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Henry Edward Yelverton, 19th Baron Grey de Ruthyn
Henry Edward Yelverton, 19th Baron Grey de Ruthyn (8 September 1780-29 October 1810) was a British Peer in the early 19th Century, notable for being a tenant and sometime friend of Lord Byron and as an ancestor of the current Aga Khan.
The title of Baron Grey de Ruthyn had a long history and had belonged to the Earl of Kent for a period. It passed to the Earl of Sussex from 1717, the Yelvertons. Henry Yelverton, 18th Baron Grey de Ruthyn, 3rd Earl of Sussex died in 1799, with no sons. The Grey de Ruthyn title therefore passed to 19-year-old Henry, son of the Earl's daughter, Lady Barbara Yelverton who had died in 1781 by her husband, Edward Gould. The younger Yelverton could not inherit the title of Earl of Sussex through his mother.
Byron had inherited Newstead Abbey with his title. But the sprawling delapidated house required renovation and the Byrons were severely in debt. Reluctantly, the estate was leased to the 23-year-old Lord Grey de Ruthyn, from January 1803. The lease was for £50 a year for the Abbey and Park for five years, until Byron came of age. Grey made it clear that Byron, eight years younger, was always welcome.
Later that year, Byron took Grey up on his offer, staying for the summer whilst Grey was traveling abroad. When Grey returned, Byron stayed on, not returning for the Autumn term at Harrow. He and Grey became great friends, spending their days and nights on shooting expeditions through to the winter. However, Byron suddenly and inexplicably broke off their friendship and left Newstead.
Byron wrote to his half-sister, Augusta Leigh: "I am not reconciled to Lord Grey, and I never will. He was once my Greatest Friend, my reasons for ceasing that Friendship are such as I cannot explain, not even to you, my Dear Sister, (although were they to be made known to any body, you would be the first) but they will ever remain hidden in my own breast."
Byron's mother was keen on reconciliation - it appears she had fallen in love with Lord Grey herself. Byron wrote again to his sister of his troubles with his mother: "all our disputes have been lately heightened by my one with that object of my cordial, deliberate detestation, Lord Grey de Ruthyn. She wishes me to explain my reasons for disliking him, which I will never do; would I do it to any one, be assured you, my dear Augusta, would be the first who would know them. She also insists on my being reconciled to him, and once she let drop such an odd expression that I was half inclined to believe the dowager was in love with him. But I hope not, for he is the most disagreeable person (in my opinion) that exists. He called once during my last vacation; she threatened, stormed, begged me to make it up, “he himself loved me, and wished it;” but my reason was so excellent—that neither had effect, nor would I speak or stay in the same room, till he took his departure. No doubt this appears odd; but was my reason known, which it never will be if I can help it, I should be justified in my conduct. Now if I am to be tormented with her and him in this style, I cannot submit to it."
Most have taken the event that led to his departure as a sexual advance by Grey on Byron, not yet sixteen. It has been assumed that the advance was rejected, hence Byron's outrage. However, Byron's later apologetic letters to Grey and Grey's inability to understand his young friend's breaking-off of their relationship may point to a sexual relationship that Byron later regretted. They were not reconciled.
In April 1808, Lord Grey left Newstead at the end of his lease. On 21 June 1809, he married Anna Maria Kelham, daughter of William Kelham, of Ryton-upon-Dunsmore, Warwick. She was not a noblewoman, leading Lady Byron to write to family solicitor, John Hanson: "Lord Grey de Ruthyn has married a Farmer's Daughter." Byron himself wrote from his European trip to his mother: "So Lord G— is married to a rustic. Well done! If I wed, I will bring home a Sultana, with half a dozen cities for a dowry, and reconcile you to an Ottoman daughter-in-law, with a bushel of pearls not larger than ostrich eggs, or smaller than walnuts."
Young Barbara became Baroness Grey de Ruthyn. Her first husband was George Augustus Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 2nd Marquess of Hastings and so the Grey de Ruthyn title passed to the Hastings line. Her second marriage in 1845 was to Admiral Sir Hastings Henry Yelverton and it was through her daughter by this marriage that she was great-grandmother of the mother of the Aga Khan, Hon Joan Yarde-Buller.
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