Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey was born in October 1537, the daughter of the Marquis of Dorset. Her accession to the throne was masterminded by her power-hungry father-in-law, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland who intended to rule through her. Afraid that his own position would become precarious under Lady Jane Grey’s Catholic cousin Mary Tudor, he convinced the sick king, Edward VI, to alter the line of succession so that Lady Jane could continue Edward’s Protestant reign.
On 10 July 1553, four days after the death of Edward, Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen. As Queen, she took temporary residence in the royal apartments at the Tower. Just nine days later, Mary entered London with popular support and Jane was arrested.
Jane remained at the Tower whilst Mary and her councillors decided what to do with her. It wasn’t until 13 November 1553 that she was tried and found guilty of high treason. Despite political pressure, Mary was reluctant to sign her death warrant, and instead, she was returned to her royal apartments at the Tower.
The involvement of Jane’s father, the Duke of Suffolk, in the Wyatt rebellion against Mary that winter forced the Queen to give in and condemn Jane to death. An anonymous diarist from the time wrote that, before being executed herself, Lady Jane had to endure the horror of watching her husband go to his death on Tower Hill and then see his body brought back in a cart, with his head wrapped up in a cloth.
She was beheaded on Tower Green on February 1554, aged just 16. Lady Jane Grey is buried beneath the altar of the Tower’s Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.
Several inscriptions at the Tower are associated with Lady Jane Grey and her husband’s family, the Dudley’s. The inscription of Jane’s name in the Beauchamp Tower is believed to be carved by one of her supporters such as her husband Guildford Dudley or one of his brothers.