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George Grenville (14 October 1712 – 13 November 1770), was a Britishmarker Whig statesman who served in government for the relatively short period of seven years, reaching the position of Prime Minister of Great Britain. He was one of the few prime ministers (others include William Pitt the Younger, Sir Winston Churchill, George Canning, Spencer Percival, and William Gladstone) who never acceded to the peerage.

Early life

Grenville was the second son of Richard Grenville and Hester Temple (later the 1st Countess Temple). His elder brother was Richard Grenville-Temple, later the 2nd Earl Temple. Grenville received his education at Eton Collegemarker and at Christ Church, Oxfordmarker, and was called to the bar in 1736.

Politics

He entered Parliamentmarker in 1741 as member for Buckinghammarker, and continued to represent that borough for the next twenty nine years until his death.

Patriot Whigs

In Parliament he subscribed to the "Boy Patriot" party which opposed Sir Robert Walpole. In particular he enjoyed the patronage of Lord Cobham, the leader of a faction that included George Grenville, his brother Richard, William Pitt and George Lyttelton that became known as Cobham's Cubs.

Joins Administration

In December 1744 he became a Lord of the Admiralty in the administration of Henry Pelham. He allied himself with his brother Richard and with William Pitt the Elder (Richard's brother-in-law) in forcing Pelham to give them promotion by rebelling against his authority and obstructing business. In June 1747, Grenville became a Lord of the Treasury, and in 1754 Treasurer of the Navy and Privy Councillor. Along with Pitt and several othe colleagues he was dismissed in 1755 after voting against the government on a debate about a recent Treaty with Russia. He and Pitt joined the oppositing, haranguing the Newcastle government until it was forced to resign in Autumn 1756.

In Government with Pitt

Pitt then formed a government led by the Duke of Devonshire. Grenville was returned to his position as Treasurer of the Navy, which was a great disappointment as he had been expecting to receive the more prestigious and lucrative post of Paymaster of the Forces.

In 1758, as Treasurer of the Navy, he introduced and carried a bill which established a fairer system of paying the wages of seamen. He remained in office in 1761, when Pitt (by then created Earl of Chatham) resigned upon the question of the war with Spain, and subsequently functioned as Leader of the House of Commons in the administration of Lord Bute. In May 1762, he was appointed Secretary of State for the Northern Department, and in October First Lord of the Admiralty; in April 1763, he became First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Prime Minister

Prominent measures of his administration included the prosecution of John Wilkes and the passing of the American Stamp Act 1765, which led to the first symptoms of alienation between American colonies and Great Britain. The king made various attempts to induce Pitt to come to his rescue by forming a ministry, but without success, and at last had recourse to Lord Rockingham. When Rockingham agreed to accept office, the king dismissed Grenville in July 1765. He never again held office.

The nickname of "gentle shepherd" was given him because he bored the House by asking over and over again, during the debate on the Cider Bill of 1763, that somebody should tell him "where" to lay the new tax if it was not to be put on cider. Pitt whistled the air of the popular tune Gentle Shepherd, tell me where, and the House laughed. Though few surpassed him in a knowledge of the forms of the House or in mastery of administrative details, he lacked tact in dealing with people and with affairs.

Family life

In 1749 Grenville married Elizabeth Wyndham (before 1731-5 December 1769), daughter of Sir William Wyndham, by whom he had seven children:



Styles from birth to death

  • Mr. George Grenville (1712-1741)
  • Mr. George Grenville, MP (1741-1749)
  • The Hon. George Grenville, MP (1749-1754)
  • The Rt. Hon. George Grenville, MP (1754-1789)


See also



References

  • The Grenville Papers, being the Correspondence of Richard Grenville, Earl Temple, K.G., and the Right Hon. George Grenville, their Friends and Contemporaries, were published at London in 1852, and afford the chief authority for his life. But see also Horace Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George II (London, 1845); Lord Stanhope's History of England (London, 1858); Lecky's History of England (1885); and ED Adams, The Influence of Grenville on Pitt's Foreign Policy (Washington, 1904).



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