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date: 09 February 2023

Grenville, Georgefree


Grenville, Georgefree

  • J. V. Beckett
  •  and Peter D. G. Thomas

George Grenville (1712–1770)

by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1764

Collection Columbia University, New York; © reserved in the photograph

Grenville, George (1712–1770), prime minister, was born at Wotton, Buckinghamshire, on 14 October 1712, the second of the six sons of Richard Grenville (1678–1727), landowner and whig MP, and his wife, Hester (bap. 1684, d. 1752), the second daughter of Sir Richard Temple, third baronet, of Stowe, Buckinghamshire. Grenville was often spelt Greenville by contemporaries, and that may have been the pronunciation.

Education and family

Grenville was educated at Eton College from 1725 and entered Christ Church, Oxford, in 1730, but did not graduate. As the landless younger son of a squire, he was evidently destined for a legal career. In 1729 he entered at the Inner Temple, whence he was called to the bar in 1735, and he retained chambers there until 1744. He handled the family's legal business, but it is unclear how far he engaged in general practice before politics engrossed his attention.

Grenville owed his political career to his mother's brother, Richard Temple, first Viscount Cobham of Stowe, who at the general election of 1741 brought him into parliament for his borough of Buckingham, a seat Grenville held until his death. He joined his uncle's youthful opposition group of Cobham's Cubs, among whom William Pitt was the rising star. The prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, dubbed them the Boy Patriots. When Walpole resigned in 1742 the Cubs remained in opposition to the Carteret ministry, but they joined the Pelham administration in the ministerial reshuffle of 1744. Grenville, having earned his spurs by some notable speeches, was appointed to the Admiralty board. He acted as Admiralty spokesman in the Commons, and also busied himself with wartime administrative duties. Three years later, with a salary rise from £1000 to £1400, he moved to the Treasury board, where for the next seven years he acquired his formidable mastery of the national budget.

Grenville meanwhile put his own finances in order. He was later to claim that he added each year's official salary to his capital, living off only the interest, until he became prime minister. The thrifty Grenville acquired capital from family sources, inheriting £3000 from his father in 1727, £7562 of Bank of England stock from his deceased younger brother Thomas in 1747, and £5000 in 1749 from Lord Cobham. By 1750 he had £15,358 of stock. After he married he claimed only the interest and not the capital of his wife's dowry of £10,000, which was still owed to his estate at his death. His bride on 16 May 1749 was Elizabeth (1719/20–1769), the second daughter of the former tory leader Sir William Wyndham and Lady Catherine Seymour, the daughter of the sixth duke of Somerset. The bride's grandfather snobbishly disapproved of the match and bequeathed her only an insulting annuity of £100. Both her parents were long since deceased, but her brother Charles, who became second earl of Egremont in 1750, was to be a friend and political ally of her husband. Lady Bolingbroke unkindly remarked that the new Mrs Grenville looked forty-nine at her marriage age of twenty-nine, for her face had been scarred by smallpox. George had made a fortunate marriage to a devoted wife, who took such a keen interest in her husband's political career that she kept a diary of it, long attributed to Grenville himself. 'She was the first prize in the marriage lottery of our century', wrote Grenville's friend Lord Buckinghamshire in 1765 (Lawson, 56). The happy couple had four sons and five daughters: the second son, George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, succeeded to Stowe in 1779 and was created marquess of Buckingham in 1784; the fourth son, William Wyndham Grenville, became Lord Grenville in 1790 and prime minister in 1806. Stowe had been bequeathed in 1749 to George's mother, who was created Countess Temple. In 1752 it passed, on her death, to his elder brother, Richard, who as second Earl Temple often behaved as if his rank and wealth gave him political equality with William Pitt, who had replaced Cobham as leader of their political faction. From 1752 Lord Temple, for an annual rent of a mere £10, leased the Grenville family home of Wotton to George, who also depended on his brother for his Buckingham parliamentary seat.

