On this day in Tudor history, 6th January 1538, in the reign of King Henry VIII, Jane Dormer, Duchess of Feria, was born at Eythrope in Buckinghamshire.
Jane was a favourite of Queen Mary I, and was the one Mary trusted on her deathbed to deliver her jewels to her successor and half-sister, Elizabeth I. She married Gómez Suarez de Figueroa, Count of Feria, later Duke of Feria, in December 1558.
Jane Dormer became one of Queen Mary I’s foremost confidants during the 1550s. Born in 1538 at Eythrope, Buckinghamshire, she was the daughter of Sir William Dormer and Mary Sidney. Upon her mother’s death in 1542 she was brought up by her maternal grandparents. According to Jane’s biography, The Life of Jane Dormer, written by her secretary Henry Clifford) her upbringing shaped her academic career, as she ‘before seven years began to read the Primer or the office of our Blessed Lady, in Latin’. Evidently intelligent, the quote emphasises her traditional Catholic education with reference to the ‘blessed lady’. Her Catholicism, as shall be examined in this article, would later become symbolic of her identity. Similarly, her academic achievements in mastering languages were the result of her grandfather’s fluency, especially in Spanish; he served at the court of Charles V for a period.