Thomas, Lord Grey of Groby, 1623-57

He held the Midlands for Parliament during the civil wars and was the only nobleman to sign the King's death warrant.

Portrait of Lord Grey of GrobySon and heir of the Earl of Stamford, Thomas Grey was elected MP for Leicester in the Long Parliament, and was a member of the committee selected to present the Grand Remonstrance to the King. When the First Civil War broke out, Grey commanded a troop of horse at the battle of Edgehill in Sir William Balfour's regiment. Aged only nineteen, he was appointed commander of the Midland Association upon its formation in December 1642 while his father served on the Welsh border and in the West Country. Grey joined the Earl of Essex on his campaign to relieve Gloucester in August 1643, and fought at the first battle of Newbury the following month.

In collaboration with other Parliamentarian commanders, Grey campaigned successfully in the Midlands throughout the First Civil War, but was obliged to resign his commissions under the Self-Denying Ordinance of 1645. He married Lady Dorothy Bourchier, daughter of the Earl of Bath, in June 1646. Grey was an active member of the Independent faction in Parliament and joined the attack on the Presbyterian Eleven Members during the summer of 1647. When the Second Civil War broke out in 1648, he raised a body of troops to defend Leicestershire against the invading Scots. After Cromwell's victory at the battle of Preston, Grey joined the pursuit of the Duke of Hamilton, and claimed the credit for his capture at Uttoxeter in August 1648.

Grey fervently supported the radicals of the New Model Army and stood beside Colonel Pride during Pride's Purge, when he identified the MPs who were to be excluded as they tried to enter the House of Commons. To the disgust of his father Lord Stamford, Grey was the only peer to sit on the High Court of Justice that prosecuted King Charles in January 1649. He was given precedence after Lord-President Bradshaw in signing the King's death warrant.

Grey was appointed to the Council of State in 1649 and held various commands in the militia. He raised troops to defend the Midlands against the invasion by Charles II and the Scots in 1651, after which he came to be regarded as a leading figure in the Commonwealth régime. However, Grey's sympathy for the Levellers and his association with the Fifth Monarchists alienated him from Cromwell after the establishment of the Protectorate in December 1653. Grey was elected MP for Leicester in the First Protectorate Parliament (1654), but was arrested on suspicion of complicity in the Leveller John Wildman's plot against Cromwell in February 1655. He was imprisoned at Windsor Castle until July 1655 when he was released after making an appeal to Cromwell. He played no further part in politics and died in 1657, aged 34.

After the Restoration, Lord Stamford used his influence to prevent the exhumation and mutilation of Grey's body as a regicide. When Stamford died in 1673, Grey's son Thomas succeeded as the second Earl of Stamford.


E.T. Bradley, revised by Sean Kelsey, Thomas Grey, Baron Grey of Groby, Oxford DNB, 2004

Ian Hurst and Richard Southin, Thomas Grey, Lord Grey of Groby 1623-1657 (Orders of the day, Volume 32, Issue 5, Sept 2000)