GREY, Hon. Ralph (1661-1706), of Gosfield, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. 28 Nov. 1661, 2nd s. of Ralph, 2nd Baron Grey of Warke (d.1675) by Catherine, da. and h. of Sir Edward Ford of Harting, Suss., wid. of Hon. Alexander Colepeper of Wigsell, Kent. educ. St. Paul’s 1677. unm. suc. bro. as 4th Baron 24 June 1701.1
Commr. for assessment, Berwick 1679-80, Northumb. 1689, Essex 1689-90; j.p. Northumb. by 1701-d.
Auditor of land revenues, Wales 1692-1702; gov. Barbados 1697-1702.2
Grey’s father, the younger brother of Thomas Grey, was politically inactive, and died after holding the title for less than a year; but his brother, later created Earl of Tankerville, was conspicuous in opposition during the exclusion crisis and later. At the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament it was reported that Grey would join with the crypto-Catholic Ralph Widdrington to oppose (Sir) Ralph Delaval and Sir John Fenwick for Northumberland. ‘I don’t like the conjunction’, wrote Sir William Frankland; but the negotiations were probably aimed only at securing the neutrality of Widdrington at Berwick, where he was commander of the garrison. Grey duly defeated the court candidates in the family borough and continued to represent it in the Exclusion Parliaments, although under age. Shaftesbury marked him ‘honest’, and he voted for the bill, but he was otherwise totally inactive. Despite his brother’s involvement in the Rye House Plot, Grey ‘had not any way offended the Government’, and Widdrington feared lest he might stand again for the borough in 1685. He made heavy sacrifices to enable the third lord to buy his pardon after participation in Monmouth’s rebellion. ‘A sweet-disposed gentleman’, according to Macky, ‘he joined King William at the Revolution, and is a zealous assertor of the liberties of the people.’ In 1689 he was proposed for a post in the bedchamber which his father had held under Charles II, and as governor of Barbados. William refused both proposals at the time, but ‘spoke kindly of him’, and ‘said he would be glad to find something for him’. After escaping from a debtors’ prison in 1695, he regained his seat as a court Whig. He died of apoplexy on 20 June 1706, and was buried at Bocking, the last of the family.3