Papers of Charles Robert, 5th Earl Grey

Scope and Content

The contents of the papers reflect the 5th Earl's public and private life. His business and financial papers suggest a keen interest in shares and investments that is also evident in his role as director of a number of local, national and international companies, including Swan Hunter, Wigham and Richardson, and the Tanganyika Concessions Company. Grey's political life was dominated by his involvement in the finance and administration of the Church of England, and a large body of the material in the collection reflects this, including papers relating to the Church Assembly and the Central Board of Finance, as well as the various political campaigns to increase the numbers of clergy training colleges, clergy pension schemes and the abolition of the tithe rent charge. There is also material relating to other political areas of interest to the 5th Earl, such as plans to reform the House of Lords, working class housing, proportional representation and shipping. The personal papers of the 5th Earl include a substantial volume of correspondence from his mother, Alice, during the time of his employment in South Africa; his wife, Mabel; and various friends and relatives, as well as requests for personal and financial assistance from a variety of individuals and organisations. Other personal items include an appointments diary, the wills of Charles and his wife, Mabel, and various pamphlets and brochures.

Papers of the 5th Earl. Grey Vols Misc. 18 (included in “List of Volumes in the Grey Collection”) contains letters to the press from the 5th earl and other cuttings, 1918.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Robert Grey was born in 1879, the only son of Albert, 4th Earl Grey, and his wife, Alice, daughter of Robert Herford, of Westonbirt. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, Grey briefly served in the army before his employment as assistant private secretary to Lord Milner, High Commissioner for South Africa, in 1904. In 1906, he married Lady Mabel Palmer, only daughter of Lord Selborne. After unsuccessfully standing for Parliament in the Unionist interest in Bradford during the 1910 General Election, Grey served as a member of the Northumberland Fusiliers in France throughout the First World War. In 1917, he succeeded to the earldom after the death of his father, confining his primary interests to his estate and various business investments. Unlike his predecessors, Grey was never as active in his political life, being only an infrequent speaker in the House of Lords. His greatest achievement, however, was his role in the administration and reform of the Church of England. Appointed as a member of the House of Laity in the newly-formed Church Assembly in 1919 and chairman of the Central Board of Finance in 1925, Grey used his shrewd business sense to strengthen the foundations of the Church, introducing a number of proposals including the quota system and actively campaigning for the establishment of training colleges for teachers in church schools and pensions for clergymen and their dependents. His influential role in the Church of England was officially recognised with his appointment as chairman of the House of Laity in 1946. In later life, Grey suffered the personal tragedies of his wife's death in 1958 and his own partial blindness. He died in 1963.


The papers of Charles Robert, 5th Earl Grey, have chiefly been arranged into thematic sections. The broad categories of Business and Financial; Political; and Personal and Family Papers have themselves been sub-divided thematically, with chronological sequencing within these sub-sections. The collection relates primarily to the years up to and including 1926 and there appears to be little material after this year. The 5th Earl's Estate Papers are to be transferred to the Grey Estate Papers and are therefore not included as part of this collection.

Access Information

Open for consultation.


Part of : Earl Grey Papers

Other Finding Aids

Available online at online catalogue

Appraisal Information

Some material found among the 5th earl's papers, for example the rent rolls of the Howick estate, were transferred to the Earl Grey Estate Papers.