From the Book of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee 1513 to 1885.

Charles, Earl Grey - 8th September 1834

 

Earl GreyRIGHT HON. CHARLES, EARL GREY, WAS ADMITTED A FREE HONORARY BURGESS OF THE ROYAL BURGH OF DUNDEE, IN RESPECT OF HIS MERITORIOUS AND DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC SERVICES.


The enrolment of EARL GREY and of LORD BROUGHAM as Burgesses of Dundee is a conspicuous testimony to the feelings with which the triumphant success of the Reform movement had been witnessed by the inhabitants of the burgh. Two years before this date a new Dock had been founded in Dundee and called the "Earl Grey Dock" in honour of that statesman, so that his name was already familiar in this locality. Only the merest sketch of the careers of these two eminent men is necessary here, as their lives may be read in any history of the times in which they flourished.

CHARLES GREY, second EARL GREY, was the son of SIR CHARLES GREY, a renowned military commander, who was raised to the Peerage with the title of LORD HOWICK in 1801, and advanced to the dignity of EARL GREY in 1806. He was born at Falloden, near Alnwick, on 13th March, 1764, and entered political life in 1786 as member for the County of Northumberland, before he had completed his twenty first year. Though all his relatives were connected with the Tory party, then under the leadership of WILLIAM PITT, GREY at the outset declared himself an adherent of the Whigs who followed CHARLES FOX, and to this first profession he remained true throughout his long life. He was one of the founders of the famous "Society of Friends of the People," which was constituted in 1792 for the purpose of obtaining, by constitutional means, a reform of Parliamentary representation; and he advocated the claims of the people to a share in their own government at a time when such a course was unpopular with nearly all in his own rank of life. For many years he maintained the struggle with the dominant party as a member of the Opposition; and it was not until the death of PITT, in January, 1806, that he held office as First Lord of the Admiralty in the Ministry of Fox. The latter statesman did not long survive his great rival, and at his death, in October of the same year, Mr GREY (then LORD HOWICK) became his successor as Foreign Secretary and leader of the House of Commons.

His Ministry only retained power for a few months, but during that time he succeeded in carrying the important measure for the Abolition of the Slave Trade; and was thrown out of office whilst attempting to bring in a Bill for the removal of Catholic Disabilities. The death of his father in 1807 carried him to the House of Lords as EARL GREY, and for the succeeding twenty three years he continued to be recognised as the chief of the Whig party, and the leader of a vigorous opposition. After the fall of the WELLINGTON Ministry in 1830, he was summoned by WILLIAM IV. to form a new Cabinet, which included all the most prominent men of his party. He had not been idle during the long period which he had spent out of office, and he now found the country sufficiently enlightened for him to attempt the realisation of his favourite project of Parliamentary reform. His first efforts to introduce a measure of reform in representation were temporarily defeated; but he was at length privileged to carry into effect the Reform Bill of 1832, which historians of every shade of political opinion agree in regarding as forming an epoch in the annals of the nation. In the brief period that his Ministry held power, they succeeded in effecting the abolition of slavery in the British Colonies, the overthrow of the monopoly established by the East India Company, and the reform of the Irish Church and of the English Poor Law.

The Government was weakened, however, by the secession of LORD STANLEY (the late EARL of DERBY), SIR JAMES GRAHAM, the DUKE of RICHMOND, and LORD RIPON (VISCOUNT GODERICH), caused by their division upon the question of Irish Coercion; and EARL GREY resigned his office on 9th July, 1834. He visited Scotland immediately after his resignation, and was received enthusiastically as "the Father of Reform" wherever he appeared. It was whilst he was at a great national festival, held in his honour at Edinburgh on 15th September, that the Town Council presented him with the freedom of the Burgh of Dundee "in respect of his meritorious and distinguished public services." The remainder of his life was spent in retirement, and he died at Howick Hall, Northumberland, on 17th July, 1845, when in the eighty second year of his age.