Died: 15 Jan 1554/55
Buried: 22 Jan 1554/55, Chelsea Church
Father: Edward GUILDFORD (Sir)
Mother: Eleanor WEST
Married: John DUDLEY (1° D. Northumberland) ABT 1520
2. Thomas DUDLEY (b. 1526 - d. 1528)
5. Henry DUDLEY
8. Jane DUDLEY
9. Mary DUDLEY
11. Charles DUDLEY (b. 1537 - d. 1542)
12. Temperance DUDLEY (d. 1552)
Daughter of Sir Edward Guildford of Rolvenden and Halden, Kent, and Eleanor West, the daughter of Thomas, 8th baron de la Warr. In late 1525 or early 1526, she married her father’s ward, John Dudley. The children were probably betrothed soon after John joined the household at High Halden, when Jane was only three or four. By the day of the ceremony John and Jane had been brought up together for a decade or more, and had got well used to the idea that they were destined to become husband and wife. Jane was an intelligent and well-educated young woman. She was tutored in Princess Mary's household by the radical educationalist Juan Luis Vives and in later years would be a patroness of scholars. All the evidence suggests that she and John were very fond of each other. John remained faithful to Jane through thirty years of married life.
Heiress of her father, Jane was successively Lady Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, Countess of Warwick, and Duchess of Northumberland. Although she did not take an active role in her husband’s political career, she was at court as a lady of the Privy Chamber to Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr and during the reign of Edward VI.
In Oct 1549, when the Duke of Somerset was removed from power and held in the Tower of London, Jane and the Duchess of Somerset, exchanged banquets and festivities daily in order to promote reconciliation between their husbands, and they arranged a marriage between Anne’s daughter, Anne Seymour and Warwick’s eldest son, John Dudley, who became Earl of Warwick when his father was elevated in the peerage to Duke of Northumberland. Anne Seymour, married Jane’s son, John, at Sheen on 3 Jun 1550. Jane Dudley, in contrast to her husband and the Duchess, enjoyed a faultless reputation as a devoted wife and mother. It is likely that both women worked toward the same end for different reasons; the Duchess, jealous of her place at court, wished to save Somerset for her own sake; while the Countess of Warwick simply desired the end of an unhappy quarrel. At Jane’s request, Dr. John Dee undertook the writing of two treatises published in 1553 and dedicated to her.
Jane Dudley stepped into the centre ground of politics once, taking a hand in arranging the Seymour-Dudley marriage alliance of 1550. In doing so she called upon the bonds among the circle of reformist court ladies of the 1540s of which she, Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset, and perhaps also Anne Preston, Lady Paget formed part.
On Thursday 20 Jul, at Cambridge, Northumberland abandoned his attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the English throne and proclaimed Mary Tudor. Jane herself shut up in the Tower for a week or more after Mary's proclamation in London on 19 Jul.
She aimed to meet the Queen, for whom she had acted as an intermediary with her husband in the previous reign. She would plead for the lives of her children and perhaps also of her husband. But when she came within five miles of the court, she was turned away on Mary's orders. The Duchess wrote the letter printed below, to Anne Preston, Lady Paget:
Nowe good madame for the love youe bere to God foregett me nott: and make my lady markes of Exiture my sayd good lady to remembere me, to Mestres Clarencyous to contynewe as she haythe begone fore me: and good madame desyre lord as he may doe: in spekynge fore my husbondes lyff: in way of cheryte I crave hyme to doe ytt madame I have held upe my hed fore my grett hevynes of hartt that all the world knowes canott be lyttyll: tyll nowe that inded I doe begyne to growe in to weke seknes: and also seche a ryssyng in the nyghte frome my stomake upe to ward that in my jugmentt my brethe ys lyke clene to goe away as my wemen well cane full say ytt as they knowe ytt to be trewe by there owene payne they take me: good madame off goodnes remembere me: so God to kepe youe ladyshep longe lyff lord and yours ladyshepes powrest frynd Jane Northumland as longe as pleys the quene & good madame dysere my lord to be good lord unto my powere v sones: nayture cane noe othere wyss doe butt sue fore theme althoughe I doe nott so meche care fore theme as fore there fathere who was to me & to my mynd the moste beste gentylmane that evere levynge womane was mached all: as nethere thos abowtt hyme nore abowtt me canott say the contrary & say trewly: howe good he was to me that owre lord & the quenes maygeste shewe there merssy to theme
Addressed on reverse: To my good Lady Pagyt
Endorsed in later hand: The duchesse of Northumb [er] land to myne old Lady Paget
After Northumberland's execution, Jane went to live with her daughter, Mary, wife of Henry Sidney, at Penshurst, Kent.
Queen Mary granted her the use of her Chelsea dower house. Lady Jane Grey’s husband, Jane’s son Guildford, was executed in 1554. Lady Northumberland's other sons remained prisoners in the Tower. The Duchess was pardoned on 2 May 1554.
That summer she was much at court, petitioning for the release of her sons. The eldest, John, was freed in early Oct 1554. Already mortally ill, he died at Penshurst on 21 Oct. Ambrose, Robert, and Henry were released by early 1555, before their mother's death at Chelsea.
In her will, wrote with her own hand, she thanked and rewarded some Spanish courtiers for their assistance to her sons: Don Diego de Acevedo, Don Diego de Mendoza, Gutierre Lopez Padilla, Ruy Gomez, the Duchess of Alva and the Dukes of Alva and Medinaceli. The will contained several references to 'my dear husband' and, bequeathing a clock to her daughter, Mary, she pointed out that it had been 'the lord her father's', praying her to 'keep it as a jewel'. She also, however, left her `tawny velvot jewell coffer' to Susan Clarencieux, her `high backed gowne of wrought velvet' to Lady Paget, and to Lord Paget one of the `blacke namyled ringes' that she `dyd use to were'.
|to Bios Page|
|to Peerage Page||to Home Page|