Lady Margaret Bryan: Governess of Prince Edward

lady-margaret-bryan

Lady Margaret Bryan is best known as Governess to Princess Mary, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Edward. She was given a very important charge – the care of three future monarchs. In this article we are looking at who Margaret Bryan was and letters from her time as Governess of Prince Edward.

Lady Margaret Bryan

Born Margaret Bourchier, about 1468, in Yorkshire, she was the daughter of Elizabeth Tilney and Sir Humphrey Bourchier who was killed at the Battle of Barnet. The Battle of Barnet took place in 1471 and was one of many battles during the Wars of the Roses.

Elizabeth Tilney served as a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth Woodville and later, Lady of the Bedchamber to Elizabeth of York.

Margaret was the middle child of her parent’s three children. She had an older brother, John who later became 2nd Baron Berners and a younger sister, Anne who later became Baroness Dacre when she married Thomas Fiennes, Baron Dacre.

After her father died in 1471, her mother, Elizabeth Tilney, married Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey. Because of this marriage Margaret Bourchier became the half-sister of Thomas Howard (future 3rd Duke of Norfolk) upon his birth in 1473 and Elizabeth Howard (mother of Anne Boleyn) when she was born in 1480, among other half-siblings.

Sometime before 1490, Margaret wed Sir Thomas Bryan and together they had two children that made it to adulthood: Sir Francis Bryan and Elizabeth Bryan (who married Nicholas Carew).

Both Margaret and her husband served Katherine of Aragon at court – Margaret as a lady-in-waiting and Thomas as vice-chamberlain.

Surrounded by nobles at court and within her family – Margaret would have been very familiar with the customs, training and etiquette it would take to govern the young royals.

Prince Edward

As Governess of the future King of England Margaret was responsible for his person. She was to make sure that when visitors arrived that they saw the young prince in all his glory.

This letter is dated June 30, 1538 in Letters and Papersand discusses things the young prince would need and also updates Cromwell on his wellness:

My Lord,

After my most bounden duty I humbly recommend me unto your good lordship; and according to the king’s grace’s commandment and yours shall accomplish it to the best of my power with such things as here is to do it withal: which is but very bare for such a time. The best coat my lord prince’s grace hath is tinsel, and that he shall have on at that time; he hath never a good jewel to set on his cap; howbeit I shall order all things for my Lord’s honour the best I can, so as I trust the king’s grace shall be contended withal; and also Master Vice-Chamberlain and Master Cofferer I am sure will do the best diligence that lieth in them in all causes.

My lord, I thank Jesu my lord prince’s grace is in good health and merry, and his grace is in good health and merry, and his grace hath four teeth; three full out, and the fourth appeareth. And thus fare you well, my own good lord, with as much joy and honor as your noble heart can desire.

From Havering, with the hand of her that is your true beadwoman, and will be during her life,

Margaret Bryan

edward-prince-of-wales

Here is a quote from Lord Chancellor Audley to Cromwell after his visit to the prince on the 8th of September 1538:

Posthumous portrait of Thomas Audley (c.14881544)
And I assure your lordship I never saw so goodly a child of his age – so merry, so pleasant, so good and loving countenance, and so earnest an eye, as it were a sage judgemental towards any person that repaireth to his grace; and as it seemeth to me, thanks be to our Lord, his grace increaseth well in the air that he is in, and albeit, a little his grace’s flesh decayeth (he is thinner), yet he shotyth out in length (has grown), and wexith firm and stiff, and can steadfastly stand, and would advance himself to move and go, if they would suffer him, but as me seemeth they do yet best, considering his grace is yet tender, that he should not strain himself, as his own courage would serve him, till he come above a year of age.

In the letter, Audley also states that he is glad to hear the King will remove Edward from Havering for the winter for the house will be very cold. The conditions at Havering are much better for the Prince’s health in the summer.

Later in March 1539, Lady Margaret Bryan wrote Cromwell again to tell him that Edward was in good health and merry and that she wished that he and the King had seen Edward the previous night. While the minstrels played young Edward “danced and played so wantonly that he could not stand still…”

Although Lady Bryan retained the title of lady mistress even after Edward’s succession in 1547, her last years were spent not at court but at her estate in Essex, where she enjoyed a generous annuity of70 per year.

Margaret Bryan writes as a mother would – talking of accomplishments of her young son. I can imagine that for little Prince Edward that she was the closest thing to a mother that he could recall.

Lady Bryan died in 1552, living long enough to see Edward on the throne of England.

Through her daughter, Margaret was the great-grandmother of Elizabeth “Bess” Throckmorton, Lady Raleigh, wife to Walter Raleigh and chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I.

Sources/References:

Loach, Jennifer; “Edward VI”

Wagner, John A., Walters Schmid, Susan; “Encyclopedia of Tudor England, Volume 1”

Everett Green, Mary Anne; “Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain: From the …, Volume 3”

Facebook no longer shows our posts to a majority of our followers - Don't want to miss out on new articles? Get notified! Subscribe to email updates from Tudors Dynasty.

Join 5,017 subscribers.

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.

Sources/References:

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