Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset)
Jump to: navigation, search
Henry Grey
Duke of Suffolk
Marquess of Dorset
Coat of arms of Sir Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, KG.png
Arms of Sir Henry Grey,
1st Duke of Suffolk, 3rd marquess of Dorset, KG
Spouse(s) Lady Frances Brandon (m.1533-1554)
Noble family Grey
Father Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset
Mother Margaret Wotton
Born 17 January 1517
Died 23 February 1554

Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, KG (17 January 1517 – 23 February 1554) was an English nobleman of the Tudor period and the father of Lady Jane Grey.

Henry VIII's reign[edit]

The son of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset and of Margaret Wotton; through his father he was a great-grandson of Elizabeth Woodville, the queen of Edward IV of England, by her first marriage to Sir John Grey of Groby. Before 1530, Grey was betrothed to Katherine, the daughter of William FitzAlan, 18th Earl of Arundel.[1] Henry Grey became the 3rd Marquess of Dorset in 1530 after his father died.[2] In 1533, with the permission of King Henry VIII he married Lady Frances Brandon (1517–1559), the daughter of Henry VIII’s sister Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. The couple had three children who survived infancy: Lady Jane Grey (1537–1554), Lady Catherine Grey (1540–1568), and Lady Mary Grey (1545–1578).

Before Henry VIII's death in 1547, Grey became a fixture in court circles. A knight of the Bath, he was the king's sword bearer at Anne Boleyn's coronation in 1533, at Anne of Cleves' arrival in 1540, and at the capture of Boulogne in 1545. Twice he bore the Cap of Maintenance in parliament. He helped lead the army in France in 1545. In 1547 he joined the Order of the Garter.

Edward VI's reign[edit]

After Henry VIII's death in 1547, Grey fell out of favour with the leader of King Edward VI's government, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and Protector of England. Returning to his home in Bradgate, Leicestershire, Grey concentrated on raising his family to greater heights. Thus, with the Protector's brother Thomas Lord Seymour, Grey conspired to have his daughter Jane married to the King. This plot failed, ending in Seymour's execution, but Grey emerged unscathed.

In 1549, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, overthrew the Protectorship and secured power by appointing loyal friends to the Privy Council. Grey joined the Council as a part of this group. In July 1551 his wife's younger half-brother, Charles Brandon, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, died. Henry Grey was created Duke of Suffolk jure uxoris on 11 October 1551, in the same ceremony that elevated John Dudley to the Dukedom of Northumberland.

Protestantism[edit]

Henry Grey was best known for his zeal for the Protestant faith. The Swiss reformer Henry Bullinger dedicated a book to him in 1551 and frequently corresponded with the family. In Parliament and on the Privy Council, Grey pushed for further Protestant reforms. He is credited for making Leicestershire one of the most reliably Protestant counties in early modern England.

Queen Jane[edit]

Seriously ill, and fearing his own death, King Edward VI granted Northumberland's request for the marriage of Suffolk's daughter Jane to Northumberland's son, Lord Guildford Dudley, on 21 May 1553. Edward later altered his will to make Jane his designated successor. Edward died on 6 July 1553, and three days later Suffolk, Northumberland, and other members of the Privy Council proclaimed Jane queen.[3] This proclamation failed, with a large-scale rallying of forces in the country to Henry VIII's eldest daughter, Mary I.

By his wife's friendship with the new Queen Mary, Grey and his daughter and son-in-law temporarily avoided execution. However, Mary had Henry Grey beheaded on 23 February 1554, after his conviction for high treason for his part in Sir Thomas Wyatt's attempt (January – February 1554) to overthrow her after she announced her intention to marry Philip II of Spain.

The Head[edit]

According to Walter George Bell (writing in 1920),[4] the severed head of the Duke was discovered in a vault in London's Holy Trinity church in 1851, perfectly preserved by the tannin-rich oak sawdust used to pad the basket on the scaffold on which he had been executed 297 years earlier. Bell believed the head might have been hidden by the Duke's widow to prevent it from being exposed on a spike on London Bridge. Both of them had worshipped in the chapel at Holy Trinity. The church was closed in 1899 and deconsecrated and the head found a new resting place at St. Botolph's Church, Aldgate, to which Holy Trinity Parish had been annexed. In 1920, the vicar of St. Botolph's kept it in a glass box inside a locked cupboard and was willing to display it to historians, but not to "mere tourists".

The head was examined in the late 19th century by Sir George Scharf, former Keeper of the National Portrait Gallery, who noted a strong resemblance between its features and those in the portrait of the duke then in the possession of the Marquis of Salisbury at Hatfield. However, Bell also notes a scandal at Holy Trinity in 1786 in which a sexton had been found sawing and chopping up coffins in the vaults and using the wood to stoke the fire in his quarters. Many of the bodies had been partly dismembered in the process and Bell warned his readers that the surviving head might well have resulted from this debacle.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Henry Grey is featured in the 2007 historical fiction novel Innocent Traitor by author Alison Weir. This book is a fictionalised account of the life of Grey's daughter Lady Jane Grey, in which Henry Grey is portrayed as an abusive, ambitious parent.
  • He has been played on screen by Miles Malleson in Tudor Rose and Patrick Stewart in Lady Jane.
  • The Suffolk based crust/metal band Meadows' song "The Head of Henry Grey" is about a man who has come into possession of the severed head of Henry Grey and delights in showing it around the public houses of Woodbridge, Suffolk.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Britain's Royal Families The Complete Genealogy, Alison Weir page 157
  2. ^ http://www.thepeerage.com/p10208.htm#i102072
  3. ^ Grey, Henry, duke of Suffolk (1517–1554), magnate by Robert C. Braddock in Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  4. ^ Walter George Bell, Unknown London (London: John Lane, 1920), pp. 3-18.

Bibliography[edit]

  • FactMonster.com entry for "Suffolk, Henry Grey, duke of", accessed 2004
  • AllRefer.com biography "Suffolk, Henry Grey, duke of" from British And Irish History section, accessed 2003
  • Robert C. Braddock, 'Grey, Henry, duke of Suffolk (1517–1554)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Meadows information from [1], accessed 2011
Political offices
Preceded by
None
Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire
1549–1551
Succeeded by
The Earl of Huntingdon
Preceded by
The Earl of Huntingdon
Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire
1552–1554
Succeeded by
The Earl of Huntingdon
Legal offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Wiltshire
Justice in Eyre
south of the Trent

1550–1553
Succeeded by
The Earl of Sussex
Peerage of England
Preceded by
New creation
Duke of Suffolk
3rd creation
1551–1554
Forfeit
Preceded by
Thomas Grey
Marquess of Dorset
3rd creation
1530–1554