William, 13th Lord Grey De Wilton
WILLIAM, 13TH LORD GREY DE WILTON, (d. 1562), who succeeded to the title on the death of his brother Richard, about 1520, won great fame as a soldier by his conduct in France during the concluding years of Henry VIII. 's reign, and was one of the leaders of the victorious English army at the battle of Pinkie in 1547. He was then employed on the Scottish marches and in Scotland, and in 1549 he rendered good service in suppressing the rebellion in Oxfordshire and in the west of England; in 1551 he was imprisoned as a friend of the fallen protector, the duke of Somerset, and he was concerned in the attempt made by John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, to place Lady Jane Grey on the English throne in 1553. However, he was pardoned by Queen Mary and was entrusted with the defence of Guines. Although indifferently supported he defended the town with great gallantry, but in January 1558 he was forced to surrender and for some time he remained a prisoner in France. Under Elizabeth, Grey was again employed on the Scottish border, and he was responsible for the pertinacious but unavailing attempt to capture Leith in May 1560. He died at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire on the 14th/25th of December 1562.
He was described by William Cecil as " a noble, valiant, painful and careful gentleman," and his son and successor, Arthur, wrote A Commentary of the Services and Charges of William, Lord Grey of Wilton, K.G. This has been edited by Sir P. de M. Grey Egerton for the Camden Society (1847).
Grey's elder son ARTHUR, I4TH LORD GREY DE WILTON (1536- 1593) was during early life with his father in France and in Scotland; he fought at the battle of St Quentin and helped to defend Guines and to assault Leith. In July 1580 he was appointed lord deputy of Ireland, and after an initial defeat in Wicklow was successful in reducing many of the rebels to a temporary submission. Perhaps the most noteworthy event during his tenure of this office was the massacre of 600 Italians and Spaniards at Smerwick in November 1580, an action for which he was responsible. Having incurred a heavy burden of debt Grey frequently implored the queen to recall him, and in August 1582 he was allowed to return to England (see E. Spenser, View of the Slate of Ireland, edited by H. Morley, 1890, and R. Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors, vol. iii., 1890). While in Ireland Grey was served as secretary by Edmund Spenser, and in book v. of the Faerie Queene the poet represents his patron as a knight of very noble qualities named Artegall. As one of the commissioners who tried Mary queen of Scots, Grey defended the action of Elizabeth's secretary, William Davison, with regard to this matter, and he took part in the preparations for the defence of England against the Spaniards in 1588. His account of the defence of Guines was used by Holinshed in his Chronicles.
When he died on the 14th of October 1593 he was succeeded as i5th baron by his son THOMAS (d. 1614), who while serving in Ireland incurred the enmity of Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, and of Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton; and after fighting against Spain in the Netherlands he was a member of the court which sentenced these two noblemen to death in 1601. On the accession of James I. he was arrested for his share in the " Bye " plot, an attempt made by William Watson and others to seize the king. He was tried and sentenced to death, but the sentence was not carried out and he remained in prison until his death on the gth of July 1614. He displayed both ability and courage at his trial, remarking after sentence had been passed, " the house of Wilton hath spent many lives in their prince's service and Grey cannot beg his." Like his father Grey was a strong Puritan. He left no children and his barony became extinct.
In 1784 Sir Thomas Egerton, Bart., a descendant in the female line of the 14th baron, was created Baron Grey de Wilton. He died without sons in September 1814, when his barony became extinct; but the titles of Viscount Grey de Wilton and earl of Wilton, which had been conferred upon him in 1801, passed to Thomas Grosvenor (1799-1882), the second son of his daughter Eleanor (d. 1846), and her husband Robert Grosvenor, 1st marquess of Westminster. Thomas took the name of Egerton and his descendants still hold the titles.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)