Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset

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Thomas Grey
Died20 September 1501 (aged 46)
Resting place Astley, Warwickshire
Title1st Marquess of Dorset
1st Earl of Huntingdon
7th Baron Ferrers of Groby
Spouse(s)Lady Anne Holland
Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington
Children Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset
Leonard Grey, 1st Viscount Grane
Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kildare
and others
Parent(s) Sir John Grey of Groby
Elizabeth Woodville

Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, 7th Baron Ferrers of Groby, KG (1455 20 September 1501 [1] [2] ) was an English nobleman, courtier and the eldest son of Elizabeth Woodville and her first husband Sir John Grey of Groby. Her second marriage to King Edward IV made her Queen of England, thus elevating Grey's status at court and in the realm as the stepson of the King. [3] Through his mother's assiduous endeavours, he made two materially advantageous marriages to wealthy heiresses, the King's niece Anne Holland and Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington. By the latter, he had 14 children.



Thomas Grey was born in 1455 close to the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. He was the elder son of John Grey (c.1432-1461) of Groby in Leicestershire, by his wife Elizabeth Woodville, who later became queen consort to King Edward IV. [4]


His mother endeavoured to improve his estates by the conventional methods of their class and time, through his marriages and purchase of wardships. He also found favour with Edward, fighting in the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. Grey became Lord Harington and Bonville by right of his second wife Cecily Bonville. In 1475 he was created marquess of Dorset, and he was also a knight of the Garter and a privy councillor. [4]

On the death of his stepfather, Edward IV, Grey proved unable to maintain his family's position. It was not possible to arrange a Woodville regency. Internal fighting, particularly the long-established battle for ascendancy in Leicestershire between the Grey and Hastings families, was now on the national stage. Richard III came to the throne when the sons of Edward IV's bastardy were declared; the Grey family was aligned with Edward.

On 25 June 1483, an assembly of Parliament declared Richard III to be the legitimate king, and Thomas's uncle, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, and brother, Richard Grey, were executed. Later in the summer, learning of the apparent murder of both his young half-brothers, Grey joined the Duke of Buckingham's rebellion against Richard III. When the rebellion failed he fled to Brittany to join Henry Tudor, who pledged to marry Grey's half-sister Elizabeth of York and heal the division between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians.

However, just before Henry and the Lancastrian army left to launch their ultimately successful invasion of England in August 1485, Grey heard rumours from England that his mother had come to terms with Richard III, and he was persuaded to desert Henry Tudor. He was intercepted at Compiègne on his way to England, and played no part in the invasion or subsequent overthrow of Richard III. Grey was instead confined to Paris, as security for the repayment of a loan made to Henry Tudor by the French government, unable to return home until Henry VII was safely installed as king of England.

Thereafter Henry VII took good care to keep his half-brother-in-law under control and Grey was not permitted to recover his former influence, although his attainder was reversed. Thomas Grey was confined in the Tower in 1487 during Lambert Simnel's rising and not released until after the House of Tudor victory in the Battle of Stoke Field. Though he accompanied the King on his expedition to France in 1492, he was obliged to commit himself in writing to ensure he did not commit treason. He was permitted to assist in the suppression of the Cornish rising in 1497.

Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, died in London on 20 September 1501, aged about 46, and was buried in the collegiate church of Astley, Warwickshire. His widow married Grey's cousin, Henry Stafford, later Earl of Wiltshire.

Marriages and issue

His mother sought to make provision for him by marriage to wealthy heiresses. He married firstly, at Greenwich in October 1466, Lady Anne Holland (1461 [5]  c. 1474), the only daughter of Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter, and Anne of York. His mother-in-law was the second child and eldest surviving daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, thus sister to his mother's second husband King Edward IV.

After Anne Holland died young without issue, Thomas married secondly, by papal dispensation 5 September 1474, [6] Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington of Aldingham and 2nd Baroness Bonville, the wealthiest heiress in England. [7] Cecily Bonville, born in 1461, was the daughter and heiress of William Bonville, 6th Baron Harington, by his wife Katherine Neville, daughter of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury. [6] Katherine was sister to the late Earl of Warwick and thus aunt to his daughters.

By his second wife Grey had seven sons and seven daughters: [6]



Arms of Grey Coat of Arms of Grey.svg
Arms of Grey

The arms of the head of the Grey family are blazoned Barry of six argent and azure in chief three torteaux gules.[ citation needed ]


  1. Cokayne 1916, pp. 418–19.
  2. According to Richardson and Pugh he was born c.1455.
  3. 1 2 Pugh 2004.
  4. 1 2 Chisholm 1911, p. 431.
  5. Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Digby 57, fol. 2*r
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Richardson II 2011, p. 304.
  7. Lympstone: From Roman Rimes to the 17th Century. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  8. Barley, Henry (1487-1529), of Albury, Hertfordshire, History of Parliament Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  9. Richardson II 2011, p. 93.
  10. Hyde 2004.
  11. Campling 1937.
  12. Challen 1963, pp. 5–9.
  13. 'Anne Jerningham', A Who’s Who of Tudor Women: I-J, compiled by Kathy Lynn Emerson to update and correct Wives and Daughters: The Women of Sixteenth-Century England (1984) Archived 5 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  14. Richardson II 2011, pp. 304–7.
  15. 1 2 3 4 Challen 1963, p. 6.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Richardson II 2011, pp. 304–6.
  17. Challen 1963, pp. 5–7.
  18. Richardson states that he was executed 28 July 1541.
  19. Richardson IV 2011, pp. 50–1.
  20. Lyons 2004.
  21. As stated on the inscribed monumental brass of Sir John Arundell in St Columb Major Church, Cornwall (See: Jewers, Arthur John (ed.), The registers of the parish of St. Columb Major, Cornwall, from the year 1539 to 1780, London, 1881, Preface XI )
  22. Byrne, Muriel St. Clare, (ed.) The Lisle Letters, 6 vols, University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, 1981, vol.1Byrne, vol.1, p.307
  23. "Mary Grey, Viscountess of Hereford". Geni. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  24. "Grey of Dorset". Tudor Place. Retrieved 29 August 2017.

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Depictions in fiction

Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, is depicted in:

Peerage of England
New creation Marquess of Dorset
Succeeded by
Preceded by Baron Ferrers of Groby