The ‘Brotherhood’

The meagre parliamentary records of the Pelham era reveal little about Grenville's debating role, but a creditable performance is implied by Pitt's comment to Lord Chancellor Hardwicke in 1754—'Mr Grenville is … one of the very best Parliament men in the House'—mentioning particularly his understanding of Commons procedure (Correspondence of William Pitt, 1.406). Pitt was expressing pleasure at the promotion of Grenville to be treasurer of the navy, with a salary of £2000, in the ministerial reshuffle consequent on the death of the prime minister, Henry Pelham, on 6 March. Grenville, who was also sworn of the privy council on 21 June, was by then deemed second to Pitt in their Commons faction. When on 16 November 1754 Pitt married Hester Grenville, the only sister of George and Lord Temple, a close political bond seemed to be forged of the ‘Brotherhood’. Twelve months later, in November 1755, Pitt and Grenville were dismissed from office for criticizing the duke of Newcastle's foreign policy as too Europe-orientated. After a year in open opposition Pitt formed a short-lived ministry with the duke of Devonshire when Newcastle abdicated responsibility for the disastrous start to the Seven Years' War, and Grenville returned to his old post of treasurer of the navy. He had hoped for the more lucrative pay office, and the sense of injury was deepened when he often had to deputize for the unwell Pitt as leader of the Commons.

The administration was dismissed in April 1757, and during subsequent negotiations with Newcastle to form a coalition Pitt's demand that Grenville be made chancellor of the exchequer, a post he had coveted for some years, proved to be an obstacle until Grenville himself suggested that it be dropped. For the third time he took the office of treasurer of the navy. There he was instrumental in passing the Navy Act of 1758 that speeded up the payment of seamen's wages: this was not merely to improve naval recruitment but also for humanitarian motives, to alleviate distress for naval families. The same sense of fairness had caused him to oppose the execution of Admiral Byng in 1757. Grenville maintained a low profile during the PittNewcastle ministry, although as a competent administrator he shared background responsibility for Britain's naval success in the war. But he was quietly nursing his resentment that his relatives Pitt and Lord Temple, both of whom were in the cabinet, were not pushing him for promotion. Personal and political ties between them and Grenville were weakening during these years. Grenville was critical of Pitt's cavalier attitude to the cost of the war, and was maintaining his own links with the Leicester House court of the young prince of Wales that had begun when both groups were in opposition in the mid-1750s. The ground was being prepared for Grenville's political volte-face after the prince became king in October 1760.

Changing allegiances

Grenville then hoped to become chancellor of the exchequer at last, since the current incumbent, Henry Legge, had given offence to the king and his favourite Lord Bute: but when Legge was removed in March 1761 he was replaced by Lord Barrington. Once again Pitt had failed to push Grenville's cause, and the breach between them widened. Grenville's ambitions now centred on the speaker's chair, which was being vacated by Arthur Onslow. It was a post for which his parliamentary expertise well suited him. But the king and Bute were anxious to reserve Grenville for high political office, and the opportunity arose later in the year. The cabinet was split over Pitt's demand for a pre-emptive naval strike against Spain, which was preparing to side with France in the war. When Pitt was outvoted on this, he and Lord Temple resigned in October, but Grenville did not follow them out of office. At the instigation of Lord Bute he had left London for Wotton during the political crisis, so as to avoid the emotional pressure of his family. He was then summoned back, to receive the offer of Pitt's post as secretary of state for the southern department. This Grenville refused, both from personal delicacy and from fear of a Commons confrontation with an irate Pitt. George III accepted Grenville's suggestion that Lord Egremont should succeed Pitt, but did not allow him the safe haven of the speakership. Grenville was needed on the government front bench, and when Newcastle vetoed his appointment as chancellor of the exchequer he became leader of the house, with a seat in the cabinet, while still remaining only treasurer of the navy.

A family quarrel was the inevitable consequence, with Lord Temple and Pitt bitter about Grenville's apostasy. He also was apprehensive about his parliamentary role, commenting to Newcastle, 'What figure shall I make? … I have no friends', meaning no following of his own (Lawson, 142). But when the Commons met in November Pitt did not launch the onslaught Grenville dreaded, while Grenville's reservations about an expensive European war struck a popular note among MPs. Grenville was able to rebuff Pitt's demand for information on the Spanish negotiations by the contention that diplomacy was the prerogative of the crown. Nor did Pitt exploit the onset of the Spanish war in January 1762, a development that enabled Grenville to press for a reduction of expenditure in the German campaigns. He was instrumental in forcing the resignation of the duke of Newcastle from the Treasury on 7 May 1762, after the cabinet had decided to end the annual subsidy to Britain's ally Frederick II of Prussia.

