Welcome to the third part of ‘Investigating Jane.’ This article was written with Lee Porritt from Lady Jane Grey Revisited .
On 10th July 1553, Lady Jane Dudley, entered the Tower of London as Queen of England. As we have previously seen in this series, contemporary sources do not mention what Jane was doing between Edward’s death on 6th July and her official public proclamation on 10th July. The only source we have for Jane’s whereabouts during this time is Jane herself, and this provides very little detailed information. Written in the weeks following her downfall in a letter to Queen Mary, Jane does not mention going anywhere else before the Tower, however, she describes her first public appearance as Queen of England with very little detail, simply referring to the event as:
‘… as everybody knows, the following day I was brought to the Tower.’ (1)
Any further details could have been considered insignificant by her at the time of writing, in what, Eric Ives calls ‘the one written appeal… that would have been allowed’ (2). The only fact that can be ascertained from Jane’s own account is that the new Queen left Chelsea Manor to go to Syon on 9th July 1553, and she was informed of the King’s death and her elevated position when at Syon House (3).
In recent years, the detailed description supposedly written by Baptista Spinola, describing the small, freckled faced Jane, entering the Tower of London, decked out in her royal robes of green velvet, stamped with gold, has now been revealed as an early twentieth century forgery (4). For many years this description was extensively used by historians and artists, when writing or creating imagery about this period of her life. Today this description cannot be relied upon, and the confusion this account has added to the real event is still being challenged by modern historians, who today are revisiting the original accounts to establish what exactly happened.
We do have number of contemporary accounts that describe the event that took place on 10th July 1553. These accounts differ in several ways, regarding the starting point of Jane’s journey, the time of her arrival and the level of detail given about the event itself. None of these accounts describe Jane in detail, and some appear to have caused some confusion around this event over the course of time. Historians have debated as to the exact journey the new Queen Jane took to the Tower of London, the time she arrived and who she was with.
In her 2009 book, historian Leanda De Lisle writes that Jane ‘arrived by barge at Westminster from Richmond. In her rooms royal robes had been laid out for her…Having dressed, Jane returned to her covered boat and was rowed to Northumberland’s palace at Durham House, where she dined at noon…That afternoon, at two o’clock, the royal barges arrived at the Tower carrying Guildford and Jane, her father, Suffolk, the young couple’s mothers and other ladies of the court, attended by a large following.’ (5) Eric Ives describes a slightly different version of the story, opting not to mention anything about Jane’s visit to Richmond, Westminster or Durham House and stating that ‘a procession of barges took Jane to the Tower with her husband, her parents, the duchess of Northumberland and ‘other ladies attended by a great following.’ They landed at the royal stairs which gave access by a bridge over the moat to the Byward Tower, but since she was ‘received as queen’ and there were spectators, it is more likely that Jane processed along the wharf and into the Tower by the main entrance, the Lion Gate.’(6) Nicola Tallis also reports that ‘about three o’clock on the afternoon of 10th July, ‘Lady Jane was conveyed by water to the Tower of London , and there received as queen.’ This was the observation of Rowland Lea, an official of the royal mint….Lea’s valuable account explains that Jane was rowed from Syon across London in the company of her husband, parents, and other ladies attended by a great following.’ (7)
In this section of ‘Investigating Jane’, we will take a closer look at some of the contemporary information concerning the arrival, and public proclamation of the new Queen Jane at the Tower of London. We will also look at the newly discovered account, written in the July of 1553, and attempt to establish if this brings some clarity as to what specifically happened during Jane’s first public appearance as Queen of England.
As discussed above, we do have a small number of accounts, completed in the days or weeks following Queen Jane’s entry into the Tower. Apart from Jane herself, we do not know for certain if the writers of any of the surviving accounts, were actual witnesses to what they describe, or received details from other people, which may possibly be the main reason for some of the conflicting information.
