GREY, Sir George
Colonial Governor and politician.
A new biography of Grey, George appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Sir George Grey was the son of Lieutenant-Colonel George Grey, who was related to the Greys of Groby and the Earls of Stamford, and of Elizabeth, née Vignoles of County Westmeath, Ireland. He was born at Lisbon (14 April 1812) a few days after his father was killed at Badajoz. Educated at Guildford and Royal Military College, Sandhurst, he served in Ireland with 83rd Regiment (1830–36), gaining the rank of captain, but he found military life mentally and socially irksome. He made two exploratory expeditions in north-western Australia (1837–39), one to Hanover Bay and the other to Shark Bay, revealing great bravery and fortitude but poor judgment, and accomplishing little of geographical significance. Nevertheless they stimulated Grey's interest in the aborigines, and his report on how to civilise native peoples (1840) attracted favourable notice at the Colonial Office.
In 1839 he married Eliza Lucy, daughter of Sir Richard Spencer. Their only son died young in 1841. Husband and wife subsequently became estranged; they separated in 1860 and were not reconciled until 1896.