Secretary of state

Bute now took the Treasury and formed a ministry, but Grenville refused to accept the post of chancellor of the exchequer assigned to him. Instead he insisted on the northern secretaryship being vacated by Bute. The king thought Grenville presumptuous, and added the further objection that his brother-in-law Lord Egremont was already southern secretary. Grenville proved adamant, and obtained the post on 28 May. His spell as northern secretary was an unhappy one. A conventional explanation has long been that his talents were not suited to international diplomacy. But the true reason was that Grenville differed from George III and Bute over the conduct of the peace negotiations. He opposed many concessions that Bute was willing to make in his desire for peace. A whole series of disputes over Martinique, St Lucia, and Cuba culminated in October in the replacement of Grenville by Henry Fox as Commons leader, for fear Grenville would not push through a peace of which he disapproved. He was also compelled to exchange offices with the first lord of the Admiralty, Lord Halifax. His Admiralty salary was about £2500, less than a third of the emoluments of a secretary of state. Although Grenville remained in the cabinet, he was excluded from the final phase of the peace negotiations and took little part in Commons debates during the session of 1762–3. In March 1763 he suffered a public humiliation at Pitt's hands in a discussion of a new cider tax. Infuriated by Pitt's populist criticism, he challenged his brother-in-law to suggest where he could find an alternative tax. Pitt mocked him by murmuring the popular ditty 'Gentle Shepherd, tell me where', and thereafter ‘the Gentle Shepherd’ was often a sobriquet for Grenville in the contemporary press.

The sorry record of Grenville during the Bute ministry was the precursor to his appointment as prime minister. He seemed to have lost all chance of such high office, George III commenting to Bute on 14 March 1763 that 'Grenville has thrown away the game he had two years ago' (Lawson, 149). Bute had always intended to resign after the achievement of peace, and when Henry Fox declined to succeed him, preferring political retirement in the House of Lords, it became apparent that there was no other choice than either the appointment of Grenville or surrender to Newcastle and Pitt, for the other members of the Bute cabinet patently lacked the calibre for the post. Grenville received the offer on 25 March, and his appointment, as both first lord of the Treasury and chancellor of the exchequer, was made public on 6 April. The political world thought Grenville would be a dummy minister, with Bute the power behind the throne. But in the negotiations of March 1763 Grenville showed his mettle and secured some key concessions. He insisted on full control of Treasury patronage, contrary to George III's inclinations; he killed a plan to replace his brother-in-law Egremont as southern secretary by Bute's young protégé Lord Shelburne; and he obtained the acceptance of several of his recommendations for vacancies at the Treasury and Admiralty boards. He also secured the promise of a pension of £3000 for when he left office. Newcastle knew little of this, but shrewdly perceived that Bute had chosen the wrong man if he wanted a puppet minister.

Prime minister, 1763–1765

Bute's intention to retire was genuine, and it was publicly given out that the new ministry was a ‘triumvirate’ of Grenville and the two secretaries Egremont and Halifax. But George III disliked his ministers, and for the next few months insisted on consulting Bute on public business. At the beginning of August the ministry gave the king an ultimatum to choose between full support of his cabinet or forming another administration. George III essayed the latter option, but Pitt pitched his terms so high that the king turned again to Grenville, accepting his condition that Bute should take no further part in politics; he also promised to back Grenville against his cabinet colleagues, for Grenville's ally Egremont had died on 21 August, and the reshuffled administration chiefly comprised adherents of the duke of Bedford. George III assured Grenville that 'he meant to put his government solely into his hands' (Grenville Papers, 2.212). Grenville was now ‘first minister’, his own designation of his status.

