the nine who presented the petition to the king in person on 7 December. He, Shaftesbury, Huntingdon and Howard of Escrick, were the only peers to sign the ‘Monster Petition’ of inhabitants of Westminster and Southwark, which was presented to the king on 13 Jan. 1680 by, among others, Grey’s kinsman and associate Henry Ireton.34 It was perhaps for such presumption that his name was deleted from the commissions of the peace for Northumberland, Essex and Sussex in that same month.35 He was one of the ten peers who in the last days of June 1680 submitted to two separate Middlesex grand juries indictments of York as a recusant.36

Family and domestic problems also caused Grey concern during this period. Not only was there the matter of Monmouth’s continuing affair with his wife, which led him to pack off Lady Grey to Northumberland in January 1680 to keep her away from temptation, but perhaps as disruptive was Grey’s battle with other members of his family over the authenticity and terms of the will of his grandfather, especially as his enemy in this cause was his uncle Charles North, Baron North and Grey of Rolleston, another member of Shaftesbury’s circle. The case came to a head in late 1679 when it was heard by the court of delegates, which ultimately rejected North and Grey’s claims that the old baron’s will had been forged to disinherit his own wife Katherine, who was Grey of Warke’s paternal aunt. In February 1680 North and Grey exhibited yet another bill in chancery, aiming at recovering some of Grey of Warke’s estates.37 This dispute spilled over into the relations of the opposition peers. At a meeting at Wharton’s house in March 1680, Shaftesbury accused North and Grey of instigating a suit against one of his colleagues for an estate and, as Shaftesbury thought, an earldom (of Tankerville, which had originally been conferred to a member of the Grey family in the 15th century, and was eventually reclaimed by Grey of Warke in 1695). When North and Grey denied that he was aiming at the earldom, Shaftesbury, slyly referring to his recent deference to the duke of York, whose hand North and Grey had kissed, suggested that there were other, less litigious, ways for him to get an earldom.38

When the Parliament for which Grey and his colleagues had petitioned assembled on 21 Oct. 1680, Grey was present and attended all but three of its 59 days. He was, on 8 Nov., named to the committee assigned to enquire into the recent alterations to the commissions of the peace, through which he could try to rectify his own recent omission from the commissions for Sussex, Essex and Northumberland. In the debate on the exclusion bill on 15 Nov. he sought to demolish the case against the bill. Against the argument that it was not certain that York was a Catholic he pointed to the proviso in the 1678 Test Act excepting the duke as well as the content of Colman’s letters as definitive proof of the duke’s religion. To those who claimed that passing the bill would abrogate the oath of allegiance that all those in Parliament had sworn, he insisted that the bill’s advocates were not violating the oath, because it merely enjoined them ‘not to undermine the government’, while this bill was merely ‘skipping the duke and so it goes to the right heir’. To the point that it was not in Parliament’s power to pass such a measure he challenged the bill’s opponents that ‘if any man knows that the king will not pass this bill, let him speak’. He was one of the peers who signed the dissent from the rejection of the bill at the first reading.39 He was appointed on 20 Nov. to the committee to consider ways of relieving Protestant nonconformists from the recusancy laws and three days later voted for the proposal to appoint a joint committee to consider the state of the kingdom after the defeat of the exclusion bill. He found the Catholic William Howard, Viscount Stafford, guilty of treason on 7 Dec. and three days later was given a list of 50 Catholics in Sussex, with the intention that he would execute the House’s order for their dispersal should the proposed bill ‘for securing Papists’ pass.40 He signed the dissents of 7 Jan. 1681 against the decision not to put the questions on whether lord chief justice William Scroggs should be suspended from his duties or even committed while articles of impeachment were pending against him.

Grey joined 15 other opposition peers in the petition of 25 Jan. 1681 requesting the king not to convene the next Parliament at Oxford.41 He was involved in supporting Slingsby Bethel and Edward Smyth at the Southwark election in February, but they were defeated despite Grey and Buckingham ‘riding before on their managed horses through the town’.42 Initially Grey intended to join Shaftesbury in staying away from Parliament, for fear of capture, but after Shaftesbury relented and travelled to the notoriously royalist university city, Grey stayed with him on the second floor of the lodgings of Dr John Wallis.43 He first sat on the Parliament’s second day, 22 Mar. and was present every day of this short-lived Parliament thereafter. He distinguished himself as an opponent of Danby’s petition for bail from the Tower which he, with Shaftesbury, Halifax, Bridgwater and Arthur Capell, earl of Essex, argued was submitted to the House at an inopportune time, when there were other more proper matters to be discussed.44 On 26 Mar. Grey was appointed a reporter for the conference requested by the Commons to discuss the method of passing bills, after it was learned that the bill for the repeal of 35 Eliz. I had not been duly presented to the king for his royal assent at the previous prorogation. The Commons also brought up to the House their impeachment against the informer Edward Fitzharris, which the House rejected, following the king’s wish that Fitzharris be left to the ordinary course of the law. According to his own later confession Grey was one of the group of Whig peers who stayed behind in the Lords’ chamber after the surprise dissolution of 28 Mar., ostensibly to put their signatures to the protest against the House’s rejection of Fitzharris’s impeachment, but also in order to join with supporters of exclusion in the Commons who had vowed to Shaftesbury to stay in session in defiance of the king. Anticlimactically, the peers discovered that most of their colleagues among the Commons had already left, ‘and soon after we heard the Commons house was empty; upon which we went away’.45 He joined Shaftesbury, Monmouth and others in presenting Balliol with a gilt bowl for accommodating them during the Parliament.46

