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Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 The Earl Grey 

The Earl Grey

In office
10 December 1904 – 1911
Monarch Edward VII
George V
Preceded by Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound
Succeeded by Prince Arthur

In office
2 April 1896 – 5 December 1898
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Leander Starr Jameson
Succeeded by William Henry Milton

Member of Parliament for South Northumberland
In office
1880 – 1885
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister William Gladstone
Preceded by Wentworth Beaumont
Edward Ridley
Succeeded by Constituency abolished

Member of Parliament for Tyneside
In office
1885 – 1886
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister William Gladstone
Preceded by New constituency
Succeeded by Wentworth Beaumont

Born 28 November 1851 (1851-11-28)
United Kingdom
Died 29 August 1917 (1917-08-30) (aged 65)
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Alice Holford
Children Charles Grey
Four other children
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Religion Protestant

Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey, GCMG, GCVO, PC (28 November 1851 – 29 August 1917) was a British nobleman who was Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911. He was a Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom from 1880 to 1886.


Early years, 1851-80

Grey was the son of General Sir Charles Grey and his wife Caroline Eliza Farquhar, daughter of Sir Thomas Harvie Farquhar, 2nd baronet. His father was a younger son of former British prime minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey. Sir Charles Grey went to Canada with his brother-in-law Lord Durham in 1838 as part of the commission that produced the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839). Sir Charles Grey later served as private secretary to Prince Albert and later to Queen Victoria.

Grey came from a family that had enjoyed successful political careers based on reform, including colonial reform. For example, his grandfather, while prime miniser, had championed the Reform Act 1832; and in 1846, his uncle, the 3rd Earl Grey, as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies during the first ministry of John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, was the first to suggest that colonies should be self-sustaining and governed for the benefit of their inhabitants, instead of for the benefit of the United Kingdom.

Grey was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied history and law, graduating in 1873.[1] In 1877, he married Alice Holford daughter of Robert Stayner Holford M.P for East Gloucestershire. Together they had five children, one of whom died in early childhood.

After university, Grey became private secretary to Sir Henry Bartle Frere. Since Frere was a member of the Council of India, Grey accompanied the Prince of Wales on his tour of India.

Albert Grey, MP, 1880-1886

Grey stood for parliament at South Northumberland in 1878 when he polled the same number of votes as his opponent Edward Ridley, but declined a scrutiny and was not returned.[2] He was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for South Northumberland in the 1880 until the seat was replaced under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. In the 1885 general election, he was elected MP for Tyneside. He split with Gladstone in 1886 over Irish home rule, and became a Liberal Unionist. He was not returned at the 1886 general election. [3]

Inspired by the thought of Giuseppe Mazzini, Grey became an advocate of imperialism and was one of the founders of the Imperial Federation League which sought to transform the British Empire into an Imperial Federation.

Years as Earl Grey, 1894-1917

Grey succeeded his uncle as 4th Earl Grey in 1894, taking a seat in the House of Lords.

At the invitation of Cecil Rhodes, Lord Grey became a member of the Board of Directors of the British South Africa Company. In the period immediately before and after the Jameson Raid on the Transvaal (1895-96), Lord Grey was the main liaison between Rhodes and Joseph Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for the Colonies.


Administrator of Southern Rhodesia, 1896-97

In the wake of the Jameson Raid, Sir Leander Starr Jameson, the Administrator of Southern Rhodesia, was disgraced, and the government headed by Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury asked Lord Grey to serve as Jameson's immediate replacement.

Career in the United Kingdom, 1897-1904

Grey gained commercial experience as the Director of the British South Africa Company from 1898 to 1904. He was one of the first four trustees responsible for the administration of the scholarship funds which established the Rhodes Scholarship. He also served as Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland 1899-1904. In 1899 Grey published a brief biography of a young relative, Hubert Hervey, who was killed in the second Matabele war.[4]

Governor General of Canada, 1904-11

In 1904, the Arthur Balfour ministry named Grey as the 9th Governor General of Canada. Grey replaced his brother-in-law the Earl of Minto as governor general (Minto was married to Grey's sister, Mary Caroline Grey). The appointment came at a good time for Grey since a series of failed investments in South Africa had left him penniless; a gift from his wife's aunt Lady Wantage (widow of Lord Wantage) was used to supplement his salary as Governor General.

On 16 June 1905, a second Commission was issued that appointed Lord Grey as "Governor General of Canada and Commander-in-Chief of the Dominion of Canada". This reflected the passing of the Militia Act in 1904, and resulted in changes to the Letters Patent Constituting the Office of the Governor General.

Lord Grey was in office during a time of increasing economic development, industrialisation and immigration in Canada. Both Alberta and Saskatchewan entered the Confederation in 1905.

Unlike later governors general, Lord Grey actively attempted to influence Canadian governmental policy. He unsuccessfully urged prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier to support the Imperial Federation he had long championed. More successfully, he urged Laurier to create a navy, a policy he pushed for years. At Grey's urging, Canada assumed control of the British garrisons at Halifax, Nova Scotia and Esquimalt, British Columbia. Grey's persistence in encouraging Laurier to create a Canadian navy bore fruit in 1910, when the Royal Canadian Navy was created by the Naval Service Act of 1910; the Act was so identified with Grey, that in Quebec, it was referred to as "Grey's Bill" and opposed by Henri Bourassa and his Ligue nationaliste canadienne as a result.

