GRENVILLE, George II (d.1595), of Penheale, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

1st s. of Richard Grenville I. m. c.1578, Julian (Jill), da. and coh. of William Vyell or Viall of St. Breock, 2s. 5da. suc. fa. c.1578.

Offices Held

J.p. Cornw. from 1577, q. by 1591, under-sheriff 1576-7, sheriff 1583-4.


It is impossible to be certain that this Member has been correctly distinguished from a number of namesakes. One such had a distinguished academic career as principal of Broadgates Hall, Oxford, and it was presumably he who graduated BCL 1568 and supplicated for the DCL degree in 1573. Another was his uncle George Grenville I, to whom has been attributed the 1572 committee activity, appearing in the journals under Mr. Grenville, Greenfield etc.1

About 1578 Grenville came into the considerable family estates he was to augment by his marriage, so that by the time of his death he owned property in at least 33 Cornish manors as well as lands and leases in Devonshire. He acquired Penheale itself, and is credited with having built the mansion house there. His religious views were probably radical and many of his friends were puritans. As patron of Maram he appointed a vicar described as ‘an enemy of popery’. His betrothal in 1577 to Julian Vyell seems largely to have been arranged by his cousin, (Sir) Richard Grenville II of Stowe, who spared no effort to promote the interests of his favourite cousin, whom he described as ‘a gentleman well inclined in religion and in her Majesty’s service’. George Grenville served as deputy during his cousin’s year of office as sheriff and, in 1583, was unsuccessfully recommended by him for the keepership of Tintagel castle. Another relative, Sir Walter Ralegh, later appointed him deputy steward for a duchy of Cornwall manor.2

Grenville was active in local affairs, serving as sheriff at a time when the Privy Council were disturbed over the condition of the musters in Cornwall. His handling of this problem earned him praise, and throughout his life he seems to have lived up to his reputation of being ‘a very earnest and learned justice’. After his death, his friend and relative Richard Carew of Antony was to recall how ‘through his learning and wisdom [he] advanced his credit to an especial good regard in his country’. He was certainly known to the 2nd Earl of Bedford who, on various occasions, appointed him to commissions. It was presumably Bedford who was responsible for Grenville’s return at Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1584 and, in all likelihood, for his earlier return at Camelford, when the Crown Office lists describe him as ‘junior’. In 1593 he sat for his local borough, Dunheved, some two miles from Penheale. On 15 Feb. 1585 he was appointed (as Mr. George Greenfield) to a Commons delegation to meet the Lords concerning procedure, and (as Mr. Greenfield) to a committee concerned with bigamy on 26 Feb. 1585. On 28 Feb. 1593 he was, again as Mr. Greenfield, named to a committee on the recusants bill.3

Grenville died 2 Sept. 1595. His will, made 11 Feb. 1593, was proved 31 Oct. 1595. A devout preamble described him as

thinking on the uncertainty of my life and loth to be troubled with the ordering of that portion which our merciful and omnipotent God hath lent me, when it shall please Him to visit me with sickness.

He surrendered his soul into God’s hands, ‘trusting to be redeemed by the blood of His son Jesus Christ in hope of a joyful resurrection’. Earlier, in 1593, when he was about to visit Ireland and his wife was pregnant, he had made various trust settlements for his children. Under the will, he left lands in Devon and a third of his furniture and household equipment to his wife, who was also to receive a gold chain, jewels, plate, farm crops, animals and tools, provided that she did not molest any of his tenants or the other beneficiaries. His armour, books, pictures and maps were to be kept for his eldest son George. Grenville expressed a desire that great care be taken in the education of his children and asked that the advice, in this respect, of Richard Carew and Bernard Grenville son of Sir Richard, should be taken. The wardship of Grenville’s heir was purchased by the widow and Richard Carew.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 194; A. L. Rowse, Sir Richard Grenville, 128-9.
  • 2. C142/247/81; A. L. Rowse, Tudor Cornw. 16, 386; Rowse, Grenville, 126, 128-9; Carew’s Surv. Cornw. ed. Halliday, 185; A. Peel, Second Parte of a Register, ii. 108; St. Ch. 5/G12/16. In 1575 the Earl of Huntingdon sold the manor of Penheale to George Grenville. This may have been
  • 3. Rowse, Grenville, 141, 162, 182-3; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 179-80; Carew’s Surv. Cornw. 185; APC, x. 66, 175; xii. 25; Roberts thesis; OR, i. 408; D’Ewes, 349, 360, 361, 477.
  • 4. Vivian, 94; PCC 63 Scott; C142/247/81; PRO cal. feodary surveys, 1362.