Papers of Charles Robert, 5th Earl Grey
Charles Robert, 5th Earl Grey
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Reference code: GB-0033-GRE-J
Title: Papers of Charles Robert, 5th Earl Grey
Dates of creation: 1904-1941
Extent: 3 boxes
Held by: Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections
Origination: Charles Robert, 5th Earl Grey
Language: English

Charles Robert, 5th Earl Grey

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 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.

Accession details

Deposited with the University of Durham Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic (from 1990 part of the Archives and Special Collections department of Durham University Library) by the 5th Earl Grey, 1956, with further deposits by Mary, Baroness Howick and the 2nd Baron Howick, 1962-1994.

Conditions of access

Open for consultation.

Copyright and copying

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material


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.

Related material

Earl Grey Papers 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. The Grey Estate Papers also contain a large amount of material relating to the 5th Earl's estates


Obituary in The Times, 3 April 1963; Who Was Who, 1961-1970(Adam & Charles Black: London, 1972), p460


1. Business and Financial Papers
(i) Financial Papers
GRE/J/1/1-66   7 Jan 1910 - 21 Jan 1925
Correspondence relating to the 5th Earl's assurance/insurance policies including:
GRE/J/1/1-19   7 Jan 1910
Trust deed between Camp Bird Ltd and Charles Viscount Howick and Eric Chaplain constituting and securing debenture stock to the amount of £500,000
GRE/J/1/20   7 Mar 1920
Letter from John Beaconsfield to the 5th Earl relating to a fire insurance policy taken out for 9 Chester Terrace in London
GRE/J/1/21-28   7 - 27 Apr 1922
Correspondence from Farrer & Co. regarding the 5th Earl's grant of annuities policy for his children
GRE/J/1/29-32   21 Jan 1925
Letter relating to a policy of life assurance from the National Provident Institution
GRE/J/1/33-54   [ca. 1920s]
Miscellaneous insurance pamphlets and printed material
GRE/J/2/1-43   18 Apr 1918 - 27 Jul 1926
Correspondence and financial papers relating to the bank accounts of the 5th Earl, including Hambros Bank (GRE/J/2/1-20), Lloyds Bank (GRE/J/1/21-22); Bank of Montreal (GRE/J/2/23-27); and Robert Benson & Co (GRE/J/2/28-43)
GRE/J/3/1-71   4 Jul 1918 - 20 Aug 1926
Personal receipts and invoices from a variety of companies and organisations, including B.C. Fruit Market (GRE/J/3/1-12), the Berwick-upon Tweed Division Unionist Association (GRE/J/3/13-14), the Children's Trust (GRE/J/3/24), Queen's College, (GRE/J/3/52-53) W.H. Smith, and William H. Robinson (Booksellers) (GRE/J/3/68)
GRE/J/3/72   [ca. 1920]
Cheque book including receipt stubs
GRE/J/3/73-78   1924
Précis report for a Greek 7% refugee loan
(ii) Shares and Investments
GRE/J/4/1-87   22 Oct 1918 - 20 Aug 1926
Papers of companies in which the 5th Earl was a shareholder: correspondence and share receipts relating to Alliance Assurance Company (GRE/J/4/1-4); Amsterdam Rubber Company (GRE/J/4/5-6); Anglo-American Corporation of South Africa (GRE/J/4/7); Camp Bird (GRE/J/4/8-9); Canadian Pacific Railway (GRE/J/4/10-11); Ceylon Timber and Rubber Syndicate (GRE/J/4/12); Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul Rly Company (GRE/J/4/13); Consolidated Tea & Lands Company (GRE/J/4/14-15); Co-Partnership Tenants (GRE/J/4/16-17); Exchequer of 1922 (GRE/J/4/18); General Electrical Company (GRE/J/4/19-21); IG Farbenindustrie (GRE/J/4/22); Imperial Colonial Finance and Agency Corporation (GRE/J/4/23); Industrial & General Trust (GRE/J/4/24); Jhanzie Tea Association (GRE/J/4/25-26); Lever Brothers (GRE/J/4/27); Liverpool Garden Suburb Tenants (GRE/J/4/28-30); London & North Eastern Railway Company (GRE/J/4/31); Macclesfield Silk Manufacture (GRE/J/4/32); Marconi (GRE/J/4/33-34); National War Loan (5%) (GRE/J/4/35-37); National War Bonds (GRE/J/4/38); New Moderfontein Gold Mining Company (GRE/J/4/39); North British & Mercantile Insurance Company (GRE/J/4/40-43); Poonmudi Tea & Rubber Company (GRE/J/4/44); Santa Gertrudia Company (GRE/J/4/45-46); Straits Rubber Company (GRE/J/4/47); Tanganyika Development Company (GRE/J/4/48-60) Tankers (GRE/J/4/61-62); Trans-European Company (GRE/J/4/63-70); United Glass British Manufacturers (GRE/J/4/71-74); Victory Bonds (4%) (GRE/J/4/75); War Loan 1929-47 (5%) (GRE/J/4/76-81); W.G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Company (GRE/J/4/82-87)
