Sir George Grey: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to George Grey article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Right Honourable
 Sir George Grey 

Painting of Sir George Grey by Daniel Louis Mundy, 1860s.

In office
15 May 1841 – 25 October 1845
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Colonel George Gawler
Succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Robe

In office
18 November 1845 – 3 January 1854
December 1861 – 5 February 1868
Preceded by Captain Robert FitzRoy (1845)
Colonel Thomas Gore Browne (1861)
Succeeded by Colonel Thomas Gore Browne (1854)
Sir George Ferguson Bowen (1868)

Governor of Cape Colony
In office
Preceded by George Cathcart (Charles Henry Darling acting)
Succeeded by Philip Edmond Wodehouse (Robert Wynyard acting)

In office
13 October 1877 – 8 October 1879
Preceded by Harry Atkinson
Succeeded by John Hall

Born 14 April 1812(1812-04-14)
Lisbon, Portugal
Died 19 September 1898 (aged 86)
For other men with a similar name, see George Grey (disambiguation) or George Gray

Sir George Grey, KCB (14 April 1812 – 19 September 1898) was a soldier, explorer, Governor of South Australia, twice Governor of New Zealand, Governor of Cape Colony (South Africa), the 11th Premier of New Zealand and a writer.


Early life and exploration

Sir George Grey's coat of arms

Grey was born in Lisbon, Portugal, the only son of Lieutenant-Colonel Grey, of the 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot, who was killed at the Battle of Badajoz in Spain just a few days before. His mother, on the balcony of her hotel in Lisbon, overheard two officers speak of his death and this brought on his premature birth. His mother, Elizabeth Anne, was the daughter of an Irish clergyman, the Rev. John Vignoles. Grey was sent to the Royal Grammar School, Guildford in Surrey, and was admitted to the royal military college in 1826. Early in 1830 he was gazetted ensign in the 83rd Regiment of Foot. In 1830, his regiment having been sent to Ireland, he developed much sympathy with the Irish peasantry whose misery made a great impression on him. He was promoted lieutenant in 1833 and obtained a first-class certificate at the examinations of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1836.

In 1837, as a young man, Grey led a catastrophically ill-prepared expedition of exploration of north-west Australia from Cape Town — only one man of his party had seen northern Australia before. It was at that time believed that a great river entered the Indian ocean on the north-west of Australia, and that the country it drained might be suitable for colonization. Grey, in conjunction with Lieutenant Lushington, offered to explore this country and on 5 July 1837 Grey sailed from Plymouth in command of a party of five, the others being Lieutenant Lushington, Mr Walker, a surgeon and naturalist, and two corporals of the royal sappers and miners. Others were added to the party at Cape Town and early in December they landed at Hanover Bay. Wrecked, almost drowned and completely lost, with Grey wounded in a skirmish with Aborigines, they traced the course of the Glenelg River before giving up and retiring to Mauritius to recover.

Two years later, Grey returned to Western Australia and was again wrecked with his party at Kalbarri; they were the first Europeans to see the Gascoyne River, but then had to walk to Perth, surviving the journey through the efforts of Kaiber, a Whadjuk Noongar, who organised food and what water could be found (they survived by drinking liquid mud). At about this time Grey became one of the few Europeans to learn the Noongar language of south-west Western Australia.

Governor of South Australia

Grey was the third Governor of South Australia, from 1841 to 1845. He oversaw the colony during a difficult formative period. Despite being seen as less hands-on than his predecessor, George Gawler, his fiscally responsible measures ensured the colony was in good shape by the time he left to govern New Zealand

Governor of New Zealand

Grey served as Governor of New Zealand twice: first from 1845 to 1853, and then again from 1861 to 1868. He was arguably the most influential figure during the European settlement of New Zealand during much of the 19th century.

