Lady Jane Grey


Lady Jane Grey.--Her disposition and character.--Lady

Jane's parents.--Restraints put upon her.--Lady Jane's

attainments.--Character of her teacher.--Anecdote of Elizabeth and

Aylmer.--Lady Jane's attachment to Aylmer.--Elizabeth's studies.--Roger

Ascham.--Lady Jane's acquirements in Greek.--Her interview with

Ascham.--Lady Jane's intimacy with Edward.--The Earl of

arsh treatment of Mary.--Decline of Edward's

health.--Uncertainty in respect to the succession.--Struggle

for power.--Queen Elizabeth's family connections.--Explanation

of the table.--King Henry's will.--Various claimants for the

throne.--Perplexing questions.--Power of Northumberland.--His

schemes.--Marriage of Lady Jane.--Feelings of the people.--Efforts

to set Mary aside.--Northumberland works on the young king.--Conduct

of the judges.--Pardon by anticipation.--Edward's deed of

settlement.--Plan to entrap the princesses.--Death of Edward.--Escape

of the princesses.--Precautions of Mary.--Lady Jane proclaimed

queen.--Great excitement.--Public opinion in favor of

Mary.--Northumberland taken prisoner.--He is beheaded.--Mary's

triumphal procession.--Shared by Elizabeth.

Among Elizabeth's companions and playmates in her early years was a

young lady, her cousin, as she was often called, though she was really

the daughter of her cousin, named Jane Grey, commonly called in history

Lady Jane Grey. Her mother was the Marchioness of Dorset, and was the

daughter of one of King Henry the Eighth's sisters. King Henry had named

her as the next in the order of succession after his own children, that

is, after Edward his son, and Mary and Elizabeth his two daughters; and,

consequently, though she was very young, yet, as she might one day be

Queen of England, she was a personage of considerable importance. She

was, accordingly, kept near the court, and shared, in some respects, the

education and the studies of the two princesses.

Lady Jane was about four years younger than the Princess Elizabeth, and

the sweetness of her disposition, united with an extraordinary

intellectual superiority, which showed itself at a very early period,

made her a universal favorite. Her father and mother, the Marquis and

Marchioness of Dorset, lived at an estate they possessed, called

Broadgate, in Leicestershire, which is in the central part of England,

although they took their title from the county of Dorset, which is on

the southwestern coast. They were very proud of their daughter, and

attached infinite importance to her descent from Henry VII., and to the

possibility that she might one day succeed to the English throne. They

were very strict and severe in their manners, and paid great attention

to etiquette and punctilio, as persons who are ambitious of rising in

the world are very apt to do. In all ages of the world, and among all

nations, those who have long been accustomed to a high position are easy

and unconstrained in their manners and demeanor, while those who have

been newly advanced from a lower station, or who are anticipating or

aspiring to such an advance, make themselves slaves to the rules of

etiquette and ceremony. It was thus that the father and mother of Lady

Jane, anticipating that she might one day become a queen, watched and

guarded her incessantly, subjected her to a thousand unwelcome

restraints, and repressed all the spontaneous and natural gayety and

sprightliness which belongs properly to such a child.

She became, however, a very excellent scholar in consequence of this

state of things. She had a private teacher, a man of great eminence for

his learning and abilities, and yet of a very kind and gentle spirit,

which enabled him to gain a strong hold on his pupil's affection and

regard. His name was John Aylmer. The Marquis of Dorset, Lady Jane's

father, became acquainted with Mr. Aylmer when he was quite young, and

appointed him, when he had finished his education, to come and reside in

his family as chaplain and tutor to his children. Aylmer afterward

became a distinguished man, was made Bishop of London, and held many

high offices of state under Queen Elizabeth, when she came to reign. He

became very much attached to Queen Elizabeth in the middle and latter

part of his life, as he had been to Lady Jane in the early part of it. A

curious incident occurred during the time that he was in the service of

Elizabeth, which illustrates the character of the man. The queen was

suffering from the toothache, and it was necessary that the tooth should

be extracted. The surgeon was ready with his instruments, and several

ladies and gentlemen of the royal household were in the queen's room

commiserating her sufferings; but the queen dreaded the operation so

excessively that she could not summon fortitude enough to submit to it.

