Grey De Wilton - Encyclopedia

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GREY DE WILTON and Grey De Ruthyn. The first Baron Grey de Wilton was Reginald de Grey, who was summoned to parliament as a baron in 1295 and who died in 1308. Reginald's son John, the 2nd baron (1268-1323), was one of the lords ordainers in 1310 and was a prominent figure in English politics during the reign of Edward II. The later barons Grey de Wilton were descended from John's eldest son Henry (d. 1342), while a younger son Roger (d. 1353) was the ancestor of the barons Grey de Ruthyn.

William, 13th Lord Grey De Wilton (d. 1562), who succeeded to the title on the death of his brother Richard, about 1520, won great fame as a soldier by his conduct in France during the concluding years of Henry VIII.'s reign, and was one of the leaders of the victorious English army at the battle of Pinkie in 1547. He was then employed on the Scottish marches and in Scotland, and in 1549 he rendered good service in suppressing the rebellion in Oxfordshire and in the west of England; in 1551 he was imprisoned as a friend of the fallen protector, the duke of Somerset, and he was concerned in the attempt made by John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, to place Lady Jane Grey on the English throne in 1553. However, he was pardoned by Queen Mary and was entrusted with the defence of Guines. Although indifferently supported he defended the town with great gallantry, but in January 1558 he was forced to surrender and for some time he remained a prisoner in France. Under Elizabeth, Grey was again employed on the Scottish border, and he was responsible for the pertinacious but unavailing attempt to capture Leith in May 1560. He died at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire on the 14th/25th of December 1562.

He was described by William Cecil as "a noble, valiant, painful and careful gentleman," and his son and successor, Arthur, wrote A Commentary of the Services and Charges of William, Lord Grey of Wilton, K.G. This has been edited by Sir P. de M. Grey Egerton for the Camden Society (1847). .

Grey's elder son Arthur, 14th Lord Grey De Wilton (1536-1593), was during early life with his father in France and in Scotland; he fought at the battle of St Quentin and helped to defend Guines and to assault Leith. In July 1580 he was appointed lord deputy of Ireland, and after an initial defeat in Wicklow was successful in reducing many of the rebels to a temporary submission. Perhaps the most noteworthy event during his tenure of this office was the massacre of 600 Italians and Spaniards at Smerwick in November 1580, an action for which he was responsible. Having incurred a heavy burden Of debt Grey frequently implored the queen to recall him, and in August 1582 he was allowed to return to England (see E. Spenser, View of the State of Ireland, edited by H. Morley, 1890, and R. Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, vol. iii., 1890). While in Ireland Grey was served as secretary by Edmund Spenser, and in book v. of the Faerie Queene the poet represents his patron as a knight of very noble qualities named Artegall. As one of the commissioners who tried Mary queen of Scots, Grey defended the action of Elizabeth's secretary, William Davison, with regard to this matter, and he took part in the preparations for the defence of England against the Spaniards in 1588. His account of the defence of Guines was used by Holinshed in his Chronicles. When he died on the 14th of October 1593 he was succeeded as 15th baron by his son Thomas (d. 1614), who while serving in Ireland incurred the enmity of Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, and of Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton; and after fighting against Spain in the Netherlands he was a member of the court which sentenced these two noblemen to death in 1601. On the accession of James I. he was arrested for his share in the "Bye" plot, an attempt made by William Watson and others to seize the king. He was tried and sentenced to death, but the sentence was not carried out and he remained in prison until his death on the 9th of July 1614. He displayed both ability and courage at his trial, remarking after sentence had been passed, "the house of Wilton hath spent many lives in their prince's service and Grey cannot beg his." Like his father Grey was a strong Puritan. He left no children and his barony became extinct.

In 1784 Sir Thomas Egerton, Bart., a descendant in the female line of the baron, was created Baron Grey de Wilton. He died without sons in September 1814, when his barony became extinct; but the titles of Viscount Grey de Wilton and earl of Wilton, which had been conferred upon him in 1801, passed to Thomas Grosvenor (1799-1882), the second son of his daughter Eleanor (d. 1846), and her husband Robert Grosvenor, 1st marquess of Westminster. Thomas took the name of Egerton and his descendants still hold the titles.

Roger Grey, Ist Baron Grey De Ruthyn, who was Summoned to parliament as a baron in 1324, saw much service as a soldier before his death on the 6th of March 1353. The second baron was his son Reginald, whose son Reginald (c. 1362-1440) succeeded to the title on his father's death in July 1388. In 1410 after a long dispute the younger Reginald won the right to bear the arms of the Hastings family. He enjoyed the favour both of Richard II. and Henry IV., and his chief military exploits were against the Welsh, who took him prisoner in 1402 and only released him upon payment of a heavy ransom. Grey was a member of the council which governed England during the absence of Henry V. in France in 1415; he fought in the French wars in 1420 and 1421 and died on the 30th of September 1440. His eldest son, Sir John Grey, K.G. (d. 1439), who predeceased his father, fought at Agincourt and was deputy of Ireland in 1427. He was the father of Edmund Grey (d. 1489), who succeeded his grandfather as Lord Grey de Ruthyn in 1440 and was created earl of Kent in 1465.

One of Reginald Grey's younger sons, Edward (1415-1457), succeeded his maternal grandfather as Baron Ferrers of Groby in 1 445. He was the ancestor of the earls of Stamford and also of the Greys, marquesses of Dorset and dukes of Suffolk.

The barony of Grey de Ruthyn was merged in the earldom of Kent until the death of Henry, the 8th earl, in November 1639. It then devolved upon Kent's nephew Charles Longueville (1612-1643), through whose daughter Susan (d. 1676) it came to the family of Yelverton, who were earls of Sussex from 1717 to 1799. The next holder was Henry Edward Gould (1780-1810), a grandson of Henry Yelverton, earl of Sussex; and through Gould's daughter Barbara, marchioness of Hastings (d. 1858), it passed to the last marquess of Hastings,'on whose death in 1868 the barony fell into abeyance, this being terminated in 1885 in favour of Hastings's sister Bertha (d. 1887), the wife of Augustus Wykeham Clifton. Their son, Rawdon George Grey Clifton (b. 1858), succeeded his mother as 24th holder of the barony.

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