Margaret Audley was the eldest of two daughters born to Thomas Audley, Baron Audley of Walden and Elizabeth Grey and was born in 1540. Her younger sister, which I do not have a name, died around 1546 at Hendon in Middlesex. After the death of her sister, Margaret became the sole heir of her father’s possessions.
Baron Audley of Walden died in 1544 and the King (Henry VIII) granted the wardship of his daughter Margaret, including her lands, to Sir Anthony Denny who was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. When Denny himself passed away in 1550 the wardship of Margaret fell upon his wife, Lady Denny. Margaret was thirteen when Lady Denny died in 1553 and Queen Mary I held courts in the minor’s name. This did not extend to the land which was vested to her mother, Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley for her life.
At fourteen years old Margaret Audley was married to Lord Henry Dudley who was the fourth son of John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland and brother to Robert and Guildford Dudley. Her husband had been implicated in treason when he helped to put his sister-in-law, Lady Jane Grey on the throne after the death of King Edward VI. Margaret’s husband Henry Dudley was charged with treason, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death.
The Queen, however, was pleased to spare his life, and afterwards to pardon him; but as no livery of Margaret Audley’s lands had been granted on account of her minority, they remained vested in the Crown, and were formally restored to Dudley and his wife. Nevertheless, his career was of short duration, for he fell in the battle of Saint Quintin’s, in Picardy, in August 1557, leaving no issue…
Margaret, now a widow, did not wait long to remarry. In the early months of 1558, Margaret became the second wife of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. Together they had five children, all of which were born at Audley End: Thomas, Henry (died young), Elizabeth (died young), William and Margaret. Their son Thomas became 1st Earl of Suffolk and their daughter Margaret later married Robert Sackville and became Countess of Dorset.
On the 10th of January 1563, at twenty-three years of age, Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk passed away.
The funeral of Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk was a grand affair – so much so that she was called “the noble and excellent Princess Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk.”
Margaret was buried in the church of St. John the Baptist, in Norwich, on the 17th day of January 1563. Frances de Vere, dowager Countess of Surrey was Chief Mourner in the ceremony. After the ceremony Surrey returned for dinner while other proceeded to the burial.
Braybooke, Richard Griffin, Baron; The History of Audley End – Published 1836