Margaret AUDLEY

(D. Norfolk)

Born: ABT 1535/6 / 1540

Died: 9 Jan 1563/64, Norwich

Buried: Norwich, St. John The Baptist

Father: Thomas AUDLEY (1º B. Audley of Walden)

Mother: Elizabeth  GREY (B. Audley of Walden)

Married 1: Henry DUDLEY

Married 2: Thomas HOWARD (4° D. Norfolk) ABT 10 Dec 1558


1. Thomas HOWARD (1º E. Suffolk)

2. William HOWARD

3. Margaret HOWARD

4. Elizabeth HOWARD

5. Jane HOWARD

6. Henry HOWARD

Audley,Margaret(D.Norfolk).jpg (210622 bytes)

Margaret Audley (D. Norfolk)

by Hans Eworth, 1562

a companion piece to one of her husband.  

Daughter of Thomas Audley, 1st baron Audley of Walden, and Elizabeth Grey; Margaret and her sister Mary remained co-heirs, until Mary herself died under age and unmarried. Margaret inherited lands worth £1000 per annum, including Cree Church Place in London and Audley End on the outskirts of Saffron Walden.

One of the wealthiest young women in England when she was married at thirteen to Henry Dudley, the son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. Her lands were confiscated when Northumberland was found guilty of treason and executed. Henry Dudley was restored in blood on 5 Jul 1556 and subsequently began proceedings with his wife in chancery to gain possession of land in Hertfordshire, claimed by Thomas Castell, Esq., of London.

Shortly after his wife's lands were returned, Henry Dudley died in France after the Battle of Saint Quentin. Early in 1558, Margaret was betrothed to Thomas Howard, 4th duke of Norfolk, but they were obliged to wait for a papal dispensation to wed since his first wife, Mary Fitzalan, had been Margaret’s first cousin.

In the spring of 1558 Norfolk sent Nicholas Mynne, an East Anglian lawyer, as his agent to Rome, but the Papacy was famed for its delays and its costs, where dispensations were concerned. First Mynne had to await the return of Cardinal Carafa from the Council of Trent, and it was not until yth May that he was able to begin the suit. A month passed and still the dispensation was as nigh now as it was at the beginning. The negotiations with the canon lawyers dragged on until the autumn and Queen Mary's death. With the accession of what he regarded as a heretic to the English throne, it was obvious that the Pope would not permit a relaxation of the church's law for so high a subject as the Earl Marshal.

Norfolk's patience had been strained to the utmost. Gossip in some quarters had it that the Pope's obstinacy was really a blessing in disguise, for the Duke would now be free to marry another cousin - none other than Queen Elizabeth herself. But rumour also had it that his father-in-law, the Earl of Arundel, had a stronger candidature. The Duke, however, remained faithful to Margaret, and, casting doubts about the Book of Leviticus to the winds, he married her, very quietly at the end of Nov 1558. His bride was nearly nineteen. The following Mar 1559 the Duke obtained Parliamentary ratification of his marriage 'of long time prohibited and letted by reason of certain decrees and awards of the Pope's law'. Margaret brought as her marriage portion Cree Church Place, the mansión in Aldgate Ward, London, which her father had built on the site of Holy Trinity Priory. This was to be Norfolk's principal town house until in 1565 he purchased the Charterhouse, and it was soon being termed 'the Duke's Palace'

At Elizabeth's Coronation, in the long procession from the Tower to Westminster on the Saturday 14 Jan, with many halts for formal speeches and informal acclaim, Margaret, the new Duchess of Norfolk, rode side by side with the Countess of Lennox. These two were the principal ladies of honour and, as such, their white palfreys with gorgeous red side-saddles trotted immediately behind Lord Robert Dudley, the Master of the Horse, who followed the Queen's chariot. On Coronation Day itself Norfolk walked in the great procession from Westminster Hall to the Abbey in front of the Queen, bearing St Edward's Crown. A few paces behind was his Duchess, who carried Elizabeth's train. A splendid blue carpet had been provided at a cost of £145 to cover the route from the upper end of the Hall to the choir door of the Abbey, but 'as Her Majesty passed the cloth was cut by those who could get it'; the intrepid souvenir-hunters who braved the cold early morning air to get their fill of pageantry, nearly tripped up Duchess Margaret as she walked behind her sovereign.

After participating in the coronation, Margaret and her new husband retired to Kenninghall and did not return to London until the following autumn. Duchess Margaret took a personal interest in the church and felt it needed embellishing. As a result the Duke provided a number of stained-glass windows depicting the arms of the Howard and Audley families. A few years later he began rebuilding the tower, but never completed the work. It remains a squat structure, 'its head being shortened by the misfortune of its founder'.

The marriage appears to have been a love match and produced four children, Elizabeth, Thomas, Margaret, and William. Some sources included other two, Jane and Henry. Elizabeth Grey lived at Audley End in her widowhood, near Saffron Walden. Her daughter Margaret came to her there to give birth to each of her children.

Norfolk and his duchess returned to London in the autumn of 1559 to find the Queen seemingly infatuated with Robert Dudley. Idle gossips elaborated stories to the discredit of both and even so staid a man as Bishop John Jewel told a friend that Elizabeth would reject the suits for her hand being made by foreign princes as she was 'probably thinking of an alliance nearer home'. At first sight everything had pointed to friendship between Norfolk and Dudley. From Elizabeth's accession the Earl Marshal and the Master of the Horse were together a great deal, presiding at state occasions and welcoming foreign envoys in the Queen's name. Both were elected to the Garter on the same day. There was a family connection, too, for Duchess Margaret was the widow of Lord Henry Dudley, Robert's brother, and Robert's own wife Amy Robsart had come from Wymondham, a few miles from Kenninghall. But wives counted for little when their husbands' dispositions were so different. Norfolk soon came to regard Dudley with the same haughty disdain with which his own father had in his day regarded John Dudley, Lord Robert's father.

So great was Margaret’s desire to rejoin her husband for Christmas in 1563 that she left Audley End to Norwich on a litter, when she was still weak from childbirth of her second son, William. She caught a chill on the journey and died at Norwich on 10 Jan 1564. Norfolk's second wife also died young and was buried at St. John the Baptist's church at Norwich. The Dowager Countess of Surrey acted as chief mourner at her funeral. In his bereavement Norfolk was given leave of absence from court and lived quietly with his children in the country. For a few years, Elizabeth Grey looked after her grandchildren following her daughter's death until Norfolk remarried in 1567.


Beer, Barrett L.: Northumberland - The Political Career of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland (The Kent State University Press -  1973 – Kent)
Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. X. Sidney Lee, ed.

Williams, Neville: Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk (Barrie and Rockliff – 1964 - London)

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