Henry Grey is best remembered as the father of the ‘Nine Day Queen’, Lady Jane Grey. He was born on 17 January 1517, the son and heir of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset and Margaret Wotton.
In his youth Grey was betrothed to Catherine FitzAlan, but this betrothal came to nothing when Grey refused to marry her.
He did marry in 1533 to Lady Frances Brandon, daughter of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Mary Tudor. Permission for this marriage had been granted by King Henry VIII for Grey to marry his niece.
This marriage produced no male heirs, but did produce three daughters, the eldest of which was Lady Jane Grey.
Grey became the 3rd Marquess of Dorset in 1530 following the death of his father and was active at court, being the sword bearer at Anne Boleyn’s coronation in 1533 and Anne of Cleves arrival in 1540. He also joined the Order of the Garter in 1547.
Henry VIII died in 1547, to be succeeded by his son who became Edward VI. Due to his youth, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset became Lord Protector to the crown.
Grey was not favoured by Somerset, but being an ambitious man, he conspired with Somerset’s brother Thomas, Lord Seymour to marry his daughter to the young king, but this failed and led to the execution of Lord Seymour. Surprisingly, Grey did not also receive the same punishment.
How was Grey to get his daughter onto the throne? She had a legitimate claim to the throne, being the great-granddaughter of King Henry VII and the first cousin, once removed of Edward VI.
The Duke of Somerset had lost his position as Lord Protector in 1549 when he was overthrown by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick.
In 1551 Grey became 1st Duke of Suffolk following the death of his brother-in-law. In the same year Dudley became the 1st Duke of Northumberland. He was now the chief adviser to the young king and in effect the regent of England.
Grey and Dudley would now conspire together to marry Jane Grey to Guildford Dudley, and place her on the throne of England.
Jane was only on the throne for nine days, as there was little support for her and the country rallied behind Mary, the eldest daughter of Henry VIII, who became Queen Mary I of England.
Jane and her husband were imprisoned and later executed. Grey and his wife again escaped punishment, however Grey was to take part in a rebellion led by Thomas Wyatt in January 1554, to remove Mary from the throne after she announced that she was marrying Philip II of Spain.
Following this rebellion, Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk was convicted of high treason and beheaded on 23 February 1554.