Grey Pamphlets

Scope and Content

The Earl Grey Pamphlets cover a wide span of political, economic and social issues of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Parliamentary reform, and matters of colonial and imperial policy are particularly strongly represented, and there are numerous pamphlets with colonial imprints. Ireland is another major theme, as are church affairs. The 3rd Earl's interests in free trade, land, tithes, and the housing of the poor are all well represented. The 4th Earl was a man of multifarious interests, who played a leading role in movements for co-operation and co-partnership, temperance (public house trusts), church reform, university extension, garden cities, and imperial federation. All of these enthusiasms are reflected in the collection. The Greys were also closely interested in the family estate at Howick, Northumberland, and involved in local affairs, and material relating to Northumberland forms a further component of the collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection was accumulated largely by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Earls Grey, and the contents relate closely to their public careers and interests. Charles, 2nd Earl Grey (1764-1845) entered Parliament in 1786, and became First Lord of the Admiralty 1806, Foreign Secretary 1806-1807, and Prime Minister 1830-1834. From an early stage in his career he was keenly interested in parliamentary reform, and his administration was responsible for the passage of the 1832 Reform Bill. He was a strong supporter of Catholic emancipation, and his interest in Ireland and in foreign affairs was lifelong. Henry George, 3rd Earl Grey (1802-1894) followed his father into politics in 1826, and served in his father's administration as Under-Secretary for Home Affairs 1830, and Under-Secretary for the Colonies 1830-1834. He entered the cabinet as Secretary at War 1835-1839, and was Secretary of State for the Colonies 1846-1852. He shared his father's strong support for parliamentary reform and Catholic emancipation, and to the end of his long life maintained a vigilant interest in public policy, colonial affairs and Ireland (on which he became a determined opponent of Gladstone's Home Rule policies). The Grey family's close concern with colonial affairs was continued by Albert Henry George, 4th Earl Grey (1851-1917), who was involved in the British South Africa Company, and served as Administrator of Rhodesia 1896-1897 and Governor-General of Canada 1904-1911. The Greys were also strongly interested in Church of England affairs. Their campaigning and reforming politics are reflected in the debates recorded by these pamphlets.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Deposited with the University of Durham Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic (from 1990 part of the Archives and Special Collections department of Durham University Library) by the 5th Earl Grey, 1956.


Part of : Earl Grey Papers

Other Finding Aids

The pamphlets are in the University Library's catalogue, which supersedes a typescript list, Books and Pamphlets in the Earl Grey Papers. To restrict the catalogue search to the Grey Pamphlets, do a shelfmark search on shelfmark "GreyPam" - or use the following URL

Alternative Form Available

The Grey Pamphlets are currently part of a major JISC project to digitise and make available online 19th century pamphlets: for progress, see

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

The date and reason for the formation of this sequence is unclear, but seems to have been done for storage purposes, creating a group distinct from the Library at Howick and also separate from the papers. In some cases, the correspondence or notes relating to the pamphlet can be found amongst the papers of the person concerned. The 4th Earl's papers contain many more pamphlets, often duplicating or continuing sequences found here.


R.P. Doig, 3rd Earl Grey Pamphlets, The Durham Philobiblon, 2 (1955-69), 28-34; 54-55.