GRENVILLE, Thomas (1755-1846).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



25 Oct. 1779 - 1784
1790 - 1796
1796 - 22 Jan. 1810
6 Mar. 1813 - 1818

Family and Education

b. 31 Dec. 1755, 2nd s. of George Grenville, and bro. of George and William Wyndham Grenville.  educ. Eton 1764-71; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1771; L. Inn 1774. unm.

Offices Held

Ensign 2 Ft. Gds. 1778, lt. 1779, ret. 1780.

Envoy to Paris May-July 1782; minister extra-ordinary (with Lord Spencer) to Vienna 1793; chief justice in eyre South of Trent 1800; pres. Board of Control July-Oct. 1806; first ld. of Admiralty 1806-7.


Grenville succeeded his brother George as Member for Buckinghamshire. Until North’s fall he voted steadily with the rest of his family in opposition. In April 1780, resenting refusals to promote him, he attacked the ministry for discriminating against him in military promotions; and on this ground left the army.1 In November 1780, probably owing to the close friendship he had formed with Fox, he was chosen to move the amendment to the Address:2 his only reported speech during this Parliament. Initially a member of the Westminster Committee of Association, he took no part in its proceedings once its objects were switched to parliamentary reform.

On the formation of Rockingham’s ministry, Fox chose Grenville as envoy to conduct peace negotiations at Paris. During this mission Grenville shared Fox’s resentment at the way in which Shelburne asserted control over negotiations with the Americans, and this seems to have been the main reason for his refusal, after Rockingham’s death, to serve under Shelburne despite Temple’s urgent appeal.3 In 1783 he did not criticize the peace preliminaries in debate—‘Tom, to my infinite joy, did not speak’, W. W. Grenville informed Temple4—but he voted against them, and thereafter gave full support to the Coalition. According to one account Fox thought of him for governor general of India.5 At the end of 1783 Grenville voted for the motion implying censure upon the sending of messages from the King to the peers about the East India bill. This led to a complete breach with Temple, and reconciliation was delayed till 1785.6 Deprived in 1784 of the support of the family interest, Grenville did not stand at the general election and was out of the next Parliament.

Grenville died 17 Dec. 1846. A bibliophile, and a trustee of the British Museum, he bequeathed to it his library of over 20,000 volumes, valued at the time at more than £50,000.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: I. R. Christie


  • 1. Almon, xvii. 497-8.
  • 2. Debrett, i. 28-29.
  • 3. Buckingham, Courts Cabinets Geo, III, i. 50-53, 57-58; Fortescue, vi. 81-82.
  • 4. Buckingham, i. 155.
  • 5. Gent. Mag. 1847, i. 197.
  • 6. Buckingham, i. 308-10.