Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk


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.

Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk

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.

Heraldic Badge of 4th Duke of Norfolk with his 2nd Wife, Margaret Audley
Heraldic Badge of 4th Duke of Norfolk with his 2nd Wife, Margaret Audley

Braybooke, Richard Griffin, Baron; The History of Audley End Published 1836

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Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley

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.

Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley
Elizabeth Grey, Lady 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.

Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden
Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden

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 £4000 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.

Margaret Audley, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk & Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk


Margaret Audley, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk & 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