Charles Francis Greville
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Charles Francis Greville FRS (12 May 1749–1809), a younger son of Francis Greville, 1st Earl of Warwick, was a British antiquarian and collector. Though he lived on a stringent income of ₤500 a year, he managed to acquire antiquities from Gavin Hamilton in Rome and purchased through his uncle a genre piece by Annibale Carracci. As a Fellow of the Royal Society, his special interest was in minerals and precious stones. When his father died in 1773 and his brother became Earl of Warwick, Charles Greville inherited his seat of Warwick in the House of Commons.
Greville remained for years a very close friend of Sir Joseph Banks and, like him, a member of the Society of Dilettanti. He accompanied Sir Joseph at the organizing meeting in March 1804 of the precursor to the Royal Horticultural Society, the Society for the Improvement of Horticulture.
The nephew of Sir William Hamilton, the British envoy at Naples who formed two collections of Greek vases, one of which is at the British Museum, Greville briefly (1782–86) had for a mistress Emma Hart, whom he educated and took to George Romney's studio where he was sitting for his own portrait; Romney became fascinated with the beautiful Emma, who later became Sir William's Lady Hamilton and eventually Lord Nelson's lover. Greville never married; he predeceased his brother, the second earl. He lived for years in a house facing Paddington Green, then a suburban district of London, where he indulged his passion for gardening in a large garden provided with glasshouses in which he grew many rare tropical plants, aided by his connection with Banks, and where he managed to coax Vanilla planifolia to flower for the first time under glass, in the winter of 1806-07. His contributions to the herbarium assembled by Sir James Edward Smith are preserved by the Linnaean Society of London. The Australasian genus Grevillea is named in his honour. In the latter part of his life he lived at Warwick Castle.
The construction of the seaport of Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, South Wales, is due to his entrepreneurial spirit; when it was the property of Sir William Hamilton, Charles Greville applied for an act of Parliament to enable Sir William and his heirs to make docks, construct quays, establish markets, with roads and avenues to the port, to regulate the police, and make the place a station for conveying the mails. The first structure was a coaching inn. Natives of Nantucket were induced to settle, and for some decades Milford was a whaling port. A royal dockyard was established during the Napoleonic Wars.