William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville

Last updated

The Lord Grenville

1st Baron Grenville.jpg
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
11 February 1806 25 March 1807
Monarch George III
Preceded by William Pitt the Younger
Succeeded by The Duke of Portland
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
8 June 1791 20 February 1801
Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger
Preceded by Marquess of Camarthen
Succeeded by The Lord Hawkesbury
Home Secretary
In office
5 June 1789 8 June 1791
Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger
Preceded by The Lord Sydney
Succeeded by Henry Dundas
Personal details
Born(1759-10-25)25 October 1759
Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire, England
Died12 January 1834(1834-01-12) (aged 74)
Burnham, Buckinghamshire, England
Resting placeSt Peter Churchyard, Burnham, Buckinghamshire
Political party Pittite Tory (before 1801, after 1816)
Whig (from c.1803-15)
Anne Pitt (m. 1792)
Parents George Grenville
Elizabeth Wyndham
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Signature William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville Signature.svg

William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville, PC , PC (Ire) , FRS (25 October 1759 – 12 January 1834) was a British Pittite Tory and politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1806 to 1807, though he was a supporter of the British Whig Party for the duration of the Napoleonic Wars.



Grenville was the son of Whig Prime Minister George Grenville. His mother Elizabeth was the daughter of Tory statesman Sir William Wyndham Bart. 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; William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham had married his father's sister Hester, and thus the younger Grenville was the first cousin of William Pitt the Younger.

Grenville was educated at Eton, Christ Church, Oxford, and Lincoln's Inn. [1] [ self-published source? ]

Political career

Grenville entered the House of Commons in 1782. He soon became a close ally of the Prime Minister, his cousin William Pitt the Younger, and served in the government as Paymaster of the Forces from 1784 to 1789. In 1789 he served briefly as Speaker of the House of Commons before he entered the cabinet as Home Secretary. 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. [2] The next year, in 1791, he succeeded the Duke of Leeds as Foreign Secretary. Grenville's decade as Foreign Secretary was a dramatic one, seeing the Wars of the French Revolution. During the war, Grenville was the leader of the party that focused on the fighting on the continent as the key to victory, opposing the faction of Henry Dundas which favoured war at sea and in the colonies. Grenville left office with Pitt in 1801 over the issue of Catholic Emancipation. He 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. [3]

In his years out of office, Grenville became close to the opposition Whig leader Charles James Fox, and when Pitt returned to office in 1804, Grenville did not take part. Following Pitt's death in 1806, Grenville became the head of 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. The Ministry ultimately accomplished little, failing either to make peace with France or to accomplish Catholic emancipation (the later attempt resulting in the ministry's dismissal in March, 1807). It did have 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, 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 post-war years, Grenville gradually moved back closer to the Tories, but never again returned to the cabinet. 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 what separate roles Pitt, Grenville, and Dundas played in setting war policy with 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, paying 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 ground campaigns against the French. Grenville's influence was at the 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 due primarily to the king's refusal to allow Catholics to sit in Parliament. [4]

Dropmore House

A caricature of Saartjie Baartman, Lord Grenville, and Richard Sheridan by William Heath A Pair of Broad Bottoms.jpg
A caricature of Saartjie Baartman, Lord Grenville, and Richard Sheridan by William Heath

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 Grenville 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. [5]

Personal life

Lord Grenville married the Honourable Anne, daughter of Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford, in 1792. The marriage was childless. He died in January 1834, aged 74, when the barony became extinct. Lady Grenville died in June 1863. [1]

Ministry of All the Talents



  1. 1 2 Lundy, Darryl (2 December 2008). "William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville". thepeerage.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  2. "No. 13259". The London Gazette . 23 November 1790. p. 710.
  3. Fisher, David R. "GRENVILLE, William Wyndham (1759-1834), of Dropmore Lodge, Bucks". History of Parliament Trust.
  4. Jupp, 2009.
  5. "Abolitionist's house escapes ruin". BBC News. 1 April 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2009.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Hon. Richard FitzPatrick
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by
William Windham
Preceded by
Edmund Burke
Paymaster of the Forces
Succeeded by
The Lord Mulgrave
The Marquess of Graham
New office Vice-President of the Board of Trade
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Graham
Preceded by
Charles Wolfran Cornwall
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Henry Addington
Preceded by
The Lord Sydney
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Henry Dundas
President of the Board of Control
Preceded by
The Duke of Leeds
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
Lord Hobart
Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
Lord Hawkesbury
Preceded by
The Duke of Newcastle
Auditor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
The Lord Auckland
Preceded by
Hon. William Pitt the Younger
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
11 February 1806 – 25 March 1807
Succeeded by
The Duke of Portland
Preceded by
Lord Hawkesbury
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
Lord Hawkesbury
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
James Grenville
Richard Aldworth-Neville
Member of Parliament for Buckingham
With: James Grenville
Succeeded by
James Grenville
Charles Edmund Nugent
Preceded by
The Earl Verney
Thomas Grenville
Member of Parliament for Buckinghamshire
With: Sir John Aubrey 1784–1790
The Earl Verney 1790
Succeeded by
The Earl Verney
James Grenville
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Portland
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
The Duke of Wellington
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Grenville