Mastery of the House of Commons was, however, thrown into doubt by the first case involving the MP John Wilkes, arrested for a libel of the king in his paper the North Briton under a general warrant that did not name who was to be seized. That was a tactical blunder by the secretaries of state, for the implication of a widespread threat to individual liberty raised the political temperature: some fifty persons altogether, printers and others, had been arrested. Few doubted that there had been a libel, and Grenville was on safe ground when he made that issue a vote of confidence. The Commons condemned the libel and expelled Wilkes by large majorities. But the parliamentary opposition so exploited the general warrants issue as to bring on in February 1764 one of the great Commons confrontations of the century. Grenville won by majorities of ten and fourteen against the oratory of William Pitt and the canvassing of Newcastle. Many independent MPs were uneasy about the legality of general warrants, and Grenville in debate did not seek to defend it, simply arguing that it was a matter to be decided not by the House of Commons but by the law courts, which indeed soon condemned the practice. Despite the hopes of his opponents, and the opinions of some historians, Grenville's tenure of the Treasury was not at stake. He had not seen the question as one on which he should resign if defeated, and neither had the king, for many MPs voted against him only over that one issue. After the excitement died down Grenville turned his attention to the matter for which he is best known, the taxation of America.

The American colonies

The decision to tax America, to finance the army stationed in that continent, had been made in principle by the Bute cabinet, of which Grenville had been a member. He himself was particularly concerned from his Admiralty days about enforcing the customs laws, and the first proposal to raise a colonial revenue was one to halve an existing duty of 6d. a gallon on foreign molasses, the basis of rum, entering North America, but to enforce it. That was introduced in Grenville's first budget speech on 9 March 1764. He also then announced a plan to impose stamp duties on the colonies, and a draft American Stamp Bill had been in preparation since September 1763. When objection was made that the colonies should be consulted, Grenville postponed the tax for a year: he meant to invite other ideas on parliamentary taxation, but not to allow colonies to tax themselves; that old error of some contemporaries and historians has been corrected by recently discovered evidence.

Unsurprisingly, not one colony suggested how it might be taxed by parliament. Instead there was a flood of protests. This colonial reaction led the ministry to proceed with the Stamp Act in order to establish parliament's right to tax the colonies as well as to obtain money. No MP objected to the principle, but fifty voted against the expediency of the tax when Grenville introduced the measure in a well-prepared speech on 6 February 1765, in which he systematically demonstrated the constitutional right of parliament to impose the tax, and then the equity and propriety of doing so. The stamp duty was payable on newspapers, many legal documents, shipping cargo lists, and numerous sundry items. Britain had had such duties for nearly a century, and the common assumption was that they would be accepted in America, albeit under protest. Taxation was only part of the colonial policy of the Grenville ministry, and other measures owed little to his initiative: he himself opposed the creation of reservations for Native Americans west of the settlement colonies, but was outvoted on that point in cabinet on 16 September 1763. But while the concept of a ‘Grenville programme’ for America is a misnomer, only such a conscientious and industrious prime minister could have achieved so much in so short a time. A man so concerned with finance and legal right must have been shocked at the disorder and defiance of authority in the colonies. Hence the obviously retrospective comment attributed to an unknown official: 'Mr Grenville lost America because he read the American despatches, which his predecessors had never done' (Thomas, British Politics, 113).

Concern for efficiency and economy in government was the Grenville hallmark. He raised official morale by prompt payment of salaries, and he curbed needless expenditure: contemporary cartoons mocked him as saving candle ends. Foreign policy had to be cheap, and so expensive European alliances were avoided. But Grenville defended Britain's imperial interests. He played his part in sending Lord Clive back to Bengal in 1764 to secure British control there, and what has anachronistically been described as his 'gunboat diplomacy' deterred French and Spanish encroachments on British settlements in Honduras, Turk's Island, and the Gambia: in each instance the mere threat of a naval squadron sufficed.


Before the consequences of his American policy became known, Grenville was out of office. George III got rid of Grenville because he was insolent in attitude and tedious in behaviour: insolent because Grenville, paranoid about Bute's influence after his return to London in 1764, tried to insist on making all recommendations to official appointments; tedious because of his verbosity and tendency to lecture the king on his constitutional role. 'When he has wearied me for two hours', complained George III, 'he looks at his watch, to see if he may not tire me for an hour more' (Thomas, George Grenville, 123). Grenville had that effect on almost everybody. His cousin Thomas Pitt recalled that 'he was diffuse and argumentative, and never had done with a subject after he had convinced your judgment till he wearied your attention. The foreign ministers complained of his prolixity, which they called amongst each other, being Grenvilise' (Namier, 539).