Aylmer, after trying some time in vain to encourage her, took his seat

in the chair instead of her, and said to the surgeon, "I am an old man,

and have but few teeth to lose; but come, draw this one, and let her

majesty see how light a matter it is." One would not have supposed that

Elizabeth would have allowed this to be done; but she did, and, finding

that Aylmer made so light of the operation, she submitted to have it

performed upon herself.

But to return to Lady Jane. She was very strongly attached to her

teacher, and made great progress in the studies which he arranged for

her. Ladies of high rank, in those days, were accustomed to devote great

attention to the ancient and modern languages. There was, in fact, a

great necessity then, as indeed there is now, for a European princess to

be acquainted with the principal languages of Europe; for the various

royal families were continually intermarrying with each other, which led

to a great many visits, and other intercourse between the different

courts. There was also a great deal of intercourse with the pope, in

which the Latin language was the medium of communication. Lady Jane

devoted a great deal of time to all these studies, and made rapid

proficiency in them all.

The Princess Elizabeth was also an excellent scholar. Her teacher was a

very learned and celebrated man, named Roger Ascham. She spoke French

and Italian as fluently as she did English. She also wrote and spoke

Latin with correctness and readiness. She made considerable progress in

Greek too. She could write the Greek character very beautifully, and

could express herself tolerably well in conversation in that language.

One of her companions, a young lady of the name of Cecil, is said to

have spoken Greek as well as English. Roger Ascham took great interest

in advancing the princess in these studies, and in the course of these

his instructions he became acquainted with Lady Jane, and he praises

very highly, in his letters, the industry and assiduity of Lady Jane in

similar pursuits.

One day Roger Ascham, being on a journey from the north of England to

London, stopped to make a call at the mansion of the Marquis of Dorset.

He found that the family were all away; they had gone off upon a hunting

excursion in the park. Lady Jane, however, had been left at home, and

Ascham went in to see her. He found her in the library reading Greek.

Ascham examined her a little, and was very much surprised to find how

well acquainted with the language she had become, although she was then

only about fifteen years old. He told her that he should like very much

to have her write him a letter in Greek, and this she readily promised

to do. He asked her, also, how it happened that, at her age, she had

made such advances in learning. "I will tell you," said she, "how it has

happened. One of the greatest benefits that God ever conferred upon me

was in giving me so sharp and severe parents and so gentle a teacher;

for, when I am in the presence of either my father or mother, whether I

speak, keep silence, sit, stand, or go; eat, drink, be merry or sad; be

sewing, playing, dancing, or doing any thing else, I must do it, as it

were, in just such weight, measure, and number, as perfectly as

possible, or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea,

presently, sometimes with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways,

which I will not name for the honor I bear my parents, that I am

continually teased and tormented. And then, when the time comes for me

to go to Mr. Aylmer, he teaches me so gently, so pleasantly, and with

such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing

while I am with him; and I am always sorry to go away from him, because

whatsoever else I do but learning is full of grief, trouble, fear, and


Lady Jane Grey was an intimate friend and companion of the young King

Edward as long as he lived. Edward died when he was sixteen years of

age, so that he did not reach the period which his father had assigned

for his reigning in his own name. One of King Edward's most prominent

and powerful ministers during the latter part of his life was the Earl

of Northumberland. The original name of the Earl of Northumberland was

John Dudley. He was one of the train who came in the procession at the

close of the baptism of Elizabeth, carrying the presents. He was a

Protestant, and was very friendly to Edward and to Lady Jane Grey, for

they were Protestants too. But his feelings and policy were hostile to

Mary, for she was a Catholic. Mary was sometimes treated very harshly

by him, and she was subjected to many privations and hardships on

account of her religious faith. The government of Edward justified these

measures, on account of the necessity of promoting the Reformation, and

discouraging popery by every means in their power. Northumberland

supposed, too, that it was safe to do this, for Edward being very young,

it was probable that he would live and reign a long time. It is true

that Mary was named, in her father's will, as his successor, if she

outlived him, but then it was highly probable that she would not outlive

him, for she was several years older than he.

All these calculations, however, were spoiled by the sudden failure of

Edward's health when he was sixteen years old. Northumberland was much

alarmed at this. He knew at once that if Edward should die, and Mary

succeed him, all his power would be gone, and he determined to make

desperate efforts to prevent such a result.

