Gregory family papers
> William H. Gregory papers

Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Series 2
William H. Gregory papers, 1794-1838
Boxes 2-19

Biographical Note

William Gregory, the third son of Maria Auchmuty and Robert Gregory (1727-1810), was born in India in 1762. He arrived in England in 1766 and was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he earned a B.A. (1783) and a M.A. (1797). On 16 May 1781, he was admitted as a student of the Inner Temple. Gregory's first public appointment came in 1795 when he was named Surveyor of Skerries. From 1798-1800, Gregory sat for Portlington in the Irish Parliament. Gregory also commanded the Galway Militia during the 1798 rising, and in 1799 was appointed High Sheriff of County Galway.

In October 1812, William Gregory was appointed Civil Undersecretary of Ireland, serving under the lord-lieutenant and his assistant, the chief secretary. According to R.B. MacDowell, "The Undersecretary, continuously resident in Dublin, was responsible to the Chief Secretary for the routine workings of the whole Irish Administration." Gregory handled most of the incoming correspondence to the Irish Government at the Castle on Cork Hill in Dublin. He corresponded with the chief secretary, often absent from Dublin, advising him on events in Ireland. As the center of communication within the government, Gregory came to exercise great authority during his long tenure (1812-1831). Thomas Wyce, the Catholic historian, wrote that it was Gregory "who held in his hands the destinies of Ireland." Gregory strongly opposed Catholic emancipation, the struggle that was the central theme in Irish politics during the first third of the 19th century.

Gregory served under five Lord-Lieutenants (Lord Whitworth, 1812-1817; Lord Talbot, 1817-1821; Marquis Wellesly, 1821-1827; Marquis Angelsey, 1828-1829, 1830-1833; The Duke of Northumberland, 1829-1830) and six Chief Secretaries (Sir Robert Peel, 1812-1818; Charles Grant, 1818-1821; Henry Goulborn, 1821-1827; William Lamb, 1827-1828; Francis Leveson-Gower, 1828-1830; Henry Hardinge, 1830). He formed close personal ties with Peel, Talbot, and Whitworth. After returning to office in 1830, Angelsey dismissed Gregory in December 1831.

Gregory held the post of ranger of Phoenix Park, Dublin, where he resided from 1812 onwards. From 1819 to 1831, the civil and military under-secretariats were combined, hence Gregory held both titles during those years.

William Gregory married Lady Anne Trench (d. 1833) in 1789. They had two sons; Robert (1790-1847) and William (1792-1817), rector of Fiddown, and one daughter, Anne (1793-1868). Gregory died 13 April 1840 at Phoenix Park. Sources consulted in preparing this note include: Mr. Gregory's Letter Box, ed., Lady Gregory, Oxford, 1982; Sir W. H. Gregory, An Autobiography, 1894; Brian Jenkins, The Era of Emancipation: British Government of Ireland, 1812-1830, Montreal, 1988; R.B. MacDowell, The Irish Administration 1801-1810, London, 1964; and Dictionary of National Biography, Suppl., pp. 354-66.

Scope and Content Note

The papers of William Gregory consist of 19 manuscript cases containing letters, account books, official and personal papers dating from 1794-1838. The collection also includes Lady Gregory's typescripts of letters, some of which were included in Mr. Gregory's Letter Box, as well as her notes regarding that project. Most of the correspondence and acts relate to Gregory's service as Civil Undersecretary for Ireland (1812-1831). Since the chief secretary and undersecretary were able to confer when both were in Dublin, the correspondence largely reflects the periods when the chief secretary was absent. There are a few personal letters and papers in Subseries 2.5, but the bulk of the collection is made up of official papers.

Arrangement Note

Organized into five subseries: (2.1) Incoming correspondence; (2.2) Outgoing correspondence; (2.3) Typescripts for Mr. Gregory's letterbox; (2.4) Professional papers; and (2.5) Personal and financial papers.

Finding Aid Note

An index of selected correspondenents is available [See Index 1].

Related Materials in Other Repositories

Peel papers (British Library), the Goulburn papers (British Library) Whitworth papers (Sackville Mss. Kent Archives, Maidstone) and Home Office 100 (Ireland) series, (London, P.R.O.).

Description of Subseries