The Lord Grenville
|Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|
11 February 1806 – 25 March 1807
|Preceded by||William Pitt the Younger|
|Succeeded by||The Duke of Portland|
|Speaker of the House of Commons of Great Britain|
5 January 1789 – 5 June 1789
|Preceded by||Charles Wolfran Cornwall|
|Succeeded by||Henry Addington|
William Wyndham Grenville
25 October 1759
Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire, England
|Died||12 January 1834 (aged 74)|
Burnham, Buckinghamshire, England
|Resting place||St Peter's Church, Burnham|
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville,(25 October 1759 – 12 January 1834) was a British Pittite Tory politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1806 to 1807, but was a supporter of the Whigs for the duration of the Napoleonic Wars. As prime minister, his most significant achievement was the abolition of the slave trade in 1807. However, his government failed either to make peace with France or to accomplish Catholic emancipation, and it was dismissed in the same year.
Grenville was the son of the Whig Prime Minister George Grenville. His mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of the Tory statesman Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Baronet. He had two elder brothers: Thomas and George. He was thus uncle to the 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos.
He was also related to the Pitt family by marriage since William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, had married his father's sister Hester. The younger Grenville was thus the first cousin of William Pitt the Younger.
Grenville was educated at Eton College; Christ Church, Oxford; and Lincoln's Inn.Latin verse in 1779. Grenville, who was academically very gifted and had a keen interest in and extensive knowledge of classical literature, edited the correspondence of his uncle, Lord Chatham. He trained for the Bar but was never called since he entered parliament in 1782 as MP for the family's borough of Buckingham. He continued to represent the constituency until he was elevated to the peerage in 1790.
Grenville entered the House of Commons in February 1782 as member for the borough of Buckingham. He soon became a close ally of the prime minister, his cousin William Pitt the Younger. In September, he became secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who was his brother George. He left the House the following year and served in the government of Lord Shelburne appointed him chief secretary in Ireland in 1782. Though there as chief secretary, he took on the plight of the Catholics in Ireland, which would later influence directly his policies later on.
In 1783 Pitt appointed him he as Paymaster of the Forces, an office he held together with membership of the India Board of Control and of the Board of Trade after 1784. A diligent administrator, he contributed to the major financial and economic achievements of Pitt's peacetime ministry. In 1787 he was sent on diplomatic missions to The Hague and Versailles and sounded out the possibilities of an agreement with the French to end the African slave trade, a cause which remained close to his heart until he was able as prime minister in 1807 to accomplish it.
In January 1789, Grenville agreed to become Speaker of the House of Commons in order to help Pitt in the midst of the Regency crisis and to pass the bill in favour of the government and the King to avoid the Whig-supporting Prince of Wales from becoming king. This fortunately turned in Pitt and the government’s favour and the bill did not pass in Parliament.
Despite serving as Speaker, he mostly craved and wanted a senior cabinet post and when the crisis was over he was appointed Home Secretary, serving for only brief period as Speaker. As Home Secretary, he resigned from all other posts. By this time he was recognized as Pitt's ‘second in command’ and in 1790 was elevated to the Lords to oversee the government's business there. He became Leader of the House of Lords when he was raised to the peerage the next year as Baron Grenville, of Wotton under Bernewood in the County of Buckingham.
In 1791, he succeeded the Duke of Leeds as Foreign Secretary. Grenville's decade as Foreign Secretary was dramatic, with the Wars of the French Revolution.
As the French Revolution became a continental issue, to which many monarchies of Europe were opposed and sought to distinguish it, war began in early 1792 and came to be known as the War of the First Coalition, when Austria, Prussia, Russia and Britain all joined forces to defeat the French revolutionaries. The British government under Pitt send vast amounts of money and war effort into the cause of defeating the French and began rearming and raising British troops to make up for a formidable force on the continent.
During the war, Grenville was the leader of the party that focused on the fighting on the continent as the key to victory; for the allies to defeat the French in Europe would be a knockout blow, and extinguish the revolutionary forces. Another, opposing faction was that of Henry Dundas, which favoured war at sea and in the colonies.
