Thomas Grey (conspirator)

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Sir Thomas Grey
Portchester castle 04.jpg
Portchester Castle, where the Southampton plot was revealed to King Henry V
Born30 November 1384
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Died2 August 1415(1415-08-02) (aged 30)
Southampton, Hampshire
Spouse(s)Alice Neville
Sir Thomas Grey
Sir Ralph Grey
Sir John Grey
William Grey
daughter whose first name is unknown
Joan Grey
Elizabeth Grey
Margaret Grey
FatherSir Thomas Grey
MotherJoan Mowbray

Sir Thomas Grey (30 November 1384 – 2 August 1415), of Heaton Castle in the parish of Norham, Northumberland,[1] was one of the three conspirators in the failed Southampton Plot against King Henry V in 1415, for which he was executed.


Sir Thomas Grey, born 30 November 1384 in 'le Midyllgathouse’ at Alnwick Castle,[2] seat of the Percys, Earls of Northumberland, came from a family long prominent among the nobility in the border region of Northumberland.[3]

He was the eldest son and heir of Sir Thomas Grey (1359 – 26 November 1400) of Heton near Norham, Northumberland, by his wife, Joan Mowbray (d. 1410), sister of Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk,[4] and daughter of John de Mowbray, 4th Baron Mowbray (d. 17 June 1368), and Elizabeth de Segrave, daughter and heiress of John de Segrave, 4th Baron Segrave. Through his mother, a granddaughter of Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk (d. 1399), Sir Thomas Grey was a descendant of King Edward I. His paternal grandparents were the soldier and chronicler Sir Thomas Grey of Heton, and Margaret, daughter and heiress of William de Pressene of Presson.[5]

He had three brothers and a sister:[6]

A Soldier's Life[edit]

Grey's father, Sir Thomas Grey (1359–1400), and Sir Thomas Erpingham, were among those chosen allies of Henry Bolingbroke to witness the abdication of King Richard II in Westminster Hall on 29 September 1399.[11]

Grey was only 16 years of age when he succeeded his father in 1400, and was shown great favour in the early years of the reign of Henry IV, including the grant of the wardship of his own inheritance while he was under age.[11] By August 1404 he had been retained for life by Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, but by May 1408 was in the service of Henry, Prince of Wales.[11]

Grey's part in the Southampton Plot was attributed by Grey himself to 'poverty and covetousness'.[12] In 1412 Grey betrothed his 12-year-old son and heir, Thomas Grey, to Isabel, the 3-year-old daughter of Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge. The marriage took place on 18 February 1413. As part of the marriage settlement, Grey acquired the lordship of Wark-in-Tyndale at a 'bargain price', which was nonetheless more than he could afford, leading Pugh to conclude that Grey was Cambridge's 'dupe', 'whose intrigues brought them both to disaster'.[13]

Grey, Cambridge, and Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham, were the ringleaders of the failed Southampton Plot of 1415, which was a plot to assassinate King Henry V at Southampton before he sailed to France and to replace him with Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March.[14] On 31 July 1415 Mortimer revealed the plot to the King at Portchester Castle, near Portsmouth.[15] The conspirators were promptly arrested and executed. Sir Thomas Grey was beheaded at the North Gate of Southampton on 2 August 1415.[16]

The Southampton Plot is dramatized in Shakespeare's Henry V, and in the anonymous play, The History of Sir John Oldcastle.


Sir Thomas Grey married, before 20 February 1408, Lady Alice Neville, the daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, by his first wife Margaret (d.1396), daughter of Hugh de Stafford, 2nd Earl of Stafford, by whom he had four sons and four or five daughters:[17]

Grey's widow, Alice, married Sir Gilbert Lancaster, by whom she had one son, Sir Gilbert Lancaster. Alice was still living on 22 August 1453.[21]


  1. ^ Pugh 1988, p. 1.
  2. ^ King 2005, p. 69; Richardson II 2011, p. 254; Pugh 1988, p. 108.
  3. ^ Pugh 1988, p. 102.
  4. ^ King 2005, p. 69.
  5. ^ Richardson II 2011, p. 254; Richardson III 2011, p. 206; Pugh 1988, pp. 103, 187, 196.
  6. ^ Richardson II 2011, p. 254; Pugh 1988, p. 187.
  7. ^ Richardson I 2011, p. 428; Pugh 1988, pp. 104, 187.
  8. ^ Richardson II 2011, pp. 254–6.
  9. ^ Pugh 1988, p. 187.
  10. ^ Richardson II 2011, pp. 257, 390.
  11. ^ a b c Pugh 1988, p. 103.
  12. ^ Pugh 1988, pp. 103, 161.
  13. ^ Pugh 1988, p. 104.
  14. ^ The historian Pugh contends that "there was no plot in 1415 to assassinate Henry V and his three brothers and that heinous charge, by far the most sensational in the indictment, was fabricated to ensure that Cambridge, Gray and Scrope did not escape the death penalty as a well-deserved punishment for the various other offences that they undoubtedly had committed". Pugh 1988, p. xii.
  15. ^ Pugh 1988, p. 116.
  16. ^ Pugh 1988, p. 122; Richardson II 2011, p. 257.
  17. ^ Richardson II 2011, p. 257; Pugh 1988, p. 103.
  18. ^ Pugh 1988, pp. 104, 187.
  19. ^ Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, 1999, page: 15, 1222
  20. ^ Richardson II 2011, pp. 257–8; Pugh 1988, p. 187.
  21. ^ a b c d e Richardson II 2011, p. 257.
  22. ^ Richardson II 2011, p. 257; Pugh 1988, p. 187
  23. ^ The Visitations of the County of Cornwall, 'Arundell of Lanherne,' with additions by Lieutenant-Colonel J. L. Vivian, Exeter: William Pollard & Co. 1887 pp. 2-5


  • Haines, Roy Martin (2009). Gray, William (c.1388–1436). Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 14 October 2012.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) (subscription required)
  • Haines, Roy Martin (2004). Grey , William (c.1414–1478). Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 14 October 2012.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • King, Andy (2005). "Scaling the Ladder: The Rise and Rise of the Grays of Heaton, c.1296–c.1415". In Christian D. Liddy & Richard H. Britnell (eds.). North-East England in the Later Middle Ages. Woodbridge: Boydell Press. pp. 57–73. ISBN 1-84383-127-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Pugh, T.B. (1988). Henry V and the Southampton Plot of 1415. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-86299-549-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Richardson, D. (2011). Kimball G. Everingham (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry. 1 (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 978-1-4499-6637-9.
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. II (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1449966381
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. III (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 144996639X
  • Tout, Thomas Frederick (1885–1890). Mortimer, Edmund de (1391-1425). 39. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1890. pp. 123–5. Retrieved 2 October 2012.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Barker, Juliet (2006). Agincourt: The King, the Campaign, the Battle. United Kingdom: Abacus. ISBN 978-0-349-11918-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Curry, Anne (2005). Agincourt: A New History. United Kingdom: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7524-2828-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Dodds, Madeleine H. (1935). A History of Northumberland, volume XIV: The Parishes of Alnham, Chatton, Chillingham, Eglingham, Ilderton, Ingram and Whittingham, the chapelries of Lowick and Doddington. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Andrew Reid & Co.
  • Mortimer, Ian (2009). 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory. London: The Bodley Head. ISBN 978-0-224-07992-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Mosley, Charles (ed.), (1999). Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, p. 15.
  • Mosley, Charles (ed.), (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 2, pp. 1660–1661.