British Empire Wiki
The Honourable
Captain Sir Henry Grey
1st Baronet, KB, MP
Henry Alexander Grey

Governor of New South Wales
In office
29 April 1749 – 3 November 1750
Monarch George II of Great Britain
Prime Minister The Duke of Newcastle
Preceded by None (Office Created)
Succeeded by Sir Marcus Livingston

Born 20 August 1720
Howick Hall
Died Unknown 1751
South Atlantic
Political party Whig
Spouse None
Children None
Alma mater Royal Naval Academy, Portsmouth
Religion Church of England

Sir Henry Alexander Grey, 1st Baronet, KB, MP (25 August 1720 - unknown; presumed dead) was a British naval officer and Member of Parliament. He was the younger brother of Joseph Grey, 1st Earl Grey, and the first Governor of the New South Wales colony.

Early Life

Henry Alexander Grey was born in Howick in the summer of 1720. Growing up close to his siblings, Joseph, Aura and Mercedes, he had a close bond with his older brother, both adventuring in the wilderness of Northumberland, where Henry found his love of the stars at night. As a teenager he was the bane of his mother existence, he attended Eton at age 9with his brother and was expelled at the age of 14 for fighting with other boys, before finally being sent away at the age of 16 to join the Royal Navy as a Midshipman, because of a forbidden relationship with a young maid. As a midshipman, he excelled in his astronomy and trigonometry classes, becoming an avid navigator and cartographer, he also was a bold swordsman.

He joined the crew of HMS Discovery on its circumnavigation of the globe passing under Cape Horn and feasting with natives in Tahiti before travelling south to visit Antarctica and then back to Cape Town.

In 1739 He passed his Lieutenant's examination at the age of 19 and joined the HMS Destroyer.

Navel Career

Henry was promoted to Commander in the spring of 1740 and commanded the HMS Speedwell, a sloop of 19 guns. He served in the Mediterranean Sea and fought in a number of conflicts with the pirates of the Barbary Coast as well as charting the Black Sea, he was often entertained in the Courts of Venice and was a favourite in the Officer's Mess in Gibraltar.

Receiving orders to join the North Sea Squadron, he returned to England, joining the fleet in Portsmouth, before being sent north to chart the waters of the Baltic, of which there were only vague charts from the early 1690's. He was dispatched to Copenhagen briefly, being entertained in the courts of the King of Denmark and Norway. It was here he met the love of his life, the beautiful Adelina. The two courted briefly, yet their romance was cut short by Henry's sealed orders to navigate and chart the Russian Coast of the Baltic Sea, which he completed in under four months, returning to Copenhagen and resupplying, enjoying the comforts of the Danish Court and the affections of the Princess Royale. It was not to be though, Adelina was forbidden by the King to see the young British officer and Henry set a course for England the next morning.

Returning to England, he presented his charts to the Admiralty, who were extremely impressed by his skill, they sent him to New Holland, to chart the apparent Great Southern Land and claim it in the name of King George II. Given command of the HMS Torren, he left Plymouth on August 15th, 1742, his twenty second birthday.

On arrival to New Holland, after a rough voyage and bouts of sickness throughout the crew, the Torren began sailing along the northern coast of New Holland, coming down along the eastern coast, he hit a vast system of reefs and shoals, which he named, "The Great Barrier". Navigating his way through the Barrier, he suffered the misfortune to be asleep in his cot, when the ship shuddered to a halt, lurching violently. Henry rushed to the quarterdeck to find the Torren cast upon a shoal, assessing the damage, Henry brought the ship into a cove nearby, which lead in land by a large river, completing the repairs, he landed and claimed the land for Great Britain, naming it "New South Wales" and naming the river system, the "Torren River".

Sailing south, they came out of the Barrier into deeper waters, striking strong currents and winds heading south, he landed at a large bay, upon which he met his first indigenous locals, who waved crude spears at the ship as it entered, clearly, the white man was not welcome in their land. 

Upon landing, he discovered a furtile and decent land, covered in low lying bracken and large trees of a greyish colour, which he named jokingly, "Howick Trees". He named this bay, Botany Bay, for there was a great array of botanical specimens never seen by European eyes before.

Upon leaving the shores of Botany Bay, heavy storms hit the Torren and she was forced to weather most of them till they came around a cap, they dubbed Cape Fear, before finally landing in a large bay on the southern coast of New South Wales. 

Upon leaving the bay, named "Supply Cove", they sailed west, charting the coast until they reached the point of the original Dutch charts made by Abel Tasman. Henry decided to sail north, making for the British base in Calcutta, before returning to England, nearly two years after having cast off.

Governor of New South Wales

Making his report to the Admiralty and British Government, his Brother Joseph eagerly proposed the idea of a Penal Colony for the infamous rogues of the British Empire, sending Henry back once more in 1745 with a promotion to Post Captain, in command of the First Fleet, twenty ships, which included four frigates, two indiamen converted to storeships, thirteen transports and one small brig. 

Seven Months later they arrived in Botany Bay, setting up a colony. With a year, the colony had boomed from 800 to 3500 and had a functioning government, fortifications, taverns, bakery, blacksmith, mill and numerous farms. Henry fell ill in 1747 and returned to England, but his work was extrordinary. He was welcomed back by his brother and recupperated in Howick for a number of months.

After his return to England, he made his way to Port Royal in Jamaica to assist Joseph in resettling the Caribbean. He was made Captain of the HMS Voyager and joined the West Indies Squadron.

He was on this station when he proposed to and became engaged to Lady Hannah Bluefeather, however Henry's family and long periods at sea seperated them before they could be together and Henry returned to find her engaged to a Spaniard. With his usual thirst for adventure and discovery, Henry took a small frigate, HMS Bounty and sailed for Tonga and it's capitol of Haven.

In Haven he was hired along with his crew as privateers, where he entered an agreement with Commander William Keelspinner to found a company known as the Devil's Cut Mercenary Guild.

A moderate house was gifted to him and he made this his residence while advising the Haven Government in their military endeavours.

It was here he met Lady Emma Diaz, a lady of Spanish birth to House Diaz, learned and witty, with a passion for history and the unknown, he fell victim to her charms.

He told her much of Haven's mythology and history, fascinating her with tales of Mar and the Red Lady over dinner.

Eventually Grey's adventure came to an end when HMS Poseidon arrived with his brother Sir Joseph onboard, in his quarters at night, British regulars broke down his door and arrested him.

Joseph appealed to him to come home and Henry bound by family duty ordered his men to make sail for England while he brought aboard the Poseidon by Joseph, saying a temporary farewell to Emma. In 1750 having returned from Haven and taken peace time half pay from the Admiralty, he was elected the MP for Northumberland in the House of Commons and began work on improving the lives of his constituents and his fellow seamen.


In January of 1751, Henry was lost at sea when his frigate, the HMS Bounty was lost in a storm in the South Atlantic.