Open main menu
For works with similar titles, see Henry Grey.

GREY, HENRY, first Earl of Stamford (1599? –1673), born about 1599, was the eldest son of Sir John Grey, by Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Nevill, lord Abergavenny. He succeeded his grandfather, Henry, as second Lord Grey of Groby on 26 July 1614, and was created Earl of Stamford in Lincolnshire by letters patent dated 26 March 1628, having by his marriage become possessed of the castle, borough, and manor of Stamford. In early life he resided principally at his seat at Bradgate, Leicestershire, where his haughty, irritable disposition made him an unpleasant neighbour. As chairman of the quarter sessions he missed no opportunity of showing his hostility to the church. He employed his leisure in perfecting an improved method for dressing hemp, of which he hoped to secure a monopoly. While attending upon the king at Berwick, in June 1639, he ventured to pay a visit to the Scottish camp, and was hospitably entertained by Lesley. On his return he gave a glowing account of the Scots' loyalty to the king. Charles dryly told him that he had done them too much honour to go (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1639. pp. 330-1). Grey became eventually a zealous parliamentarian. On 6 May 1641 he was proposed by the commons for the governorship of Jersey (Commons' Journals, ii. 137). In the same month he was sent to raise levies for the garrisoning of Hull. With Thomas, lord Howard of Charleton, he was requested by the lords, on 26 Jan. 1642, to press for a definite answer from the States ambassador respecting the recompense to be made to certain English merchants for serious damages inflicted by a firm of Dutch traders (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1641-3, p. 268). On the following 12 Feb. he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Leicestershire (Commons' Journals, ii. 425). In April he was despatched with Lord Willoughby of Parhain and a committee of the commons to confer with Hotham at Hull, and drew up a report of their proceedings. At York, on 18 April, he presented to Charles a petition in the name of both houses regarding the king's message to them declaring his resolution of going to Ireland (Cal. State Papers, 1641-3, p. 310). On 4 June he arrived at Leicester to enforce the ordinance of parliament touching the militia; but he met with a determined opposition from Henry Hastings, the sheriff, who arrived on the 15th from York with the king's proclamation and commission of array. Grey, however, secured the magazine at Leicester, and conveyed great part of it to his house. The king proclaimed him a traitor, and gave orders for his arrest. He quitted the town just as the king entered it, on 22 July. In September he joined Essex at Dunsmore Heath in Warwickshire (ib. 1641-3, p. 392). Essex sent him to occupy Hereford, which he entered unopposed on 30 Sept., and took up his quarters in the bishop's palace (ib. 1641-3, p. 400). At the end of October he cleverly defeated a scheme of the cavaliers for ousting him from the city, and made some important captures at Presteign without sustaining any loss. Nevertheless, his position in Hereford was daily becoming more difficult, and he was unable in November to assist the roundheads of Pembrokeshire in their resistance to the Marquis of Hertford, who was there engaged in raising levies. In his last despatch to parliament he complained of want of money and supplies, and hinted at making a speedy retreat. He evacuated Hereford on about 14 Dec., and marched to Gloucester. Meanwhile a commission had been prepared for him, by which, in the absence of Essex, he was to be constituted commander-in-chief of all the forces raised in the counties of Hereford, Gloucester, Salop, and Worcester (Commons' Journals, ii. 886). From Gloucester he had immediate orders to repair to the west of England; and with his two troops of horse continuing his route to Bristol, he left Massey and the regiment of foot to protect Gloucester. He claimed to have won some small successes at Plymouth and Modbury on 21 Feb. 1643. In May he marched with a strong force into Cornwall, where on the 16th he received a severe check from the king's forces near Stratton. He entrusted the conduct of the battle to Major-general James Chudleigh, who was taken prisoner. Clarendon (Hist. ed. 1849, iii. 72-9) insinuates that Grey took excellent care not to expose his person to danger, and fled as soon as he saw the day was lost. To account for his defeat Grey asserted that he had been betrayed by Chudleigh. After further disaster he was shut up in Exeter by the army of Prince Maurice, and straitly besieged for three months and nineteen days. In his difficulty Grey addressed a letter to the king, dated 4 Aug., in which he made warm professions of loyalty, but inveighed against the kind's counsellors, and exhorted him to dismiss them (Cal. of Clarendon State Papers, i. 244). All he really wanted was that his life might be spared. Exeter was surrendered on 5 Sept. 1643 (Clarendon, iii. 169). The fifth article of the capitulation, in which his pardon was assured, gave great offence to the parliament, and it was thought that a searching inquiry should be instituted into his whole conduct in the service (Rushworth, Hist. Coll. pt. iii. vol. ii. pp. 272-4). His bad generalship brought on him ridicule from foe and friend alike. The cavaliers lampooned him in song and satire, hinting that he was vicious in more than one respect, and that his plunder at Hereford had ministered to his dissolute habits. He won a place in Cleveland's 'Character of a London Diurnall.' In a published defence an awkward attempt was made to lay the blame of his iil-success on his officers (Letter appended to Articles of Agreement upon the Delivery of Excester, 1643). He repeated the accusation in the House of Lords. He could, however, point with justice to the sacrifices which he had made for his party. His house and estates had been rifled, and his tenants so impoverished that they could not pay their rents. He suffered much pecuniary distress, and repeatedly brought his case before parliament. On 6 May 1644 he requested leave to travel to the hot baths in France for the recovery of his health; that he might be furnished with 1,000l. out of the remainder of the Earl of Arundel's assessment for the twentieth part; and have besides some weekly allowance for his maintenance abroad. The commons were recommended to accede to his request, the earl 'having done good service in the west:' but on the same day a member was directed to bring in what information he had to give against Grey concerning 'the loss of the west.' The earl forthwith wrote to the speaker, asking the house to let him know, first, what he was charged with, and secondly, to hear what he had to say in his justification. On 21 Aug. the lords again reminded the commons of his wants, and on the 26th 1,000l., which had been assessed on Lord Stanhope of Harrington, was assigned to him on account of his arrears. In June 1645 the commons impeached him, along with two of his servants, for assaulting Sir Arthur Haselrig. He was nominated a member of the committee appointed to go north to see due execution of the articles with the Scots on 2 Jan. 1647. Having been returned M.P. for Leicestershire, the county gentlemen petitioned the Protector and council against his election on 21 Aug. 1654, alleging that he had 'assisted the late king of Scots, and was not of good conversation' (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1654, p. 316). Encouraged by Booth's rising, in August 1659, Grey declared for the king, and attempted to raise troops in Leicestershire. He was arrested and committed to the Tower on 3 Sept. on a charge of high treason (ib. 1659-60). Charles II treated him with favour, and on his petition reconveyed to him in 1666 Armtree Manor and Wildmore Fen, Lincolnshire, which had been presented by him to the crown in 1637 for the purpose of effecting some abortive improvements (ib. 1663-4, 1665-6, pp. 448-9). He died on 21 Aug. 1673. and was buried at Bradgate. He married, 19 July 1620, Anne, youngest daughter and coheiress of William Cecil, earl of Exeter (Chester, London Marriage Licenses, p. 587; he was then aged about twenty-one). By her he had, besides five daughters, four sons: Thomas, lord Grey (1623?-1657) [q. v.], Anchitell [q. v.], John, and Leonard.

[Collins's Peerage (Brydges), iii. 353-66; Nichols's Leicestershire, iii. 677; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub.; John Webb's Civil War in Herefordshire; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th. 6th. and 7th Reps.]

G. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.142
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
188 ii 38 Grey, Henry, 1st Earl of Stamford: for 23 Aug. read 21 Aug.