GRE/J/5-8   21 Jan 1919 - 4 Aug 1926
Papers relating to the 5th Earl's business interests of which he was a director, including:
GRE/J/5/1-45   21 Jan 1919 - 11 Feb 1925
Correspondence relating to the Learmouth Fruit Company and company balance sheets for 1918 and 1921
GRE/J/6/1-26   1921 - 26 Feb 1926
Correspondence relating to the Maritime Fisheries General Company; an account statement for 1921; and an inspection report of Mr J.C.B. Richardson on the properties of the company in British Columbia
GRE/J/7/1-150   8 Sep 1921 - 20 Jul 1926
Papers relating to Tanganyika Concessions including minutes of monthly meetings of the directors; share circulars; and share receipts
GRE/J/8/1-27   6 Jul 1923 - 1926
Correspondence relating to Snow Belt Farms; share certificates for the 5th Earl and Sir Arthur Munro Sutherland; and profit and loss accounts for May and June 1925
GRE/J/8/28-39   2 Apr 1925 - 4 Aug 1926
Correspondence relating to Swan, Hunter, Wigham and Richardson and share receipts
GRE/J/9/1-49   19 Feb 1920 - 30 Dec 1925
Papers relating to prospective business ventures of the 5th Earl including correspondence concerning potential investment opportunities (GRE/J/9/1-24); and company investment reports from Helbert, Wagg & Co including Anglo-American Corporation of South Africa (GRE/J/9/25-26); Atlas Plywood Corporation (GRE/J/9/27-30); British Portland Cement Manufacturers (GRE/J/9/31-32); Cyprus Asbestos Company (GRE/J/9/33-34); John Barker & Company (GRE/J/9/35-36); Peruvian Corporation (GRE/J/9/37-40); Reichsbank (GRE/J/9/41-43); Rubber Plantations Investment Trust (GRE/J/9/44-47); Santa Gertrudis Company (GRE/J/9/48-49)
GRE/J/9/50-59   [ca. 1920s]
Rough notes on the world consumption of copper (GRE/J/9/50-58); and on the subject of repayments to America (GRE/J/9/59)
(iii) Property
GRE/J/10/1-8   28 Aug 1908 - 19 Jul 1926
Papers relating to property and lands owned in Britain, including:
GRE/J/10/1-2   28 Aug 1908
Tenancy agreement for the rent of 23 Oxford Square, Hyde Park, London
GRE/J/10/3-6   1920
Cash account statement relating to sales of freehold properties
GRE/J/10/7   1920-1924
Statements of gross rentals for coal and fireclay at Broomhill Colliery
GRE/J/10/8   15 Jul 1926
Memorandum relating to the purchase of part of the Lowndes Estate
GRE/J/10/9-14   2 Oct 1917 - 1 Jan 1922
Papers relating to property and lands owned overseas, including:
GRE/J/10/9-11   2 Oct 1917
Letter to the 5th Earl relating to the trustee fees of the Port of Bahia
GRE/J/10/12-13   1 Jan 1922
Agreement for the sale of land in British Columbia
GRE/J/10/14   [ca. 1920s]
Rough notes on properties in Rhodesia and Western Canada
(iv) 4th Earl Grey Business Papers
GRE/J/11-13   6 Nov 1917 - 23 Oct 1923
Executor papers relating to the financial affairs of Albert, 4th Earl Grey, including:
GRE/J/11/1-30   Nov 1917 - 20 Feb 1923
Correspondence relating to overseas colonial investments in Rhodesia including letters relating to Umtali Commonage, Southern Rhodesia and the Demo Estate, Northern Rhodesia
GRE/J/12/1-22   6 Nov 1917 - 22 Oct 1923
Correspondence relating to overseas colonial investments in British Columbia, in particular a description of the lands held by the late Earl and a dispute over taxation
GRE/J/13/1-27   23 May 1918 - 30 Jan 1923
Papers relating to shares including correspondence relating to shares owned in various companies, in particular the Mexico Land and Colonization Company and Co-partnership Tenants; as well as lists of securities of shares held by Robert Benson; and the British Bank of Northern Commerce, Lloyds Bank
2. Political papers
(i) Church of England
GRE/J/14/1-25   8 Jul 1923 - 21 May 1926
Papers relating to the Central Board of Finance of the Church of England, including:
GRE/J/14/1-15   8 Jul 1923 - 21 May 1926
General correspondence to and from the 5th Earl relating to the administration of the Central Board of Finance
GRE/J/14/16-18   31 May 1924 - 21 Jan 1925
