|The Right Honourable
Sir George Grey
|Painting of Sir George Grey by Daniel Louis Mundy, 1860s.|
|3rd Governor of South Australia|
15 May 1841 – 25 October 1845
|Preceded by||Colonel George Gawler|
|Succeeded by||Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Robe|
|3rd Governor of New Zealand|
18 November 1845 – 3 January 1854
|Preceded by||Captain Robert FitzRoy|
|Succeeded by||Colonel Thomas Gore Browne|
4 December 1861 – 5 February 1868
|Preceded by||Colonel Thomas Gore Browne|
|Succeeded by||Sir George Bowen|
|Governor of Cape Colony|
|Preceded by||George Cathcart (Charles Henry Darling acting)|
|Succeeded by||Philip Edmond Wodehouse (Robert Wynyard acting)|
|11th Premier of New Zealand|
13 October 1877 – 8 October 1879
|Preceded by||Harry Atkinson|
|Succeeded by||John Hall|
14 April 1812|
|Died||19 September 1898
|Spouse(s)||Eliza Spencer (m. 1839)|
Sir George Grey, KCB (14 April 1812 – 19 September 1898) was a soldier, explorer, Governor of South Australia, twice Governor of New Zealand, Governor of Cape Colony (South Africa), the 11th Premier of New Zealand and a writer.
Early life and exploration
Sir George Grey's Coat of arms
Grey was born in Lisbon, Portugal, the only son of Lieutenant-Colonel Grey, of the 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot, who was killed at the Battle of Badajoz in Spain just a few days before. His mother, Elizabeth Anne, on the balcony of her hotel in Lisbon, overheard two officers speak of her husband's death and this brought on his premature birth. She was the daughter of a retired soldier turned Irish clergyman, Major the Rev. John Vignoles. Grey was sent to the Royal Grammar School, Guildford in Surrey, and was admitted to the Royal Military College in 1826. Early in 1830, he was gazetted ensign in the 83rd Regiment of Foot. In 1830, his regiment having been sent to Ireland, he developed much sympathy with the Irish peasantry whose misery made a great impression on him. He was promoted lieutenant in 1833 and obtained a first-class certificate at the examinations of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1836.
In 1837, at the age of 25, Grey led a catastrophically ill-prepared expedition of exploration of north-west Australia – only one man of his party had seen northern Australia before. It was at that time believed that a great river entered the Indian Ocean from the north-west of Australia, and that the country it drained might be suitable for colonisation. Grey, in conjunction with Lieutenant Franklin Lushington, offered to explore this country and on 5 July 1837 he sailed from Plymouth in command of a party of five, the others being Lushington; Mr Walker, a surgeon and naturalist; and two corporals of the Royal Sappers and Miners. Others joined the party at Cape Town, and early in December they landed at Hanover Bay. Wrecked, almost drowned, and completely lost, with Grey wounded in a skirmish with Aborigines, they traced the course of the Glenelg River before giving up. They were picked up by the Beagle and Lynher and taken to Mauritius to recover.
Two years later, Grey returned to Western Australia and was again wrecked with his party, at Kalbarri; they were the first Europeans to see the Gascoyne River, but then had to walk to Perth, surviving the journey through the efforts of Kaiber, a Whadjuk Noongar, who organised food and what water could be found (they survived by drinking liquid mud). At about this time, Grey became one of the few Europeans to learn the Noongar language of south-west Western Australia.
Marriage and children
Grey married Eliza Lucy Spencer (1822–1898) at King George Sound, West Australia, on 2 November 1839. She was the daughter of Sir Richard Spencer RN KCH (1779–1839). Their only child died aged 5 months. It was not a happy marriage. George adopted and raised his brother's daughter, Annie Matthews, after his brother died in 1861. Annie Maria Matthews (1853–1938) married Seymour Thorne George on 3 December 1872 on Kawau Island.
