William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville (1759-1834)
Whig Prime Minister 1806-1807

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William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville (1759-1834) Whig Prime Minister 1806-1807

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We are inclined to think, on the whole, that the worst administration which has governed England since the Revolution was that of George Grenville. His public acts may be classed under two heads, outrages on the liberty of the people, and outrages on the dignity of the crown.
T.B. Macaulay, Essays: 'Chatham'.

Additional Information on
William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville (1759-1834)
Whig Prime Minister 1806-1807

William Grenville was the youngest son of George Grenville, who was Prime Minister from 1763-1765. William's character greatly resembled that of his father, in that his honesty and hard work earned him much respect, but his unsympathetic and aloof manner rendered him unpopular.

Grenville was elected to Parliament in 1782 being appointed as Chief Secretary for Ireland. His cousin, William Pitt, saw to his rapid promotion and by the age of thirty he became Paymaster-General. Before long Pitt had raised Grenville to the peerage as Baron Grenville and he became the government's leader in the House of Lords.

In February 1801 Grenville resigned with the Prime Minister over the King's rejection of Catholic emancipation. This debate continued for the next few years and saw persistent quarrelling between the King and Parliament. When Pitt died in 1806 Grenville seemed to be the only minister who could command the support of the existing members, and so was made Prime Minister - the coalition government. However, Grenville's party provoked so much confrontation that in March 1807 he and his government were dismissed.

For the next ten years Grenville became the leader of the main body of the Whig opposition. He is noted for having secured the passage of an act abolishing slave trade, against fierce opposition from the House of Lords. In the years of George III's illness and the Regency of the Prince of Wales, Grenville lost all crown support and moved away from the Whigs towards Liverpool's government. He abandoned his leadership in 1817 and gradually joined forces with Lord Liverpool. It must be noted that from a party political point of view Grenville's career was rather inconsistent.

In 1823 Grenville suffered a stroke, and he retired from public life to Dropmore where he engaged in literary pursuits. He died in 1834.


He was the raven of the House of Commons, always croaking defeat in the midst of triumphs, and bankruptcy with an overflowing exchequer.
T.B. Macaulay, Essays: 'Chatham'.

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