Grey, Thomas, second Earl of Stamford 1654-1720, statesman, only son of Thomas Grey, lord Grey of Groby (1623?-1657) [qv.], by Dorothy, daughter of Edward Bourchier, fourth earl of Bath, was born in 1654. After his father's death in 1657 he was styled Lord Grey of Groby. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and was created M.A. 23 June 1668. He succeeded his grandfather, Henry Grey, first earl of Stamford [qv.], on 21 Aug. 1673, and took his seat 13 April 1675 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. ii. 48). He was faithful to the political views of his family, and on entering public life attached himself to Anthony Cooper, first earl of Shaftesbury [qv.]; and on 2 May 1679 Stamford and Shaftesbury appear among the signatories to a protest against a bill for the better discovery of papists, on the ground that it might press hardly on dissenters (Protests of the Lords, i. 61). During the next few years he joined with Forde Grey, lord Grey of Werk, afterwards earl of Tankerville [qv.], Shaftesbury, and others in a number of protests of similar tendency, and was one of the lords who, in January 1681, petitioned against parliament meeting at Oxford. In the first parliament of James II he signed the protests against reversing the order for the impeachment of the lords then imprisoned in the Tower on suspicion of complicity in the popish plot (22 May), and against reversing the attainder of William Howard, viscount Stafford [qv.] (4 June). Perhaps this, or some connection with Monmouth's rebellion, was the reason for his arrest in July (Luttrell, Relation, i. 355). He was committed to the Tower, and was charged with having been concerned in the Rye House plot. When parliament met in November, Stamford petitioned to be brought before the bar of the House of Lords. His request was granted, and he appeared there on 17 Nov. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. ii. 321), when his trial was ordered to take place in Westminster Hall on 1 Dec. (Luttrell, Relation, i. 363). But in consequence of the prorogation of parliament the trial was postponed, and eventually, 9 March 1685-6, Stamford was admitted to bail, and next day received the royal pardon (Kennett, Complete History, iii. 441). On the landing of the Prince of Orange in November 1688, Stamford took up arms in Nottinghamshire (Luttrell, Relation, i. 479), and on 8 April 1689 was rewarded by being made high steward of the honour and lordship of Leicester. About the same time he appears once more as signing protests in the House of Lords, especially a series drawn up in May and July against the penalties inflicted on Titus Oates. In November 1689 he was one of the murder committee appointed by the lords to inquire into the deaths of Russell and Sydney. Luttrell says that in November 1691 he was talked of for lord-lieutenant of Middlesex, and in April 1694 for one of the lords of the treasury (ib. ii. 301, iii. 295). On 3 May of the latter year he was made a privy councillor (ib. iii. 304). On 29 Aug. 1695 he was appointed a commissioner of Greenwich Hospital, and on 16 Dec. one of the commissioners of trade and foreign plantations, and on 24 April 1696 lord-lieutenant of Devonshire. In October of the latter year he entertained the king at Bradgate, and in December was made custos rotulorum for Leicestershire. On 23 April 1697 he was made chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, through which office he became involved in a quarrel with the Duke of Devonshire as to his rights to hunt in Needham Forest (ib. iv. 216, 225, 474, 477), and on 9 June 1699 became president of the board of trade and foreign plantations. After the accession of Queen Anne Stamford was dismissed from all his offices and appointments, but on 25 April 1707 was again made president of the board of trade, and retained this office until 12 June 1711 (Beatson, Pol. Index, ii. Suppl. ix.). From a description of him by Macky (Memoirs, pp. 72-3), he seems to have been an honest and rigid, but somewhat narrow-minded whig. Swift says he looked and talked like a very weak man, but it is said he spoke well in council. His public life led him to neglect his private affairs, and he is reported from a good estate to have become very poor and much in debt (ib. p. 73). Stamford died 31 Jan. 1720 in his sixty-sixth year (Hist. Reg. vol. v. 1720). He married (1), about 1674, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Daniel Harvey of Combe, Surrey; and (2), in March 1691, Mary, daughter of Joseph Maynard of Gunnersbury, Middlesex; she died 9 Nov. 1722. By his first wife he had three children, who died young; by his second he had no issue, and he was accordingly succeeded in his title by his cousin Henry, grandson of the first earl. Stamford was elected a fellow of the Royal Society 12 May 1708.

     Luttrell's Relation
     Rogers's Protests of the Lords
     Macaulay's Hist. of England
     Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, iii. 341
     Doyle's Official Baronage, iii. 399.

Contributor: C. L. K. [Charles Lethbridge Kingsford]

Published: 1890