The relationship between Grenville and the king had already deteriorated beyond redemption before the Regency Bill episode of spring 1765, which many then and later erroneously thought the cause of his removal from office: discord with George III over that matter arose briefly from a ministerial misapprehension that the king intended to name his mother and not his wife as prospective regent, the objection being her close friendship with Bute. By then George III had already decided to change his ministry, but his uncle the duke of Cumberland, not Bute, was the royal intermediary. A first attempt in May ended in a public fiasco when Pitt refused office, and the Grenville cabinet thought itself safely entrenched in power when the same month saw a personal and political reconciliation of Grenville with his brother Lord Temple, for Pitt always then made Temple's support a condition of office. But George III, determined to rid himself of Grenville, persuaded the Newcastle group to form a ministry under Lord Rockingham in July 1765. Grenville's formal dismissal came on 10 July, when the king made it clear that he was being dismissed because of his attitude, not his policies or incompetence. Grenville, who became prime minister without a party, left office with one, estimated at some seventy MPs, but in opposition it soon dwindled to less than half that size.

Opposition, 1765–1770

George III was said to have declared that he would henceforth rather see the Devil in his closet than George Grenville. Aware of this royal antipathy, Grenville behaved as a man free to declare his opinions regardless of consequences. He earned respect for his forthright and honest behaviour, but a return to office never now seemed likely. His attitude in the Stamp Act crisis of 1765–6, one of alarm and anger at American defiance, led him into blunders. As early as a Commons debate of 17 December 1765 he absurdly denounced the colonial resistance to his taxation as rebellion, comparable to the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 7 February 1766, after some tactical successes in earlier debates, he overplayed his hand by a Commons motion that in effect demanded enforcement of the Stamp Act, a proposal likely to lead to bloodshed. The majority of 274 to 134 against him that day destroyed his attempt to prevent repeal, which the ministry subsequently carried by large majorities. The courtier Gilbert Elliot commented that 'Mr Grenville and his friends are like to have leisure enough to repent of their headstrong and ill-advised conduct', and John Walsh, another MP not without sympathy for Grenville, wrote on 19 February that he did 'not possess in any eminent degree opposition talents' (Lawson, 226). It was not a role Grenville was accustomed to playing, but one he faced for the indefinite future when George III in July 1766 successfully turned to Pitt, now created earl of Chatham, to replace the Rockingham ministry. There began a steady haemorrhage of Grenville's parliamentary support as his followers faced a bleak future.

When parliament resumed in November 1766 Grenville launched almost alone a campaign against the legality of a royal proclamation of 24 September forbidding the export of grain. Constitutionally he was correct, as it breached the Bill of Rights. But tactically he was wrong, because most MPs realized that the government had thereby averted a food scarcity and consequent rioting. Later that session Grenville did enjoy a parliamentary triumph, the defeat of the ministry on 27 February 1767 on an opposition motion to reduce the land tax from 4s. to 3s. The three opposition parties of Rockingham, Bedford, and Grenville had found a popular topic, and although Grenville did not make the amendment he received most credit, as his wife noted in her diary: 'All the country gentlemen coming round Mr Grenville, shaking him by the hand, and testifying the greatest satisfaction' (Grenville Papers, 4.212). Mistaken euphoria led the opposition leaders to discuss an alliance, but the idea foundered on the impasse that both Rockingham and Grenville wanted the Treasury in any new ministry. In negotiations of July, when Rockingham for a while thought he had been asked to form a ministry, Grenville disdained any idea of taking part, perhaps because he was suspicious of the administration initiative. Certainly it did divide the opposition. The Bedford group decided to go their own way, and Rockingham's personal and political resentment at Grenville boiled over into an indiscreet statement at a Newmarket race meeting that he would never serve in government with him. Grenville responded by a savage attack on the Rockinghamite party in the opening debate of the new parliamentary session, on 24 November 1767. Bedford in rage and despair opened successful negotiations to join the ministry. Grenville, upset at this desertion by his long-term ally, found further ground for pessimism when his Commons party was reduced to thirty-one MPs after the general election of early 1768.

