GREY, Hon. Thomas (c.1625-72), of Gosfield Hall, Essex and Whitehall.
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Family and Education
J.p. Essex Apr.-July 1660, Northumb. July 1660-d.; commr. for assessment, Northumb. Aug. 1660-9.
Asst. R. Adventurers into Africa 1663, 1669, 1671, dep. gov. 1665, 1667-8, sub-gov. 1666, 1670; asst. R. Fishing Co. 1664; commr. for trade 1668-d., plantations 1670-d.; gent. pens. by 1670-d.2
Grey came from a Northumberland family which can be traced back to the early 14th century and had represented the county under Richard II. Unlike many of their neighbours, they welcomed the Reformation, and Grey’s father acted as Speaker of the House of Lords during the Civil War, though he refused to serve on the Council of State after the execution of Charles I. Grey’s elder brother died young, and he became the heir to a settled estate of £6,000 p.a.; but he proved unmarriageable. On his paying his addresses to a highly eligible young lady in 1650, his prospective father-in-law, the Presbyterian Earl of Northumberland, wrote:
We observed not only a very strange behaviour in him, but such a disordered melancholy as argued a mind not well composed. ... I have neither had time nor knowledge enough of him to discover what it is that troubles his weak brain, but I believe it rather folly with some touch of a tame mopish madness than anything of witchcraft or love to his mother’s chambermaid, as some report of him. ... By that little which I have seen of him, if in the actions of his life he ever shows abilities, I am much deceived.
Nevertheless his father made over to him the manor of Epping, worth £1,200 p.a., and enabled him to recover Gosfield, which had been alienated by his maternal grandfather. After the Restoration he played a prominent part in the City and at Court. He invested £2,000 in the Africa company, on the board of which, according to William Coventry, he was eager for war with the Dutch, being
steered by the merchant party without perceiving it (being zealous for the company) and partly out of a desire to maintain a popularity with the merchants as well as the court party, so that he might be chosen the next sub-governor, of which he was ambitious, partly having nothing else to do and partly for the opportunity it gave him to make his court to his Royal Highness.
Nevertheless in 1665 he was unsuccessful at Berwick, where his uncle Edward Grey was the sitting Member. An associate of Buckingham, he probably inherited Presbyterian principles and sympathized with the anti-Anglican policy of the Cabal. But the Duke of Ormonde called him a ‘worthy gentleman’ after his attempt to reconcile Lord Ossory (Thomas Butler) with Buckingham. Grey was returned for Ludgershall in 1669, presumably on the interest of the Roman Catholic Brownes, but no committees can be definitely ascribed to him, and he was probably inactive, though listed as a court supporter by the Opposition. He was appointed to the council of trade, with a salary of £500 p.a., and it was even reported that he had been made a lord of the Treasury. But he was very ill of consumption and dropsy on 12 Feb. 1672, and died four days later. His will had been drawn up as long ago as 1655 with all the voluble piety of the period. In a codicil added shortly before his death he refers to his chambers and furniture in Whitehall.3
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Basil Duke Henning
- 1. Northumb. County Hist. xiv. 328-9.
- 2. Sel. Charters (Selden Soc. xxviii), 179, 183; T70/75; CSP Dom. 1670, p. 539; 1671-2, p. 176.
- 3. HMC Salisbury, xxii. 420, 423, 425; Morant, Essex, i. 47; ii. 382; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 453; 1671, p. 57; Camb. Hist. Jnl. xii. 113; Carte, Ormond, iv. 329; v. 64; North, Lives, iii. 250; Nottingham’s Chancery Cases (Selden Soc. lxxix), 657; HMC Buccleuch, i. 465; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 79; Bulstrode Pprs. 221; PCC 15 Eure.