Prime Minister William Wyndham Grenville

Prime Minister William Wyndham Grenville

Male 1759 - 1834  (74 years)    Has more than 100 ancestors but no descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name William Wyndham Grenville 
    Prefix Prime Minister 
    Relationshipwith Francis Fox
    Born 25 Oct 1759  Wotton Underwood, Buckingham, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 12 Jun 1834  Dropmore, Sp Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried 20 Jun 1834  Burnham Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I132709  Geneagraphie
    Links To This person is also William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville at Wikipedia 
    Last Modified 19 Jan 2003 

    Father Prime Minister George Grenville,   b. 14 Oct 1712, Wotton Underwood, Buckingham, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Nov 1770, Bolton St., Piccadilly Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 58 years) 
    Mother Elizabeth Wyndham,   b. 14 Jun 1726, Orchards, Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Dec 1769, Wotton Underwood, Buckingham, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 43 years) 
    Married 16 Jun 1749 
    Siblings 10 siblings 
    Family ID F53845  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

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    Link to Google MapsBorn - 25 Oct 1759 - Wotton Underwood, Buckingham, England Link to Google Earth
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    • After studying at Eton and Oxford University, he entered the House of Commons in 1782 when he was elected to represent Buckinghamshire. Two years later he was appointed postmaster-general.
      In 1790 Grenville he was granted the title Lord Grenville. Now in the House of Lords, Grenville received further promotion under William Pitt and served in his government as Home Secretary (1790-91) and Foreign Secretary (1791-1801). Grenville was a strong supporter of Catholic Emancipation and in 1801 he resigned with Pitt when George III blocked proposed legislation on the subject.
      In February, 1806 Lord Grenville was invited by the king to form a new Whig administration. Grenville, along with his Foreign Secretary, Charles Fox, were strong opponents of the slave trade. Grenville and Fox had both spoken against the trade in nearly all the debates on the subject since the first time it was discussed in the House of Commons in 1789.
      Grenville was determined to bring an end to British involvement in the slave trade. Fox and William Wilberforce led the campaign in the House of Commons, whereas Grenville, had the more difficult task of persuading the House of Lords to accept the measure. Grenville made a passionate speech where he argued that the trade was "contrary to the principles of justice, humanity and sound policy" and criticised fellow members for "not having abolished the trade long ago". When the vote was taken the Abolition of the Slave Trade bill was passed in the House of Lords by 41 votes to 20. In the House of Commons it was carried by 114 to 15.
      Grenville now turned his attention to Catholic Emancipation. However, with the death of Charles Fox in September, 1806, Grenville government was severely weakened. When George III rejected Grenville's attempt to bring an end to Catholic disabilities in March 1807, he resigned from office.
      Several attempts were made to persuade Grenville to return to government but he preferred to work from the backbenches. He continued to campaign against slavery and in 1815 argued against the Corn Laws. Grenville did support the introduction of the Six Acts and this led to Lord Liverpool offering his a place in his government. He refused and in 1823 a paralytic attack brought an end to his political career.
      Pitt the Younger died on 23 January 1806 and his remaining Cabinet members were reluctant to carry on in office under a new PM. On 27 January 1806 the King invited Grenville to form a Government 'without exclusion'. Consequently, on 11 February Grenville was appointed Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury. Charles James Fox became Foreign Minister and Lord Sidmouth became Lord Privy Seal in Grenville's so-called 'Ministry of All the Talents'. The administration was referred to by some as a Fox or a Sidmouth Government with a trace of Grenville', but Grenville had a very strong influence upon the ministry. He soon set to work on what he called his 'defensive and husbanding system', instigating administrative reforms in the Treasury and its accounting practices, and in the sphere of Scottish civil justice, and devising new financial mechanisms to meet the increasing costs of war.
      On 7 May 1806 Grenville introduced into the House of Lords the Foreign Slave Trade Bill, designed to reduce British participation in the trade by two-thirds to three-quarters by giving statutory force to Pitt's proclamation of August 1805. During the Third Reading debate, nine days later, Grenville further stated that 'an event most grateful to his feelings' would be 'to witness the abolition of a traffic that is an outrage to humanity, and that trampled on the rights of mankind'. In June Grenville and Fox successfully moved resolutions in both Houses of Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade, Grenville having lobbied in the House of Lords on behalf of the measure, and persuading Sidmouth of its merits. The following February, he made an eloquent speech the Second Reading of the Bill that carried the resolutions into effect.
      On 13 September 1806 Fox died, necessitating a reconstruction of the ministry. During the summer Grenville had faced increasing opposition over the conduct of the Government's affairs in the House of Commons and its taxation and military reforms. His subsequent failure to gain support of leading Opposition Members caused Grenville to reconstruct the administration in a way which gave it neither strength nor authority. To add to his problems, in October the failure of the Paris peace negotiations together with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War made Grenville vulnerable at home. With a view to strengthening his ministry, he sought and gained the King's agreement to dissolve Parliament. In the ensuing general election, Grenville's majority increased by between 20 and 30.
      In the face of Dublin's Catholic leaders' threat to petition the new Parliament for full Catholic relief - an action which would be certain to divide the ministry - Lord Howick (later Earl Grey), who succeeded Fox as Foreign Secretary, introduced the Roman Catholic Army and Navy Service Bill on 5 March 1807. The measure would have enabled Catholics to hold commissions in both services. However, the King and Sidmouth deemed that the proposal would extend the provisions of the Irish Act of 1793, and neither would accept it. Faced with the alternatives of proceeding with the Bill and alienating the King, or modifying the measure and placing his administration in an impossible position, Grenville decided to drop the Bill on 15 March. However, he did request the King's permission to speak openly on the subject of Catholic claims in Parliament and to offer
      such advice to the monarch 'as the course of circumstances shall appear to require'. On 17 March 1807 the king demanded a positive assurance from his Ministers that they would not press the issue on him again. Grenville was by this time anxious that his Government should be dismissed, thus allowing him to retire as he wished. He therefore felt unable to give such an undertaking to the king.
      On 25 March 1807, following the King's announcement that he intended to seek an alternative administration, Grenville surrendered his seal of office. On the same day the Bill abolishing the slave trade gained Royal Assent. This was the one lasting testimony to Grenville's ministry. During the following ten years he was the leader of the main body of opposition to the Portland, Perceval and Liverpool administrations. On 29 September 1809 Grenville declined Perceval's invitation to join the Government in a coalition with Grey upon resignation of the Duke of Portland. His differences with Perceval on the Irish question were such that his agreement to the proposition would be considered 'a dereliction of public principle'.

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