Ford, Lord Grey, was one of the Duke of Monmouth’s closest friends, and played a particularly important role both in the Rye-House Plot of 1683 and Monmouth’s Rebellion in 1685. During the course of researching His Last Mistress, I re-read The Confession of Ford, Lord Grey, which he wrote during his incarceration at the Tower of London in 1685, following the disastrous rebellion. The confession was on seven sheets of paper, signed by Grey, and witnessed by the Earl of Sunderland on the 10th of October, 1685.
“…that the king would never suffer that bill too pass the House of Lords, unless compelled to it; and that all those, who had appeared for it, in the two houses of Parliament, were marked out for destruction, if ever your majesty (James II) came to the throne.”
The power that Shaftesbury held over the Exclusionists is quite clear in this Confession, but at the same time, it was convenient to point the finger at an already deceased man (Shaftesbury died in 1683).
Accordingly about seven o’clock that night, the duke of Monmouth, lord Russell, Sir Thomas Armstrong, and myself came to Lord Shaftesbury: his lordship assured us he had discoursed many of the eminent men in the city, who were all willing to rise if the king (Charles) died, provided the duke of Monmouth, my lord Russell, and himself would assist in the city with them, for they said, the whole force of the court would be upon them.
Considering that Grey was someone Monmouth considered to be a good friend, this Grey fellow goes on to complain about the Duke several times, again:
Upon this news (of Charles II’s death) the Duke of Monmouth took a resolution of going into Brussels, and I believe knew no more why, than he did all the reasons of his so often changing his resolutions before.
Mr. Ferguson desiring to speak with me alone, we retired into another room, where after a long discourse of the duke of Monmouth’s conduct during the time of his being across the sea, of the many reports which had been spread by himself and others to the Duke of Monmouth’s prejudice, of his ungrateful deportment to my lord Argyll, myself, and many more; of the apprehensions most had, that he had constantly held a correspondence with his father; he said all these suspicions ere now to be laid aside, for no man could apprehend his corresponding with your Majesty and all injuries on both sides remembered no more.
Personally, I believe that Grey was a little man who hated to be in Monmouth’s shadow – Monmouth was beloved by the masses, and Grey was really a nobody. Perhaps a deep-seated resentment combined with envy had taken root in Grey for some years?
He saved his neck by freely blaming his former associates and was a lucky sod indeed to get away with his life and eventually his honours were restored to him. Grey was infamous in his own time for seducing his wife Mary’s sister, Henrietta. Grey also went on to become Privy Councillor under King William III, eventually dying in 1701.