Radical Whig and rebel, 1681-8

From that point Grey joined the more radical Whigs in taking ever more extreme, provocative and potentially treasonous routes to demonstrate their anti-Catholicism and opposition to York and his succession. In May 1681 he attended the first political trial of the ‘Tory reaction’, that of Edward Fitzharris, and he also signed the petition begging the king to grant a pardon to Philip Herbert, 7th earl of Pembroke, for yet another one of his violent murders.47 On 8 July Grey attended king’s bench for the trial of Stephen College, and also for Shaftesbury’s bail hearing, the earl having been arrested on 1 July. Grey stood bail on 28 Nov. for Howard of Escrick when he was discharged from confinement along with Shaftesbury.48 Grey was belligerent and quick to challenge in defence of the Whig cause, unlike his former country colleague Huntingdon who sought to return to the favour of the king. Grey, Monmouth and Herbert of Chirbury took great offence at the comment that Huntingdon was reported to have made when he attended the king to kiss his hand on 21 Oct., that he ‘had by experience found, that they who promoted the bill of Exclusion were for the subversion of monarchy itself’, which had been printed in Thompson’s Publick Intelligence of 25 October. The three Whig peers demanded a published retraction from Huntingdon: the earl refused to comply and on 2 Nov. Grey and his colleagues published their own defence and apology. The matter eventually descended into a series of challenges and counter-challenges involving Herbert of Chirbury and some of Huntingdon’s military kinsmen.49 On 17 Nov. Grey attended a bonfire at Smithfield in honour of the accession of Elizabeth I.50 Grey himself was involved in a duel on 31 May 1682 with Christopher Monck, 2nd duke of Albemarle, over some disrespectful words Grey had said of him. Albemarle was forced to concede defeat to Grey and his second, Captain Charles Godfrey, another close associate of Monmouth.51

Many contemporaries in 1681, and some scholars in the years following, thought that Grey of Warke was ‘cold Caleb’, mentioned fleetingly with ‘well-hung Balaam’ (most frequently assumed to be Huntingdon) and ‘canting Nadab’ (supposedly Howard of Escrick) among those ‘lords, below the dignity of verse’, ‘kind husbands’ and ‘mere nobles’ who were part of the circle of ‘Achitophel’ (Shaftesbury) manipulating ‘Absalom’ (Monmouth) in John Dryden’s satirical poem, Absalom and Achitophel. One reason for identifying Grey as Caleb is the epithet ‘cold’ and his placement among ‘kind husbands’, reflecting the complaisancy with which Grey faced his wife’s open affair with Monmouth.52 Grey’s seeming indifference may have been because his own passions were at that time directed elsewhere, in a liaison even more scandalous than his wife’s – with her own sister, his sister-in-law, the underage Lady Henrietta Berkeley. As he was reported to have provocatively said in explanation, ‘he married [Henrietta’s] eldest sister and expected a maidenhead, but not finding it, he resolved to have one in the family, if any be left’.53 On 20 Aug. 1682 Henrietta deserted her parents’ residence of Durdans in Surrey and went to London to reside in secret with Grey, moving from lodging to lodging to avoid being found. Her whereabouts with Grey were finally determined in mid-October and the matter was immediately a public scandal and quickly brought to court once the law term began on 23 October.54 Grey was committed on 6 Nov., failed to obtain bail, and so was in custody until his trial on 23 Nov. (incidentally providing an alibi when later investigations revealed alleged plotting against the king at around the same time).55 The trial was tumultuous from the start. The distraught countess of Berkeley refused to look at Grey or give her evidence while he was in the same room, and Henrietta made the surprise announcement at the end of the proceedings that she was now married to one William Turner, a menial servant and accomplice of Grey, and thus could not be forced to return to her father. The trial descended into a near riot at the end as Berkeley and Grey and their respective retainers literally fought over the body of Henrietta outside of the confines of the court in Westminster Hall. Grey and his accomplices in this venture were found guilty of the charges against them, but the judgment was deferred until the first day of the succeeding law term, by which time the matter had been somehow compromised between Grey and Berkeley, and no judgment entered in the record. The published transcript of this trial provided much of the material for Aphra Behn’s fictionalized account of the affair, Love-Letters between a Nobleman and his Sister, published in three parts between 1684 and 1687.56

Grey’s erotic adventures were made even more titillating to Behn’s readers because by the time the work was published, it was known that he had been engaging in potentially treasonous activity at the same time as he was seducing his sister-in-law. Most open and public was Grey’s involvement in the tumultuous politics of the City of London. On midsummer’s day in June 1682 he helped to orchestrate the riot at the London shrieval elections in which the incumbent sheriffs Thomas Pilkington and Samuel Shute presided over the election of the Whig candidates Thomas Papillon and John Dubois, in defiance of the lord mayor’s adjournment of the poll. The trial of Grey and his accomplices for inciting riot was originally scheduled for 16 Feb. 1683, but was put off until the following term when Grey challenged the make-up of the jury.57 On 8 May 1683 he was found guilty of riot, and hard words passed between him and the attorney general.58

Less well-known at the time was Grey’s central place in the plots of autumn 1682 for a co-ordinated national rebellion in which Shaftesbury and William Russell, styled Lord Russell, would lead an insurrection in the City, while Monmouth would raise the western counties of Lancashire and Cheshire. For his part, Grey was to foment rebellion in Essex. Grey stood bail for Monmouth after he was arrested in late September 1682 for the riotous behaviour of his followers during his progress in the west.59 In early 1683 Grey was co-opted by Monmouth to the ‘council of six’ which took over the conspiracy after Shaftesbury’s flight to the Netherlands, and he was, by his own account, central to the debates on the declaration of Whig principles that was to be drawn up before any insurrection.60 On about 16 May 1683 over 50 muskets were found in ‘his house’ (which one is never specified by those reporting this incident) hidden in bed mattresses. He was hauled before the Privy Council to account for himself, and eventually had to enter a bond of £20,000 for his good behaviour, his brother Ralph and brother-in-law Richard Neville (married to Grey of Warke’s sister Catherine) standing surety for him.61 Shortly thereafter he was, not surprisingly, heavily implicated in the confessions of the Rye House plotters, although in his later confession he insisted that neither he nor Monmouth knew about, or would have countenanced, the plans to murder the royal brothers.62 On 26 June 1683 he was apprehended and sent to the Tower but was able to make his escape from the coach carrying him there when the serjeant-at-arms guarding him fell asleep.63 By August Grey was in Cleves in the duchy of Brandenburg, in the company of Henrietta Berkeley as well as other plotters such as Sir Thomas Armstrong and Robert Ferguson. He occasionally visited the Netherlands, and in early June 1684 was in the company of Armstrong when he was seized by agents of the English envoy Thomas Chudleigh at Leiden en route to Amsterdam. As the warrant for his arrest did not include Grey’s name, the peer was allowed to escape once again.64 Himself outlawed and attainted for treason, Grey’s lands were confiscated and their income managed to provide the funds for the gift of £16,000 made to Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, upon his appointment as lord president of the council in August 1684.65

