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Portrait of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, 3rd Marquis of Dorset

Signature of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, 3rd Marquis of Dorset, from Doyle's 'Official Baronage'
Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, 3rd Marquis of Dorset (d.1564)

HENRY GREY, Duke of Suffolk, third Marquis of Dorset (d. 1554), father of Lady Jane Grey, eldest son of Thomas Grey, second marquis of Dorset, by Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Wotton, succeeded to the title as third marquis in 1530. He owed his high position at court chiefly to his rank and wealth.

With the approval of Henry VIII Dorset married in 1533-4 Frances, the elder daughter of Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, by Mary Tudor, younger sister of Henry VIII. By his fathers wishes he had previously been contracted, and probably married, to a daughter of Lord Arundel, but with some difficulty, and by the payment of a large sum of money, he managed to free himself from his first wife. Dorset took a prominent part in all the great court ceremonials of his day. He is said to have carried the sceptre at Anne Boleyn's coronation (1533); he and his mother, who complains that she was 'unkindly and extremely escheated' by her son, were present at Elizabeth's christening, 7 Sept. 1533. He was also chief mourner at the funeral of Henry VIII (3 Feb. 1547), and created lord high constable of England for three days (17 to 20 Feb.) to superintend the young king's coronation. He was made a K.G. at the same time, but not installed till 23 May.

Dorset took a prominent part in the government during Edward's minority, and actively championed the cause of the reformation. He was as weak as he was ambitious. He was persuaded by Lord Seymour of Sudeley to leave his daughter Lady Jane in Seymour's household, with the hope that she would marry the king. On Seymour's fall in 1548 Dorset attached himself to John Dudley, earl of Warwick, who became protector in 1549. On 11 Dec. 1549 the marquis became a privy councillor, and in 1550 received the post of justice itinerant of the king's forests. A year later he was made steward of the king's honours and lordships in Leicestershire, and of all lordships, manors, &c., in Leicestershire, Rutland, Warwickshire, and Nottinghamshire, 'parcel of the Duchy of Lancaster' for life, and constable and porter of Leicester Castle, with all the profits, an annual fee of £6 and twopence a day. In February he sat on a commission for proroguing parliament till 30 Oct., and on 25 Feb. was made lord-warden-general of the east, west, and middle marches toward Scotland.

He immediately proceeded to the north, and on 2 March writes from Berwick to the council the first of a series of petitions for money and instructions. By the death, on 16 July 1551, of Henry and Charles Brandon, the dukedom of Suffolk became extinct in the male line, Dorset's wife standing next in blood. On 4 Oct. the king conferred the dukedom of Suffolk on Dorset, who had already resigned his wardenship. At the same time Warwick was created Duke of Northumberland. The ceremonies of their creation took place at Hampton Court on 11 Oct. At the end of October the queen-dowager of Scotland paid a visit to the court, and Suffolk took a prominent part in the festivities prepared for her.

Meantime he had approved of Somerset's arrest (16 Oct.), and was one of the twenty-six peers who sat as judges at his trial (December) in Westminster Hall. After Somerset's execution (22 Jan. 1552) Suffolk took a band of a hundred men-at-arms into his service, receiving in the same month by royal patent fresh wealth in the shape of property in London. In February he escorted the Lady Mary on a visit to her royal brother; on 16 May was made lord-lieutenant of his own county (Leicester), and was present in the same month at a splendid review held before the king.

He now became a tool in the hands of Northumberland. He fell in with Northumberland's schemes for the marriage of his daughter Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley (May 1553). On 9 July, three days after Edward's death, Northumberland, Suffolk, and others went to Sion House to hail Jane as queen. She persuaded the council to allow her father to remain with her while her father-in-law marched against Mary. Suffolk permitted the council to leave the Tower, when they instantly sent for the lord mayor and proclaimed Mary. Suffolk now only thought of saving his head; he himself proclaimed Mary queen at the Tower gates, and despoiled his daughter of the ensigns of royalty. On the 27th Suffolk and his wife were imprisoned in the Tower, but released on the 31st through the intercession with Mary of the duchess, who was the queen's personal friend and godmother. Suffolk was allowed, on payment of a fine, to retire to his own house at East Sheen. His wife was received at court with much distinction.