But that same election saw the return of John Wilkes for Middlesex, an event precipitating a major political controversy that gave renewed spirit to the opposition and eventually led to the fall of the ministry, led by the duke of Grafton after the unwell Chatham resigned in October 1768. Grenville himself encountered some embarrassment in this second Wilkes case, for some of the issues from the first one of the North Briton, when he had been the premier acting against Wilkes, arose again; however, on the central point of the ministry's determination to expel Wilkes he entertained no doubts that it was unconstitutional. On the motion of 3 February 1769 for expulsion Grenville made what his brother Lord Temple said was 'universally deemed the best speech he ever made' against the proposal: it was later printed as a pamphlet (Correspondence of William Pitt, 3.349). The case led him into co-operation with Rockingham, and during the summer recess of 1769 the return of Chatham to health and to the political arena increased the threat to the ministry, for he condemned the Middlesex election decision and allied with his brothers-in-law Grenville and Temple to form another triumvirate. Grafton resigned in January 1770 as his Commons majority crumbled, but Lord North stepped into the breach and robbed the opposition of victory. Grenville, however, enjoyed the satisfaction later that session of carrying his Election Act of 1770, which transferred the decision of election petitions from the House of Commons to a small committee of fifteen MPs chosen by lot. An obvious attempt to secure fairness, in the light of the Middlesex election case, it was a personal triumph, carried against ministerial wishes by the support of independent MPs. Contemporaries knew it as the Grenville Act.

Death and reputation

Grenville became ill early in the summer of 1770, and died on 13 November at his London home in Bolton Street, Piccadilly; he was buried at Wotton. A post-mortem revealed widespread bone corrosion, particularly of the ribs and skull. He was a professional politician in a sense that few men of his time were. His cousin Thomas Pitt wrote:

he was a man born to public business, which was his luxury and amusement. An Act of Parliament was in itself entertaining to him, as was proved when he stole a turnpike bill out of somebody's pocket at a concert and read it in a corner in despite of all the efforts of the finest singers to attract his attention.

Namier, 539

The House of Commons was his natural habitat, but the same verbosity that alienated George III:

rendered him an unpleasant speaker. Yet though his eloquence charmed nobody, his argument converted … The abundance of his matter, his experience of the forms and practice of the House … and above all the purity of his character … gave him … weight … He never took notes; he never quitted his seat for refreshment in the longest debates, and generally spoke the last.

ibid., 539

The hostile Horace Walpole conceded that 'Mr Grenville was confessedly, the ablest man of business in the House of Commons, and though not popular, of great authority there from his spirit, knowledge, and gravity of character' (Lawson, 287–8). Edmund Burke, in his famous speech of 19 April 1774 on American taxation, agreed that

Mr Grenville was a first-rate figure in this country. With a masculine understanding, and a stout and resolute heart, he had an application undissipated and unwearied. He took public business, not as a duty which he was to fulfil, but as a pleasure he was to enjoy; and he seemed to have no delight out of this House, except in such things as in some way related to the business that was to be done within it.

Writings and Speeches, 2.431

When parliament was not sitting, Grenville usually retired to his native Buckinghamshire, enjoying a countryside life and his family circle: all his seven surviving children were still under age at his death. He improved Wotton, and made nineteen property purchases in the county between 1754 and 1769, when his wife died, on 5 December, which was a grievous blow. Grenville so husbanded his finances that he left £154,674 in trust for his children. But Grenville is remembered by posterity not as a family man or even as a parliamentarian. He is recalled as the man whose taxation started the American War of Independence. Grenville never doubted that America should contribute to Britain's budget. He was scornful of the Rockingham ministry policy of 1766 that claimed the right of taxation but did not seek to enforce it, deeming such equivocation as more reprehensible than Pitt's open denial of parliamentary right. It was Grenville's pressure in the Commons on 26 January 1767 that extracted a premature promise from the chancellor of the exchequer, Charles Townshend, of renewed colonial taxation: and when, on 5 March 1770, he was confronted with a choice between the partial repeal of Townshend's taxes by the North ministry and an opposition amendment for their complete abolition, Grenville simply led his followers out of the house.

Grenville was a man who saw issues in black and white, and said and did what he thought was right. If he was obstinate in character, he was tactless in behaviour. His cousin Thomas Pitt recalled that 'he had nothing seducing in his manners. His countenance had rather the expression of peevishness and austerity' (Namier, 539). Lord Egmont, who held the Admiralty in the Grenville cabinet, wrote in 1768 that 'Mr Grenville is a most disagreeable man to do business with'. But he added, 'he is nevertheless the fittest person to be at the head of this country' (Correspondence of William Pitt, 3.334n.). Grenville may have made more enemies than friends, but he commanded respect from everybody.


