Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Greg, Robert Hyde

GREG, ROBERT HYDE (1795–1875), economist and antiquary, born in King Street, Manchester, on 24 Sept. 1795, was son of Samuel Greg, a millowner near Wilmslow, Cheshire, and brother of William Rathbone Greg [q. v.] and Samuel Greg [q. v.] His mother was Hannah, daughter and coheiress of Adam Lightbody of Liverpool, and a descendant of Philip Henry, the nonconformist [q. v.] He was educated at Edinburgh University, and before joining his father in business as a cotton manufacturer, travelled in Spain, Italy, and the East. In 1817 he entered the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, and afterwards contributed to its 'Memoirs' some interesting papers on topics chiefly suggested by his observations abroad. Their titles are:

  1. 'Remarks on the Site of Troy, and on the Trojan Plain,' 1823.
  2. 'Observations on the Round Towers of Ireland,' 1823.
  3. 'On the Sepulchral Monuments of Sardis and Mycenæ,' 1833.
  4. 'Cyclopean, elasgic, and Etruscan Remains; or Remarks on the Mural Architecture of Remote Ages,' 1838.

He took a leading part in public work in Manchester, aiding in the foundation of the Royal Institution, the Mechanics' Institution, and in the affairs of the Chamber of Commerce, of which for a time he was president. He was an ardent liberal politician, and rendered valuable assistance in money and advocacy in the agitations for parliamentary reform and the repeal of the corn laws. In 1837 he wrote a pamphlet on the 'Factory Question and the Ten Hours Bill.' He was elected M.P. for Manchester in September 1839, during his absence from England. He took the seat against his will and he retired in July 1841. In the meantime he published a speech on the corn laws, which he had delivered in the House of Commons in April 1840, and a letter to Henry Labouchere, afterwards Lord Taunton, 'On the Pressure of the Corn Laws and Sliding Scale, more especially upon the Manufacturing Interests and Productive Classes,' 1841, 2nd ed. 1842.

He was much interested in horticulture, and in practical and experimental farming, which he carried on at his estates at Norcliffe, Cheshire, and Coles Park, Hertfordshire. In this connection he wrote three pamphlets: 'Scottish Farming in the Lothians,' 1842; 'Scottish Farming in England,' 1842; and 'Improvements in Agriculture,' 1844.

He married, 14 June 1824, Mary, eldest daughter of Robert Philips of the Park, Manchester; by her he had four sons and two daughters. Greg died at Norcliffe Hall on 21 Feb. 1875, and was buried at the Unitarian chapel, Dean Row, Wilmslow, Cheshire, being followed to the grave by nearly five hundred of his tenants and employés, and by many others.

[Manchester Guardian and Examiner, 23 and 27 Feb. 1875; Earwaker's East Cheshire, i. 137; Proc. of Lit. and Phil. Soc. of Manchester, xiv. 135; Prentice's Manchester, 1851; Burke's Landed Gentry, i. 545.]

C. W. S.