It must not be understood, however, that in coming to this resolution,

Northumberland considered himself as intending and planning a deliberate

usurpation of power. There was a real uncertainty in respect to the

question who was the true and rightful heir to the crown. Northumberland

was, undoubtedly, strongly biased by his interest, but he may have been

unconscious of the bias, and in advocating the mode of succession on

which the continuance of his own power depended, he may have really

believed that he was only maintaining what was in itself rightful and


In fact, there is no mode which human ingenuity has ever yet devised for

determining the hands in which the supreme executive of a nation shall

be lodged, which will always avoid doubt and contention. If this power

devolves by hereditary descent, no rules can be made so minute and full

as that cases will not sometimes occur that will transcend them. If, on

the other hand, the plan of election be adopted, there will often be

technical doubts about a portion of the votes, and cases will sometimes

occur where the result will depend upon this doubtful portion. Thus

there will be disputes under any system, and ambitious men will seize

such occasions to struggle for power.

In order that our readers may clearly understand the nature of the plan

which Northumberland adopted, we present, on the following page, a sort

of genealogical table of the royal family of England in the days of




Catharine of Aragon. = 4. QUEEN MARY.

Anne Boleyn. = 5. QUEEN ELIZABETH.

Jane Seymour. = 3. KING EDWARD VI.

Anne of Cleves.

Catharine Howard.

Catharine Parr.

= Margaret

James IV. of Scotland = James V. of Scotland

= Mary Queen of Scots




Earl Of Angus = Margaret Douglas

= Earl of Lenox

= Lord Darnley

= Mary.

Charles Brandon, duke = Frances, marchioness

of Suffolk of Dorset

= Lady Jane Grey.

= Eleanor.


This table gives the immediate descendants of Henry VII., a

descent being denoted by the sign =. The names of the persons

whom they respectively married are in italics. Those who

became sovereigns of England are in small capitals, and the

order in which they reigned is denoted by the figures

prefixed to their names.

By examination of this table it will be seen that King Henry VII. left a

son and two daughters. The son was King Henry VIII., and he had three

children. His third child was King Edward VI., who was now about to die.

The other two were the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, who would

naturally be considered the next heirs after Edward; and besides, King

Henry had left a will, as has been already explained, confirming their

rights to the succession. This will he had made near the time of his

death; but it will be recollected that, during his life-time, both the

marriages from which these princesses had sprung had been formally

annulled. His marriage with Catharine of Aragon had been annulled on one

plea, and that of Anne Boleyn on another. Both these decrees of

annulment had afterward been revoked, and the right of the princesses to

succeed had been restored, or attempted to be restored, by the will.

Still, it admitted of a question, after all, whether Mary and Elizabeth

were to be considered as the children of true and lawful wives or not.

If they were not, then Lady Jane Grey was the next heir, for she was

placed next to the princesses by King Henry the Eighth's will. This

will, for some reason or other, set aside a the descendants of

Margaret, who went to Scotland as the wife of James IV. of that country.

What right the king had thus to disinherit the children of his sister

Margaret was a great question. Among her descendants was Mary Queen of

Scots, as will be seen by the table, and she was, at this time, the

representative of that branch of the family. The friends of Mary Queen

of Scots claimed that she was the lawful heir to the English throne

after Edward. They maintained that the marriage of Catharine, the

Princess Mary's mother, and also that of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's

mother, had both been annulled, and that the will could not restore

them. They maintained, also, that the will was equally powerless in

setting aside the claims of Margaret, her grandmother. Mary Queen of

Scots, though silent now, advanced her claim subsequently, and made

Elizabeth a great deal of trouble.

Then there was, besides these, a third party, who maintained that King

Henry the Eighth's will was not effectual in legalizing again the

annulled marriages, but that it was sufficient to set aside the claims

of Margaret. Of course, with them, Lady Jane Grey, who, as will be seen

by the table, was the representative of the second sister of Henry

VIII., was the only heir. The Earl of Northumberland embraced this view.

His motive was to raise Lady Jane Grey to the throne, in order to

exclude the Princess Mary, whose accession he knew very well would bring

all his greatness to a very sudden end.

The Earl of Northumberland was at this time the principal minister

of the young king. The protector Somerset had fallen long ago.

