Birth of William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville, Prime Minister 1806-07

The son of Whig Prime Minister George Grenville and cousin of William Pitt the Younger, Grenville started his political career as a supporter of Pitt. He served in Pitt’s cabinet as Home Secretary and as Foreign Secretary for much of the early part of the French revolutionary wars. After leaving office when Pitt resigned in 1801, Grenville became close to the Whig opposition leader Charles James Fox and when Pitt returned to office in 1804, Grenville refused to join the new government. Following the death of Pitt in 1806, Grenville headed a coalition government consisting of his own faction, the Foxite Whigs and supporters of the former Tory Prime Minister Lord Sidmouth dubbed, somewhat ironically, the ‘ministry of all the talents’. The government was not a great success but had one significant achievement with the abolition of the slave trade in 1807. In later years Grenville gradually moved back to the Tories and from 1815 supported Lord Liverpool’s government. He served as Chancellor of Oxford University and was a Fellow of the Royal Society but never returned to office and in 1823 a stroke ended his political career. Grenville died in January 1834 age 74.