Regency Sex Symbols: Thomas de Grey, Lord Grantham

Thomas de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey, was known as Lord Grantham for much of his life. Born on the 8th December 1781 at Whitehall, his father’s death in 1786 ascending him to the title of 3rd Baron Grantham.  Entailed was an estate at Topcliffe in Yorkshire. In 1792 , Thomas de Grey also became baronet Robinson of Newby after the death of his cousin Sir Norton Robinson, 5th baronet.

On 7th May 1803 he changed his surname from Robinson to Weddell by royal licence in pursuit of the will of relative William Weddell, esq (The Tourist’s guide: being a concise history and description of Ripon, 1838). On 4th May 1833 he succeeded his aunt Amabel as 2nd Earl de Grey and, once again, changed his surname, this time to de Grey. He also became 6th Baron Lucas of Crudwell.

Lord Grantham, aside from being a babe and dandy, was an enthusiastic amateur architect, designing the new mansion at Wrest Park for which the foundation was laid in February 1834 and completed in 1838.  Inspired by the buildings he had seen in Paris, he based the design  on French architectural books such as Jacques-François Blondel’s Architecture Française (1752).     


As a Tory politician and notable statesman, Lord Grantham held many honors over his lifetime.  The Earl served as Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire from 1818 to 1859 and was yeomanry Aide-de-Camp to King William IV (1830-1837) and to Queen Victoria (1837-1901) from her accession until his death.

He was a Conservative and served in the premiership of Robert Peel as First Lord of the Admiralty from December 1834 (when he was also created a Privy Councillor) to April 1835. From 1841 to 1844, during the first years of Peel’s second term as prime minister, de Grey served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.  He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1844.

As a distinguished amateur architet he was nominated to and served as President to the newly created Society of Architects from 1834 until his death.

Married to his three year junior Lady Henrietta Frances, youngest daughter William Willoughby Cole, 1st Earl of Enniskillen on 20th July 1805, they had two daughters – Ann Florence and Mary Gertrude.

His wife Henrietta died in 1848. Lord de Grey survived her by eleven years and died in November 1859, aged 77. He was succeeded in the barony of Lucas of Crudwell by his daughter, Ann. His other titles passed to his nephew, George Robinson, 2nd Earl of Ripon.

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