Northumberland, whose name was then John Dudley, had supplanted him, and

had acquired so great influence and power at court that almost every

thing seemed to be at his disposal. He was, however, generally hated by

the other courtiers and by the nation. Men who gain the confidence of a

young or feeble-minded prince, so as to wield a great power not properly

their own, are almost always odious. It was expected, however, that his

career would be soon brought to an end, as all knew that King Edward

must die, and it was generally understood that Mary was to succeed him.

Northumberland, however, was very anxious to devise some scheme to

continue his power, and in revolving the subject in his mind, he

conceived of plans which seemed to promise not only to continue, but

also greatly to increase it. His scheme was to have the princesses'

claims set aside, and Lady Jane Grey raised to the throne. He had

several sons. One of them was young, handsome, and accomplished. He

thought of proposing him to Lady Jane's father as the husband of Lady

Jane, and, to induce the marquis to consent to this plan, he promised to

obtain a dukedom for him by means of his influence with the king. The

marquis agreed to the proposal. Lady Jane did not object to the husband

they offered her. The dukedom was obtained, and the marriage, together

with two others which Northumberland had arranged to strengthen his

influence, were celebrated, all on the same day, with great festivities

and rejoicings. The people looked on moodily, jealous and displeased,

though they had no open ground of displeasure, except that it was

unsuitable to have such scenes of gayety and rejoicing among the high

officers of the court while the young monarch himself was lying upon his

dying bed. They did not yet know that it was Northumberland's plan to

raise his new daughter-in-law to the throne.

Northumberland thought it would greatly increase his prospect of success

if he could obtain some act of acknowledgment of Lady Jane's claims to

the crown before Edward died. An opportunity soon occurred for effecting

this purpose. One day, as he was sitting by young Edward's bedside, he

turned the conversation to the subject of the Reformation, which had

made great progress during Edward's reign, and he led Edward on in the

conversation, until he remarked that it was a great pity to have the

work all undone by Mary's accession, for she was a Catholic, and would,

of course, endeavor to bring the country back again under the spiritual

dominion of Rome. Northumberland then told him that there was one way,

and one way only, to avert such a calamity, and that was to make Lady

Jane his heir instead of Mary.

King Edward was a very thoughtful, considerate, and conscientious boy,

and was very desirous of doing what he considered his duty. He thought

it was his duty to do all in his power to sustain the Reformation, and

to prevent the Catholic power from gaining ascendency in England again.

He was, therefore, easily persuaded to accede to Northumberland's plan,

especially as he was himself strongly attached to Lady Jane, who had

often been his playmate and companion.

The king accordingly sent for three judges of the realm, and directed

them to draw up a deed of assignment, by which the crown was to be

conveyed to Lady Jane on the young king's death, Mary and Elizabeth

being alike excluded. The judges were afraid to do this; for, by King

Henry the Eighth's settlement of the crown, all those persons who should

do any thing to disturb the succession as he arranged it were declared

to be guilty of high treason. The judges knew very well, therefore, that

if they should do what the king required of them, and then, if the

friends of Lady Jane should fail of establishing her upon the throne,

the end of the affair would be the cutting off of their own heads in the

Tower. They represented this to the king, and begged to be excused from

the duty that he required of them. Northumberland was in a great rage at

this, and seemed almost ready to break out against the judges in open

violence. They, however, persisted in their refusal to do what they well

knew would subject them to the pains and penalties of treason.

Northumberland, finding that threats and violence would not succeed,

contrived another mode of obviating the difficulty. He proposed to

protect the judges from any possible evil consequences of their act by a

formal pardon for it, signed by the king, and sealed with the great

seal, so that, in case they were ever charged with treason, the pardon

would save them from punishment. This plan succeeded. The pardon was

made out, being written with great formality upon a parchment roll, and

sealed with the great seal. The judges then prepared and signed the deed

of settlement by which the crown was given to Lady Jane, though, after

all, they did it with much reluctance and many forebodings.

Northumberland next wanted to contrive some plan for getting the

princesses into his power, in order to prevent their heading any

movement in behalf of their own claims at the death of the king. He was

also desirous of making such arrangements as to conceal the death of the

king for a few days after it should take place, in order that he might

get Lady Jane and her officers in complete possession of the kingdom

before the demise of the crown should be generally known. For this

purpose he dismissed the regular physicians who had attended upon the

king, and put him under the charge of a woman, who pretended that she

had a medicine that would certainly cure him. He sent, also, messengers

to the princesses, who were then in the country north of London,

requesting that they would come to Greenwich, to be near the sick

chamber where their brother was lying, that they might cheer and comfort

him in his sickness and pain.

