George Grey

Sir George Grey, KCB (14 April 1812 – 19 September 1898) was a British soldier, explorer, colonial administrator and writer. He served in a succession of governing positions: Governor of South Australia, twice Governor of New Zealand, Governor of Cape Colony, and the 11th premier of New Zealand.[2]


Sir George Grey

Sir George Grey in 1861
11th Premier of New Zealand
In office
13 October 1877  8 October 1879
MonarchVictoria
GovernorGeorge Phipps
Hercules Robinson
Preceded byHarry Atkinson
Succeeded byJohn Hall
3rd Governor of New Zealand
In office
18 November 1845  3 January 1854
MonarchVictoria
Preceded byRobert FitzRoy
Succeeded byThomas Gore Browne
In office
4 December 1861[1]  5 February 1868
MonarchVictoria
PremierWilliam Fox
Alfred Domett
Frederick Whitaker
Frederick Weld
Edward Stafford
Preceded byColonel Thomas Gore Browne
Succeeded bySir George Bowen
Governor of Cape Colony
In office
1854–1861
Preceded byGeorge Cathcart (Charles Henry Darling acting)
Succeeded byPhilip Edmond Wodehouse (Robert Wynyard acting)
3rd Governor of South Australia
In office
15 May 1841  25 October 1845
MonarchVictoria
Preceded byGeorge Gawler
Succeeded byFrederick Robe
Personal details
Born(1812-04-14)14 April 1812
Lisbon, Portugal
Died19 September 1898(1898-09-19) (aged 86)
South Kensington, London, England
Spouse(s)
(m. 1839; died 1898)
Children1
RelativesJohn Gray (uncle)
EducationRoyal Grammar School, Guildford
Alma materRoyal Military College, Sandhurst
Signature

Grey was born in Lisbon, Portugal, just a few days after his father, Lieutenant-Colonel George Grey was killed at the Battle of Badajoz in Spain.[2] He was educated in England. After military service (1829–37) and two explorations in Western Australia (1837–39), Grey became Governor of South Australia in 1841. He oversaw the colony during a difficult formative period. Despite being less hands-on than his predecessor George Gawler, his fiscally responsible measures ensured the colony was in good shape by the time he departed for New Zealand in 1845.[3]

Grey was the most influential figure during the European settlement of New Zealand. Governor of New Zealand initially from 1845 to 1853,[4] he was Governor during the initial stages of the New Zealand Wars and became a pioneer scholar of the Māori culture, writing a study of Māori mythology and oral history. He was knighted in 1848. In 1854, Grey was appointed Governor of Cape Colony in South Africa, where his resolution of hostilities between the natives and European settlers was praised by both sides. Grey was again appointed Governor of New Zealand in 1861, following the granting of a degree of self-governance to New Zealand, serving until 1868. Appointed in 1877 he served as Premier of New Zealand until 1879.

By political philosophy a Gladstonian liberal and Georgist,[5] Grey eschewed the class system to be part of Auckland's new governance he helped to establish. Cyril Hamshere argues that Grey was a "great British proconsul", although he was also temperamental, demanding of associates, and lacking in some managerial abilities.[6]