The Tudor Society

25 May 1553 – Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley get married

On this day in history, 25th May 1553, Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guildford Dudley got married at Durham place in London.

In the same letter to the Emperor in which he described Edward VI as "wasting away daily", Jehan Scheyfve recorded the marriage of Jane and Guildford:

"On the 25th of this month were celebrated the weddings of my Lord Guilford, son of the Duke of Northumberland, to the eldest daughter of the Duke of Suffolk; of the Earl of Pembroke's son to the second daughter; and of the Earl of Huntingdon's son to the daughter of the Duke of Northumberland. The weddings were celebrated with great magnificence and feasting at the Duke of Northumberland's house in town."

As is clear from Scheyfve's letter, there was actually a triple wedding that day, but who were the brides and grooms?

  1. Lady Jane Grey, daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk and his wife, Frances Brandon, married Lord Guildford Dudley, son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and his wife, Jane Guildford. Jane was about sixteen and Guildford was about eighteen.
  2. Lady Catherine Dudley, Guildford's twelve-year-old sister, and Lord Henry Hastings, son of Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon. Henry was about seventeen.
  3. Lady Katherine Grey, Janes's sister, who was about thirteen, and Lord Henry Herbert, son of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, who was about fifteen.

All three couples were apparelled in cloth of silver and gold, and, as Scheyfve record, there was "great magnificence and feasting". We know that the Duke of Northumberland asked Sir Thomas Cawarden, Master of the Revels at Edward VI's court, to arrange two masques for the wedding too.

But what happened to these couples?

Well, in July 1553, Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen Jane following Edward VI's death. Her reign was cut short when Edward's half-sister, Mary, challenged her claim and seized the throne just thirteen days after Edward's death. Jane and her husband, Guildford, were tried for high treason in November 1553 and executed on 12th February 1554.

Following Mary I's accession, Lady Katherine Grey's marriage to Lord Henry Herbert was annulled on the grounds of non-consummation. Herbert went on to marry Katherine Talbot, daughter of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, in 1563, and Katherine went on to marry Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, son of the late Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector, in a secret marriage in 1560. Unfortunately, their secret marriage led to them being imprisoned in the Tower of London, where Katherine gave birth to two sons by Hertford: Edward and Thomas. Katherine spent the rest of her life in custody, house arrest rather than the Tower later, due to her claim to the throne.

Lord Henry Hastings was imprisoned in the Tower of London following Mary I's accession to the throne, but he was soon pardoned by the new queen and he and Catherine Dudley had a long and seemingly happy marriage. The marriage was childless, but Catherine's biographer, Claire Cross, writes that Catherine "showed a particular interest in the training of young people". Their marriage lasted until Hastings' death in December 1595.

Notes and Sources

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