Governor of South Australia
Grey was the third Governor of South Australia, from 1841 to 1845, as the British government was concerned about the treatment of aborigines by settlers, and Grey was known to have sympathies with the indigenous people. He oversaw the colony during a difficult formative period. Despite being seen as less hands-on than his predecessor, George Gawler, his fiscally responsible measures ensured the colony was in good shape by the time he left to govern New Zealand.
Governor of New Zealand
Grey served as Governor of New Zealand twice: from 1845 to 1853, and from 1861 to 1868. He was arguably the most influential figure during the European settlement of New Zealand during much of the 19th century.
Grey was appointed the third Governor of New Zealand in 1845. During the tenure of his predecessor, Robert FitzRoy, there were violent clashes between settlers and Māori in several parts of the North Island, mainly over land claims. In the Nelson area, ignoring opposition from a Ngāti Toa war party, settlers, who had bought a title deed to parts of the valley from the lawyer of the deceased owner Capt Blenkinsop,hired surveyors to mark out the land. The Ngati Toa war party warned off the surveyors but they persisted. Te Rauparaha burnt down a whare (hut) which contained the surveyors equipment. The local magistrate ordered his arrest and deputised about 50 settlers for this purpose. Te Rauparaha resisted, fighting broke out and 22 settlers and at least four Māori were killed.Te Rangihaeata the warlike nephew of Te Rauparaha insisted on killing the captured men as his wife,who was Te Rauparaha's daughter and Capt Benkinsop's ex-wife, had been accidentally shot and killed. The settlers were furious as many of those killed in utu were unarmed Quakers. Te Rauparaha was astonished not to face a strong British military reaction. He left the Ex Rangitane land he had conquered and never returned, eventually giving up any claim to the land at the Kohimaramara peace conference. Grey let him out of his prison ship to attend the conference. After this he was released to return to his home people. In the far north of the country, Ngā Puhivolatile chief Hone Heke and his ally, Kawiti, acting out of concern for the challenge to their mana,and encouraged by local Americans, had risen in revolt against the authority of the British. Heke blamed the British for the decline in the timber trade in which many Maori were employed,not realising that the Australian market had been saturated with Kauri from the north and this had driven down prices. The final straw for Heke was when Kauri felling was temporarily banned by the government. Despite the fact that most of Ngā Puhi sided with the government, the small and ineptly led British had been beaten at Ohaeawai. Grey, armed with the financial support and far more troops armed with 32-pounder cannons, that had been denied to FitzRoy, attacked and occupied Kawiti's fortress at Ruapekapeka, forcing Kawiti to retreat. The Nga Puhi were astonished that the British could keep an army of nearly 1000 soldiers in the field continuously. Heke's confidence waned after he was wounded and by the realisation that the British had far more resources than he could muster. Friendly Nga Puhi Maori, led by Waka Nene, along with some Pakeha-Maori, independently attacked the rebels, further reducing their strength. Eventually Heke and Kawiti sued for peace, with Waka acting as an intermediary. Grey accepted their offer and reassured the Māori that there would be no punitive land confiscation. In the south, he arrested Te Rauparaha and imprisoned him in a ship at Auckland. Grey's actions brought the fighting against the settlers to an end for the next ten years although inter hapu wars continued unabated in the north, especially in the Hokianga. Grey blamed the disputes in the north on Henry Williams and other missionaries, regarding them as 'no better than land-jobbers' whose desire for land would require 'a large expenditure of British blood and money'.
During Grey's first tenure as Governor of New Zealand, he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (1848). Grey was to greatly influence the final form of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, after the 1846 Act was largely suspended at his request (Grey was briefly "Governor-in-Chief"). Grey oversaw the establishment of the first provinces of New Zealand.
He earned particular respect for his handling of Māori affairs from 1845 to 1853. He took pains to show Māori that he observed the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, assuring them that their land rights would be fully recognised. In the Taranaki district, Māori were very reluctant to sell their land, but elsewhere Grey was much more successful, and nearly 33 million acres (130,000 km²) were purchased from Māori, with the result that British settlements expanded quickly. Grey was less successful in his efforts to assimilate the Māori; he lacked the financial means to realise his plans. Although he subsidised mission schools, requiring them to teach in English, only a few hundred Māori children attended them at any one time.
