Thomas GREY

(2nd M. Dorset)

Born: 22 Jun 1477

Died: 10 Oct 1530

Notes: Knight of the Garter.

Father: Thomas GREY (1° M. Dorset)

Mother: Cecily BONVILLE (M. Dorset)

Married 1: Eleanor St. JOHN (M. Dorset)

Married 2: Margaret WOTTON (M. Dorset) (b. 1487 - d. 1541) (dau. of Sir Robert Wotton of Boughton Malherbe and Anne Belknap) (See her Biography) 1509


1. Henry GREY (1° D. Suffolk)

2. John GREY of Pirgo

3. Anne GREY

4. Thomas GREY

5. Elizabeth GREY (B. Audley of Walden)

6. Catherine GREY (C. Arundel)

7. Leonard GREY (b. 1520 - d. 1521)

8. Mary GREY

Grey was the third son and eventual heir of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, at that time England's only marquess, and his wife, Cecily Bonville, the daughter and heiress of William Bonville, 6th Baron Harington of Aldingham. His mother was suo jure 7th Baroness Harington of Aldingham and 2nd Baroness Bonville, and the richest heiress in England.

Thomas Grey was contracted in 1483 to marry Anne St. Leger, the daughter of Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter and her second husband Sir Thomas St. Leger. Remarkably, Anne St. Leger had been declared the heiress to the Exeter estates, but the marriage did not take place and Anne finally married George Manners, Lord Ros. In the event, the young Thomas Grey's first marriage was to Eleanor St. John, a daughter of Oliver St. John of Lydiard Tregoze, and his wife Elizabeth Scrope.

Grey accompanied his father to Brittany in 1484 when Dorset joined the future Henry VII in exile. According to some reports, the young Grey attended Magdalen College School, Oxford, and he is uncertainly said to have been taught (either at the school or else privately tutored) by Thomas Wolsey.

In 1492, Dorset was required to give guarantees of loyalty to the crown and to make the young Thomas Grey a ward of the King.

Among the Queen of England's closest relations, Grey and his younger brothers Leonard and Edward were welcome at court and became courtiers and later soldiers. In 1494, Grey was made a knight of the Bath and in 1501 a knight of the Garter. Also in 1501, his father died and the younger Thomas inherited his titles and some of his estates. However, much of the first marquess's land went to his widow and not to his son, who did not come into his full inheritance until the death of his mother in 1529, shortly before his own death.

He attended most of the major court ceremonies of Henry VII's reign, including the baptisms of Prince Arthur Tudor and Prince Henry. Later in 1501, he was 'chief answerer' at the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales and Catalina of Aragon and was presented with a diamond and ruby Tudor rose at a court tournament. He was also present at the king's meeting with Duke Phillip of Burgundy in 1506. But in 1508 he was sent to the Tower of London, and later a gaol in Calais, under suspicion of conspiracy against Henry VII. Although he was saved from execution in 1509 by the accession of King Henry VIII, Grey was attainted and lost his titles. However, later in 1509 he was pardoned and returned to court, and was summoned to parliament as Baron Ferrers of Groby. In 1511, he was summoned as Marquess of Dorset. From 1509, Dorset was again an active courtier and took part with great distinction in many court tournaments, on one occasion in Mar 1524 nearly killing the King.

In 1509, Thomas Grey married secondly Margaret Wotton, daughter of Sir Robert Wotton; and the widow of William Medley. With Margaret, Thomas Grey had four sons and four daughters.

In 1512, the King gave Dorset command of a force of 12,000 men that was to cooperate with the armies of Fernando of Spain, Henry's father-in-law, in wresting Aquitaine, the former English duchy in south-western France, from Louis XII. Landing in Jun, Dorset marched his army as agreed to Fuenterrabia, but soon discovered that the Spanish had made none of the promised preparations. What's more, Fernando insisted on a joint attack on the kingdom of Navarre, which was the Spanish king's true objective, the English army being meant only to distract the French. When Dorset refused to disobey orders and join the invasión of Navarre, Fernando attacked alone, and the English army remained in Fuenterrabia, where it soon succumbed to disease. In Aug, the gravely ill Marquis embarked his mutinous and dispirited troops and returned to England. Although Fernando blamed Dorset for the failure of the expedition, and Henry considered trying the Marquis for dereliction of duty, the matter was dropped and by 1513 Dorset was in sufficient favor to accompany the King on his invasion of France. He fought at the siege of Tournai and the Battle of the Spurs.

In 1514, with Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, Dorset escorted Princess Mary Tudor for her wedding to Louis XII of France

Dorset owned land in sixteen English counties and was a justice of the peace for several of them. In 1516, during a rivalry in Leicestershire with George, Baron Hastings, and Sir Richard Sacheverell, Dorset unlawfully increased his retinue at court and was brought before the Star Chamber and the Court of King's Bench. He was bound over for good behaviour. As part of this rivalry, he greatly enlarged his ancestral home at Bradgate, Leicestershire.

In 1518, he was one of the signatories of the Treaty of London. In 1520, Dorset carried the sword of state at the Field of cloth of gold and accompanied the King to the subsequent meeting with Carlos V at Gravelines on the coast of France and escorted him on a visit to England. He helped with the entertainment of the court by maintaining a company of actors.

In 1521, Dorset sat in judgment on the Duke of Buckingham, despite being related to him by marriage. After his father's death, Dorset's mother had married a brother of the Duke. Henry VIII rewarded Dorset with three of Buckingham's manors.

From 17 Jun 1523 until his death in 1530, Dorset was Justice in Eyre south of Trent. As such, he presided at the triennial Court of justice-seat, which dealt with matters of forest law. Dorset fought again in 1523 in the Scottish borders under Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey. These gave him chances to make amends for the debacle of Aquitaine. To help Dorset in dealing with the Scots, he was appointed Lord Warden of the Marches, restored to the Privy Council, and became a gentleman of the chamber. After the Scottish campaign, the Marquis held no more significant military commands, although he was still favored at court.

In 1524, Dorset's Leicestershire feud with Lord Hastings turned into a fight between hundreds of men, and Cardinal Wolsey took action. Both rivals had to put up a bond for good behaviour of one thousand pounds, and Dorset was sent to Wales as Lord Master of Princess Mary's Council.

In 1528, Dorset became constable of Warwick Castle, and in 1529 of Kenilworth Castle. That year he signed the articles against his old tutor Wolsey, and assisted the King in his condemnation of the Cardinal. In 1530, he signed the letter to Clement VII demanding that the Pope dissolve Henry's marriage. Recalling his role as 'chief answerer' at the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales, Dorset was a critical witness in favour of Henry VIII's divorce of Catalina of Aragon. He strongly supported the King's contention that Arthur and Catalina's marriage had been consummated.

Dorset died on 10 Oct 1530, and was buried in the collegiate church at Astley in Warwickshire. When he died he held estates in London and in sixteen counties, amounting to over one hundred manors, and was one of the richest men in England. His grave was opened in the early seventeenth century and measurement of his skeleton suggested a height of 5 feet 8 inches. He was succeeded by his son Henry Grey, future Duke of Suffolk. His grand-daughter, Jane Grey, briefly became queen in 1553

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