In the weeks following James II’s accession to the throne, Grey and Robert Ferguson acted as Monmouth’s principal advisers, spurring him on to raise rebellion in the west of England. Grey sailed with Monmouth and served as his general of horse, but his irregular and inexperienced cavalry was quickly dispersed at Sedgemoor. Grey’s contemporaries delighted in attributing it to the peer’s own cowardice and military ineptitude.66 His life was spared largely through the intercessions of Rochester, who needed Grey alive in order to continue receiving the income from his entailed estates. At the recommendation of his captor after Sedgemoor, Richard Lumley, Baron Lumley (later earl of Scarbrough), Grey, in exchange for his life, prepared a confession of his involvement in the various conspiracies against the Stuart brothers, which was published in 1754 as A Secret History of the Rye House Plot.67 His pardon, on 26 Oct., was also contingent on his signing away most of the income from his estates to the crown and its servants.68 Rochester in particular gained, as Grey was compelled to enter into an agreement which would convey much of his unentailed lands, after he had unburdened them of their debts and annuities, to Rochester, and which bound him to pay the remainder of the £16,000 pledged to the earl within five years. Ralph Grey, the heir to the entailed lands which were to provide much of the income for Rochester, and Richard Neville once again came to Grey’s rescue by entering into a bond of £14,000 in case of the non-payment of these debts.69 Grey was called upon to act as witness for the prosecutions in the proceedings against Charles Gerard, styled Viscount Brandon, of whom he had commented in his confession, ‘I never saw a man so zealous for a rebellion, that kept his word and engagements no better, than my Lord Brandon’.70 At the conclusion of his testimony on 26 Nov. Grey made an ‘elaborate studied speech’ (as Roger Morrice described it) which another observer described as

the finest, the best delivered, and the most like a gentleman I ever heard, in which he evidenced as much regret to appear in such circumstances, as much penitence for his past errors, and as much gratitude to the king as any creature could do, and as much resentment against those who invited them over and left them in the lurch when they were come, as was possible.71

Grey also testified at the trial of Henry Booth, 2nd Baron Delamer (later earl of Warrington), on 14 Jan. 1686, but as he could only give a general account of the plotting of 1682-3 without pointing to any specific involvement of the peer, Delamer was ultimately unanimously acquitted by his peers.72 Grey’s evidence was also used in the prosecutions of other Whig conspirators.73 On 7 June 1686, having bought his life with his estate and his evidence against his former colleagues, Grey was restored in blood and title and was allowed to return to Up Park in order to manage the unentailed part of his property for Rochester’s benefit.74

Revolution, 1689-95

Grey spent most of the rest of James II’s reign out of public life, probably concentrating his energies on recovering his fortunes. When his kinsman John Caryll, secretary to Mary of Modena, wrote asking him to assist James II during William of Orange’s invasion, Grey declined with the excuse that he had just had a bad fall from a horse.75 Grey threw in his lot with William of Orange when it was safe to do so and James II had successfully fled the country. During the Convention he was a constant attender of the House for its first few critical weeks. In the debates surrounding the disposition of the crown he voted on 29 Jan. 1689 against the motion for a regency.76 Two days later Grey voted to insert in the vote sent up from the Commons words declaring William and Mary king and queen. He consistently voted with the minority that James had ‘abdicated’ and that the throne was ‘vacant’, as signified by the dissents he signed on 2 and 4 Feb., until 6 Feb., when the balance of voting had changed in the House and he found himself in the majority voting for the Commons’ wording of their address, thus paving the way for William of Orange to be offered the crown.

On 21 Mar. 1689 Lord ‘Grey’ signed the protest against the rejection of the proposed repeal of the sacramental test from the bill to formulate oaths to the new monarchs. Both Grey and Henry Yelverton, 15th Baron Grey of Ruthin, were in the House that day and as both were confirmed Williamites either of them could be the dissenting Lord Grey. More unambiguously ‘Grey of Warke’ was in these early weeks placed on committees for legislation which reflected the Whigs’ attempts to reverse the effects of James II’s reign. Considering his previous radical Whig activities and involvement in Monmouth’s Rebellion, it was fitting that he was named to the committees to consider the bills for voiding the attainders of Lord Russell (on 8 Mar.) and Alice Lisle (3 May), as well as the bill to make it treason to correspond with the exiled king (25 April). On 8 May he was named a reporter for a conference on the bill for convicting and disarming papists, but on 10 May his proxy was registered with Lumley. Grey returned to the House on 30 May, just in time to vote, the following day, in favour of reversing the harsh judgments levelled against Oates in 1685 and then to enter his protest when that motion failed. He last sat in the first session of the Convention on 13 June 1689 and in total came to just under half of its sittings.