The princesses obeyed the summons. They each set out immediately on the

journey, and moved toward London on their way to Greenwich. In the mean

time, Edward was rapidly declining. The change in the treatment which

took place when his physicians left him, made him worse instead of

better. His cough increased, his breathing became more labored and

difficult; in a word, his case presented all the symptoms of approaching

dissolution. At length he died. Northumberland attempted to keep the

fact concealed until after the princesses should arrive, that he might

get them into his power. Some faithful friend, however, made all haste

to meet them, in order to inform them what was going on. In this way

Mary received intelligence of her brother's death when she had almost

reached London, and was informed, also, of the plans of Northumberland

for raising Lady Jane to the throne. The two princesses were extremely

alarmed, and both turned back at once toward the northward again. Mary

stopped to write a letter to the council, remonstrating against their

delay in proclaiming her queen, and then proceeded rapidly to a strong

castle at a place called Framlingham, in the county of Suffolk, on the

eastern coast of England. She made this her head-quarters, because she

supposed that the people of that county were particularly friendly to

her; and then, besides, it was near the sea, and, in case the course of

events should turn against her, she could make her escape to foreign

lands. It is true that the prospect of being fugitive and an exile was

very dark and gloomy, but it was not so terrible as the idea of being

shut up a prisoner in the Tower, or being beheaded on a block for


In the mean time, Northumberland went, at the head of a troop of his

adherents, to the residence of Lady Jane Grey, informed her of the death

of Edward, and announced to her their determination to proclaim her

queen. Lady Jane was very much astonished at this news. At first she

absolutely refused the offered honor; but the solicitations and urgency

of Northumberland, and of her father and her young husband, at length

prevailed. She was conducted to London, and instated in at least the

semblance of power.

As the news of these transactions spread throughout the land, a

universal and strong excitement was produced, every body at once taking

sides either for Mary or Lady Jane. Bands of armed men began to

assemble. It soon became apparent, however, that, beyond the immediate

precincts of London, the country was almost unanimous for Mary. They

dreaded, it is true, the danger which they anticipated from her Catholic

faith, but still they had all considered it a settled point, since the

death of Henry the Eighth, that Mary was to reign whenever Edward should

die; and this general expectation that she would be queen had passed

insensibly into an opinion that she ought to be. Considered strictly as

a legal question, it was certainly doubtful which of the four claimants

to the throne had the strongest title; but the public were not disposed

so to regard it. They chose, on the whole, that Mary should reign. Large

military masses consequently flocked to her standard. Elizabeth took

sides with her, and, as it was important to give as much public effect

to her adhesion as possible, they furnished Elizabeth with a troop of a

thousand horsemen, at the head of which she rode to meet Mary and tender

her aid.

Northumberland went forth at the head of such forces as he could

collect, but he soon found that the attempt was vain. His troops forsook

him. The castles which had at first been under his command surrendered

themselves to Mary. The Tower of London went over to her side. Finally,

all being lost, Northumberland himself was taken prisoner, and all his

influential friends with him, and were committed to the Tower. Lady Jane

herself too, together with her husband and father, were seized and sent

to prison.

Northumberland was immediately put upon his trial for treason. He was

condemned, and brought at once to the block. In fact, the whole affair

moved very promptly and rapidly on, from its commencement to its

consummation. Edward the Sixth died on the 5th of July, and it was only

the 22d of August when Northumberland was beheaded. The period for which

the unhappy Lady Jane enjoyed the honor of being called a queen was nine


It was about a month after this that Mary passed from the Tower through

the city of London in a grand triumphal procession to be crowned. The

royal chariot, covered with cloth of golden tissue, was drawn by six

horses most splendidly caparisoned. Elizabeth, who had aided her

sister, so far as she could, in the struggle, was admitted to share the

triumph. She had a carriage drawn by six horses too, with cloth and

decorations of silver. They proceeded in this manner, attended and

followed by a great cavalcade of nobles and soldiery, to Westminster

Abbey, where Mary took her seat with great formality upon her father's