Did you know the 6th Earl Grey, who died aged 74 on September 10 this year, was chairman of the Cremation Society of Great Britain from 1992 until his death?
Richard Grey was second cousin twice removed to Charles Grey, 5th Earl Grey, and succeeded to the earldom in 1963 upon the latter’s death.
Upon taking his seat in the House of Lords full-time in 1976, he followed the political traditions of his ancestors and sat as a Liberal peer, becoming the party’s spokesman on social services and disability.
In 1979, he hosted the visit to London of 350 indigenous Canadians to help them lobby Parliament for the return of their land rights and for political recognition.
He would also serve as secretary to the House of Lords small business group from 1980-84 and was an official observer of African elections, including the 1980 Rhodesian elections which brought Robert Mugabe to power in what was then renamed Zimbabwe.
Chairman of the Cremation Society Harvey Thomas called him a ‘lovely man’ who was an ‘inspirational leader of both the Cremation Society and the London Cremation Company for over two decades.’
He is succeeded as 7th Earl by his younger brother, the Hon. Philip Kent Grey.
Grey was, of course, a descendant of the great Whig politician Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, who served as prime minister between 1830 and 1834 and was responsible for the Great Reform Act of 1832.
The 2nd Earl is also well known for the bergamot-scented tea to which he lent his name and for his affair with Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, in the 1780s – which was the subject of the film ‘The Duchess’ starring Keira Knightley.
The earldom was conferred upon the 2nd Earl’s father, General Charles Grey, in 1806 after he had already been elevated to the peerage as Baron Grey in 1801. He was a veteran of the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the Seven Years’ War, American War of Independence and the French Revolutionary Wars before retiring in 1799.