Related Research Articles

William Pitt the Younger 18th/19th-century British statesman

William Pitt the Younger was a prominent British Tory statesman of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1783 at the age of 24 and the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as of January 1801. He left office in March 1801, but served as Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806. He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer for all of his time as Prime Minister. He is known as "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, who is customarily referred to as "William Pitt the Elder" and had previously served as Prime Minister.

George Grenville Prime Minister of Great Britain

George Grenville was a British Whig statesman who rose to the position of Prime Minister of Great Britain. Grenville was born into an influential political family and first entered Parliament in 1741 as an MP for Buckingham. He emerged as one of Cobham's Cubs, a group of young members of Parliament associated with Lord Cobham.

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville Scottish advocate and politician

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, PC, FRSE was a Scottish advocate and Tory politician. He was the first Secretary of State for War and became, in 1806, the last person to be impeached in the United Kingdom, for misappropriation of public money. Although acquitted, he never held public office again. He is the only person ever accused of such a serious crime to later have a public statue erected honoring his memory.

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey,, known as Viscount Howick between 1806 and 1807, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from November 1830 to July 1834.

Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1801 to 1804

Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister from 1801 to 1804. He is best known for obtaining the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, an unfavourable peace with Napoleonic France which marked the end of the Second Coalition during the French Revolutionary Wars. When that treaty broke down he resumed the war, but he was without allies and conducted relatively weak defensive hostilities, ahead of what would become the War of the Third Coalition. He was forced from office in favour of William Pitt the Younger, who had preceded Addington as Prime Minister. Addington is also known for his reactionary crackdown on advocates of democratic reforms during a ten-year spell as Home Secretary from 1812 to 1822. He is the longest continuously serving holder of that office since it was created in 1782.

Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave 18th/19th-century British Army general

General Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave,, styled The Honourable Henry Phipps until 1792 and known as The Lord Mulgrave from 1792 to 1812, was a British soldier and politician. He notably served as Foreign Secretary under William Pitt the Younger from 1805 to 1806.

Ministry of All the Talents former ministry of the government of the United Kingdom

The Ministry of All the Talents was a national unity government formed by William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville, on his appointment as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 11 February 1806, following the death of William Pitt the Younger.

Charles Williams-Wynn (1775–1850) British politician

Charles Watkin Williams-Wynn PC was a British politician of the early- to mid-19th century. He held office in both Tory and Whig administrations and was Father of the House of Commons between 1847 and 1850.

John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham British Army general

General John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, was a British soldier and politician. He is best known for commanding the disastrous Walcheren Campaign of 1809.

William Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby British politician

William Brabazon Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby , PC (Ire) was a leading Irish Whig politician, being a member of the Irish House of Commons, and, after 1800, of the United Kingdom parliament. Ponsonby was the son of the Hon. John Ponsonby, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, daughter of the 3rd Duke of Devonshire. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor of Ireland in 1784. He served as Joint Postmaster-General of Ireland (1784–1789).

First Pitt ministry Government of the United Kingdom

William Pitt the Younger led the government of the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1783 to 1801.

1806 United Kingdom general election

The 1806 United Kingdom general election was the election of members to the 3rd Parliament of the United Kingdom. This was the second general election to be held after the Union of Great Britain and Ireland.

1807 United Kingdom general election

The 1807 United Kingdom general election was the third general election to be held after the Union of Great Britain and Ireland.

1812 United Kingdom general election

The 1812 United Kingdom general election was the fourth general election to be held after the Union of Great Britain and Ireland.

The Grenville Whigs were a name given to several British political factions of the 18th and early-19th centuries, all associated with the important Grenville family of Buckinghamshire.

Buckinghamshire is a former United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1885.

James Grenville, 1st Baron Glastonbury British politician

James Grenville, 1st Baron Glastonbury, PC of Butleigh Court, Somerset was a United Kingdom politician, who was a member of both houses of Parliament during his career.

Foxite was a late 18th-century British political label for Whig followers of Charles James Fox.

Anne Grenville, Baroness Grenville English noblewoman

Anne Grenville, Baroness Grenville was an English noblewoman and author, part of the Pitt family which at the time dominated British politics.