William, 1st Baron Grenville

1806 - 1807

Grenville (1759-1834) shared with his father a difficult personality though Charles Jenkinson, who knew them both well, thought him the easier and more intelligent of the two -- George III, who disliked both, said the younger Grenville treated him as Napoleon might have after his victory at Austerlitz. He took office at the head of a broad-based “Ministry of All the Talents” with a majority assembled from different blocs led by statesmen who had quarrelled with Pitt, plus the Foxite Whigs. Then after Fox’s death he fought the 1806 election in which his government underperformed expectations, possibly because the Chancellor, Lord Henry Petty (the future 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne 1780-1863) had nearly doubled the rate of Income Tax. After the notable achievement of abolishing the Slave Trade the government then fell out with George III over Catholic Emancipation, losing the forthcoming 1807 election by a massive majority. However, like Pitt, Addington, Perceval and Liverpool, Grenville was a notably capable administrator.

Grenville’s 1806-07 government was better than Rockingham’s 1782 effort in more difficult circumstances. Like other Napoleonic Wars leaders he deserves a bonus, thus ranking around 30th.

© 2020 Martin Hutchinson