Grey’s attendance in the House after that was sporadic and he does not appear to have been active for the few years. He was still suffering the consequences of his involvement in Monmouth’s Rebellion; most of his energies were probably devoted to clearing his debts to Rochester, and in 1691 he and his brothers were compelled to sell the disputed Gosfield estate in Essex.77 He came to only seven sittings in the second session of the Convention in the winter of 1689, although he was there on 13 Nov. to act as a teller in the division on the motion, ultimately defeated, to send a message to the Commons requesting the attendance of John Wildman at the House’s committee of inspections investigating the ‘crimes’ and judicial murders of the previous two reigns. Fortunately for future identifications, on 21 Apr. 1690 Grey of Ruthin was raised in the peerage to be Viscount Longueville, though Grey did not in fact attend the first two sessions, in spring 1690 and in 1690-91, of William and Mary’s first Parliament.

Grey was present at 27 per cent of the sittings in 1691-2, first attending on 23 Nov. and last attending on 14 Dec. before a specific occasion brought about his return to the chamber. On 22 Jan. 1692, on a day when Grey was not present in the House, Rochester presented a petition in which he complained that he was being refused possession of the unentailed lands, still encumbered with debts and annuities, now due to him by the expiration of the five-year lease to Grey stipulated in the 1686 agreement, and further that there was still a substantial amount due to him from the original grant of £16,000. Rochester requested that Grey’s privilege of Parliament be waived so that he could be pursued him in law. This roused Grey who began to sit regularly from 26 January. On 2 Feb. he signed the dissent from the resolution to adhere to the amendments to the bill to establish commissioners for public accounts. Later that day he submitted his answer to Rochester’s petition and requested the House not to take away his privilege, complaining, among other charges levelled against Rochester, that he was now reduced for his only income to precisely the unentailed estate of which Rochester was now wishing to deprive him. Grey’s answer was referred to the committee for privileges to ‘consider precedents of when privileges had been disallowed and taken away’ and the committee chairman, Charles Cornwallis, 3rd Baron Cornwallis, delivered his report in favour of Grey’s claiming privilege on 6 February.78

Grey did not sit in the House again after that decision until 5 Dec. 1692, a month into the following session, when he became involved in the discussions on the ‘advice’ to be given to the king in the light of the military reverses of the previous summer. On 20 Dec. he was named a manager for the conference at which the House delivered to the Commons the papers submitted by the secretary of state Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, on the failure of the planned ‘descent’ on France the previous summer, with a request that the Commons consider and report on them. The following day he attended the conference where the Commons returned the papers without comment and instead delivered to the House’s reporters a vote praising their own Member, Edward Russell later earl of Orford, for his conduct as admiral. Having attended on 22 Dec., the penultimate day before the House adjourned for Christmas, Grey did not return until 13 Jan. 1693. On 16 Jan. 1693 he was named to a committee to draw up clauses for the bill for the frequency of Parliaments, to ensure that Parliament would meet annually and would be newly elected every three years. The following day he joined in the two protests against the House’s rejection of the right of Charles Knollys to claim the earldom of Banbury, or even to have his case referred to the judges. On 19 Jan. he protested against the House’s abandonment of its amendment to the land tax bill which provided for a separate body of commissioners, drawn from the upper House, to assess the value of the peers’ lands. He also signed the protest against the House’s refusal to have the amendment considered by the committee for privileges.79 He left the House for that session a mere two days later, on 21 Jan., having attended only 21 per cent of the sittings. Similarly he came to only a quarter of the sittings in the 1693-4 session. He was present on 17 Feb. 1694, when he voted in favour of the motion to reverse Chancery’s dismission of the petition of Ralph Montagu, earl (later duke) of Montagu, in the long-running cause of Montagu v Bath.

Earl of Tankerville, 1695-99

It was only mid-way through the following session of 1694-5, from December 1694, that Grey became a constant attender of the House, a major parliamentary figure and an effective and leading spokesman for the Whigs. Despite arriving a month into the session’s proceedings, he attended just over two-thirds of its sittings, his highest rate since the Exclusion Parliaments. Possibly, the ‘turn to the Whigs’ that had been slowly going on since 1693, and had seen the promotions in the peerage of Whig political leaders in the summer of 1694, encouraged Grey to re-enter politics. He quickly took to it and was a natural leader in the House. On 24 Jan. 1695 he first served as chairman for a meeting of the committee for the bill to vest in trustees lands belonging to Grey’s distant kinsman John Caryll, then in exile with James II at St. Germain. By 4 Feb. he appears to have been sole chairman and reported the bill to the House as fit to pass on 12 February.80 While these proceedings were going on Grey was appointed on 6 Feb. to a committee to draw up the bill against coin-clipping and the debasement of the coinage. Between 16 and 23 Feb. he was named as a reporter at three conferences on the disputed amendment to the treason trials bill and on 20 Feb. he was also placed on the committee to draft the explanation for the House’s continuing adherence to its clause. When the matter was revived a month later, Grey again named as one of the House’s managers in the free conferences of 15 and 20 April.

The under-secretary of state James Vernon informed Robert Sutton, 2nd Baron Lexinton, in a letter of 1 Mar. 1695, of the reasons for Grey’s rapid rise in the estimation of the House:

I perceive my Lord Grey is in great reputation for the late speeches he has made upon these two great occasions of the [Lancashire] Plot and the Fleet[.] He has been the greatest champion for both and not put himself always upon the defensive but as it came in his way[.] He has edged his eloquence with that keenness as to show the finders of faults have not kept themselves clear of them. In the debate on Wednesday [27 Feb.] when he highly extolled the sending the Fleet into the Mediterranean he said he did not know whose advice it was or whom we were obliged to for the counsel, but he was satisfied it did not come from France, though he feared there might have been a time when we received French advice and followed it too.81

Grey had taken part in both these contentious matters. On 22 Feb. he had been a teller—probably, judging by Vernon’s comments, for the minority not contents—in the division on a successful motion to adjourn the House, at a point when the Lords were debating motions affirming the veracity of the allegations of the Lancashire Plot.82 On 1 Mar. he was named to a committee to prepare an address to the king on the state of the Navy. Later, on 19 Mar., Grey signed his dissent to a resolution which furthered the peerage claim of Sir Richard Verney, who would eventually become 11th Baron Willoughby de Broke. In the last month of the session he took part in the proceedings surrounding the allegations of corruption in the East India Company. On 16 Apr. he was placed on the drafting committee for a bill offering to indemnify Sir Thomas Cooke if he gave testimony of bribery in the Company and the following day he was also named to the committee entrusted to draw up points justifying the House’s procedures with Cooke, which he presented to the Commons at a conference later that day.