Sir George Grey (1861)

First term

Grey was appointed as the third Governor of New Zealand in 1845. During the tenure of his predecessor, Robert FitzRoy, violent clashes between settlers and Māori in several parts of the North Island, mainly over land claims. In the Nelson area, ignoring opposition from Ngāti Toa, settlers tried to occupy land in the Wairau district, and twenty-two settlers and at least four Māori were killed in a bungled attempt by an armed party to arrest the powerful chiefs Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata. In the far north of the country, Ngā Puhi chiefs Hone Heke and his ally, Kawiti, acting out of fear that the Europeans would take all their land, had risen in revolt against the authority of the British. Despite the fact that most of Ngā Puhi sided with the government, the British had been disastrously beaten at Ohaeawai. Grey, armed with the financial support and the troops that had been denied to FitzRoy, occupied Kawiti's fortress at Ruapekapeka, which Kawiti had already evacuated. The continued hostilities had effectively wrecked the Ngā Puhi economy and eventually Heke and Kawiti sued for peace, with Waka acting as an intermediary. Grey accepted their offer and reassured the Māori that there would be no putative land confiscation[1]. In the south he arrested Te Rauparaha and imprisoned him. Grey's actions brought the fighting to an end for the next ten years. Grey blamed the disputes in the north on Henry Williams and other missionaries, regarding them as 'no better than land-jobbers' whose desire for land would require 'a large expenditure of British blood and money'.[2]

During Grey's first tenure as Governor of New Zealand, he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (1848). Grey was to greatly influence the final form of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, after the 1846 Act was largely suspended at his request (Grey was briefly "Governor-in-Chief"). Grey oversaw the establishment of the first provinces of New Zealand.

However he earned particular respect for his handling of Māori affairs from 1845 to 1853. He took pains to show Māori that he observed the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, assuring them that their land rights would be fully recognised. In the Taranaki district, Māori were very reluctant to sell their land, but elsewhere Grey was much more successful, and nearly 33 million acres (130,000 km²) were purchased from Māori, with the result that British settlements expanded quickly. Grey was less successful in his efforts to assimilate the Māori; he simply lacked the financial means to realise his plans. Although he subsidised mission schools, requiring them to teach in English, only a few hundred Māori children attended them at any one time.[2]

Second term

Photograph of Sir George Grey
Statue of Sir George Grey in Albert Park, Auckland

Grey was again appointed Governor in 1861 following the granting of a degree of self-governance to New Zealand, serving until 1868. His second term as Governor was greatly different from the first, as he had to deal with the demands of an elected parliament.

Grey was greatly respected by Māori, and often travelled with a company of chiefs. He induced leading chiefs to write down their accounts of Maori traditions, legends and customs. His principal informant, Wiremu Maihi Te Rangikāheke, taught Grey to speak Māori[2].

He learned Māori and persuaded Māori authorities to commit their legends and traditions to writing, some of which were subsequently published... His collected papers would turn out to be the largest single repository of Māori-language manuscripts

Grey bought Kawau Island in 1862, on his return to New Zealand for his second term as governor. For 25 years he lavished large amounts of his personal wealth on the island's development, including enlarging and remodelling Mansion House, the former residence of the copper mine superintendent. Here he planted a huge array of exotic trees and shrubs, acclimatised many bird and animal species, and amassed a celebrated collection of rare books and manuscripts, artworks and curiosities, and artefacts from the Māori people over whom he had ruled.

Grey launched the Invasion of the Waikato in 1863 to take control of the rich Māori agricultural region. The war brought many British troops to New Zealand: at one time more were situated there than anywhere else in the world. In the later 1860s the British government determined to withdraw Imperial troops from New Zealand. At the time the Maori chiefs Te Kooti and Titokowaru had the colonial government and settlers extremely alarmed with a series of military successes. With the support of the Premier, Edward Stafford, Grey evaded instructions from the Colonial Office to finalise the return of the regiments, which had commenced in 1865 and 1866. In the end the British government recalled Grey in February 1868[2]. He was replaced by Sir George Bowen.

Governor of Cape Colony

Portrait of Sir George Grey as Governor of the Cape Colony

Grey was Governor of Cape Colony from 5 December 1854 to 15 August 1861. He founded Grey College, Bloemfontein in 1855 and Grey High School in Port Elizabeth in 1856. In South Africa Grey dealt firmly with the natives, but endeavoured by setting apart tracts of land for their exclusive use to protect them from the white colonists. He more than once acted as arbitrator between the government of the Orange Free State and the natives, and eventually came to the conclusion that a federated South Africa would be a good thing for everyone. The Orange Free State would have been willing to join the federation, and it is probable that the Transvaal would also have agreed. Grey, however, was 50 years before his time and the colonial office would not agree to his proposals. In spite of their instructions, Grey continued to advocate union, and, in connection with other matters, such as the attempt to settle soldiers in South Africa after the Crimean War, he several times disregarded his instructions.