The author of the sixteenth century manuscript ‘The Chronicle of the Grey Friars’, reports that Jane ‘was browte that same afternone from Richemond un-to Westmyster, and soo unto the tower of London by watter.’(8) Another sixteenth century manuscript, entitled ‘The Wriothesley Chronicle,’ probably written in the first few years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, has Jane being ‘brought by water from Grenewich to the Tower of London.’(9)
Unfortunately, neither of the anonymous writers of the ‘Advices from England’ (10) or the ‘Chronicles of Queen Jane’ (11) state explicitly where Jane’s journey started from, however they do mention the time the barges arrived, and neither state that Jane visited any other royal palace during the procession. The writer of ‘Advices from England’ hints that the procession started from Syon and he informs the reader that ‘On Saturday the Duke—and when I say “Duke” you are to understand “Northumberland”—went to Sion House, whither all the other members of the Council repaired on Sunday to a great banquet attended by the two Duchesses and the Lady Jane, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk, who was afterwards proclaimed Queen. The Council fixed upon their plan of action, and on Monday, at two o’clock in the afternoon, there came in the royal barges the Duke of Suffolk; my Lord Guilford, son of the Duke and husband of the Lady Jane; the Lady Jane herself, the two Duchesses and other ladies attended by a great following, and landed at the Tower where the Duke and the other Councillors were waiting to bid the Lady Jane, whose train was carried by her mother, welcome to the Tower.’(12)
The author of ‘The Chronicle of Queen Jane etc’ does not mention Jane visiting any other palace other than the Tower and puts the arrival of the royal barge an hour later, ‘The 10 of July, in the afternoone, about 3 of the clocke, lady Jane was convayed by water to the Tower of London, and there received as queene.’ (13) The Spanish Ambassadors give the time as an hour later, writing to the Emperor, Charles V on 10th July that, ‘At about four o’clock this afternoon the ceremony of the state entry was performed at the Tower of London with the accustomed pomp.’ (14)
Unfortunately, we cannot say for certain the exact journey the new Queen took or the time the procession arrived at the Tower. The above quotations suggest that she arrived between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and that Jane either started her journey from Syon House or one of the other royal residences listed. It does need to be remembered that both the writers of ‘The Chronicle of the Grey Friars’ and ‘The Wriothesley Chronicle’ are writing their reports at a later period, and the documentation written within days of Queen Jane’s entrance suggests that she started her Journey from Syon House. The anonymous writer of the ‘Advices from England’ also reports that the ‘great banquet attended by the two Duchesses and the Lady Jane, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk’ (15) was held at Syon House on the evening of the 9th July, which does suggest that the information provided in the ‘The Chronicle of the Grey Friars’ and ‘The Wriothesley Chronicle’ could be incorrect.
A more detailed letter thought to have been written by a member of the Venetian diplomatic embassy, in July 1553, and recently discovered in 2013, by John Stephan Edwards does give us more details. This appears to be the only reference we have that tells us where Jane started her journey, and this again strengthens the accounts written in the following days which suggest that Jane started her journey from Syon.
In this, the writer reports that ‘Came this Lady Jane on the 10th of July from Syon to the Tower of London by water, accompanied by great Lords, men and women. Entering into the Tower with the men ahead, the ladies proceeded. The most near to her among the Lords was Northumberland, and among the ladies the mother, who as greatest in precedence held the train of the gown. Now you say to me that this seems to you a monstrosity. To see a child Queen, [who] by certain reason came from the mother, father and mother living, and neither [one of them] King nor Queen. To speak with her and to serve her on bended knee. Not only all the others, but the father and the mother! To have a good husband without gifts other than beauty, his father living, and fourth born. The husband stood with hat in hand, not only in front of the Queen, but in front of father and mother, all the other Lords making a show of themselves putting the knee on the ground.’ (16)
The Imperial Ambassadors also mention that ‘the new Queen’s train was carried by her mother, the Duchess of Suffolk.’ (17) What is interesting about the above quotations, especially that written by the Venetian Diplomat is that they clearly demonstrate disgust as to how this action caused confusion about the correct procedures of rank and inheritance. This was an unusual act in terms of sixteenth century etiquette, the mother would generally be followed by the daughter as the highest-ranking female, however, Frances, who’s claim to the throne was stronger than Janes, appears to have done all she could to support her daughter.