Grey gave land for the establishment of Auckland Grammar School in Newmarket, Auckland in 1850. The school was officially recognised as an educational establishment in 1868 through the Auckland Grammar School Appropriation Act of the Provincial Government.
Grey was again appointed Governor in 1861 following the granting of a degree of self-governance to New Zealand, serving until 1868. His second term as Governor was greatly different from the first, as he had to deal with the demands of an elected parliament.
Grey was greatly respected by Māori, and often travelled with a company of chiefs. He induced leading chiefs to write down their accounts of Maori traditions, legends and customs. His principal informant, Wiremu Maihi Te Rangikāheke, taught Grey to speak Māori. Historian Michael King noted: "He learned Māori and persuaded Māori authorities to commit their legends and traditions to writing, some of which were subsequently published ... His collected papers would turn out to be the largest single repository of Māori-language manuscripts."
Grey bought Kawau Island in 1862, on his return to New Zealand for his second term as governor. For 25 years he lavished large amounts of his personal wealth on the island's development, including enlarging and remodelling Mansion House, the former residence of the copper mine superintendent. Here he planted a huge array of exotic trees and shrubs, acclimatised many bird and animal species, and amassed a celebrated collection of rare books and manuscripts, artworks and curiosities, and artefacts from the Māori people over whom he had ruled.
Grey launched the invasion of the Waikato in 1863 to take control of the rich Māori agricultural region. The war brought thousands of British troops to New Zealand: 18,000 men served in the British forces at some point during the campaign, with a peak of about 14,000 troops in March 1864. In the later 1860s the British government determined to withdraw Imperial troops from New Zealand. At the time the Maori chiefs Te Kooti and Titokowaru had the colonial government and settlers extremely alarmed with a series of military successes. With the support of the Premier Edward Stafford, Grey evaded instructions from the Colonial Office to finalise the return of the regiments, which had commenced in 1865 and 1866. In the end the British government recalled Grey in February 1868. He was replaced by Sir George Bowen.
Governor of Cape Colony
Grey was Governor of Cape Colony from 5 December 1854 to 15 August 1861. He founded Grey College, Bloemfontein in 1855 and Grey High School in Port Elizabeth in 1856. In South Africa Grey dealt firmly with the natives, but endeavoured by setting apart tracts of land for their exclusive use to protect them from the white colonists. He more than once acted as arbitrator between the government of the Orange Free State and the natives, and eventually came to the conclusion that a federated South Africa would be a good thing for everyone. The Orange Free State would have been willing to join the federation, and it is probable that the Transvaal would also have agreed. However, Grey was 50 years before his time and the colonial office would not agree to his proposals. In spite of their instructions, Grey continued to advocate union, and, in connection with other matters, such as the attempt to settle soldiers in South Africa after the Crimean War, he several times disregarded his instructions.
When all the circumstances are considered it is not surprising that he was recalled in 1859. He had, however, scarcely reached England before a change of government led to his being given another term, on the understanding that his schemes for the federation of South Africa should be abandoned and that he would in future obey his instructions. Grey was convinced that the boundaries of the South African colonies should be widened, but could not obtain the support of the British government. He was still working for this support when, war with the Māori having broken out, it was decided that Grey should again be appointed governor of New Zealand. When he left his popularity among the people of Cape Colony was unbounded, and the statue erected at Cape Town during his lifetime describes him as "a governor who by his high character as a Christian, a statesman, and a gentleman, had endeared himself to all classes of the community, and who by his zealous devotion to the best interests of South Africa and his able and just administration, has secured the approbation and gratitude of all Her Majesty's subjects in this part of her dominions".