When all the circumstances are considered it is not surprising that he was recalled in 1859. He had, however, scarcely reached England before a change of government led to his being given another term, on the understanding that his schemes for the federation of South Africa should be abandoned and that he would in future obey his instructions. Grey was convinced that the boundaries of the South African colonies should be widened, but could not obtain the support of the British government. He was still working for this support when, war with the Māori' having broken out, it was decided that Grey should again be appointed governor of New Zealand. When he left his popularity among the people of Cape Colony was unbounded, and the statue erected at Cape Town during his lifetime describes him as "a governor who by his high character as a Christian, a statesman, and a gentleman, had endeared himself to all classes of the community, and who by his zealous devotion to the best interests of South Africa and his able and just administration, has secured the approbation and gratitude of all Her Majesty's subjects in this part of her dominions".

Premier of New Zealand

In 1875 he was elected Superintendent of Auckland Province, and was elected the Member of Parliament for the City of Auckland West in the 1875 general election. Grey opposed the abolition of the provinces, but his opposition proved ineffective, and the provincial system was abolished in 1876. Grey then became MP for Thames in 1876, and on the defeat of Harry Atkinson as Premier on 13 October 1877, he was elected Premier by Parliament. His government did not operate particularly well, with Grey seeking to dominate the government and coming into conflict with the Governor. His term as Premier is regarded by historians as a failure[3]. Towards the end of 1879, Grey's government got into difficulties over land tax. Eventually, Grey asked for an early election in 1879. He was elected in the City of Christchurch electorate in September 1879.[4]

Grey was now suffering from ill health and he retired from politics in 1890, leaving for Australia. On returning to New Zealand, a deputation requested him to contest the Newton seat in Auckland, to which he was elected unopposed. In December 1893 Grey was again elected, to Auckland City.

Grey died in London on 19 September 1898, and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.

Places and institutions named after Grey

Places named after Grey include Greytown in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand's North Island, the Grey River in the South Island's West Coast region (and thus indirectly the town of Greymouth at the river's mouth), and the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn; Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; the Division of Grey, an Australian Electoral Division in South Australia. Grey Street, Melbourne is also believed to have been named after George Edward Grey. Falcon College in Zimbabwe named one of their six hostels after Grey. In South Africa, Grey was instrumental in the founding of Grey High School, Port Elizabeth, Grey College, Bloemfontein and Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. The town of Lady Grey is named after his wife.

Popular culture

The Governor, an historical drama miniseries based on Grey's life, was made by TVNZ in 1977, featuring Corin Redgrave in the title role. Despite critical acclaim, the miniseries attracted controversy at the time because of its then-large budget. [1]

See also


  1. ^ The Colonial New Zealand Wars, Tim Ryan and Bill Parham, pg28
  2. ^ a b c d Sinclair, Keith (7 April 2006). "Grey, George 1812–1898". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 2007-07-03. 
  3. ^ a b The Penguin History of New Zealand, p. 203.
  4. ^ "General Election News". Wanganui Herald. Volume XII, Issue 9511, 11 September 1879. pp. 2. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Colonel George Gawler
Governor of South Australia
Succeeded by
Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Robe
Preceded by
Captain Robert FitzRoy
Governor of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Colonel Thomas Gore Browne
Preceded by
George Cathcart
Charles Henry Darling (acting)
Governor of Cape Colony
Succeeded by
Robert Wynyard (acting)

Sir Philip Wodehouse

Preceded by
Colonel Thomas Gore Browne
Governor of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Sir George Ferguson Bowen


Preceded by: Harry Atkinson (1877–1879) Succeeded by: John Hall
Sewell | Fox | Stafford | Domett | Whitaker | Weld | Waterhouse | Vogel | Pollen | Atkinson | Grey | Hall | Stout | Ballance | Seddon | Hall-Jones | Ward | Mackenzie | Massey | Bell | Coates | Forbes | Savage | Fraser | Holland | Holyoake | Nash | Marshall | Kirk | Rowling | Muldoon | Lange | Palmer | Moore | Bolger | Shipley | Clark | Key

Redirecting to George Grey

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SIR GEORGE GREY (1812-1898), British colonial governor and statesman, only son of Lieutenant-Colonel Grey of the 30th Foot, was born in Lisbon on the r4th of April 1812, eight days after the death of his father at the storming of Badajoz.

