GREY (GRAY), Hon. John (c.1628-1709), of Bradgate, Leics. and Enville Hall, Staffs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1628, 3rd s. of Henry Grey, 1st Earl of Stamford, and bro. of Hon. Anchitell Grey and Thomas Grey, Lord Grey of Groby. m. (1) 6 May 1680, Mary (d. 10 Jan. 1682), da. and coh. of Sir Francis Wolryche, 2nd Bt., of Dudmaston Hall, Quatt, Salop, 1da.; (2) 2 Jan. 1683, Catherine (d. 21 Apr. 1691), da. of Edward, 7th Lord Dudley, 2s. 1da.; (3) Susanna, wid. of one Ball of Worcester, and of Edwin Skrymsher of Aqualate, Staffs., s.p. suc. cos. Henry Grey in Staffs. estate 1686.1
Freeman, Leicester Apr. 1660; j.p. Leics. July 1660-80, Staffs. 1680-7, 1689-96, 1700-d.; commr. for assessment, Leics. Aug. 1660-1, 1663-80, Staffs. 1689-90; dep. lt. Staffs. 1689-96, by 1700-d.2
Chairman, ways and means 4-11 July 1689, committee of elections and privileges 25 Oct. 1689-5 Jan. 1691.
Grey was returned for Leicester, four miles from his home, at the top of the poll in 1660, and marked as a friend on Lord Wharton’s list. He kept the corporation informed of the progress of the Restoration and the measures against the regicides, but he was not active in the Convention. As ‘Mr Grey’ he was appointed to ten committees, including the committee of elections and privileges. Probably in opposition to the Court, on 16 June he acted as teller against putting the question for excepting Sir William Roberts from the benefits of the bill of indemnity. He was appointed to the committee on the bill to enable his brother-in-law, Sir George Booth, to break the entail on his land, and after the recess on those to draw up an address for a day of fasting and humiliation and to consider the attainder bill. He was involved in a double return with the Cavalier Sir John Pretyman at the general election of 1661. Grey was supported by the majority of the corporation, but his opponent was declared elected on the inhabitant franchise, and he was out of Parliament for 16 years.3
Grey was still unmarried when his father died in 1673, and appears to have managed the estate for his young nephew, the 2nd Earl of Stamford, whose matrimonial difficulties he exacerbated. On Pretyman’s death in 1676 he wrote to Lord Roos John Manners) to ask for his support at Leicester, and was commended as ‘a very loyal subject’. He defeated the lord chancellor’s son, the Hon. Heneage Finch I, at the cost of £800, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly worthy’. On taking his seat he hastened to report to the corporation on the anti-Papal zeal of the Lower House. With other Members he was reproved by the Speaker on 28 May 1677 for leaving his seat too hastily to attend the King in the Banqueting Hall ‘before the King’s message is reported ... as if to get places at a show or a play’. No committees in the Cavalier Parliament can be definitely ascribed to Grey, and he was probably less active at this time than his long-serving elder brother. However, he may have acted as teller against the adjournment with John Birch on 3 June 1678, a day which is not reported in the Debates.4
Grey was re-elected to the Exclusion Parliaments, and classed as ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury. He voted for the first exclusion bill, and was appointed to the committees of elections and privileges in 1680 and 1681. But no other activity can be certainly attributed to him in these Parliaments, and his politics may have begun to change after his adoption by a childless Staffordshire cousin. The family interest at Leicester was undermined by the new charter of 1684, and Grey is unlikely to have stood in the following year. His nephew was arrested after Monmouth’s invasion, and would have been tried by his peers but for the prorogation of Parliament; but Grey himself was one of the churchmen removed from the Staffordshire commission of the peace in 1687. He signed the county petition for the removal of evil counsellors in 1688, and his nephews Lord Stamford and Lord Delamer Henry Booth) were among the first to take up arms for William of Orange.5
Grey was returned for Staffordshire at the general election of 1689, and played a much more prominent part in the Convention. A very active committeeman, he was probably appointed to 50 committees, and was much in demand as chairman. ‘A plain but downright honest man’, according to another nephew, Lord Ailesbury Thomas Bruce), he had been ‘a downright Whig as all his family was; but he had been so by a principle and not by ambition’. He was ‘truly convinced that he had been in a wrong way, and was deluded in former Parliaments’ by Richard Hampden and Hugh Boscawen. According to Anthony Rowe he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, but his name is not on Ailesbury’s list. He was named to the committees for the suspension of habeas corpus, the first mutiny bill and the new oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and helped to draw up the address thanking William for his care of the Church. In the first session he was voted into the chair in grand committees on the bill to relieve London orphans, the militia bill, and the additional excise bill. On 31 May he was sent to ask the broad churchman William Wake to preach to the House. He was added to the committee to consider the Lords’ amendments to the bill of rights and settlement on 26 June, and he acted as teller with Ailesbury’s henchman, Thomas Christie, on a proviso to the Wye navigation bill. He helped to draw up an address for access to the Privy Council records relating to Ireland and to consider the charges against William Harbord. After reporting the excise bill on 10 July, he took the chair in a committee to insert some amendments, and carried it to the Lords. He acted as teller for the Tories on an amendment to the bill for restoring corporations (23 July), against accepting Harbord’s explanations (29 July), and against going into supply committee (30 July). On 3 Aug. he was elected chairman of the important committee on the state of the nation, but before the recess he had time only to propose an inquiry into the balance of trade with France.6
When the House reassembled Grey replaced the Whig John Birch as chairman of the committee of elections and privileges, from which he presented eight reports, as well as six from the grand committee on the state of the nation. He was also proposed as chairman of the supply committee by the Tories, but there was so large a majority for Hampden that they did not risk a division. He was appointed to the committees on the expenses and miscarriages of the war and the second mutiny bill. In the name of the grand committee he complained of the want of convoys and recommended the arrest of Commissary Shales, and on 27 Nov. he was among those appointed to draw up an address inquiring who was responsible for this appointment. On the next day, to the delight of the Tories, he had to recommend the unseating of his nephew, George Booth, a disreputable Whig. He helped to draft the address asking for an allowance of £50,000 p.a. to Princess Anne and her husband. After the Christmas recess he took the chair for the bill to settle maintenances on the children of Sidney Wortley Montagu, which he carried to the Lords on 13 Jan. 1690. He took the chair again in grand committee on the bills of indemnity and of pains and penalties.7
Grey became a Jacobite conspirator and refused to sign the Association in 1696. He died in February 1709. His son Harry succeeded as 3rd Earl of Stamford in 1720, and his grandson was returned for Leicestershire in 1738 as an opposition Whig.8
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Staffs. Parl. Hist. ii. 166-7; Trans. Salop Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. (ser. 4), iv. 116.
- 2. Reg. Leicester Freemen, i. 143; HMC Lords, i. 182, 189; Staffs. Dep. Lts. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1931), 234.
- 3. CJ, viii. 66; Recs. Bor. Leicester ed. Stocks, iv. 463, 465, 466.
- 4. HMC Montagu, 172-3; HMC Rutland, ii. 30, 33, 35, 40; Recs. Bor. Leicester, 546; Grey, iv. 389.
- 5. CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 307, 327; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 64.
- 6. Ailesbury Mems. 359; CJ, x. 131, 199, 205, 220, 256.
- 7. Morrice, 642; CJ, x. 286, 295, 296, 339.
- 8. Ailesbury Mems. 359; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1700-15, p. 164.