Premier of New Zealand
|Parliament of New Zealand|
In 1875 he was elected Superintendent of Auckland Province (24 March 1875 – 31 October 1875). He stood in the general election for both the Auckland West and the Thames electorates in the 1875–76 general election. In the two-member Auckland electorate, only Grey and Patrick Dignan were put forward as candidates, and were thus declared elected on 22 December 1875. The two-member Thames electorate was contested by six candidates, including Julius Vogel (who was Premier in 1875), William Rowe and Charles Featherstone Mitchell. On election day (6 January 1876), Grey attracted the highest number of votes and, unexpectedly, Rowe beat Vogel into second place (Vogel also stood in Wanganui, where he was returned). Hence Grey and Rowe were declared elected for Thames. A protest against Grey's election was lodged with the returning officer the following day, stating that Grey had not been eligible to stand in Thames as he had already been elected in Auckland West. This petition was filed to the House of Representatives at the end of January.
With this controversy going on for several months unresolved, Grey advised in mid June 1876 in a series of telegrams that he had chosen to represent Auckland West. On 8 July, the report of the committee inquiring into his election for Thames was read to the House. It was found that this was in accordance with the law, but that he had to make a decision for which electorate he would sit. On 15 July 1876, Grey announced that he would represent Thames, and he moved that a by-election be held in Auckland West for the seat that he would vacate there.
Grey opposed the abolition of the provinces, but his opposition proved ineffective, and the provincial system was abolished in 1876. On the defeat of Harry Atkinson as Premier on 13 October 1877, he was elected Premier by Parliament. His government did not operate particularly well, with Grey seeking to dominate the government and coming into conflict with the Governor. His term as Premier is regarded by historians as a failure. Towards the end of 1879, Grey's government got into difficulties over land tax. Eventually, Grey asked for an early election, in 1879.
Grey was elected in both the Thames and the City of Christchurch electorates in September 1879. Grey came first in the three-member Christchurch electorate (Samuel Paull Andrews and Edward Stevens came second with equal numbers of votes, 23 votes ahead of Edward Richardson). Richardson petitioned against Grey's return on technical grounds, as Grey had already been elected in the Thames electorate. The electoral commission unseated Grey on 24 October, with Richardson offered this vacancy a few days later. Grey kept the Thames seat and remained a member of parliament through that electorate.
In 1889, Grey put forward the Election of Governor Bill, which would have allowed for a "British subject" to be elected to the office of Governor "precisely as an ordinary parliamentary election in each district."
Grey was now suffering from ill health and he retired from politics in 1890, leaving for Australia. On returning to New Zealand, a deputation requested him to contest the Newton seat in Auckland in the 1891 by-election. The retiring member, David Goldie, also asked Grey to take his seat. Grey was prepared to put his name forward only if the election was unopposed, as he did not want to suffer the excitement of a contested election. Grey declared his candidacy on 25 March 1891. On 6 April 1891, he was declared elected, as he was unopposed. In December 1893, Grey was again elected, this time to Auckland City. He left for England in 1894 and did not return to New Zealand. He resigned his seat in 1895.
Places and institutions named after Grey
Places named after Grey include Greytown in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand's North Island, the Grey River in the South Island's West Coast region (and thus indirectly the town of Greymouth at the river's mouth), and the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn; Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; the Division of Grey, an Australian Electoral Division in South Australia. Grey Street, Melbourne is also believed to have been named after George Edward Grey. In South Africa, Grey was instrumental in the founding of Grey High School, Port Elizabeth, Grey College, Bloemfontein and Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. The town of Lady Grey is named after his wife.
The Governor, an historical drama miniseries based on Grey's life, was made by TVNZ and the National Film Unit in 1977, featuring Corin Redgrave in the title role. Despite critical acclaim, the miniseries attracted controversy at the time because of its then-large budget. 
- History of Adelaide
- History of Cape Colony from 1806 to 1870
- 'Grey, Sir George (1812–1898)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, MUP, 1966, pp. 476–80. Retrieved on 28 December 2008.
