Early in 1881, when the first Boer War broke out, Grenfell returned to Natal to act as deputy-assistant-quartermaster-general, but saw no fighting, as peace was made soon after his arrival. In 1882 he was again selected for staff service, this time as assistant-adjutant-general to Sir Garnet (afterwards Viscount) Wolseley [q.v.] in the Egyptian expedition of that summer; he was thus present at the battle of Tel-el-Kebir (13 September). After the close of that campaign he remained in Egypt as assistant-adjutant-general to the permanent garrison, and was at the same time promoted brevet-colonel and aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria. Desiring to continue serving in Egypt he accepted the appointment under Sir Evelyn Wood [q.v.] as second in command of the Egyptian forces, which were then placed under British tutelage. At that time the revolt of the Mahdi was making great headway in the Sudan, so that General Gordon was dispatched to Khartoum in January 1884 in order to extricate the Egyptian subjects and garrisons from the Sudan. By the autumn of 1884 Gordon's position had become grave, and Lord Wolseley was sent out to rescue him. Grenfell thereupon proceeded to Assuan in order to command the Egyptian troops on the Nile and the communications of the whole expedition. After the failure of the attempted relief (January 1885), Grenfell remained at Assuan in command of the Egyptian detachments, being finally appointed sirdar of the Egyptian army in succession to Sir Evelyn Wood in April 1885. He thus came to play an important part in the operations undertaken for the defence of the frontiers of Egypt against the Dervishes during the next few years. He commanded a division of the Anglo-Egyptian forces at the battle of Ginnis on 30 December 1885, for which action he received the C.B. and the grand cordon of the Medjidie, while next year he was created a K.C.B. and promoted major-: general. Shortly after, he assumed sole command of the Egyptian forces which repulsed Osman Digna's attack on Suakin at Gamaiza (20 December 1888) and then signally defeated the amir of Kordofan at Toski (3 August 1889). Two years later (1891) he consolidated the Egyptian hold on Suakin. On the death of the Khedive Tewfik, in the ensuing spring (1892), Grenfell reluctantly resigned the sirdarship. His tenure of office was memorable for the reorganization of the Egyptian forces which were to prove of such value during Lord Kitchener's subsequent re-conquest of the Sudan. Without ever giving proof of any outstanding gifts of generalship, which indeed were not required at this period, Grenfell had completed his task in Egypt with rare common sense and to excellent purpose.
On his return home, and after being. rewarded with the G.C.M.G., Grenfell was appointed deputy-adjutant-general for reserve forces at the War Office, a post which involved the supervision of reserves, militia, yeomanry, and volunteers. In 1894 he was, raised to the position of inspector-general. During 1896 he was dispatched to Moscow to attend the coronation festivities of the young Tsar Nicholas II, and in 1897 figured prominently at the celebration of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. Shortly afterwards he was appointed to the command of the British garrison in Egypt. This new position was not easy, since (Lord) Kitchener [q.v.] was now in command of the expedition which had been working up the Nile since the spring of 1896. But Grenfell, with great self-effacement, refrained from the slightest act that might hinder Kitchener; indeed, although he was the latter's senior in rank - having been promoted lieutenant-general in 1898 - he subordinated his own authority to that of the sirdar in very generous fashion. After Kitchener's victory of Omdurman (2 September 1898), Grenfell in the following January was appointed governor and commander-in-chief of Malta. There he proved a successful governor, displaying much interest in the antiquities of the island and in the methods of cultivation in use. Finally, at the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Grenfell, of Kilvey, co. Glamorgan. In 1903 he was selected for the command of the newly created fourth Army Corps and, on promotion to full general in 1904, was appointed commander-in-chief in Ireland, a post which he held until 1908 when he was promoted field-marshal. During the remainder of his life he devoted himself to work on behalf of the Church Lads' Brigade, the Royal Horticultural Society, of which he was president, and to various other voluntary services. He died at Windlesham , Surrey, 27 January 1925.
Lord Grenfell was a man of wide and deep sympathies, taking a profound interest, wherever he served, in the daily life and history of the people around him. He was an Egyptologist and an antiquary of no small attainments. His popularity, both in the army and in society generally, never waned.
Grenfell was the recipient of many honours: he was a colonel commandant of the 60th Rifles from 1899 until his death and colonel of the 2nd Life Guards from 1898 to 1907, when he exchanged this colonelcy for that of the 1st Life Guards. He received the honorary LL.D. degree of Edinburgh University in 1902 and of Cambridge University in 1903. He was sworn of the privy council of Ireland in 1909.
Grenfell was twice married: first, in 1887 to Evelyn (died without issue 1899), daughter of Major-General Robert Blucher Wood; secondly, in 1903 to the Hon. Margaret (died 1911), daughter of Lewis Asshunt Majendie, M.P., J.P., of Hedingham, Essex, by whom he had two sons and a daughter. He was succeeded as second baron by his elder son, Pascoe Christian Victor Francis (born 1905).
H de Watteville
[The Times, 28 January1925; Lord Grenfell, Memoirs, 1925; Army Lists]
Text reproduced from the Dictionary of National Biography 1922 - 1930 edited by JRH Weaver by permission of Oxford University Press.
Photograph reproduced from the frontispiece of 'Memoirs of Lord Grenfell' published by Hodder & Stoughton and may be subject to copyright.