Printed acknowledgement receipts of the Central Board of Finance for the Diocese of Newcastle from Howick Parochial Church Council
GRE/J/14/19   11 Dec 1925
Printed account statement of the Central Board of Finance
GRE/J/14/20   1926
Printed card detailing the meetings of the Central Board of Finance
GRE/J/14/21-25   [ca. 1920s]
Memorandum on the subject of ‘Organisation'
GRE/J/14/26-53   31 Dec 1924 - 3 Mar 1926
Papers relating to the political campaign to increase the number of Clergy Training Colleges, including:
GRE/J/14/26-39   31 Dec 1924 - 3 Mar 1926
Correspondence to the 5th Earl on the subject of clergy training colleges
GRE/J/14/40-49   1925
Collection of pamphlets relating to the Training College question, including a Church Training College Capital Fund prospectus
GRE/J/14/50-53   25 Apr 1925
Extract from the report of the Training Sub-Committee to the Executive Council
GRE/J/15/1-32   1925
Papers relating to the Church Assembly, including:
GRE/J/15/1-22   1925
Annual report of the Church Assembly for the 1925 autumn session
GRE/J/15/23-28   Nov 1925
Report of the 41st Meeting of the Church Assembly Standing Committee
GRE/J/15/29-32   [ca. 1920s]
Memorandum in relation to the subject of appointing another assistant to help relieve the current secretary
GRE/J/15/33-92   26 Jan - 20 Nov 1925
Papers relating to the political campaign for a Clergy Pension Scheme, including:
GRE/J/15/33-47   26 Jan - 20 Nov 1925
Correspondence to the 5th Earl on the subject of a pension scheme for the Clergy
GRE/J/15/48-76   May - Dec 1925
Reports of the first, second and third meetings of the Widows and Orphans Pension Scheme Society
GRE/J/15/77-92   Jun 1925
75th annual report of the Friends of the Clergy Society with special reference to the clergy pension question, including a list of subscribers and donors
GRE/J/16/1-39   28 Jan 1925 - Jul 3 1926
Papers relating to the role of the 5th Earl in setting up a Bishop's Commission, including:
GRE/J/16/1-28   28 Jan 1925 - 3 Jul 1926
Correspondence in reply to the 5th Earl's call to join the Bishop's Commission
GRE/J/17/29-33   1926
Printed list of subscribers to the Bishop's Commission
GRE/J/17/1-12   6 - 11 Apr 1925
Papers relating to the campaign to abolish the Tithe Rent Charge, including:
GRE/J/17/1-6   6 - 11 Apr 1925
Correspondence to the 5th Earl on the subject of the tithe rent question
GRE/J/17/7-8   1925
Report by Canon Edward Rees on the Proposal to Redeem the Tithe Rent Charge
GRE/J/17/9-12   [ca. 1920s]
Church of England pamphlets including “Two new books of interest to every member of the Church Assembly” (GRE/J/17/9-10); and “The world call to the Church” (GRE/J/17/11-12)
(ii) Other Political Campaigns
GRE/J/18/1-64   1921-1925
Papers relating to the campaign against the reform of the House of Lords, including correspondence of the Unionist Association and Lord Selborne to the 5th Earl (GRE/J/18/1-4); a memorandum (GRE/J/18/5-6); committee reports (GRE/J/18/7-24); and pamphlets and printed material (GRE/J/18/25-64)
GRE/J/19/1-6   7 Mar - 1 Apr 1924
Correspondence on how best to fight the evil of socialism in the work place
GRE/J/19/7-28   1 Aug - 15 Oct 1924
Papers relating to the Housing Act legislation, designed to increase the number of houses for the working class, including correspondence received by the 5th Earl on the housing question (GRE/J/19/7-11); and printed material, including pamphlets on the Weir House scheme (GRE/J/19/11-28)
GRE/J/20/1-5   1925
Ministry of Health circulars on the subject of the power of local authorities (GRE/J/20/1-3); and Poor Law Reform (GRE/J/20/4-5)
GRE/J/20/6-10   14 July 1925
A paper entitled ‘A report on the present and future activities of the Newcastle Joint Committee for Tutorial Classes'
GRE/J/20/11-14   3 Nov - 9 Dec 1925
Minutes of a meeting of the Proportional Representation Society Executive Committee
GRE/J/20/15   28 Jan 1926
Letter from the Shipowner's Parliamentary Committee to the 5th Earl urging him not to pledge his vote for various shipping bills in Parliament
3. Family and Personal Papers
(i) Personal Correspondence
GRE/J/21/1-182; 22/1-123; 23/1-26   15 Apr 1904 - 26 Feb 1906
