Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk

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Margaret Audley
Duchess of Norfolk
Margaret Howard, Duchess of Norfolk by Hans Eworth, 1562
Died9 January 1564(1564-01-09) (aged 23–24)
Buriedfirst at St. John the Baptist's Church, Norwich and then at Church of St Michael the Archangel, Framlingham
Spouse(s)Lord Henry Dudley
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
IssueLady Elizabeth Howard
Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk
Lord William Howard
Lady Margaret Sackville
FatherThomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden
MotherLady Elizabeth Grey
Coat of Arms of Margaret's father

Margaret Howard (née Audley), Duchess of Norfolk (1540 – 9 January 1564) was the sole surviving child[1] of Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden, and Lady Elizabeth Grey, herself the daughter of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset, and his wife Margaret Wotton, therefore Margaret was a niece of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk and first cousin of Lady Jane Grey.


Margaret was a wealthy heiress[2] and married first, without issue, Lord Henry Dudley, the youngest son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland. Henry was the brother-in-law of Lady Jane Grey, Margaret's first cousin. Margaret's lands were forfeited when her husband was attainted in the wake of his father's failed attempt to usurp the throne in favour of Jane Grey. In 1556, after her husband had been pardoned, they sued in chancery court to gain back her territory in Hertfordshire, which had been claimed by Thomas Castell.[3] Henry Dudley was killed at the storming of St. Quentin on 27 August 1557.[4]

In early 1558, Margaret was betrothed to Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. In order for the marriage to take place under Roman Catholic canon law, a dispensation had to be requested from Pope Paul IV, since Norfolk's first wife, Lady Mary FitzAlan, had been Margaret's first cousin. Her future husband sent lawyers to Rome to negotiate obtaining the dispensation, but the Holy See was notorious for its delays and its costs where dispensations were concerned. Due to these delays, added to the fact that also in November of that same year, Catholic Queen Mary I had died and was succeeded by Elizabeth I who began to restore Protestantism, the marriage was celebrated without the dispensation. It was ratified by Parliament in March 1559. [5]

In January 1559, the new Duchess of Norfolk participated in the coronation of Elizabeth I. Lady Margaret Douglas, the queen's cousin, and the Duchess were the two principal ladies of honour who rode behind the queen in her procession from the Tower of Westminster. The following day, she accompanied her husband who carried St Edward's Crown to Westminster Abbey, while she bore the train of the new queen. After the coronation, the Norfolks retired to Kenninghall and did not return to London until the following autumn.

The Duke and Duchess had four children:


At Christmas 1563, Margaret, anxious to be reunited with her husband, left Audley End, despite being still weak from the birth of her fourth child a few days before. During the journey, she fell ill with a respiratory condition that worsened as the days went by and she died in Norwich on 9 January 1564. His mother-in-law, Frances de Vere, Dowager Countess of Surrey, was the chief mourner at the Duchess's funeral.[6][7] She was buried in the first instance St. John the Baptist's church in Norwich, although shortly afterwards her remains were moved to the Church of St Michael the Archangel in Framlingham, Suffolk. A large tomb carrying heraldic quarterings together with the effigies of Margaret and Norfolk's first wife Mary FitzAlan, shown in their peerage robes, was erected in Framlingham in their honour although Mary FitzAlan was never buried there. After Margaret's death, her mother Lady Elizabeth Grey watched over her grandchildren until the duke married Elizabeth Leyburne in 1567.

In 1842 the tomb was opened and found to be nearly empty, with the exception of a skull and a few ashes. A possibility is that at some point, Audley's remains were moved to Fitzalan Chapel in Arundel, where also repose the remains of her cousin Mary, and her uncles Henry FitzAlan, 12th Earl of Arundel and Katherine Grey.[8]



  1. ^ Williams p. 34
  2. ^ Adams p. 171
  3. ^ Beer p. 195
  4. ^ Williams pp. 49, 34
  5. ^ "Journal of the House of Lords: March 1559 Pages 21-26 The Journals of All the Parliaments During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth". British History Online. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  6. ^ Graves 2008.
  7. ^ Williams p. 87
  8. ^
  9. ^ George Edward Cokayne. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, Vol. I, p. 348.
  10. ^ a b c d Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. II, pp. 141, 234, 307.