Suffolk, in spite of repeated assurances of loyalty to Mary, cherished a deep aversion to her religion. Upon the proposed Spanish match preparations were made for a general rising. Wyatt undertook to raise Kent and Suffolk, his brothers the midland counties, and Sir Peter Carew the west of England. Suffolk resolved to join the rebellion. Two months, however, before arrangements were completed the plot was betrayed by Edward Courtenay, earl of Devonshire. On 26 Jan. 1554 the duke and his brothers, Thomas and John, fled with fifty men-at-arms to his own estates in Leicestershire and Warwickshire. It is said that a message from Mary, offering Suffolk a command against the rebels, actually reached him as he was mounting his horse, but that he preferred to try his fortune. It is untrue that he proclaimed his daughter queen in the towns he passed through; on the contrary, he professed to the mayor of Leicester loyalty to Mary as 'the mercifullest prince ... that ever reigned,' and only made proclamation against the Spanish match.1

The people were everywhere unprepared to revolt; the gates of Coventry remained shut against Suffolk when he and a few followers arrived there on 30 Jan. The duke now saw all was lost; Lord Thomas fled to Wales, where he was taken two months later, and executed on 27 April. Suffolk disbanded his followers, giving each a sum of money, and he and his youngest brother, John, hid themselves in a gamekeeper's cottage on the duke's estate of Astley Cooper, Warwickshire. His keeper, one Underwood, betrayed him. Suffolk, who was very ill, was found hidden in a hollow tree. Both brothers were kept prisoners three days at Coventry, and then escorted by the Earl of Huntingdon, who had been sent against them, and three hundred horsemen, to London (10 Feb.), where they were sent to the Tower. Suffolk was arraigned for high treason at Westminster Hall (17 Feb.), the Earl of Arundel, brother of his repudiated first wife, being the judge, and some have needlessly ascribed Suffolk's death to Arundel's desire to avenge his sister. He was found guilty of high treason and condemned to death. He was executed on Tower Hill on Friday, 28 Feb. 1554, and met his end with more courage and dignity than he had usually shown in life.2

Whatever his virtues his weakness and ambition are undeniable, though Holinshed gives him credit for gentleness, placability, and truthfulness. He had some learning, and was a liberal patron of all learned men. He hospitably entertained many foreigners, amongst others Bullinger, with whom he afterwards corresponded, and who, in March 1551, dedicated the concluding portion of his decades to him. Throughout his life he remained a firm protestant, and was a disciple of the most uncompromising of the reformed teachers. By his wife, Frances Brandon, he had five children, two of whom died as infants. Jane was the eldest surviving; the second, Catherine, was imprisoned by Elizabeth for her marriage with Edward Seymour; and the third, Mary, fell under Elizabeth's displeasure for her marriage with Thomas Keys. The duchess remarried Adrian Stokes, her master of the horse, very soon after the duke's execution.

1. Holinshed.
2. See full account of trial and execution, Camden Society, Chronicle of Queen Jane and Queen Mary, pp. 60-3.


      Bayne, Thomas. "Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, 3rd Marquis of Dorset."
      Dictionary of National Biography. Vol VIII. Sidney Lee, Ed.
      New York: The Macmillan Compan, 1908. 627-629.

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Thomas Grey, 2. Marquis of Dorset
Henry Grey, D. of Suffolk
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Henry Norris
Lady Jane Grey
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Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio
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William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham
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Henry Howard, 1. Earl of Northampton
Thomas Howard, 1. Earl of Suffolk
Henry Hastings, 3. E. of Huntingdon
Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
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Chart of the English Succession from William I through Henry VII

Medieval English Drama

London c1480, MS Royal 16
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