Today happens to be International Tea Day, so, in honor of Jean-Luc Picard, let’s talk a bit about Earl Grey.
Earl Grey tea was probably named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764-1845), who served as British Prime Minister in from 1830 to 1834. His actual connection to the tea is unknown. Here’s one theory:
The tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, to suit the water at Howick, using bergamot in particular to offset the taste of the lime in it. Lady Grey used it to entertain in London as a political hostess, and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others.
So has anyone ever been named “Earl Grey”?
Yes, so far I’ve found close to 90 people with the first-middle combo “Earl Grey.” Only three were born in England (the earliest in 1831, while Charles Grey was Prime Minister). The rest were born in the U.S. and Canada, mostly in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One was born as recently as the 1980s.
Here are a bunch of the U.S. Earl Greys:
- Earl Grey Forbes, b. 1888
- Earl Grey Dawson, b, 1890
- Earl Grey Morris, Sr., b. 1894
- Earl Grey Hill, Sr., b. 1902
- Earl Grey Etheredge, b. 1906
- Earl Grey Weldon, b. 1907
- Earl Grey Barfield, b. 1909
- Earl Grey Napier, b. 1911
- Earl Grey Webb, Sr., b. 1916
- Earl Grey Kerns, b. 1919
- Earl Grey Greene, b. 1920
- Earl Grey Johnson, b. 1925
- Earl Grey Stuart, b. 1925
- Earl Grey Creel, b. 1928
- Earl Grey Rivenburk, b. 1929
- Earl Grey Hill, Jr., b. 1932
- Earl Grey Randolph, b. 1932
- Earl Grey Teter, b. 1937
It’s impossible to know how many were named with the tea in mind, but I’m sure at least a few were. (Earl Grey tea was available commercially starting in the 1880s.)
Finally, I should mention that Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, had a whopping 16 children with his wife Mary, and that 15 of the 16 lived to adulthood. The 15 surviving children were named Louisa, Elizabeth, Caroline, Georgiana, Henry, Charles, Frederick, Mary, William, George, Thomas, John, Francis, Henry and William.