Papers of Henry George, 3rd Earl Grey

Scope and Content

The papers' greatest importance is for colonial history, although they also contain much material of interest for domestic politics, and for Grey's period at the War Office. During his years as Colonial Secretary in the government of Lord John Russell, 1846-1852, the papers include private letters from some fifty colonial governors, often explaining and amplifying their dispatches. Nor did the 3rd earl's interest in colonies cease when he left office. He was still writing pamphlets on colonial topics when nearly ninety, and colonial governors continued to consult him in his latter years.

Although Grey never again held ministerial office after 1852, he continued to be active in the House of Lords, and he maintained a vigilant interest in public policy until the end of his life. In his early career he had proved an active supporter of Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform. In later life Ireland continued to be among his foremost interests, and he became a determined opponent of Gladstone's Home Rule policies. Free trade, parliamentary reform, church affairs, foreign policy, land, tithes, bimettalism, and the housing of the poor all engaged his attention and his pen. His correspondents included many prominent churchmen, and a number of well-known women, among them Florence Nightingale and Josephine Butler. One of his most frequent correspondents was his brother-in-law, Charles Wood, 1st Viscount Halifax. Among his most enduring interests was his estate at Howick in Northumberland, and, although the main series of Grey Estate Papers forms a separate division of the Earl Grey Papers, there is much material in the 3rd Earl's papers relating to estate matters and to Northumberland affairs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Eldest son of 2nd Earl Grey, succeeded his father in 1845; styled Viscount Howick 1807-1845. Married Maria Copley. No children. Elected M.P. for Winchelsea 1826, Higham Ferrers 1830, Northumberland 1831, Northumberland Northern Division 1832-1841, Sunderland 1841. Under-Secretary for the Colonies 1830-1834. Under-Secretary for Home Affairs 1834. Secretary at War 1835-1839. Secretary of State for the Colonies 1846-1852.


Loose papers in files in alphabetical sequence by correspondent, followed by files on Colonial Papers and War Office Papers, and then a miscellany of subject files including some on Colonial Affairs and Foreign Affairs, followed by newspapers and cuttings. Box numbering continues that for the 2nd earl's papers. Volumes, which include the 3rd Earl's journals and diaries, are shelved in a separate sequence (GRE/V/C).

Access Information

Open for consultation.


Part of : Earl Grey Papers

Other Finding Aids

Online catalogue, available at online catalogue


The colonial policy of Lord John Russell's administration, 2 vols (London, 1853)Parliamentary government considered with reference to a reform of Parliament (London, 1858)Free trade with France. Letters from “The Times” (London, 1881)Ireland: the causes of its present condition and the measures proposed for its improvement (London, 1888)The commercial policy of the British colonies and the McKinley tariff (London, 1892)
The Elgin-Grey papers 1846-1852, ed. Sir Arthur G. Doughty, 4 vols (Ottawa, 1937)
Ward, J.M., Earl Grey and the Australian colonies, 1846-1857 (Melbourne, 1958)

Corporate Names

Geographical Names