He passed through Sandhurst with credit, and received his commission in 1829. His lieutenancy was dated 1833, and his captaincy 1839, in which year he sold out and left the army. In the early 'thirties he was quartered in Ireland, where the wretchedness of the poorer classes left a deep impression on his mind. In 1836 the Royal Geographical Society accepted his offer to explore the north-west region of West Australia, and accordingly he landed at Hanover Bay at the end of 1837. The surrounding country he found broken and difficult, and his hardships were aggravated by the tropical heat and his ignorance of the continent. In a skirmish with the natives, in which he was speared near the hip, he showed great courage, and put the assailants to flight, shooting the chief, who had wounded him. After a brave endeavour to continue his journey his wound forced him to retreat to the coast, whence he sailed to Mauritius to recruit. Next year he again essayed exploration, this time on the coast to the north and south of Shark's Bay. He had three whale-boats and an ample supply of provisions, but by a series of disasters his stores were spoilt by storms, his boats wrecked in the surf, and the party had to tramp on foot from Gantheaume Bay to Perth, where Grey, in the end, walked in alone, so changed by suffering that friends did not know him. In 1839 he was appointed governor-resident at Albany, and during his stay there married Harriett, daughter of Admiral Spencer, and also prepared for publication an account, in two volumes, of his expeditions. In 1840 he returned to England, to be immediately appointed by Lord John Russell to succeed Colonel Gawler as governor of South Australia. Reaching the colony in May 1841, he found it in the depths of a depression caused by mismanagement and insane land speculation. By rigorously reducing public expenditure, and forcing the settlers to quit the town and betake themselves to tilling their lands, and with the opportune help of valuable copper discoveries, Grey was able to aid the infant colony to emerge from the slough. So striking were his energy and determination that when, in 1845, the little settlements in New Zealand were found to be involved in a native war, and on the verge of ruin, he was sent to save them. The Maori chiefs in open rebellion were defeated, and made their submission. Another powerful leader suspected of fomenting discontent was arrested, and friendly chieftains were subsidized and honoured. Bands of the natives were employed in making government roads, and were paid good wages. The governor gained the veneration of the Maori tribes, in whose welfare he took a close personal interest, and of whose legends and myths he made a valuable and scholarly collection, published in New Zealand in 1855 and reprinted thirty years afterwards. With peace prosperity came to New Zealand, and the colonial office desired to give the growing settlements full self-government. Grey, arguing that this would renew war with the Maori, returned the constitution to Downing Street. But though the colonial office sustained him, he became involved in harassing disputes with the colonists, who organized an active agitation for autonomy. In the end a second constitution, partly framed by Grey himself, was granted them, and Grey, after eight years of despotic but successful rule, was transferred to Cape Colony. He had been knighted for his services, and had undoubtedly shown strength, dexterity and humanity in dealing with the whites and natives. In South Africa his success continued. He thwarted a formidable Kaffir rebellion in the Eastern Provinces, and pushed on the work of settlement by bringing out men from the German Legion and providing them with homes. He gained the respect of the British, the confidence of the Boers, the admiration and the trust of the natives. The Dutch of the Free State and the Basuto chose him as arbitrator of their quarrels. When the news of the Indian Mutiny reached Cape Town he strained every nerve to help Lord Canning, despatching men, horses, stores and L60,000 in specie to Bombay. He persuaded a detachment, then on its way round the Cape as a reinforcement for Lord Elgin in China, to divert its voyage to Calcutta. Finally, in 1859, Grey almost reached what would have been the culminating point of his career by federating South Africa. Persuaded by him, the Orange Free State passed resolutions in favour of this great step, and their action was welcomed by Cape Town. But the colonial office disapproved of the change, and when Grey attempted to persevere with it Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton recalled him. A change of ministry during his voyage to England displaced Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton. But though the duke of Newcastle