3rd August 1797
Earl Grey was appointed Governor of Guernsey
The first Earl Grey, Charles Grey, was appointed Governor of Guernsey on 3 August 1797. He remained in that position until his death ten years later on 14 November 1807.
He had been born in October 1729, close to Newcastle upon Tyne and, after buying his way into the army, served in Scotland and Gibraltar. However, he will be best remembered by those outside of Guernsey for his participation in the American War of Independence.
American War of Independence
Grey was a fearless leader of raids around New England, including on Martha’s Vineyard. Believing that the element of surprise would play in the British force’s favour, his methods were, at times, gruesome. He instructed his men to use only their bayonets in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Thus, rather than shooting their enemies, they stabbed them to death. The latter raid is now known as the Baylor Massacre.
He was rewarded for his bloodthirsty action with a knighthood.
Earl Grey and Fort Grey
Guernsey’s Fort Grey, now the island’s shipwreck museum, was named in Earl Grey’s honour. Rather appropriately, it had been built by Sir John Doyle, a later Governor of Guernsey to defend against French invasion. Earl Grey himself had been involved in the French Revolutionary War during which, as commander of the West Indian expedition, he led the British in its operation to capture Martinique.
He was not the Earl Grey after whom the bergamot-flavoured tea was named. That was his son, the Second Earl Grey – also called Charles – who served as British Prime Minister between November 1830 and July 1834. Sadly, the First Earl Grey didn’t live long enough to see his son rise to a position of leading the country.