After a rebellion occurred in Ireland in 1798, Pitt’s government decided, in order to prevent further insurrections, to pursue a policy of union with the Irish subjects. Thus, in 1800 Acts of Union were passed and Great Britain and Ireland became the United Kingdom. Also, in order to have friendly relations with the Irish, Pitt suggested that the Catholic Irish be equalised and should be exempt from injustice and be the same given rights as the Protestants. However, King George III refused to assent to this, and Grenville left office with Pitt in 1801 over this issue of King George refusing to assent to Catholic emancipation.
Grenville did part-time military service at home as Major in the Buckinghamshire Yeomanry cavalry in 1794, and as lieutenant-colonel in the South Buckinghamshire volunteer regiment in 1806.
In his years out of office, Grenville became close to the opposition Whig leader Charles James Fox. When Pitt returned to office in 1804, Grenville sided with Fox and did not take part.
Further information: Ministry of All the Talents
After Pitt's death in 1806, Grenville succeeded him as the new prime minister and became the head of the new government. Pitt enjoyed a stable major in Parliament throughout his two terms prime minister, but Grenville lacked that kind of distinction and ability. His government did not received the substantial support it needed to form a strong majority in Parliament and so was forced to call on an uneasy alliance with the opposition.
The "Ministry of All the Talents", a coalition between Grenville's supporters, the Foxite Whigs, and the supporters of former Prime Minister Lord Sidmouth, with Grenville as First Lord of the Treasury and Fox as Foreign Secretary as joint leaders. Grenville's cousin William Windham served as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, and his younger brother, Thomas Grenville, served briefly as First Lord of the Admiralty. However, Fox died in September 1806, which meant that the ministry had to be reconstructed.
The Ministry ultimately accomplished little, and failed either to make peace with France or to accomplish Catholic emancipation, the later attempt resulting in the ministry's dismissal in March 1807. It had one significant achievement, however, in the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.
In the years after the fall of the ministry, Grenville continued in opposition by maintaining his alliance with Lord Grey and the Whigs, criticising the Peninsular War and, with Grey, refusing to join Lord Liverpool's government in 1812.
In the postwar years, Grenville gradually moved back closer to the Tories but never again returned to the cabinet. In 1815, he separated from his friend Charles Grey and supported the war policy of Lord Liverpool. In 1819, when the Marquess of Lansdowne brought forward his motion for an inquiry into the causes of the distress and discontent in the manufacturing districts, Grenville delivered a speech advocating repressive measures. His political career was ended by a stroke in 1823.
Grenville also served as Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1810 until his death in 1834.
Historians find it hard to tell exactly which separate roles Pitt, Grenville and Dundas played in setting war policy toward France, but agree that Grenville played a major role at all times until 1801. The consensus of scholars is that war with France presented an unexpected complex of problems. There was a conflict between secular ideologies, the conscription of huge armies, the new role of Russia as a continental power, and especially the sheer length and cost of the multiple coalitions.
Grenville energetically worked to build and hold together the Allied coalitions and paid suitable attention to smaller members such as Denmark and Sardinia. He negotiated the complex alliance with Russia and Austria. He hoped that with British financing, they would bear the brunt of the ground campaigns against the French.
Grenville's influence was at its maximum during the formation of the Second Coalition. His projections of easy success were greatly exaggerated, and the result was another round of disappointment. His resignation in 1801 was caused primarily by the king's refusal to allow Catholics to sit in Parliament.[incomplete short citation]
Dropmore House was built in the 1790s for Lord Grenville. The architects were Samuel Wyatt and Charles Tatham. Grenville knew the spot from rambles during his time at Eton College and prized its distant views of his old school and of Windsor Castle. On his first day in occupation, he planted two cedar trees. At least another 2,500 trees were planted. By the time he died, his pinetum contained the biggest collection of conifer species in Britain. Part of the post-millennium restoration is to use what survives as the basis for a collection of some 200 species.
Lord Grenville married Anne, daughter of Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford, in 1792. The marriage was childless. He died in January 1834, aged 74, whereupon the barony became extinct.
Main article: Ministry of All the Talents
|Kingdom of Ireland||1782 – 12 January 1834||Member of the Privy Council of Ireland||PC (Ire)|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland||1783 – 12 January 1834||Member of the Privy Council of Great Britain||PC|
|England||1809 – 12 January 1834||University of Oxford||Chancellor|
|United Kingdom||23 April 1818 – 12 January 1834||Royal Society||Fellow (FRS)|