The Tudor Society

13 April – Too lenient a gaoler

On this day in Tudor history, 13th April 1557, in the reign of Queen Mary I, John Brydges, 1st Baron Chandos of Sudeley, landowner, soldier and Lieutenant of the Tower of London, died at his home, Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds.

He served Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Mary I loyally, and even managed to keep royal favour after being accused of being too lenient with prisoners Lady Jane Grey and Princess Elizabeth (future Elizabeth I).

Let me tell you more about Brydges and his time in charge of Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I.

Also on this day in history, 13th April 1534, Sir Thomas More got into a spot of bother, or rather a lot of bother, when he refused to swear his allegiance to the Act of Succession. Find out more in last year’s video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1598 – Henry IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes granting the Huguenots freedom of religion in France.
  • 1606 – Death of Richard Day, Church of England clergyman, printer and son of the famous printer John Day, who had printed John Foxe's “Actes and Monuments”. In 1578 Richard printed his own translation of “Christ Jesus Triumphant” by Foxe, and then got into trouble with his father when he started printing his father's works without his permission. His father had his printing equipment and stock seized, and Richard was forced to become a clergyman, becoming Vicar of Mundon, Essex.
  • 1630 – Death of Anne Howard (née Dacre), Countess of Arundel, at Shifnal. She was laid to rest in the Fitzalan Chapel of Arundel Castle. Anne was the eldest daughter of Thomas Dacre, 4th Lord Dacre of Gilsand, and wife of Philip Howard, 13th Earl of Arundel. Anne was a staunch Catholic and harboured priests.


On this day in Tudor history, 13th April 1557, John Brydges, 1st Baron Chandos of Sudeley, landowner, soldier and Lieutenant of the Tower of London, died at his home, Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds. He was 65 years old.

As well as being a landowner and soldier, Brydges was a prominent courtier in the reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Queen Mary I. Her served Henry VIII as a Knight of the Body, groom of the privy chamber, Constable of Sudeley Castle, High Marshal of Boulogne, and also as a soldier in the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion and in the King’s campaign against France in 1544. In Edward VI’s reign, he was made Deputy Governor and Lieutenant of Boulogne and defended the city against the siege by Henry II in 1549. When Lady Jane Grey became Queen Jane in July 1553, she wrote to Brydges asking him and Sir Nicholas Poyntz to support her against Mary, Edward VI’s half-sister who was also laying claim to the crown. She asked them to provide men and to march to Buckinghamshire on her behalf. However, she only wrote the letter the day before she was deposed and it wouldn’t have helped her anyway as Brydges was a staunch Catholic who supported Mary. He and his brother, Thomas, were among Mary’s retinue when she entered the city of London as Queen Mary I, and his wife, Elizabeth, Lady Brydges, was one of the ladies who attended Mary at her coronation. He was knighted in October 1553.

In August 1553, Mary I made Brydges Lieutenant of the Tower of London. He held the position until June 1554 and had that office during Wyatt’s Rebellion and when Lady Jane Grey, the former Queen Jane, was imprisoned there. He played a role in Wyatt’s Rebellion in early 1554, threatening to fire on the rebels as they tried to enter the city via London Bridge, and causing them to try to enter via Kingston instead. They were forced to surrender in the end. In the “Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary”, the anonymous chronicler records that as the rebel Wyatt was brought into the Tower, Brydges took him by the collar “in most rigorous manner”, and said “Ohe! thou villayn and unhappie traytour! Howe couldest thou finde in thine hart to worke suche detestable treason to the quenes majestie…?” and told him that if it wasn’t for the law, he would strike him through with his dagger. “And in so saying, havinge one hand apon the coller of the said maister Wyat, and the other on his dagger, shaked his bossome”.

He wasn’t so harsh with the former Queen Jane, though, or on Mary I’s half-sister, Elizabeth, when they were imprisoned in the Tower. 19th century historian James Anthony Froude wrote in his History of England of how “the iron-hearted Lieutenant of the Tower, Sir John Brydges had been softened by the charms of his prisoner [Jane], and begged for some memorial of her in writing” and that she left him a prayer book in which she wrote:
“Forasmuch as you have desired so simple a woman to write in so worthy a book, good Master Lieutenant, therefore I shall, as a friend, desire you, and as a Christian, require you to call upon God to incline your heart to his laws, to quicken you in his way, and not to take the word of truth utterly out of your mouth. Live still to die, that by death you may purchase eternal life, and remember how Methuselah, who, as we read in the Scriptures, was the longest liver that was of a man, died at the last ; for, as the Preacher saith, there is a time to be born and a time to die ; and the day of death is better than the day of our birth.
Yours, as the Lord knoweth, as a friend, Jane Dudley”

In the same year, he was accused of being too lenient with Elizabeth after she was imprisoned after being implicated in Wyatt’s Rebellion. He let her walk in the gardens and receive gifts of flowers from a little boy. He was soon replaced as her gaoler by Sir Henry Bedingfield.

However, he didn’t fall out of royal favour, and in April 1554, when Philip of Spain arrived at the English court, Brydges was created Baron Chandos of Sudeley and granted lands in Winchcombe and Sudeley. He died at Sudeley on this day in history, 13th April 1557 and was laid to rest in Sudeley Castle’s chapel, St Mary’s, which is also the resting place of Catherine Parr.
Brydges was married to Elizabeth Grey, daughter of Edmund Grey, 9th Baron Grey of Wilton, and together they had ten children, seven sons and three daughters. Their eldest son, Edmund, inherited his father’s title and became 2nd Baron Chandos.

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13 April – Too lenient a gaoler