Papers of Rev William Grey (1819-1872)

Scope and Content

The papers of Rev William Grey consist of the following series: diaries (EGR4/8/1), pocket diaries (EGR4/8/2), travel journals (EGR4/8/3), texts of sermons (EGR4/8/4), financial papers (EGR4/8/5), correspondence (EGR4/8/6) and other papers (EGR4/8/7).

The papers of Rev Harry Grey and his wives contain a sketch and letters sent by William Grey to his father and mother during his childhood (EGR4/6/1/1/5-7, /10-11). There is a bundle of 36 letters from William Grey to his father and stepmother (EGR4/6/1/4); the earliest of these were written while William Grey was at Oxford, but the majority date from his time in Newfoundland. There is also a letter from Rev Francis Henry White to Rev Harry Grey concerning the negotiations over the marriage of William Grey and Harriet White (EGR4/6/1/1/17). The papers of Harriet Grey, wife of William Grey, include seven letters from her husband (EGR4/9/1/1-7). The papers of various members of the Grey family contain an account by Rev Harry Grey of his son's return to England and of his religious state (EGR4/10/22/13), and letters from William Grey to his sister Frances Charlotte Elizabeth and an unknown sibling (EGR4/10/23-25 & /28). The papers of the White family contain letters from William Grey to his wife's family (EGR5/2/4/31, /40, /45, /50, /54 & /56-57).

Administrative / Biographical History

William Grey was born on 27 October 1819, the third son of Rev Harry Grey (1783-1860). In 1838 he went up to Magdalen Hall, Oxford, gaining his BA degree in 1842 and his MA in 1843 (he later transferred to Brasenose College: see EGR4/8/6/61 below). He was ordained as a deacon by the Bishop of Salisbury on 12 March 1843, and as a priest in the following year. From 1843 to 1848 he served as assistant stipendiary curate in the parishes of Allington and Amesbury, Wiltshire, residing in Allington.

In January 1849 William Grey commenced service as a missionary with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), and was appointed as examining chaplain to the Bishop of Newfoundland, Edward Feild. After a preliminary visit to Newfoundland and the island of Bermuda, which formed part of the diocese, William Grey returned to England to marry Harriet, daughter of Rev Francis Henry White, on 25 July 1849. The couple sailed from England to Newfoundland in August of that year. William Grey served as principal of Queen's Theological College, St John's, and later as minister at Portugal Cove. On 18 April 1850 Harriet Grey gave birth to their only child, William (1850-1910), who later became the 9th Earl of Stamford. In June 1853 his wife's ill health, exacerbated by the harsh Newfoundland climate, forced William Grey to resign his position in the SPG and return to England.

In December 1855 William Grey was appointed stipendiary curate in the licensed school-rooms at Moordown and Pokesdown near Bournemouth, Hampshire, and in May 1860 he was appointed to the perpetual curacy of St John's, Milford in Witley parish, Surrey. William Grey's later years were afflicted by increasing ill health, and he was forced to resign his benefice in February 1865. He moved with his wife Harriet to Exeter, where he died on 1 September 1872 (source: manuscript pedigree at Dunham Massey Hall).


William Grey's residence in Newfoundland, and his sketches and letters describing the life and landscape there, are discussed in Stephen Matthews, '"Your Dutiful Son" - the Newfoundland letters of the Revd William Grey Report and transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art, vol. 136 (2004), pp. 149-64.