For his eloquence in support of the king’s interests, Grey was amply rewarded. A warrant for his creation as earl of Tankerville, a town in France where a 15th-century ancestor had performed signal military actions (contemporaries were quick to waggishly contrast it with Grey’s own performance at Sedgemoor) was dated 3 May, the day of the prorogation. Two days later he was sworn to the Privy Council as earl of Tankerville, even though the patent creating him under that title had not yet passed the seals and was only enrolled eight days later, on 11 May.83 For the elections held following the dissolution of 11 Oct. 1695, the new earl of Tankerville succeeded in having his brother Ralph returned for Berwick-upon-Tweed having been absent from the Commons since 1681. In his strongest base, Sussex, Tankerville was now faced with a strong competitor in the region, Charles Seymour, 6th duke of Somerset, with his large estates, centred on the great house of Petworth. Tankerville was unsuccessful in his attempt to have his old exclusionist clients, Major John Braman and Richard Farington elected for Chichester against Somerset’s choices, Richard Jones, earl of Ranelagh [I] and William Elson. At the county level, he had been able to bring 2-300 supporters to the poll at Chichester to vote for the Whig Member Sir John Pelham, 3rd bt., who, with his partner Sir William Thomas, bt, was able to defeat Somerset’s preference, the Tory Robert Orme in a contentious election.84

Tankerville did not sit in the first session of the new Parliament until 10 Feb. 1696, when he was introduced in his new title. With this late start he attended in total only 45 per cent of the session’s sittings, but within two weeks of his arrival he became a major actor in the House as a result of his response to the news of the assassination attempt against William III. On 24 Feb. he chaired and reported from the drafting committee for the address to the king following his speech to Parliament informing them of the conspiracy.85 He was also the principal manager for the two conferences with the Commons on the address, reporting to the House from both, the second time with the news that the lower House had concurred in it, with some amendments. He was foremost in the debates on the Association in a committee of the whole on 26 February. He was a teller on the motion to substitute a clause in the Association with a new one specifying that William III ‘hath a right by law to the crown of these realms, and that the late King James, nor the pretended prince of Wales, or any other person hath any right whatsoever to the same’. Undoubtedly Tankerville told for the contents in this division, for the Dutch envoy L’Hermitage reported him as ‘doing wonders’ in trying to convince the committee to accept William’s claims as ‘rightful and lawful’ king. Other contemporaries described Tankerville as one of the ‘chief court managers’ in this debate, who stood out for making ‘very learned’ speeches. He subscribed to the Association on 27 February.86 L’Hermitage reported on 13 Mar. that in another speech Tankerville argued for a strong navy to defend the kingdom, pointing out that although the east wind had already saved the country once, and the west wind another time, England could not rely on all the points of the compass to perform miracles in its favour. By early May L’Hermitage was spreading the news that Tankerville was being touted to replace Sidney Godolphin, Baron Godolphin, as first lord of the Treasury. On 15 May Tankerville was instead appointed one of the first commissioners of the newly-created board of Trade, where he was able to use his position to procure the governorship of Barbados for his brother, Ralph.87

In the following session of 1696-7, of which he attended 62 per cent of the sittings, Tankerville was on 30 Nov. 1696 appointed to represent the House in a conference on the Commons’ bill to reform and limit privilege of Parliament, a matter which continued to capture his personal interest. The main business to occupy Tankerville in this session, though, was the attainder of Sir John Fenwick, 3rd bt. Before the debates began in the House, Vernon wrote to Charles Talbot, duke of Shrewsbury, that ‘some are sensible there will be a want of speakers to support the bill. My Lord Tankerville will signalize himself, but it is hard to find him seconds’, and after the first day of debate Vernon reported that Tankerville had managed the bill in the House.88 L’Hermitage also identified Tankerville as one of the leading proponents of the bill, which he helped to vote through the House on 23 December.89 By his prominent part in getting the bill through, it is almost certain that Tankerville was teller for the contents in the division of 26 Jan. 1697 on the motion to adjourn the House (following the reading of Lady Mary Fenwick’s petition begging that her husband’s sentence of death be commuted to banishment).90 On 9 Mar. he was a teller in the division on whether the House should insist on its amendments to the bill for the prohibition of silks and calicos imported by the East India Company and he repeated the same role ten days later, at a division on the similar question whether to adhere to the amendments. He almost certainly told for the not contents in both these divisions, for after the vote to adhere passed on 19 Mar. he was one of only four peers, all Whigs, to sign the protest against it.

