GROSVENOR, Thomas II (1764-1851), of Grosvenor House, Walthamstow, Essex and Stocking Hall, Leics.
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Family and Education
b. 30 May 1764, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Thomas Grosvenor I*, and bro. of Richard Erle Drax Grosvenor*. educ. Westminster 1773. m. (1) 6 Apr. 1797, Elizabeth (d. 26 July 1830), da. of Sir Gilbert Heathcote†, 3rd Bt., of Normanton, Rutland, s.p.; (2) 15 Oct. 1831, Anne, da. of George Wilbraham† of Delamere Lodge, Cheshire, s.p. suc. fa. to Walthamstow property 1795.
Ensign 3 Ft. Gds. 1779, lt. and capt. 1784, capt. and lt.-col. 1793, brevet col. 1796; brigadier (local rank) 1800, maj.-gen. 1802; lt.-col. 7 W.I. Regt. (half-pay) 1802-7; col. 97 Ft. 1807-14; lt.-gen. 1808; col. 65 Ft. 1814-d; gen. 1819, f. m. 1846.
Mayor, Chester 1810-11.
Grosvenor served in Flanders in 1793, and in Holland and the retreat from Bremen in 1794-5. In 1794 his uncle, the 1st Earl of Grosvenor, asked Pitt to appoint him a groom of the bedchamber, and Grosvenor himself later reminded the minister of the application, but nothing came of it.1 When his father died in February 1795 he replaced him as Member for Chester on the family interest. He was returned unopposed at the next four general elections. Like his father, he supported Pitt’s ministry, voting for the triple assessment, 4 Jan. 1798. On 2 Dec. 1795 he reproved the secretary at war for referring lightly to soldiers being ‘killed off’, and on 30 May 1799 he supported his cousin Lord Belgrave’s attempt to suppress Sunday newspapers. Later that year he went on the Helder expedition.
Grosvenor gave general support to Addington’s ministry. He was a teller for the majority against Tierney’s attack on Dundas as a war minister, 22 Apr. 1801. Although he went to the House inclined to support the claims of the Prince of Wales to arrears of duchy of Cornwall revenues, 31 Mar. 1802, the arguments advanced ‘convinced him that he could not regularly enter upon the discussion, or venture upon the decision of the right’, but he spoke and voted for the Prince’s financial claims when they were pressed again, 4 Mar. 1803. He opposed the suppression of bull-baiting, 24 May 1802, when he raised a laugh with his observation that ‘the higher orders had their Billington, and why not allow the lower orders their bull’. He spoke against a proposed amendment to the volunteer consolidation bill, 20 Mar. 1804. Between 1802 and 1807 he held brigade commands at home.
A coolness had developed between Grosvenor’s cousin, now 2nd Earl Grosvenor, and Pitt, by the time the latter returned to power in May 1804. Lord Grosvenor was said to be ‘strongly disinclined’ to support the new ministry ‘on account of the Catholic question’, and Pitt apparently never forgave him for his letter of 14 May 1804 deploring the excessive number of peerage creations during the past 50 years. After failing to persuade Grosvenor’s elder brother Richard Erle Drax Grosvenor, his colleague at Chester since 1802, to attend Parliament to support the additional force bill, the King ‘had application made to the general, whose answer was that he wished his elder brother Drax to set him the example, as he was fearful of offending Lord Grosvenor’.2 In September 1804 ministers initially classed him as ‘doubtful for’, but subsequently as ‘Pitt’, as they did again in July 1805; and he wrote to Pitt in friendly terms, 19 Dec. 1805, exhorting him to ‘do nothing but take care of your health and the sailors’.3
After Pitt’s death Lord Grosvenor went over to the Whigs, and General Grosvenor, unlike his brother, is not known to have opposed the ‘Talents’. On 25 Feb. 1807 he asked Lord Grenville for the vacant colonelcy of the 47th Foot and referred to ‘the high respect I entertain personally for your lordship and the wishes of my family and myself to give our aid and support to your administration’.4 That regiment was spoken for, but he was given another. After the 1807 general election Grenville’s brother named Grosvenor as one of the Members marked ‘doubtful’ by opposition headcounters ‘who ought to be counted with us’; and he was listed among Members who were ‘totally unconnected’ with the Portland ministry.5