reinstated Grey, it was with instructions to let federation drop. In 1861 the colonial office sent him, for the fourth time in succession, to take up a post of exceptional difficulty by again entrusting him with the governorship of New Zealand, where an inglorious native war in Taranaki had just been succeeded by an armed truce. Grey did his best to make terms with the rebels and to re-establish friendship with the Maori king and the land league of tribes formed to stop further sales of land to the whites. But the Maori had got guns and powder, and were suspicious and truculent. In vain Grey, supported by Bishop Selwyn and by Fox and the peace party among the settlers, strove to avert war. It came in 1863, and spread from province to province. Ten thousand regulars and as many colonial riflemen were employed to put it down. The imperial troops were badly handled, and Grey, losing patience, became involved in bitter disputes with their commanders. As an example to the .former he himself attacked and captured Weraroa, the strongest of the Maori stockades, with a handful of militia, a feat which delighted the colonists, but made him as much disliked at the war office as he now was at Downing Street. Moreover, Grey had no longer real control over the islands. New Zealand had become a self-governing colony, and though he vindicated the colonists generally when libellous imputations of cruelty and land-grabbing were freely made against them in London, he crossed swords with his ministers when the latter confiscated three million acres of tribal land belonging to the insurgent Maori. Yet through all these troubles progress was made; many successes were gained in 1866, chiefly by the colonial militia, and a condition of something like tranquillity had been reached in 1867, when he received a curt intimation from the duke of Buckingham that he was about to be superseded. The colonists, who believed he was sacrificed for upholding their interests and good name, bade farewell to him in 1868 in an outburst of gratitude and sympathy; but his career as a colonial governor was at an end. Returning to England, he tried to enter public life, delivered many able speeches advocating what later came to be termed Imperialism, and stood for Newark. Discouraged, however, by the official Liberals, he withdrew and turned again to New Zealand. In 1872 he was given a pension of 1000 a year, and settled down on the island of Kawau, not far from Auckland, which he bought, and where he passed his leisure in planting, gardening and collecting books. In 1875, on the invitation of the Auckland settlers, he became superintendent of their province, and entered the New Zealand House of Representatives to resist the abolition of the provincial councils of the colony, a change then being urged on by Sir Julius Vogel in alliance with the Centralist Party. In this he failed, but his eloquence and courage drew round him a strong Radical following, and gave him the premiership in 1877. Manhood suffrage, triennial parliaments, a land-tax, the purchase of large estates and the popular election of the governor, were leading points of his policy. All these reforms, except the last, he lived to see carried; none of them were passed by him. A commercial depression in 1879 shook his popularity, and on the fall of his ministry in 1879 he was deposed, and for the next fifteen years remained a solitary and pathetic figure in the New Zealand parliament, respectfully treated, courteously listened to, but never again invited to lead. In 1891 he came before Australia as one of the New Zealand delegates to the federal convention at Sydney, and characteristically made his mark by standing out almost alone for "one man one vote" as the federal franchise. This point he carried, and the Australians thronged to hear him, so that his visits to Victoria and South Australia were personal triumphs. When, too, in 1894, he quitted New Zealand for London, some reparation was at last made him by the imperial government; he was called to the privy council, and graciously received by Queen Victoria on his visit to Windsor. Thereafter he lived in London, and died on the 10th of September 1898. He was given a public funeral at St Paul's. Grey was all his life a collector of books and manuscripts. After leaving Cape Colony, he gave his library to Cape Town in 1862; his subsequent collection, which numbered 12,000 volumes, he presented to the citizens of Auckland in 1887. In gratitude the people of Cape Town erected a statue of him opposite their library building.

Lives of Sir George Grey have been written by W. L. and L. Rees (1892), Professor G. C. Henderson (1907) and J. Collier (1909).

(W. P. R.)

<< Sir Edward Grey

Henry Grey, 3rd earl Grey >>


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address