Charles Grey was the eldest surviving son of General Sir Charles Grey, K.B. and Elizabeth, daughter of George Grey. In 1786 he was returned member for Northumberland. He was one of the managers of the impeachment of Warren Hastings and in 1792 he helped to found the Society of Friends of the People. He introduced the motion for the impeachment of Pitt and took a prominent part in the temporary session of the Whigs from parliament. He also denounced the union between England and Ireland. In 1806, he became First Lord of the Admirality and on the death of Fox, foreign secretary and leader of the House of Commons. He carried through the act abolishing the African slave trade. In 1831, he became Prime Minister and again in 1832-1834 when he successfully saw through the first Reform Act but dissensions sprang up and in consequence of his Irish difficulties he resigned in July 1834. He married Mary Elizabeth, daughter of William Brabazon Ponsonby, in 1794 and they had fifteen children but also had liasons with Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.
Another version of this enamel, signed and dated September 1820, sold Christie's, London, 10 July 1991, lot 129, now forms part of the Draper Gift at Kenwood House (Miniatures at Kenwood. The Draper Gift, London, 1997, no. 67, illustrated p. 157). Both enamels are based on an oil portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence.