Lady Jane Grey

Queen of England 1553

Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey. Hulton Archive / The Print Collector / Getty Images

Known for: 9 day reign as Queen of England, briefly supplanting Henry VIII's daughters Mary and Elizabeth in line of succession -- representing the Protestant faction that did not want Mary ruling as Queen
Occupation: Queen of England 1553
Dates: October 1537 - February 12, 1554
Also known as: Lady Jane Dudley, Nine Day Queen
Also see: Lady Jane Grey Picture Gallery

Lady Jane Grey Biography:

Lady Jane Grey was born in Leicestershire in 1537.

Her father was Henry Grey, marquess of Dorset, later duke of Suffolk. Her mother, Lady Frances Brandon, was the daughter of Princess Mary of England, sister of Henry VIII, and her second husband, Charles Brandon.

Well-educated as was fit for a young lady who was however distantly in line for succession for the throne, Lady Jane Grey became the ward of Thomas Seymour, fourth husband of Henry VIII's widow, Catherine Parr. After his execution for treason in 1549, Lady Jane Grey returned to her parents' home.

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, in 1549 became head of the council advising and ruling for the young King Edward VI, son of King Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. Under his leadership, England's economy improved, and the replacement of Roman Catholicism with Protestantism progressed.

Northumberland realized that Edward's health was fragile and probably failing, and that the named successor, Mary, would side with the Roman Catholics and probably would suppress Protestants.

He arranged with Suffolk for Suffolk's daughter, Lady Jane, to marry Guildford Dudley, son of Northumberland. They were married in May, 1553. Northumberland then convinced Edward to make Jane and any male heirs she might have the successors to Edward's crown. Northumberland gained the agreement of his fellow council members to this change in the succession.

This act bypassed Henry's daughters, the princesses Mary and Elizabeth, whom Henry had named his heirs if Edward died without children. The act also ignored the fact that the duchess of Suffolk, Jane's mother, would normally have precedence over Jane, since Lady Frances was the daughter of Henry's sister Mary and Jane the granddaughter.

After Edward died on July 6, 1553, Northumberland had Lady Jane Grey declared Queen, to Jane's surprise and dismay. But support for Lady Jane Grey as Queen quickly disappeared as Mary gathered her forces to claim the throne. On July 19, Mary was declared Queen of England, and Jane and her father were imprisoned. Northumberland was executed; Suffolk was pardoned; Jane, Dudley and others were sentenced to be executed for high treason. Mary hesitated with the executions, however, until Suffolk participated in Thomas Wyatt's rebellion, when Mary realized that Lady Jane Grey, alive, would be too tempting a focus for further rebellions. Lady Jane Grey and her young husband Guildford Dudley were executed on February 12, 1554.

Also on this site: Lady Jane Grey Picture Gallery

Suggested Reading:

Lady Jane Grey Facts

Background, Family:

  • Mother: Lady Frances Brandon, daughter of Mary Tudor who was the sister of Henry VIII, and her second husband, Charles Brandon
  • Father: Henry Grey, duke of Suffolk
  • Siblings: Lady Catherine Grey, Lady Mary Grey
  • ward, briefly, of Thomas Seymour, fourth husband of Henry VIII's widow, Catherine Parr

Marriage, Children:

  • husband: Guildford Dudley (married 1533; son of John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, advisor of King Edward VI)

Books About Lady Jane Grey:

  • Deborah Meroff. Coronation of Glory: The Story of Lady Jane Grey. 1998.
  • Hester W. Chapman. Lady Jane Grey. 1962.
  • Mary Luke. Nine Day's Queen: A Portrait of Lady Jane Grey. Reprint 1988.
  • G. Malvern. The World of Lady Jane Grey. 1920.
  • Virginia Blain, Patricia Clements and Isobel Grundy. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. 1990.
  • Norma Olin Ireland. Index to Women of the World from Ancient to Modern Times. 1970.

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Text © Jone Johnson Lewis.