Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon
Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon KG, 3rd Bt, PC (April 25, 1862 – September 7, 1933), better known as Sir Edward Grey was a British politician and ornithologist.
Grey was the eldest of the seven children of Colonel George Henry Grey and Harriet Jane Pearson, daughter of Charles Pearson. His grandfather Sir George Grey, 2nd Baronet, of Fallodon, was also a prominent Liberal politician, while his great-grandfather Sir George Grey, 1st Baronet, of Fallodon, was the third son of Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey and the younger brother of Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey. Growing up in the old Whiggish tradition, Grey was educated at Winchester College and at Balliol College, Oxford. He was elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal in 1885 (serving Berwick-upon-Tweed), having previously succeeded to his grandfather's baronetcy in 1882. He served under Lord Rosebery as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Gladstone's last government, from 1892 to 1895. During the Second Boer War (1899 - 1902), when the Liberals split between radical Pro-Boers and Liberal Imperialists, Grey stood decidedly on the side of the Imperialists like Rosebery and Herbert Henry Asquith.
When the Liberals returned to power in 1905, Grey became Foreign Secretary, a position in which he would serve for eleven years - the longest continuous holder of the office. Despite his lack of knowledge of any foreign languages and general aristocratic distaste for diplomacy, Grey proved a competent Foreign Secretary. Before the outbreak of the First World War, he had many notable accomplishments, including the completion of the Entente with Russia in 1907, the peaceful settlement of the Agadir Crisis, and leading the joint mediation for the end of the Balkan Wars. Although his activist foreign policy, which relied increasingly on the Entente with France and Russia, came under criticism from the radicals within his own party, he maintained his position due to the support of the Conservatives for his "non-partisan" foreign policy.
In 1914, Grey played a key, if ineffective, role in the crisis leading to the outbreak of World War I. His attempts to mediate the dispute between Austria-Hungary and Serbia by a "Stop in Belgrade" came to nothing due to the tepid German response. He also failed to clearly communicate to Germany that a breach of the treaty not merely to respect but to protect the neutrality of Belgium - of which both Britain and Germany were signatories - would cause Britain to declare war against Germany. When he finally did make such communication German forces were already massed at the Belgian border and the German High Command convinced Kaiser Wilhelm II it was too late to change the plan of attack. Thus when Germany declared war on France (3 August) and broke the treaty by invading Belgium (4 August), the British Cabinet voted almost unanimously to declare war on August 4, 1914.
In the early years of the war, Grey negotiated several important secret treaties, bringing Italy into the war (1915) and promising Russia the Turkish Straits. He maintained his position as Foreign Secretary when the Conservatives came into the government to form a coalition in May 1915, but when the Asquith Coalition collapsed in December of the following year and Lloyd George became Prime Minister, Grey went into the opposition.
Raised to the Lords as Viscount Grey of Fallodon, a title which would become extinct with his death, Grey continued to be active in politics, serving as Liberal Leader in the Lords in 1923-1924 despite his increasingly poor eyesight. He was a member of the Coefficients dining club of social reformers set up in 1902 by the Fabian campaigners Sidney and Beatrice Webb.
He is probably best remembered for a remark he supposedly made to a friend one evening just before the outbreak of the First World War, as he watched the lights being lit on the street below his office: "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."
James William Lowther
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
George Nathaniel Curzon
The Marquess of Lansdowne
The Earl of Reading
British Ambassador to the United States
Sir Auckland Geddes
Viscount Grey of Fallodon
- Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology
- Earl Grey
- The Genesis of the "A.B.C." Memorandum of 1901.
- Works by Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon at Project Gutenberg
- ^ Sir Edward Grey, 3rd Baronet Encyclopaedia Britannica Article. Other common versions of the quote are
- The lights are going out all over Europe and I doubt we will see them go on again in our lifetime, (Sources Malta in Europe - a new dawn Department of Information - Government of Malta, 2000-2006. Ambassador Guenter Burghardt The State of the Transatlantic Relationship 4 June 2003)
- The lights are going out all over Europe: we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime, The lights are going out all over Europe William Wright, Editor Financial News Online US 6 March
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