Tankerville continued as a spokesman for the Whigs in the last (1697-8) session of the Parliament, when he came to 70 per cent of the sittings. On 10 Jan. 1698 he was named as a manager for the conference on the House’s amendments to the bill to prohibit correspondence with James II and his adherents at St. Germain, despite the recently-concluded peace with France. He was a teller in the division of 15 Mar. on whether to commit the bill to punish Charles Duncombe. He told for the contents as he was listed as voting in favour of commitment and subscribed to the protest when the motion was lost by one vote.91 The following day, 16 Mar., he also signed the dissent from the vote to grant relief to the appellants in the cause James Bertie v. Viscount Falkland. The French ambassador, Count Tallard, writing to Louis XIV on 9 May 1698, listed Tankerville as among the six most esteemed men in England.92 From 13 May he was busy as the sole chairman of a committee which over the next several weeks gathered copious testimony on abuses in the assigning and felling of trees in the New Forest, which cheated the Navy of suitable timber for its naval stores, and on 25 May he was able to give a preliminary report concerning the best means to enclose and protect the timber there. On the previous day he had been named as a manager for a conference on the House’s amendments to the bill for suppressing blasphemy. He was named as a manager for a conference on 15 June on the procedures for the trial of John Goudet and other merchants, and he helped to draft and present to the Commons at a conference the following day the House’s reasons for adhering to its resolutions. On 20 June Tankerville was appointed a manager for a conference on the Commons’ amendments to the bill on the Alverstoke Waterworks of Peter Mews, bishop of Winchester, and for another conference on the continuing dispute between the Houses over the procedures for the Goudet trial. He was a teller on 23 June in a procedural motion over the bill for improving trade with Russia. At the same time as he was wrapping up his committee on abuses in the New Forest, Tankerville also chaired, on 1-2 July, three meetings of the committee to hear testimony to help establish the wealth of the merchants who had pleaded guilty in the Goudet impeachments. He reported from this committee on 2 July and consequently was named as a manager for another conference to negotiate the timing of the trials. Two days later, with the prorogation imminent, he gave the final report from the committee on abuses in the New Forest. The House resolved on an address requesting the king to take measures to prevent future abuses, and on the following day, 5 July, Tankerville was able to report the king’s positive reception to the request, before the prorogation later that day.93

For the elections to the 1698 Parliament, Tankerville and Somerset decided to cooperate for both Chichester and Sussex. They were unsuccessful in getting Ranelagh re-elected for Chichester, which prompted Tankerville to offer Somerset some advice from his long experience in managing the borough: ‘I will make a demonstration to your grace when I have the honour to wait on you, and will propose such a method to you of commanding that city for the future that in all elections to come it shall be at your disposal’. For the Sussex election, Tankerville still refused to support Orme, though he assured Somerset he was eager ‘to preserve the good understanding which has so happily begun between us’, but his pleas to Somerset to find a candidate on whom they could agree were fruitless, as this time Orme was successful in winning a seat.94

Tankerville maintained his previous attendance rate of 70 per cent in the first session of the new Parliament. On 27 Jan. 1699 he was named as a manager for the conference on the amendments to the bill to prohibit the export of corn, malt and meal for one year. Vernon reported to Shrewsbury on 31 Jan. that various members of the Lords objected to the small peacetime standing army provided for in the disbanding bill sent up from the Commons, but felt that it was imperative for maintaining peace between the two Houses and getting business done not to reject it. ‘My lord chancellor [John Somers, Baron Somers] and my Lord Tankerville were the most copious on the subject’, he added.95 L’Hermitage reported that Tankerville had stressed the necessity of William’s maintaining the love of his people and a right understanding with Parliament, even at the cost of being unprepared militarily.96 On 8 Feb., as the committee of the whole House considered ways to maintain the king’s favoured Dutch Guards, despite the terms of the disbandment bill, it was moved by those opposed to this proposition to resume the House. Tankerville was a teller on this question, probably for the not contents, and the motion was defeated by a majority of 11. The committee of the whole went on to pass the motion expressing their readiness ‘to enter into any expedient’ for retaining the Dutch Guards.97 On 2 Mar. he was appointed to manage a conference on the bill to prevent the distilling of corn. In the final days of the session he was, on 3 May, chosen to represent the House in a conference on the amendments to the bill for placing a duty on paper and vellum. When the House decided to insist on their amendments Tankerville was likewise placed on the committee to draw up reasons for the decision, but time ran out when the session was prorogued on 4 May.

Whig minister, 1699-1701

By this point, favours and offices were heaped on the increasingly sickly Tankerville. He was offered the post of first commissioner of the Admiralty in May 1699, after Orford had resigned from the post. But, as Vernon reported, he had heard that Tankerville had said that ‘he would be drawn through a horse pond before he would take that employment’. L’Hermitage thought that Tankerville had turned down the post, ‘for fear of being the target of the House of Commons, as have been all the others’. Nevertheless, only four days after turning down this post, Tankerville accepted the offer to be second commissioner of the Treasury, serving under a commoner, Charles Montagu, the future Baron Halifax. As Vernon reported to Shrewsbury, ‘he did it with so good a grace, that the king is very well satisfied in the giving it to him’.98 When Montagu resigned on 15 Nov. 1699, Tankerville moved into his place as first lord of the Treasury.99 This was one day before the opening of the second session of the Parliament, of 1699-1700, during which Tankerville attended 68 per cent of the sittings. He chaired and reported from the committee of the whole House which on 9 Feb. 1700 discussed the bill to take away the bounty on the export of corn. On 23 Feb. he voted and protested against the passage of the bill to maintain the Tory-backed East India Company as a corporation. Tankerville was on 9-10 Apr. assigned to represent the House in three last-ditch conferences on the Commons’ supply bill which provided for the parliamentary resumption of William III’s grants of forfeited Irish lands. Tankerville’s own stance on this controversial measure was made clear by Vernon when he wrote to Shrewsbury on 13 Apr., two days after the session had been prorogued, that Tankerville, as a good court Whig, had ‘all along’ voted for the bill, even though ‘the Whigs are suspected to have encouraged the opposition underhand’.100

