In our article about Margaret Wotton, Marchioness of Dorset we learned about one of the apparent reasons she had for protecting her son’s inheritance – her daughters.
Margaret Wotton, Marchioness of Dorset and her husband, Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset not only had a son, Henry, with whom Margaret later had disputes over his inheritance, but also a few daughters that she would have to arrange marriages for.
Because of this enormous, unexpected financial burden, Lady Margaret, who had custody of all her husband’s property during Henry’s minority, feared she would “not be able to set forth my daughters in marriage, neither continue in the keeping of my poor house.”
Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley
Today we focus on one of the daughters of Margaret and Henry Grey – Elizabeth Grey, who was born around 1510. To gain some perspective, in 1510, Henry VIII had been King of England for roughly a year and was married to Katherine of Aragon.
Elizabeth married Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden sometime between 1538 and 1540 – she was his second wife. About 1540 Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, a daughter, Margaret Audley.
Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden
Thomas Audley had a very illustrious career at Tudor court. In 1529, he received two titles when he was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Speaker of the House of Commons. In 1532, Audley was knighted and also succeeded Sir Thomas More as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. In 1533, he was appointed Lord Chancellor succeeding Sir Thomas More and on 29th of November 1538 he was created Baron Audley of Walden and installed as a Knight of the Garter shortly afterward.
It is easy to see that Audley was friendly toward Henry VIII’s agenda. One could say this is why he was given so many great titles, especially Lord Chancellor. He backed the King on his desire to divorce Katherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Audley presided at the trials of Fisher and More in 1535, and was again part of the trials in 1536, during the downfall of Anne Boleyn and the men around her.
We know that Henry VIII “interfered so much in the chancellor’s domestic concerns as to command him to marry, and to bring about the match, and promise to endow him accordingly…”
When it comes to his wife and the true topic of his article, Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley, we do not know very much at all. We can better describe her through her husband’s life and the life of her daughter, Margaret. We’ll touch base on Margaret, further along.
Here is an undated letter, presumably written between 1538 and 1540 that Thomas Audley addressed to Thomas Cromwell who had been recently appointed Vicegerent – a new office which gave absolute power over the concerns of the church.
“I married at his Majesty’s commandmant, and his Grace said that he would consider it, and what I should have had otherwise your Lordship knoweth, for advancement of my heirs; but yet I repent never a “whytt” my marriage, but have great cause to thank the King’s Majesty for “enduying” me to it, for assuredly I have happened on much to my contention and honesty, and if God send us children, which I desire, the King’s Majesty hath made me a baron, and all my lands exceedeth no clearly wherewith I am right well content.” – Your Lordship’s assured to his power, Thomas Audeley, Chancellor.
Audley later goes on to discuss the debt of his brother-in-law, Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorest. When Audely married Elizabeth Grey he married into the illustrious Grey family. After our last article about Margaret Wotton, the mother of the Marquis of Dorset we understand how he was fined Ł4000 for refusal to marry Catherine Fitzalan, the daughter of William Fitzalan, 17th Earl of Arundel.
“It is amusing to find the Chancellor speaking of his illustrious family as his pore mariage, and endeavouring to make over the debt due to him from his brother-in-law to Henry, who had probably more power to enforce the payment.”
Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden died on 30 April 1544. After the death of her husband, Elizabeth Grey lived at Audley End, near Saffron Walden until her death in 1564. Their daughter Margaret, came to Audley End to give birth to each of her children.
Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk
Margaret Audley was born about 1540 and was the oldest of the two children (both daughters) to Elizabeth Grey and Thomas Audley. She first married Lord Henry Dudley who was the youngest son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland who was executed for treason in 1556. Henry Dudley died in France after the Battle of Saint Quentin in 1557.
In 1558, Margaret was betrothed to her cousin, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk – the son of the late Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. They had many children together, one of which was Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk.
Stay tuned for a separate article on Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk in the near future.
The Historic Peerage of England: Exhibiting, Under Alphabetical Arrangement …By Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas, William John Courthope
A Topographical Dictionary of England: With Historical and Statistical …By Samuel Lewis
Braybooke, Richard Griffin, Baron; The History of Audley End – Published 1836