Grey, Charles, Second Earl Grey

(1764–1845)
   Prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1830–1834, Earl Grey oversaw the passage of the Great Reform Act of 1832. Although from a Tory family, he became from his election to Parliament in 1786 a Foxite Whig, and, unlike many others, he remained true to his Foxite principles throughout the 1790s. As foreign secretary in the Ministry of All the Talents, however, he came to see Napoleonic France as a threat to Britain, and he supported the war effort through 1815. Grey was out of office during the years of Tory rule up to 1830. He became prime minister on November 16, 1830, and immediately set about satisfying the widespread demand for electoral and franchise reform, although his aims in that effort were essentially conservative. With great determination and some assistance from public agitation and a threat to create a mass of new peers, Grey overcame the resistance of the Lords, and the great Reform Bill received royal assent in June 1832. Grey’s government also oversaw the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833. His ministry fell over Irish questions in 1834.
   FURTHER READING:
    Smith, E. A. Lord Grey, 1764–1845. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990;
    Trevelyan, G. M. Lord Grey of the Reform Bill. London: Longmans, Green, 1920.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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