Timeline

1855

A long tenancy

In 1855 the 7th Earl George Harry Grey (1827-83) marries his second wife Catherine Cox, a skilled horse rider and exhibitor. Catherine was an intelligent and astute businessperson who managed Dunham Massey remotely whilst living with her husband at Enville Hall. The house was tenanted and cared for by land agents.

Portraits of 7th Earl George Harry and his wife Catharine Cox

1884

South Africa

Upon the death of his 3rd cousin, Harry Grey (1812-90) inherits the Stamford peerage. At the time of his ennoblement Grey was working as a farm labourer in the Cape Colony, which is today South Africa. He was married to Martha Solomon, an emancipated South African woman. Harry and Martha had two sons born out of wedlock, and a daughter. They chose not to return to England.

1891

Lineage, 'race' and the inheritance

When Harry died the Stamford Earldom – with its titles, estates, and hereditary seat in the House of Lords – was disputed. According to Dutch law in South Africa, Harry’s first son John was the heir, but because he was illegitimate – and of dual heritage – House Peers in Westminster stopped him from inheriting. Instead Harry Grey’s nephew William Grey (1850-1910), a Canadian colonial teacher, was elevated to the title. New research has shown that William Grey kept in regular contact with his South African family. The letters exchanged provide important insights into the education and upbringing of Harry Grey’s children and their relationship with the 9th Earl, who financially supported them, as well as the complexities of South African responses to the Second Boer War (1899-1902).

A painting of William Grey, 9th Earl of Stamford (1850-1910) by John Ernest Breun