Lord Leonard Grey

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Grey, Lord Leonard, son of the Marquis of Dorset, brother-in-law to the Earl of Kildare, was in January 1535 appointed Lord-Justice of Ireland, on the demise of Sir W. Skeffington. He had previously been a marshal in the army, and it was to him Lord Thomas FitzGerald had surrendered. He found Ireland apparently quiet, but it was not long before the Earl of Desmond and the O'Briens began to give signs of revolt.

In July 1536 he marched towards Limerick, captured Carrigogunnel, and destroyed O'Brien's-bridge, not, however, without considerable loss and much discontent amongst his troops at the hardships to which they were subjected. Grey, haughty and passionate, was during his five years of office engaged in constant bickerings with his council, especially with Ormond. Mr. Froude says: "He would start on his feet in the council chamber, lay his hand on his sword, and scatter carelessly invectives and opprobrious epithets." In August 1537 he involved the Pale in a somewhat fruitless expedition into Offaly. Next year we are told he ceased to hold communications with his council, and selected a private circle of advisers from the partisans and relations of the Earl of Kildare.

In 1538 he paid a visit to Thomond, and is said to have accompanied O'Brien in an attack on a hostile clan. Next year he marched against the O'Neills, and defeated them on the borders of Ulster; and in the following winter he made a progress through Ulster, establishing the English power. He returned to England in March 1540, leaving Sir William Brereton as Lord-Justice, and was almost immediately sent to the Tower upon charges of high treason. The tongues of Ormond and his quondam friends were now unloosed. In December he was brought to trial and convicted on the charge of intimacy with native chieftains inimical to English power, of aiding them in their incursions on the territories of other chieftains, of despoiling churches and castles, and of being secretly opposed to Ormond and the king's friends upon all occasions.

The State Trials relate the sequel: "And there was a commission sent to Ireland to examine witnesses; and they say that these articles were proved by the testimony of above seventy persons, whereof some were of quality-that is, some of them swore to one article and some to another; so that the Lord Grey, who was son to the Marquess of Dorset, and Viscount Grassy in Ireland, but no peer in England, being tried by a common jury, thought it his best way to confess the indictment, in hopes of the King's grace and pardon; but in that he was mistaken; and although his services did infinitely overbalance his faults, yet he was publickly executed on the 28th of July 1541."

Sources

140. Froude, James A.: History of England, from the Fall of Wolsey to the death of Elizabeth. 12 vols. London, 1862-'70.

170. Ireland, History of: Richard Cox. London, 1689.

312. State Trials, Cobbett's, 1163 to 1820. 34 vols. London, 1806-'28.

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