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The Earls and Countesses de Grey of Wrest

The de Grey coat of arms
The de Grey coat of arms

The Title of Earl of Countess de Grey of Wrest was created on 25th October 1816 for Amabel, eldest daughter of Jemima, Marchioness Grey in her own right. The bearers of the title have been as follows:

 Memorial to Amabel, Countess Grey in the de Grey Mausoleum at Flitton, August 2011
Memorial to Amabel, Countess Grey in the de Grey Mausoleum at Flitton, August 2011

Amabel, 1st Countess de Grey

She was countess in her own right. She was the daughter of Jemima, as noted above, and Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke and was born on 22nd January 1751. She married Alexander Hume-Campbell, called Lord Polwarth on 16th July 1772. Polwarth was created Baron Hume of Berwick on 20th May 1776 and died on 9th March 1781, aged just thirty.

Hume arms in Silsoe church September 2011Campbell arms in Silsoe church September 2011
The Hume and campbell arms in Silsoe church September 2011

On the death of her mother Jemima on 11th January 1797 Amabel became the 5th Baroness Lucas of Crudwell but did not become Marchioness Grey, that title becoming extinct on her mother’s death. This was because the title Baron or Baroness Lucas of Crudwell, by special dispensation at its creation in 1663, could descend through the female line whereas the title of Marquess or Marchioness Grey could not. However, on 25th October 1816 she was created 1st Countess de Grey of Wrest, with a specially created remainder in the title so that it could pass on her death to the male heirs of her sister Mary Jemima, Dowager Baroness Grantham, the second daughter of Jemima, Marchioness Grey.

Wrest Park had descended, along with the Barony of Lucas, to Amabel on the death of her mother. Amabel died on 4th May 1833 at Saint James’ Square, London, aged 82 and is buried in the de Grey Mausoleum at Flitton church.

The image of 2nd Earl de Grey on his tomb August 2011
The image of 2nd Earl de Grey on his tomb August 2011

Thomas Philip, 2nd Earl de Grey

He was the son of Amabel’s sister Mary Jemima and her husband Thomas Robinson, 2nd Baron Grantham. He was born on 8th December 1781 at Whitehall. On his father’s death in 1786 he became the 3rd Baron Grantham and succeeded to an estate at Topcliffe in Yorkshire. He also became baronet Robinson of Newby on the death of his cousin Sir Norton Robinson, 5th baronet, on 31st January 1792.

The South Front of Wrest Park September 2011
The South Front of Wrest Park September 2011

On 7th May 1803 he changed his surname from Robinson to Weddell by royal licence. On 4th May 1833 he succeeded his aunt Amabel as 2nd Earl de Grey and, once again, changed his surname, this time to de Grey. He also became 6th Baron Lucas of Crudwell. He was an enthusiastic amateur architect and designed the new mansion at Wrest Park, the foundation stone of which was laid in February 1834. The new house was complete in 1838. The old house was gradually demolished and had completely disappeared by the end of 1840.

The Earl served as Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire from 1818 to 1859 and was yeomanry Aide-de-Camp to King William IV (1830-1837) from 1831 to 1837 and to Queen Victoria (1837-1901) from her accession until his death. In politics he was a Conservative and served in the premiership of Robert Peel as First Lord of the Admiralty from December 1834 (when he was also created a Privy Councillor) to April 1835 when the government fell. From 1841 to 1844, during the first years of Peel’s second term as prime minister, de Grey served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.  He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1844

As an amateur architect of some distinction it must have pleased him to serve as President of the Society of Architects from 1834 until his death. He was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society on 29th April 1841.

The soul of Henrietta Frances Countess de Grey being carried to Heaven August 2011
The soul of Henrietta Frances Countess de Grey being carried to Heaven August 2011

The 2nd Earl married Henrietta Frances, youngest daughter William Willoughby Cole, 1st Earl of Enniskillen on 20th July 1805, she was three years his junior. She died before him, on 2nd July 1848, aged 64 at 4 Saint James’ Square, London and is buried in the de Grey Mausoleum at Flitton.

The Earl himself died at Saint James’ Square on 14th November 1859, aged 77. The Barony of Lucas of Crudwell then devolved upon his daughter, since it could pass through the female line, but the Earldom passed to his nephew. The Earl is buried in the de Grey Mausoleum and his was the last monument to be placed in the mausoleum. It lies in front of the former chancel east window of the medieval church, now filled in.

Robinson arms in Silsoe church September 2011
Robinson arms in Silsoe church September 2011

George Frederick Samuel, 3rd Earl de Grey

George Frederick Samuel Robinson was born 24th October 1827 at 10 Downing Street, he was the second son (but oldest to survive his father) of Frederick John Robinson, 3rd Baron Grantham by Mary Jemima and so was the 2nd Earl’s nephew. His father was created Earl of Ripon in 1833 and so George succeeded to two earldoms, that of Ripon on the death of his father on 28th January 1859 and that of de Grey of Wrest on the death of his uncle ten months later.

He did not inherit Wrest Park as this descended to the 2nd Earl’s daughter, Anne Florence, Countess Cowper and 7th Baroness Lucas of Crudwell. In politics he broke with family tradition by becoming a Liberal and served in every Liberal administration from 1861 to 1909. The 2nd Earl of Ripon was created 1st Marquess of Ripon on 23rd June 1871 on his return from the United States of America as first commissioner on the British side sorting out territorial and other disputes with the United States. He died on 9th July 1909 at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire, aged 81.

Frederick Oliver Robinson

He was born on 29th January 1852, only son of the 1st Marquess of Ripon and succeeded his father as 2nd Marquess as well as 4th Earl de Grey. Like his father he was a Liberal politician. He and his wife were childless and so on his death, in September 1923 all his titles, including that of Earl de Grey of Wrest, became extinct.