The mismanagement of this bill, which led to a breakdown between the government and Parliament, led to rumours of wholesale changes in the ministry, including the possible replacement of the Whigs, including Tankerville, by Tories.101 Instead Tankerville was on 27 June appointed one of the lords justice entrusted with governing the realm during William’s absence.102 The death of the lord privy seal John Lowther, Viscount Lonsdale, on 10 July, only a few days after William’s departure, however opened the way for moving Tankerville out of the Treasury in order to promote Godolphin to be first lord there, a move demanded by the increasingly vociferous Tories anxious to have a part in the remodelled ministry. After weeks of negotiation, Tankerville finally agreed to accept the privy seal and was sworn into office before the Privy Council on 5 Nov., allowing Godolphin to move up to head the Treasury.103

Parliament was dissolved on 19 Dec. 1700, shortly after these complex negotiations to form a new ‘mixed ministry’ were completed. By the time the new Parliament met on 6 Feb. 1701, Tankerville was seriously ill and could only manage to come to five meetings of Parliament in March 1701 before slipping back into absence. In a letter of 29 May, written with ‘a trembling gouty hand’, Tankerville expressed his fears to his Whig colleague, Somers, of the progress in the Commons of the bill to take away privilege of Parliament, for if the bill passed ‘it will enable Lord Rochester to pursue me with a most terrible persecution from which I cannot hope for any relief’ as the king had not made good his previous promises, procured by Somers, Shrewsbury and Robert Spencer, 2nd earl of Sunderland, to make Tankerville ‘easy’ in relation to Rochester’s claims on his estate. Tankerville was well aware though that Somers had more pressing matters on his mind at this point, namely his impeachment by the Commons. He promised his colleague his support at the trial despite his poor health: ‘I will be carried thither if alive; I had almost said if in my grave I should rise again upon that occasion’. Tankerville did rouse himself from his bed one more time to vote on 17 June for Somers’s acquittal and died at his house on Pall Mall only a week later, on 24 June, the day when Parliament was prorogued and the Act of Settlement received the royal assent.104 Tankerville left no male heirs and the earldom of Tankerville became extinct, although the title was later revived and granted in October 1714 to his son-in-law Charles Bennet, 2nd Baron Ossulston, who had married Tankerville’s daughter Mary in July 1695. This daughter was by his will of 31 May 1696 the sole heiress and executrix of Tankerville’s personal estate and by a codicil of 17 Apr. 1701 he additionally charged her to provide an annuity of £200 p.a. to Lady Henrietta Berkeley.105 His younger brother Ralph Grey succeeded to the title of Grey of Warke, as well as to the family’s entailed estate, as well as all the complicated financial obligations with which his elder brother’s extravagant and reckless political actions had loaded it.