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Grey, Sir George". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- "Governor Grey sworn in". Daily Southern Cross, Volume XVII, Issue 1458. 6 December 1861. p. 2. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- Grace Lawless Lee, The Huguenot Settlements in Ireland Longmans, Green London 1936
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- Sinclair, Keith (7 April 2006). "Grey, George 1812–1898". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
- "Sir George Grey 1812–1898" (PDF). Department of Conservation. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- "Marriages". Daily Southern Cross. Volume XXVIII, Issue 4768, 5 December 1872. p. 2. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- Nicholson, John (2006). White Chief – The Story of a Pakeha Maori. Penguin Books (NZ). pp. 100–140. ISBN 978-0-14-302022-6.
- The Colonial New Zealand Wars, Tim Ryan and Bill Parham, pg28
- "AUCKLAND GRAMMAR SCHOOL Historical Chronology". Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
- The Penguin History of New Zealand, p. 203.
- Belich, James (1986). The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict (1st ed.). Auckland: Penguin. pp. 125, 126. ISBN 0-14-011162-X.
- Scholefield, Guy Hardy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand parliamentary record, 1840–1949. Wellington: Govt. Printer. p. 179.
- "(By Telegraph). Auckland. Dec. 22.". North Otago Times. Volume XXIII, Issue 1159, 23 December 1875. p. 2. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- "THE ELECTIONS". Daily Southern Cross. Volume XXXII, Issue 5708, 8 January 1876. p. 3. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "The Thames election : petition against sir George Grey's election.". Daily Southern Cross. Volume XXXII, Issue 5724, 1 February 1876. p. 3. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "Sir George Grey and the seats for the Thames and City West.". Daily Southern Cross. Volume XXXII, Issue 5205, 17 June 1876. p. 3. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "New Zealand Parliament". Taranaki Herald. Volume XXIV, Issue 2427, 12 July 1876. p. 3. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "Parliamentary". Bay of Plenty Times. Volume IV, Issue 401, 15 July 1876. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "General Election News". Wanganui Herald. Volume XII, Issue 9511, 11 September 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- "The Christchurch Election". The Star. Issue 3563, 11 September 1879. p. 3. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
- "The Timaru Herald". Timaru Herald. Volume XXXI, Issue 1594, 30 October 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- "The Christchurch Election". The Star. Issue 3608, 3 November 1879. p. 3. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- "Sir George Grey unseated for Christchurch". Timaru Herald. Volume XXXI, Issue 1590, 25 October 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- "Parliamentary". Poverty Bay Herald. Volume VI, Issue 934, 27 October 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- "The Remainder of the Colony". The Star. Issue 4255, 10 December 1881. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "The New Parliament". Wanganui Herald. Volume XIX, Issue 5378, 29 July 1884. p. 2. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "THE GENERAL ELECTION.". Hawke's Bay Herald. Volume XXII, Issue 7859, 28 September 1887. p. 3. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- New Bills XLIX (4594). The Timaru Herald. 18 July 1889. p. 3. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
- "RESIGNATION OF MR GOLDIE, M.H.R". Poverty Bay Herald. Volume XVIII, Issue 6001, 23 February 1891. p. 2. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "The Newton Seat.". Wanganui Chronicle. Volume XXXIII, Issue 11205, 27 February 1891. p. 2. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "Telegrams". Inangahua Times. Volume XVI, Issue 20216, 27 March 1891. p. 2. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- "NEW ZEALAND". Marlborough Express. Volume XXVII, Issue 79, 6 April 1891. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- Barnes, Roger (1994), New Zealand Armorist 52, p. 18
- Grey Collection, some 14,000 items given to the Auckland Free Public Library in 1887 by Sir George Grey
- Grey's development of Kawau Island
- Works edited by Grey in the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre Collection
- Works by George Grey at Project Gutenberg
- The Romance of a Pro-Consul: Being the Personal Life and Memoirs of The Right Hon. Sir George Grey at Project Gutenberg by James Milne
- Sir George Grey in the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
- Comments on scope of the Collection donated in 1861 by Sir George Grey, to the South African Library containing the earliest South African printed specimen by Johann Christian Ritter and many other manuscripts, incunabula and books.
- George Grey entry on AustLit with links to works available in full text. (subscription required outside Australia)
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