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Grey, Henry, tenth earl of Kentlocked

(bap. 1594, d. 1651)
  • Sean Kelsey

Grey, Henry, tenth earl of Kent (bap. 1594, d. 1651), parliamentarian nobleman, was baptized at Burbage, Leicestershire, on 23 November 1594, the eldest son of Anthony Grey (1557–1643), rector of Aston Flamville, Leicestershire, and of Magdalene Purefoy (1579–1653), daughter of William Purefoy of Caldecote, Warwickshire. His father succeeded to the earldom of Kent in 1639, on the death without surviving male issue of the eighth earl, a distant cousin. Some authorities refer to Henry Grey as the ninth earl. He would appear to have matriculated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 1611, taking his BA degree in 1615. A year later, on 31 January 1616, he was admitted to Gray's Inn.

Grey was elected to one of the Leicestershire seats in the House of Commons in the autumn of 1640. He had a hand in the passage of the militia ordinance devised by Sir Arthur Heselrige MP in 1642. He succeeded to his father's title and took his seat in the Lords on 22 November 1643. Less than a week later he was appointed first commissioner of the great seal, created by parliament to replace that held by Charles I. The great seal was entrusted instead to the speakers of the two houses on 30 October 1646, but he was again appointed first commissioner on 17 March 1648, remaining in post until the appointment of a new commission on 8 February 1649.

Kent was named parliament's lord lieutenant of Rutland on 24 August 1644, and of Bedfordshire on 2 July 1646, and as speaker of the Lords on 13 February 1645, and again from 6 September 1647 until the abolition of the upper house. An ‘army peer’, he was one of only four members of the Lords to dissent from the upper house's rejection of the self-denying ordinance on 13 January 1645. He opposed a motion for the return of royalist peers to their lordships' house in February 1647 and was one of nine lords who fled to the army on Hounslow Heath in July 1647. He was one of the commissioners who unsuccessfully took parliament's latest terms for a settlement, the ‘four bills’, to the king in December 1647, and in January 1648 was chosen for addition to the executive committee of both houses. Despite his reluctance to sit in judgment on his king in January 1649 (he was one of six peers named to the high court of justice), he sought to collaborate with the regicidal regime of which his cousin, William Purefoy MP, was a member. He was party to the lords' last desperate gambit to forestall moves for the abolition of their house in February, when he was appointed to the committee instructed to confer with the Commons about the future settlement of the kingdom in the aftermath of the regicide. But his public career effectively ended when the upper house was abolished on 19 March 1649.

Grey's first wife was Mary (1609–1644), daughter of Sir William Courten, whom he married on 14 October 1641. She died on 9 March 1644. They had a son, Henry, who predeceased the earl. After her death, on 1 August 1644 he married Amabella (1607–1698), daughter of Sir Anthony Benn, recorder of London (and granddaughter of John Evelyn of Godstone, Surrey), and widow of Anthony Fane, younger son of Francis, first earl of Westmorland. She and Henry had three children: Anthony (1645–1702), the eleventh earl of Kent and father of Henry Grey, first duke of Kent; Henry, who died young; and Elizabeth, who married Banastre Maynard, third Lord Maynard. The tenth earl died on 28 May 1651. He was buried at Flitton church, Bedfordshire, and a monument to his memory was erected in the De Grey mausoleum there, described by Pevsner as 'one of the greatest storehouses of [funerary] monuments in England' (Pevsner, Bedfordshire and the County of Huntingdon and Peterborough, 1968, 91). The tenth earl's will mentioned property in Essex and Kent, but his estate was clearly not great.


  • J. Foster, The register of admissions to Gray’s Inn, 1521–1889, together with the register of marriages in Gray's Inn chapel, 1695–1754 (privately printed, London, 1889), 138
  • C. H. Firth and R. S. Rait, eds., Acts and ordinances of the interregnum, 1642–1660, 1 (1911), 92, 114, 149, 232, 487, 658, 691, 723, 731, 783, 839, 852, 905, 937, 1016, 1047, 1107, 1208, 1227, 1234, 1238, 1243
  • JHC, 2 (1640–42)
  • JHC, 3 (1642–4), 142–4
  • JHL, 9 (1646–7)
  • JHL, 10 (1647–8)
  • CSP dom., 1648–9, 1, 5
  • C. H. Firth, The House of Lords during the civil war (1910), 147, 155, 170, 207, 209
  • Foss, Judges, 6.440–41
  • D. Fleming, ‘Factions and civil war in Leicestershire’, Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Transactions, 57 (1981–2), 26–36
  • TNA: PRO, PROB 11/217, fols. 195v–196
  • GEC, Peerage, new edn, vol. 7


  • Beds. & Luton ARS, papers, mainly concerning clergy; papers pertaining to the tenth earl's commission for the great seal, etc.


  • marble tomb effigy, 1658, St John the Baptist Church, Flitton, Bedfordshire
  • P. Angelis, group portrait, oils, 1713 (Queen Anne and the knights of the garter), NPG
  • drawing, Bodl. Oxf., Sutherland Collection

Wealth at Death

Kentish manor of Wingham Barton and Ash; Chadwell and Chadwell Hall, Essex: TNA: PRO, PROB 11/217, fols. 195v–196

G. E. C. [G. E. Cokayne], , 8 vols. (1887–98); new edn, ed. V. Gibbs & others, 14 vols. in 15 (1910–98); microprint repr. (1982) and (1987)
Journals of the House of Commons
National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, London
Journals of the House of Lords
J. Venn & J. A. Venn, , 2 pts in 10 vols. (1922–54); repr. in 2 vols. (1974–8)
E. Foss, , 9 vols. (1848–64); repr. (1966)