  • 1 Regs of St Paul’s, Covent Garden (Harl. Soc. Regs. xxxiii), 5.
  • 2 TNA, PROB 11/462; PROB 11/467.
  • 3 CSP Dom. 1695, p. 112; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 511.
  • 4 CSP Dom. 1699-1700, pp. 64, 67.
  • 5 CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 77.
  • 6 TNA, PC 2/78, p. 95; CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 142.
  • 7 VCH Suss. iv. 10-11, 16.
  • 8 J. Holmes, ‘Epping Place’, Essex Arch. Trans. n.s. xxv. 329-33.
  • 9 Survey of London, xlvi. 250, 254; CSP Dom. 1683 (Jan.-June), 242, 245.
  • 10 Survey of London, xxxiii. 44, 121n.
  • 11 Survey of London, xxx. 548.
  • 12 This biography is based on Cecil Price, Cold Caleb: The Scandalous Life of Ford Grey, First Earl of Tankerville.
  • 13 Price, Cold Caleb, 22-23; North, Lives, iii. 249-51.
  • 14 Price, Cold Caleb, 27; North, Lives, iii. 249-51; TNA, C 6/76/62, C 6/76/65, C 6/76/71, C 6/76/84.
  • 15 TNA, PROB 11/345.
  • 16 Price, Cold Caleb, 27-28.
  • 17 Bodl. Carte 81, ff. 364, 380; HMC Lords, i. 61.
  • 18 HMC 12th Rep. IX, 82; Bodl. Carte 81, f. 387.
  • 19 Burnet, ii. 256-7; HMC Lords, i. 136; TNA, PRO 30/24/6A/339.
  • 20 Cold Caleb, 24, 30-31, 48-49; POAS, i. 369; ii. 170-1, 208, 274; iii. 399, 410, 565; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 168; Lady Grey’s Ghost (1681?); CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 159.
  • 21 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. ii. 160; HMC Ormonde, iv. 523.
  • 22 R. North, Examen (1740), 80-81.
  • 23 HP Commons, 1660-90, i. 344-5.
  • 24 HP Commons, 1660-90, i. 309; HMC 7th Rep. 474.
  • 25 Essex’s Excellency (1679), 3, 7; HMC Lindsey, 26.
  • 26 Grey of Warke, The Secret History of the Rye House Plot (1754), 68.
  • 27 Longleat, Coventry pprs. 7, f. 166.
  • 28 ‘Reception of the Duke of Monmouth at Chichester’, Suss. Arch. Coll. vii. 169.
  • 29 CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 467.
  • 30 Zook, Radical Whigs and Conspirational Pols. 7-11, 197.
  • 31 CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 296.
  • 32 HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 560-1; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 206.
  • 33 Hatton Corresp. (Camden Soc. n.s. xxii), 207-10; Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 29; Morrice, En’tring Bk. ii. 209.
  • 34 HMC Hastings iv. 302; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 215.
  • 35 HMC Lords, i. 179, 187, 190.
  • 36 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. ii. 232; BL, Verney ms mic. M636/34, J. Stewkeley and J. Verrney to Sir R. Verney, 28, 30 June 1680; HMC Ormonde, n.s. v. 340.
  • 37 TNA, DEL 1/155, C 6/35/100; Elliot, A Modest Vindication of Titus Oates (1681), 21-23, 44-45.
  • 38 Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 223-4.
  • 39 Bodl. Carte 77, f. 651; E.S. De Beer, ‘The House of Lords in the Parliament of 1680’, BIHR, xx. 34, 37.
  • 40 HMC Lords, ii. 232.
  • 41 Somers Tracts, viii. 282-3; Vox Patriae (1681), 6-7.
  • 42 Knights, Pols. and Opinion, 287.
  • 43 Secret History, 6-10; Locke Corresp. ii. 382.
  • 44 HMC 14th Rep. IX, 426.
  • 45 Secret History, 10-14.
  • 46 Haley, Shaftesbury, 625.
  • 47 Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 79-82; HMC Ormonde, n.s. vi. 96; TNA, SP 29/415/192.
  • 48 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. ii. 283, 294.
  • 49 HMC Ormonde, n.s. vi. 215-17, 232; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. ii. 291, 293; CSP Dom. 1680-1, pp. 545, 572; HMC Hastings, ii. 173.
  • 50 Haley, Shaftesbury, 673.
  • 51 HMC 7th Rep. 353, 371, 479-80; Bodl. Carte 216, f. 67.
  • 52 POAS, ii. 476-7; A. Roper, ‘Who’s Who in “Absalom and Achitophel”’, HLQ, lxiii. 111-38.
  • 53 HMC Kenyon, 143.
  • 54 Verney ms mic. M636/37, J. Stewkeley to Sir R. Verney, 16 Oct. 1682; Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 229-30; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. ii. 326.
  • 55 Shaftesbury, ed. Spurr, 261-2.
  • 56 State Trials, ix. 127-86; The Works of Aphra Behn, vol. 2: Love-Letters between a Nobleman and his Sister, ed. J. Todd.
  • 57 Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 250; Morrice Ent’ring Bk. ii. 352; Bodl. Carte 222, ff. 326-7.
  • 58 State Trials, ix. 187-298; Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 257; Verney ms mic. M636/37, J. Stewkeley to Sir R. Verney, 10 May 1683.
  • 59 Secret History, 15-40; Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 222; Bodl. Carte 103, f. 383.
  • 60 Secret History, 42-60.
  • 61 Verney ms mic. M636/37, J. Verney to Sir R. Verney, 14, 21 May 1683; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. ii. 368; Secret History, 60-1.
  • 62 Secret History, 42-46.
  • 63 Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxiii), 24; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. ii. 374, 403, 452; Secret History, 62-5.
  • 64 Secret History, 68-80; NAS, GD 406/1/3288, 3292.
  • 65 CTB, vii. 1334, 1368; HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 595.
  • 66 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iii. 26-8, v. 413; Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 352-3; Add. 14316, f. 4; NAS, GD 406/1/7552.
  • 67 Secret History, p. v.
  • 68 CSP Dom. 1685, p. 369.
  • 69 HMC Lords, iv. 46-7.
  • 70 Secret History, 65-7; Add. 72521, ff. 129-32.
  • 71 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iii. 65-7; NAS, GD 406/1/9224.
  • 72 State Trials, xi. 538-40; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iii. 81; Add. 72522, ff. 99-100; 72481, ff. 102-3.
  • 73 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iii, 58, 70; Add. 72482, f. 57; 70013, ff. 302-3.
  • 74 CSP Dom. 1686-7, p. 160; CTB, viii. 772; Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iii. 135, 137, v. 103.
  • 75 Add. 28266, f. 71.
  • 76 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. iv. 504.
  • 77 W. Rutton, ‘Wentworth of Gosfield’, Essex Arch. Trans. n.s. iii. 215-17.
  • 78 HMC Lords, iv. 45-47; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 352.
  • 79 Ranke, Hist. of England, vi. 207-8; Burnet, iv. 188-9; HMC Lords, iv. 305-7.
  • 80 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/5, pp. 246, 253, 256-7.
  • 81 Add. 46527, f. 66.
  • 82 HMC Lords, n.s. i. 452.
  • 83 TNA, PC 2/76, p. 130, C 66/3378 no. 22, C 66/3386; HMC Portland, ii. 173; Sainty, Peerage Creations, 28, which corrects CP, vi. 170 and xii, pt. 1, 632.
  • 84 R. Beddard, ‘The Sussex General Election of 1695’, Suss. Arch. Coll. cvi. 152-6.
  • 85 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/5, p. 382; HMC Lords, n.s. ii. 202-3.
  • 86 Add. 17677 QQ, f. 298; HEHL, HM 30659 (57); HMC Hastings, ii. 259; HMC Lords, n.s. ii. 205.
  • 87 Add. 17677 QQ, ff. 307, 394, 427; CSP Dom. 1696, p. 154; CSP Dom. 1697, pp. 135, 212.
  • 88 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 89, 94.
  • 89 Add. 17677 QQ, f. 632; Add. 17677 RR, ff. 172-3.
  • 90 HMC Lords, n.s. ii. 295.
  • 91 Ibid. iii. 138.
  • 92 Add. 34492, ff. 147-8.
  • 93 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/5, pp. 561-70, 572-4, 580-92, 594-600, 607-10, 612-18, 621.
  • 94 HP Commons, 1690-1715, ii. 595-6, 603-4; W. Suss. RO, Petworth House Archives/14, Tankerville to Somerset, 20, 21 July 1698.
  • 95 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 257.
  • 96 Add. 17677 TT, ff. 83-84.
  • 97 HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 285.
  • 98 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 287, 291, 294, 298; Add. 17677 TT, f. 177.
  • 99 CSP Dom. 1699, p. 291.
  • 100 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 9.
  • 101 Bodl. Ballard 10, f. 40.
  • 102 Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 97-98; Add. 30000 D, f. 215.
  • 103 TNA, PC 2/78, p. 95; Add. 30000 D, f. 307; 72498, f. 36.
  • 104 Surr. Hist. Cent. 371/14/E/16; Essex RO, D/DBy O25/10, 12; Add. 30000 E, f. 293.
  • 105 TNA, PROB 11/462; PROB 11/467.