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Sir George Grey, 2nd Baronet, PC (11 May 17999 September 1882) was a Britishmarker Whig politician. He held office under four Prime Ministers, Lord Melbourne, Lord John Russell, Lord Aberdeen, and Lord Palmerston, and notably served three times as Home Secretary.

Background and education

Grey was the only son of Sir George Grey, 1st Baronet, of Fallodonmarker, second son of Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey, and younger brother of Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey. His mother was Mary Whitbread, daughter of Samuel Whitbread. Grey was educated privately and at Oriel College, Oxfordmarker. Originally intending to become a priest, he instead chose law as his profession, and was called to the bar in 1826. He began a successful legal practice, but soon turned to politics.

Political career, 1832-1853

Grey was elected to parliament for Devonportmarker in 1832, and quickly made his mark in the House of Commonsmarker. He did not hold office in the Whig administration of his uncle Lord Grey, but when Lord Melbourne became Prime Minister in 1834, he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The government fell in December of that year, but returned to power in May 1835, when Grey resumed the post of Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (succeeding William Ewart Gladstone). He retained this office until 1839, when he was made Judge Advocate General. The same year Grey was also admitted to the Privy Council. He was then briefly Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1841, with a seat in the cabinet for the first time. However, the Whigs were defeated in the general election of that year.

The Whigs returned to power in 1846 under Lord John Russell, who appointed Grey Home Secretary, the first of his three spells in this position. In 1846, Grey, "himself a zealous advocate of hydropathy" succeeded in getting passed The Baths and Washhouses Act, which promoted the the voluntary establishment of public baths and washhouses in England and Wales. A series of statutes followed, which became known collectively as "The Baths and Wash-houses Acts 1846 to 1896". This was an important milestone in the improvment of sanitary conditions and public health in those times.

Grey's first tenure at the Home Office notably saw him deal with relief efforts to the victims of the Irish Potato Famine and trying to subdue the Irish rebellion of 1848. The latter year also saw the peak of the Chartist movement, which staged a massive rally in Londonmarker in April. In 1847 Grey had left his old Devonportmarker seat and was instead elected for Northumberland North. He remained Home Secretary until the 1852 general election, when, despite enjoying widespread popularity, he lost his seat.

Political career, 1853-1874

Grey remained out of parliament until January 1853, when he was returned for Morpeth. He at first refused to join the coalition government of Lord Aberdeen, but in June 1854 he accepted the post of Colonial Secretary. The coalition fell in February 1855, and the Whigs returned to office under Lord Palmerston. Grey was appointed to his old office of Home Secretary, which he retained until the government resigned in February 1858. The Conservative administration under the Earl of Derby which took office only lasted until June the following year, when Palmerston again became Prime Minister. Grey was now appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, but in 1861 he became Home Secretary for the third time. The government fell in 1866, and Grey was not to hold office again. Before the 1874 general election, he was overlooked as the Liberal candidate for Morpeth in favour of miners' leader Thomas Burt. This marked the end of Grey's public life and he spent the remainder of his life in retirement at his Fallodon estate in Northumberland.


Grey married Anna Sophia Ryder, eldest daughter of Henry Ryder, Bishop of Lichfield. They had one son, George Henry Grey (1835-1874). Grey died in September 1882, aged 83. As his only son had predeceased him, he was therefore succeeded in the baronetcy by his grandson, Edward. He was also to become a prominent Liberal politician, and served as Foreign Secretary from 1905 to 1916, when he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Grey of Fallodon.

See also


a.' Online searches for reference to the relevant acts have so far yielded listings from the London Gazette. See also the Parliamentary Archives website.


  1. Full text at Internet Archive (
  2. . Typing (or copying-and-pasting) the phrase: Baths and Wash-houses reliably yields 10 lisings, including that for the original 1846 act and its amendment of the same year, along with other results.

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