Forty-six-year-old Jane had outlived her husband, who was executed in 1553 after Mary I had successfully seized the throne from the couple’s daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey.
Here are some facts about this Duchess of Northumberland...
- Jane was born in 1508 or 1509 in Kent and was the daughter of Sir Edward Guildford, who served Henry VIII as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and his first wife, Eleanor West.
- In 1512, John Dudley, son of Edmund Dudley, who had been executed by Henry VIII for high treason in 1510, joined Jane’s father’s household as a ward and Jane was executed with him and her brother.
- Jane married John Dudley in 1525 and the couple went on to have 13 children: sons Henry, Thomas, John, Ambrose, Robert, Guildford, another Henry and Charles, and daughters Mary, Katherine, Temperance, Margaret and another Katherine.
- Jane served as a lady to Queens Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves.
- Jane was a reformer and corresponded with Protestant martyr Anne Askew during the latter’s time in prison.
- In 1548, Jane was in such poor health that she nearly ended up having a leg amputated.
- In May 1553, at Durham House in London, the Dudley family home, Jane’s son, Guildford, married Lady Jane Grey, daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and Frances Brandon. Then, in July 1553, following King Edward VI’s death, John Dudley, who had led the king’s government as Lord President, supported the accession of Lady Jane Grey as Queen Jane, according to the terms of Edward’s devise for the succession. However, Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary, proclaimed herself queen and was able to take the throne. Members of the Dudley family, including Jane Dudley, were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Jane was soon released and tried to intercede with Mary for her husband and sons. Sadly, the Duke of Northumberland was executed on 22nd August 1553 and Guildford, and his wife, Lady jane Grey, were executed in February 1554 following Wyatt’s Rebellion. Jane’s other sons were released in late 1554, but the eldest, John, died shortly after his release.
- Jane died at Chelsea on 15th January 1555 and was buried there. Her surviving children included Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and favourite of Elizabeth I, and Mary Sidney, mother of poets Philip and Robert Sidney.