He commanded a brigade in the Copenhagen expedition, received the thanks of the House for his part in the affair, 28 Jan. 1808, and replied in his place, 1 Feb. He endorsed the vote of thanks for the victory at Vimeiro, 25 Jan. 1809, paying particular tribute to Wellesley’s leadership, but voted against government on the convention of Cintra, 21 Feb. At the close of the following day’s proceedings on the Duke of York inquiry he made a statement testifying to the army’s appreciation of his services as commander-in-chief. He was second in command of a division on the Walcheren expedition. He voted against government on the address, 23 Jan., and on Porchester’s motion for inquiry into the expedition, 26 Jan., when he said that ‘he was little disposed to dispute about forms’ and ‘inquiry was his sole object’. One ministerialist dubbed him a deserter ‘who ought to have voted with us’, and a Whig reported that his ‘few words’, as a spokesman for the army, ‘had most effect’ in the debate.6 He voted with ministers on the question of Lord Chatham’s narrative concerning the expedition, 23 Feb., and again on 5 Mar. 1810, when he spoke against Whitbread’s motion. The Whigs nevertheless listed him among their ‘thick and thin’ adherents shortly afterwards, though he did not vote in the decisive division on Walcheren, 30 Mar. He was absent from the clashes on the Regency, 1 and 21 Jan. 1811, and his only recorded votes against government in 1812 were for inquiry into the orders in council, 3 Mar., for a remodelling of administration, 21 May, and against the leather tax, 1 July. He was a teller for the majority against Parnell’s proposal to add a clause to the mutiny bill allowing Catholic troops to attend Mass, 11 Mar. 1811.
Grosvenor, who topped the poll at Chester at the contested election of 1812, voted for Catholic relief, 2 Mar., 13 and 24 May 1813, but did not do so in subsequent divisions in this period. He continued to divide with opposition, when present, but was clearly an indifferent attender. His only recorded votes in the 1812 Parliament were on the Spanish Liberals, 15 Feb., the army estimates, 6 Mar. 1816, the address, 29 Jan., the suspension of habeas corpus, 26 and 28 Feb. 1817, and its renewal in June, and the Speakership, 2 June 1817. He called for the exemption of officers on active service from the property tax, 1 May 1815, and paired against continuance of the tax, 18 Mar. 1816. His opponents at Chester in 1818, when he was returned with Lord Grosvenor’s son after a contest, attributed his sparse voting record to diplomatic absences ‘when his expectations from ministers have opposed his fealty to his lordly constituent’.7 He voted with opposition for inquiry into Bank restriction, 2 Feb., and to add Brougham to the committee, 8 Feb., but with ministers on the Wyndham Quin* affair, 29 Mar. 1819. He paired in favour of Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and voted against the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June. He attacked the Game Laws amendment bill, 14 May, as a measure which would ‘make game of the constitution’ by arming ‘all classes of people’. He appears to have accepted the repressive legislation of late 1819, and jibbed only at the night searches provisions of the seizure of arms bill, 14 and 16 Dec., though he was satisfied that the measure was in other respects justified. Grosvenor died 20 Jan. 1851.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: M. H. Port
- 1. PRO 30/8/140, ff. 321, 341.
- 2. Geo. III Corresp. iv. 2888; Rose Diaries, ii. 174; PRO 30/8/140, f. 331.
- 3. PRO 30/8/140, f. 348.
- 4. Fortescue mss.
- 5. Fremantle mss, box 46, Buckingham to Fremantle, 16 June; Morning Chron. 22 June 1807.
- 6. NLI, Richmond mss 73/1745; Fortescue mss, Fremantle to Grenville [27 Jan. 1810].
- 7. Hist. Chester Election, 1818, p. 51.