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William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville

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Title: William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville  
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Subject: Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, William Pitt the Younger, Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, Francis Osborne, 5th Duke of Leeds
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William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville

The Right Honourable
The Lord Grenville
PC PC (Ire)
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
11 February 1806 – 31 March 1807
Monarch George III
Preceded by William Pitt the Younger
Succeeded by The Duke of Portland
Personal details
Born (1759-10-25)25 October 1759
Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire, England
Died 12 January 1834(1834-01-12) (aged 74)
Burnham, Buckinghamshire, England
Political party Pittite Tory (until 1801)
Whig (from c. 1801)
Spouse(s) Anne
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Religion Church of England
Signature Cursive signature in ink

William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville PC PC (Ire) (25 October 1759 – 12 January 1834) was a British Whig statesman. He served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1806 to 1807 as head of the Ministry of All the Talents.


  • Background 1
  • Political career 2
  • Dropmore House 3
  • Personal life 4
  • The Ministry of All the Talents, February 1806 – March 1807 5
  • Footnotes 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Grenville was the son of Whig Prime Minister 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos.

He was also related to the Pitt family by marriage; William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham had married his father's sister Hester, and thus the younger Grenville was the first cousin of William Pitt the Younger.

Grenville was educated at Eton, Christ Church, Oxford, and Lincoln's Inn.[1]

Political career

Grenville entered the House of Commons in 1782. He soon became a close ally of the Prime Minister, his cousin William Pitt the Younger, and served in the government as Paymaster of the Forces from 1784 to 1789. In 1789 he served briefly as Speaker of the House of Commons before he entered the cabinet as Home Secretary. He became Leader of the House of Lords when he was raised to the peerage the next year as Baron Grenville, of Wotton under Bernewood in the County of Buckingham.[2] The next year, in 1791, he succeeded the Duke of Leeds as Foreign Secretary. Grenville's decade as Foreign Secretary was a dramatic one, seeing the Wars of the French Revolution. During the war, Grenville was the leader of the party that focused on the fighting on the continent as the key to victory, opposing the faction of Henry Dundas which favoured war at sea and in the colonies. Grenville left office with Pitt in 1801 over the issue of Catholic Emancipation.

In his years out of office, Grenville became close to the opposition Whig leader Charles James Fox, and when Pitt returned to office in 1804, Grenville did not take part. Following Pitt's death in 1806, Grenville became the head of the "Ministry of All the Talents", a coalition between Grenville's supporters, the Foxite Whigs, and the supporters of former Prime Minister Lord Sidmouth, with Grenville as First Lord of the Treasury and Fox as Foreign Secretary as joint leaders. Grenville's cousin William Windham served as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, and his younger brother, Thomas Grenville, served briefly as First Lord of the Admiralty. The Ministry ultimately accomplished little, failing either to make peace with France or to accomplish Catholic emancipation (the later attempt resulting in the ministry's dismissal in March, 1807). It did have one significant achievement, however, in the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.

In the years after the fall of the ministry, Grenville continued in opposition, maintaining his alliance with Lord Grey and the Whigs, criticising the Peninsular War and, with Grey, refusing to join Lord Liverpool's government in 1812. In the post-war years, Grenville gradually moved back closer to the Tories, but never again returned to the cabinet. His political career was ended by a stroke in 1823. Grenville also served as Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1810 until his death in 1834.

Dropmore House

A caricature of Saartjie Baartman, Lord Grenville, and Richard Sheridan by William Heath

Dropmore House was built in the 1790s for Lord Grenville. The architects were Samuel Wyatt and Charles Tatham. Grenville knew the spot from rambles during his time at Eton College, and prized its distant views of his old school and of Windsor Castle. On his first day in occupation, he planted two cedar trees. At least another 2,500 trees were planted. By the time Grenville died, his pinetum contained the biggest collection of conifer species in Britain. Part of the post-millennium restoration is to use what survives as the basis for a collection of some 200 species.[3]

Personal life

Lord Grenville married the Honourable Anne, daughter of Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford, in 1792. The marriage was childless. He died in January 1834, aged 74, when the barony became extinct. Lady Grenville died in June 1863.[1]

The Ministry of All the Talents, February 1806 – March 1807


  • September, 1806 - On Fox's death, Lord Howick succeeds him as Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons. Thomas Grenville succeeds Howick at the Admiralty. Lord Fitzwilliam becomes Minister without Portfolio, and Lord Sidmouth succeeds him as Lord President. Lord Holland succeeds Sidmouth as Lord Privy Seal.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ London Gazette no. 13259. p. 710
  3. ^

Further reading

  • Jupp, P. Lord Grenville (Oxford University Press, 1985)

External links

  • More about William Wyndam Grenville, Lord Grenville on the Downing Street website.
Political offices
Preceded by
Hon. Richard FitzPatrick
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1782 – 1783
Succeeded by
William Windham
Preceded by
Edmund Burke
Paymaster of the Forces
1784 – 1789
Succeeded by
The Lord Mulgrave
The Marquess of Graham
New office Vice-President of the Board of Trade
1786 – 1789
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Graham
Preceded by
Charles Wolfran Cornwall
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Henry Addington
Preceded by
The Lord Sydney
Home Secretary
1789 – 1791
Succeeded by
Henry Dundas
President of the Board of Control
1790 – 1793
Preceded by
The Duke of Leeds
Leader of the House of Lords
1790 – 1801
Succeeded by
Lord Pelham
Foreign Secretary
1791 – 1801
Succeeded by
Lord Hawkesbury
Preceded by
The Duke of Newcastle
Auditor of the Exchequer
1794 – 1834
Succeeded by
The Lord Auckland
Preceded by
Hon. William Pitt the Younger
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
11 February 1806 – 31 March 1807
Succeeded by
The Duke of Portland
Preceded by
Lord Hawkesbury
Leader of the House of Lords
1806 – 1807
Succeeded by
Lord Hawkesbury
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
James Grenville
Richard Aldworth-Neville
Member of Parliament for Buckingham
1782 – 1784
With: James Grenville
Succeeded by
James Grenville
Charles Edmund Nugent
Preceded by
The Earl Verney
Thomas Grenville
Member of Parliament for Buckinghamshire
With: Sir John Aubrey 1784–1790
The Earl Verney 1790
Succeeded by
The Earl Verney
James Grenville
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Portland
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
The Duke of Wellington
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Grenville
1790 – 1834
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