Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset

Thomas Grey

Arms of Thomas Grey,
1st Marquess of Dorset, KG
Born 1455
Groby Old Hall, Groby, Leicestershire
Died 20 September 1501 (aged 46)
Title 1st Marquess of Dorset
1st Earl of Huntingdon
7th Baron Ferrers of Groby
Spouse(s) Lady Anne Holland
Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington
Children Lord Edward Grey
Anthony Grey
Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset
Sir Richard Grey
Sir John Grey
Leonard Grey, 1st Viscount Grane
George Grey
Cecily Grey
Bridget Grey
Dorothy Grey
Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kildare
Margaret Grey
Eleanor Grey
Mary Grey
Parent(s) Sir John Grey of Groby
Elizabeth Woodville
Arms of Grey of Groby: Barry of six argent and azure

Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, 1st Earl of Huntingdon and 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 consort 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 - his first wife being Anne Holland (daughter of the King's sister, Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter), and his second wife, Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington. By the latter he had 14 children.


Thomas Grey was born in 1455 close to Westminster on the north bank of the Thames. He was the elder son of Sir John Grey and his wife Elizabeth Woodville, who later became queen consort to Edward IV of England. His younger full brother, Sir Richard Grey (1457-1483), was arrested by Richard, Duke of Gloucester on 30 April 1483, after being accused of plotting to take the throne. Gloucester's forces later executed Richard Grey at Pontefract Castle. The Grey brothers had ten half-siblings by their mother's marriage to Edward IV.


His mother endeavoured to improve his estates by the conventional methods of their class and time, through his marriages and purchase of wardships.

On the death of his stepfather, Edward IV, and his 12-year-old half-brother, Edward V's, accession to the throne on 9 April 1483, Grey proved unable to maintain his family's position. It was not possible to arrange a Yorkist regency. Internal fighting, particularly the long-established battle for ascendancy in Leicestershire between the Grey and Hastings families, now on the national stage, allowed Gloucester to seize power and usurp the throne. On 25 June 1483, an assembly of Parliament declared Richard III to be the legitimate king, and Thomas's uncle and brother, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers and Richard Grey respectively, 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, the future Henry VII, who pledged to marry Grey's half-sister Elizabeth of York and heal the Yorkist/Lancastrian division.

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 Queen's half-brother under control and Grey was not permitted to recover his former influence. 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 suppression of the Cornish rising in 1497.

Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, died in London on 20 September 1501, aged about 48, and was buried in the collegiate church of Astley, Warwickshire. His wife survived him and 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[4]-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,[5] Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington of Aldingham and 2nd Baroness Bonville, the wealthiest heiress in England.[6] 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.[5] 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:[5]



  1. Cokayne 1916, pp. 418-19.
  2. According to Richardson and Pugh he was born c.1455.
  3. 1 2 Pugh 2004.
  4. Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Digby 57, fol. 2*r
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Richardson II 2011, p. 304.
  6. Lympstone: From Roman Rimes to the 17th Century. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  7. Barley, Henry (1487-1529), of Albury, Hertfordshire, History of Parliament Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  8. Richardson II 2011, p. 93.
  9. Hyde 2004.
  10. Campling 1937.
  11. Challen 1963, pp. 5-9.
  12. '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) Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  13. Richardson II 2011, pp. 304-7.
  14. 1 2 3 4 Challen 1963, p. 6.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Richardson II 2011, pp. 304-6.
  16. Challen 1963, pp. 5-7.
  17. Richardson states that he was executed 28 July 1541.
  18. Richardson IV 2011, pp. 50-1.
  19. Lyons 2004.
  20. 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 )
  21. Byrne, Muriel St. Clare, (ed.) The Lisle Letters, 6 vols, University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, 1981, vol.1Byrne, vol.1, p.307
  22. Richardson I 2011, pp. 43-4.



Depictions in fiction

Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, is depicted in Shakespeare’sRichard III.

Peerage of England
New creation Marquess of Dorset
Succeeded by
Thomas Grey
Preceded by
Elizabeth Ferrers
and John Bourchier
Baron Ferrers of Groby
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