A short period after entering the Tower, the public proclamation detailing Jane’s claim to the throne was read aloud. The author of the ‘Advices from England’ recalls the reaction to Jane’s proclamation noting that: ‘The same evening, to the people’s small contentment and without shouting or other sign of rejoicing, she was proclaimed Queen, as you will have seen by a proclamation that was forwarded to M. Germino. I was present in person when the proclamation was made, and among all the faces I saw there, not one showed any expression of joy.'(18) Jehan Scheyfve was also informing his master of the spectator’s reaction ‘no one present showed any sign of rejoicing, and no one cried: “Long live the Queen!”.’ (19)
Although, from the above quotations, Jane’s proclamation doesn’t appear to have gone down well among the citizens of London, the Ambassadors in England were also writing to Emperor Charles V on the following day informing him of the astonishing acceptance of what had been witnessed on the previous day. ‘Several persons in this town of London have been amazed that no protestation had been entered against the proclamation and state entry (of the Lady Jane), and no demonstration in support of the Lady Mary’s right.’ (20)
1.Malfatti C.V, (Barcelona, 1956) The Accession, Coronation and Marriage of Mary Tudor as related in Four Manuscripts of the Escorial P 45-46
2.Ives. Eric, (England, 2009) Lady Jane Grey a Tudor Mystery, John Wiley & sons, Ltd P: 19
3.Malfatti C.V, (Barcelona, 1956) The Accession, Coronation and Marriage of Mary Tudor as related in Four Manuscripts of the Escorial P 45-46
4.De Leslie. Leanda, (England, 2009) England’s_Forgotten_Queen_THE_FAKING_OF_LADY_JANE_GREY https://www.leandadelisle.com/files/3715/3329/5758/Englands_Forgotten_Queen_THE_FAKING_OF_LADY_JANE_GREY.pdf accessed 9th July 2022
5.De Leslie. Leanda, (England, 2009) The Sisters who would be Queen, Harper Press P:112-113
6.Ives. Eric, (England, 2009) Lady Jane Grey a Tudor Mystery, John Wiley & sons, Ltd P: 188
7.Tallis, Nicola, (England 2016) A Crown of Blood, Michael O’Mara Books Ltd P:155
8.’The Chronicle of the Grey Friars: Jane’, in Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London Camden Society Old Series: Volume 53, ed. J G Nichols (London, 1852), pp. 78-80. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/camden-record-soc/vol53/pp78-80 [accessed 8 July 2022].
9.Wriothesley. C & Herald.W (1857) A Chronicle of England During the Reigns of the Tudors, From A.D. 1485 to 1559, The Camden Society. P:85
10.’Spain: July 1553, 16-20′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 8 July 2022].
11.Nichols, J. G (ed) (1850) The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, Llanerch Publishers, p.3.
12.’Spain: July 1553, 16-20′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 8 July 2022].
13.Nichols, J. G (ed) (1850) The Chronicle of Queen Jane and of Two Years of Queen Mary and Especially of the Rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Written by a Resident in the Tower of London, Llanerch Publishers, p.3.
14.’Spain: July 1553, 16-20′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 8 July 2022].
15.’Spain: July 1553, 16-20′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 9 July 2022]
16. Edwards, S. Some Grey Matter – Two Letters Concerning Lady Jane Grey of England, written in London in July 0f 1553 Date accessed: 8th July 2022
17.’Spain: July 1553, 1-10′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 69-80. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp69-80 [accessed 9 July 2022].
18.’Spain: July 1553, 16-20′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 90-109. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp90-109 [accessed 9 July 2022].
19.’Spain: July 1553, 1-10′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 69-80. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp69-80 [accessed 9 July 2022].
20.Spain: July 1553, 11-15′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 11, 1553, ed. Royall Tyler (London, 1916), pp. 80-90. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol11/pp80-90 [accessed 9 July 2022].