The inscription reads:
To the Right Hon.ble Charles, Earl Grey, K.G. &c. &c.
Containing the Act of the Town Council
which confers upon his Lordship
The freedom of the City of Edinburgh
is Presented by
the Lord Provost, Magistrates, Councillors,
and Citizens of Edinburgh
In Testimony of their respect for his Character,
and of their Gratitude for
HIS EMINENT PUBLIC SERVICES
15th September, 1834
This box was presented to Earl Grey shortly after he resigned as Prime Minister in July 1834. Son of General Sir Charles Grey, K.B., Charles was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and began his political career in 1786 as MP for Northumberland. One of the youngest members of Parliament, he soon became a noted member of the aristocratic Whig group centered around Charles James Fox. He was First Lord of the Admiralty in 1806, and Foreign Secretary in 1807, when he was dismissed on the question of Catholic Emancipation, which he supported. That year he succeeded his father to the Earldom. Following the collapse of the Tory government in 1830, he became Prime Minister, and is best known for his support of liberal reforms, including creating new Whig peers and increasing the number of people who could vote. He passed the first Reform Act of 1832. His obituary in the London Times described him as "a most natural, unaffected, upright man, hospitable and domestic; far surpassing any man one knows in his noble appearance and beautiful simplicity of manners."