Biography of GRENVILLE, George - Archontology

George Grenville

b. 14 Oct 1712, London
d. 13 Nov 1770, London

Ministerial offices: Lord of the Admiralty (27 Dec 1744 - Jun 1747)
Lord of the Treasury (Jun 1747 - Mar 1754)
Treasurer of the Navy (Mar 1754 - 20 Nov 1755, Nov 1756 - 9 Apr 1757, Jun 1757 - May 1762)
Leader of the House of Commons (Oct 1761 - Oct 1762, Apr 1763 - Jul 1765)
Secretary of State, Northern Department (27 May 1762 - 9 Oct 1762)
First Lord of the Admiralty (Oct 1762 - Apr 1763)
First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer (16 Apr 1763 - 10 Jul 1765)

A member of a political family (his sister married the Earl of Chatham, and one of his sons became prime minister), George Grenville studied at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, as well as at Inner Temple and Lincoln's Inn. He was called to the Bar in 1735. Grenville entered Parliament in 1741. His maiden speech supported the censure movement against Robert Walpole in January 1742, and his parliamentary reputation grew rapidly thereafter. He entered Henry Pelham's Government as Lord of the Admiralty (1744-1747) and later held the office of Lord of the Treasury (1747-1754). His 'Cobhamite' faction, including William Pitt, were dismissed by the Newcastle administration in 1755, only to be brought back into the Government the following year. Grenville moved closer to the Earl of Bute, and his fortunes blossomed when George III became King in 1760. He entered Newcastle's second administration as Treasurer of the Navy (1757-1762), and also served under Bute, although his career suffered for a time because of his opposition to Bute's peace negotiations with France. He took over as First Lord of the Treasury (1763-1765) and prime minister the following year, but Bute remained an important political influence, especially with the King. Grenville's Government had to deal with the alleged seditious libel of the MP John Wilkes and also the introduction of the Stamp Act (22 Mar 1765), which required the American colonies to pay for their own defense. When English weavers rioted (May 1765) to protest imported silk, the King blamed Grenville for the violence. Insulted when the prime minister tried to remove the Queen from the regency list because of her friendship with Bute, King George succeeded in replacing Grenville on 10 Jul 1765. [1, pp. 33-38]

[1] Englefield, Dermot; Seaton, Janet; White, Isobel (eds.) Facts About the British Prime Ministers: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1995. online
Image: George Grenville, detail of an engraving by James Watson after a painting by William Hoare.