Personal letters from Lady Grey to her son Charles: early correspondence is chiefly dominated by social engagements and gossip, which in itself may provide useful indications of aristocratic attitudes, e.g. in a letter dated 20 May 1904, Lady Grey describes the marriage of Lady Ravensworth to her coachman, over 30 years her junior, as “disgusting and incomprehensible” (GRE/J/21/27-32). After the appointment of her husband as Governor General of Canada in Oct 1904, much of the correspondence is dominated by the move to Canada between Sep and Dec 1904 and Lady Grey's impressions of her new country: for example, in the letter dated 19 Dec 1904, Lady Grey describes herself as “becoming quite Canadian” (GRE/J/21/173-177). Fleeting reference is made to Charles's early experiences in South Africa; in particular, in the letter dated 16 Jun 1904, Lady Grey expresses the hope that her son will treat the natives with respect (GRE/J/21/50-54). The last few letters in Feb 1906 deal with her excitement at the news of her son's impending marriage to Mabel Laura Georgina Palmer (GRE/J/23/14-25). In spite of her husband's role in political life, Lady Grey herself was never overly concerned with politics although reference is made on a number of occasions to the political situation in Russia, for example, the letters of 15 Apr 1904 (GRE/J/21/2-6) and 1 Jun 1905 (GRE/J/22/54-55) allude to the Russo-Japan War and the letter dated 23 Jan 1905 refers to the 1905 Russian Revolution (GRE/J/22/9-12).
GRE/J/24/1-44; 25/1-51   15 Jul 1918 - 21 Mar 1941
Correspondence relating to requests for financial and personal assistance
GRE/J/26/1-18   [ca. 1918 - 1928]
Correspondence of Mabel, Countess Grey to her husband (some undated): Mainly news of friends and family, arrangements for visiting, and social engagements but also includes reference to the League of Nations and the international situation (GRE/J/26/14), as well as local and national politics: the letter dated 23 Aug (1926?) alludes to a miners strike in Durham (GRE/J/26/9) while another undated letter refers to the TUC conference held during the General Strike of 1926, in which Mabel hopes the delegate will “refuse a free hand to the Executive” (GRE/J/26/16)
GRE/J/26/17-37   14 Apr 1919 - 10 Aug 1926
Correspondence from friends and relatives, generally on the subjects of holiday experiences and the weather but particularly on the imprisonment of Archibald Grey, son of Francis Grey, for writing fraudulent cheques (GRE/J/26/20-27)
GRE/J/27/1-22   26 Jul 1919 - 5 Aug 1926
Other general correspondence, including valuations of personal items (GRE/J/27/1-8); correspondence relating to various historical collections (GRE/J/27/9-12); and a letter from the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company confirming a proposal for a family steam voyage, including plans of cruise ships (GRE/J/27/19-22)
(ii) Personal Items
GRE/J/28/1-18   [ca. 1918-1926]
Miscellaneous addressed envelopes (contents unknown)
GRE/J/29/1-4   19 May 1921 - 23 Aug 1926
Invitations to various functions including the trustees of the National Portrait Gallery requiring the 5th Earl to attend a photo session in order to add his photograph to their collection (GRE/J/29/1); as well as invitations to a play entitled “The Piper” (GRE/J/29/2); a farewell dinner for Edward Wood at Morpeth (GRE/J/29/3); and an open air whist drive at the Alnwick Conservative & Unionist Association (GRE/J/29/4)
GRE/J/29/5-22   Aug 1921 - 1926
Annual reports of the Northumberland Rifle Association (REF/J/29/5-14); the Forum Debating Society (GRE/J/29/15-21) and the Farne Island Association (GRE/J/29/22)
GRE/J/29/23-24   17 Dec 1924
Programme for the annual distribution of prizes at the Duke's School, Alnwick
GRE/J/29/25-75   1925
Letts appointments diary containing records of business meetings and social engagements
GRE/J/30/1-2   [ca. 1920s]
Passports of Earl Grey and Lady Grey
GRE/J/30/3-12   [ca. 1920s]
Various business, greeting and acknowledgement cards
GRE/J/30/13   [ca. 1920s]
Catalogued list of historical items (presumably in the 5th Earl's possession)
GRE/J/30/14-15   [ca. 1920s]
Pamphlet entitled “Christmas carols: new and old”
GRE/J/30/16-17    [ca. 1920s]
Roche Galos price list
GRE/J/30/18-19   [ca. 1920s]
Pamphlet entitled “Foot troubles and their cure”
GRE/J/30/20-27   [ca. 1920s]
Brochure entitled “Five-ten! The new tennis”
GRE/J/31/1-7   1938 - 1941
Copy of the wills of the 5th Earl and his wife Mabel, Countess Grey