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GRENVILLE, William Wyndham, (of Wotton-under-Bernewood)

1st baron

Fact file

Born 25 October, 1759, died Dropmore Lodge (Buckinghamshire), 12 January, 1834
MP for Buckingham 1782-84
MP for Buckinghamshire 1784-90
Created 1st Baron of Grenville on 25 November 1790 (then becoming Leader of the House of Lords)
Chief secretary for Ireland 1782-83
Paymaster and Joint Paymaster 1783-89
Vice-president of the Board of Trade 1786-89
Speaker in the House of Commons 1789
Home Secretary 1789-90
Foreign Secretary, 1791-1801
Prime Minister 1806-7 (of the government known as ‘All the Talents')
Chancellor of Oxford University 1810-34
Son of the ex-Prime Minister George Grenville (ministry 1763-65) and cousin of William Pitt 'the Younger', William Grenville's greatest achievement was the abolition of the British overseas slave trade. As an attempt to crush the English radicals who were encouraged by the French Revolution, Grenville suspended Habeas Corpus in 1794. He and Pitt resigned in 1801 when King George III refused to consider granting political rights to Roman Catholics. On Pitt's return to power in May 1804, Grenville refused to be a part of the government because his greatest political ally, Charles James Fox, had been excluded from office at the king's insistence. On the death of Pitt in January 1806, Grenville formed the ‘All the Talents' coalition comprising Addington's followers, the Foxites, and his own friends. The administration's support for the Catholic Relief Bill led George III to dismiss the prime minister in March 1807 because Grenville refused to agree not to bring the subject up again. His active political career ended in 1823 when he suffered a stroke. He died leaving no heirs and his title became extinct.

Further reading

Jupp, P., Lord Grenville: 1759-1834, Oxford ; New York: Clarendon Press: Oxford University Press, 1985
Harvey, A. D., Lord Grenville, 1759-1834 : a bibliography, (Meckler's bibliographies of British statesman; 2), Westport, CT: Meckler, 1989
Sack, J.J., The Grenvillites 1801-1829: Party politics and factionalism in the age of Pitt and Liverpool, Urbana (etc.); London: University of Illinois Press, 1979.
Cook, C., J. Stevenson, The Longman Handbook of Modern British History, London and New York: Longman, 1996, p. 360
The Encyclopedia Britannica Online, William Wyndham Grenville


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