Lord Grey in office at Rideau Hall, Ottawa, Ontario.

This was not the only occasion on which Lord Grey angered Quebec nationalists. He advocated turning the Plains of Abraham into a national park, a move opposed by Bourassa and the nationalists, who saw the move as a tribute to the British Empire. Laurier's government declared the Plains of Abraham a national park in 1908. Between 1906 and 1908, Grey was involved in the Quebec Tercentenary which would mark the 300th anniversary of the landing of Samuel de Champlain in Quebec in 1608. Grey determined that the event should be a celebration of Franco-Anglo-American friendship, and arranged for a ceremony to be attended by the Prince of Wales, American and French warships, and a host of visiting dignitaries. Bourassa and other nationalists complained that Grey had transformed a day intended to celebrate Samuel de Champlain into a celebration of James Wolfe.

Grey opposed the head tax imposed on Chinese immigrants to Canada by the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 and at one point declined an invitation to visit British Columbia to protest exclusionary measures passed by the government of premier Richard McBride. Grey initially supported Asian immigration to Canada, although, in the wake of the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1905), he became concerned about the so-called Yellow Peril, and worked with Laurier's government to explore alternatives to the head tax to restrict Asian immigration to Canada. He was nevertheless appalled by the 1907 Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver, British Columbia organized by the Asiatic Exclusion League. Later in 1907, Lord Grey arranged a visit to Canada by Prince Fushimi Sadanaru of the Empire of Japan.

In 1911, Sir Wilfrid Laurier's government was defeated by Sir Robert Borden over the issue of trade reciprocity with the United States. King Edward VII died in 1910, and King George V was crowned in 1911.

Lord Grey travelled throughout Canada extensively, from the Maritimes to the north and to western Canada. He was the first Governor General to travel to Newfoundland, where he issued a warm invitation for them to join the Confederation. He also developed strong bonds with Theodore Roosevelt, the President of the United States, visiting the United States on different occasions.

With his desire for social reform and cohesion, Lord Grey was a strong promoter of national unity among French and English Canadians, as well as a supporter of unity within the entire British Empire. He also advocated prison reforms in Canada to provide greater social justice.

Lord Grey sought to promote culture among Canadians. From 1906 to 1908, he was heavily involved in the Quebec Tercentenary, the celebrations, pageantry and social functions marking the 300th anniversary of the founding of the city. He also influenced the decision to have the Plains of Abraham, the battlefield where the French and English fought in 1759 which led to the fall of New France, designated a national park in Quebec City.

The Grey Cup circa 2006.

He supported the arts, and established the "Grey Competition for Music and Drama" which was first held in 1907. In 1909, he donated the Grey Cup to the Senior Amateur Football Championship of Canada. The Grey Cup is still presented to the champions of the Canadian Football League. In 1963 Lord Grey was elected into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame for his contribution to the game.

At the request of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, he also undertook the role of Chief Scout of Canada. In 1907, Lord Grey received Canada's first important foreign royal visit, Prince Fushima of Japan. In 1908, as part of the Quebec Tercentenary celebrations, he welcomed the Prince of Wales (later King George V), who reviewed 12,000 Canadian military personnel along with a host of ships visiting Quebec.

Lady Grey was the first spouse of a Governor General to be designated as "Her Excellency", an appellation approved by King Edward VII. She was very interested in her husband's role and duties. She sponsored contests for beautiful gardens in Ottawa, known as the "Lady Grey Competitions", (which continued a tradition begun during Lord Minto's term) and also planted daffodils on the west lawn, which visitors to Rideau Hall can still see today. Their daughter, Lady Evelyn Grey, was a champion figure skater.

During his term, Lord Grey added both the Governor General's study and a new conservatory (which was removed in 1923–24) to Rideau Hall. And upon his departure, he sold the State Landau, which he had purchased from the Governor General of Australia, to the Canadian government — the carriage is still used for official functions. Lord Grey also recommended that a "great" railway hotel be built in the nation's capital — an idea that grew into the Chateau Laurier.

Lord Grey and his wife received many accolades for their work with Canadians and for their championship of social reform. Lord Grey was a very active Governor General. Sir Wilfrid Laurier said Lord Grey gave "his whole heart, his whole soul, and his whole life to Canada".

Final years in England, 1911-17

On leaving office in 1911, Lord Grey and his family returned to England, where he became president of the Royal Colonial Institute (now the Royal Commonwealth Society) in London. Grey died at his family residence in 1917. His son Charles succeeded to the title.

Honorific eponyms

Geographic locations


External links

Government offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Minto
Governor General of Canada
Succeeded by
HRH The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Preceded by
Leander Starr Jameson
Administrator of Southern Rhodesia
Succeeded by
William Henry Milton
as Senior Administrator of Southern Rhodesia
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Wentworth Beaumont
Edward Ridley
Member of Parliament for South Northumberland
Served alongside: Wentworth Beaumont
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Tyneside
Succeeded by
Wentworth Beaumont
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The 6th Duke of Northumberland
Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland
Succeeded by
The 7th Duke of Northumberland
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Henry Grey
Earl Grey
Succeeded by
Charles Grey


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