  • P. Lawson, George Grenville: a political life (1984)
  • A. S. Johnson, A prologue to revolution: the political career of George Grenville, 1712–1770 (Lanham, MD, 1997)
  • P. D. G. Thomas, British politics and the Stamp Act crisis: the first phase of the American revolution, 1763–1767 (1975)
  • L. M. Wiggin, The faction of cousins: a political account of the Grenvilles, 1733–1763 (New Haven, CT, 1958)
  • P. D. G. Thomas, ‘George Grenville’, The prime ministers, ed. D. H. van Thal (1974), 1.116–25
  • J. L. Bollion, A great and necessary measure: George Grenville and the genesis of the Stamp Act, 1763–1765 (Princeton, NJ, 1982)
  • L. B. Namier, ‘Grenville, George’, HoP, Commons, 1754–90
  • J. V. Beckett, ‘George Grenville, prime minister, 1763–1765: career politician or country gentleman’, Parliamentary History, 14 (1995), 139–48
  • N. Tracy, Navies, deterrence, and American independence (Vancouver, 1988)
  • The Grenville papers: being the correspondence of Richard Grenville … and … George Grenville, ed. W. J. Smith, 4 vols. (1852–3)
  • P. D. G. Thomas, John Wilkes: a friend to liberty (1996)
  • Correspondence of William Pitt, earl of Chatham, ed. W. S. Taylor and J. H. Pringle, 4 vols. (1838–40)
  • The writings and speeches of Edmund Burke, ed. P. Langford, vol. 2: Party, parliament and the American crisis, 1766–1774 (1981)


  • BL, political and family corresp. and papers, Add. MSS 42083–42088, 57804–57837
  • Bodl. Oxf., corresp.
  • CBS, Stowe MSS, family papers
  • Coutts Bank, London, bank account
  • Hunt. L., corresp. and papers
  • Northants. RO, Stowe MSS, family papers
  • U. Mich., William L. Clements Library, corresp.
  • Yale U., Farmington, Lewis Walpole Library, corresp. and papers
  • BL, letters to Robert Clive, William Pitt, and Lord Temple [microfilm]
  • BL, corresp. with first Lord Hardwicke and R. Keith, Add. MSS 34585, 35589–35597
  • BL, letters to Charles Jenkinson, loan 72
  • BL, corresp. with first Earl Liverpool, Add. MSS 38191, 38304–38305
  • BL, Newcastle MSS
  • Norfolk RO, corresp. with earl of Buckinghamshire
  • NRA, priv. coll., letters to J. Oswald
  • Suffolk RO, Bury St Edmunds, corresp. with third earl of Bristol
  • TNA: PRO, letters to William Pitt, first Earl Chatham, and Lady Chatham
  • U. Mich., Clements L., corresp. with William Knox
  • Yale U., Farmington, Lewis Walpole Library, letters to E. Weston


  • F. G. Aliamet, line engraving, pubd 1757 (after W. Hoare), NPG
  • W. Hoare, oils, 1764, Christ Church Oxf.
  • J. Reynolds, portrait, 1764, Col. U. [see illus.]
  • W. Hoare, portrait, Mansell Collection; repro. in Thomas, ‘George Grenville’
  • J. Reynolds, oils, Courtauld Inst.; repro. in Johnson, Prologue to revolution
  • J. Reynolds, oils, John Bass Museum, Miami, Florida; version, Petworth House, West Sussex
  • G. Walker, line engraving (after J. Reynolds), BM, NPG

Wealth at Death

£154,674—in trust

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Columbia University, New York
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National Register of Archives, private collection
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National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, London
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L. Namier & J. Brooke, eds., , 3 vols. (1964); repr. (1985)
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Northamptonshire Record Office, Northampton
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British Museum, London
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Christ Church, Oxford
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Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds
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University of Michigan, William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor
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National Portrait Gallery, London
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British Library, London
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Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury
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Huntington Library, San Marino, California
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Courtauld Institute of Art, London
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Bodleian Library, Oxford
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Duke University, William R. Perkins Library, Durham, North Carolina
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Norfolk Record Office, Norwich