Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lady Jane Grey's Proclamation to Garner Support as Queen of England, and Warning about the Dominion of Papists

Lady Jane Grey (born 1536/1537) reigned briefly as queen of England for nine days in July 1553. The Protestant King Edward VI, prior to his death, had willed that Grey, also a Protestant, should inherit the throne instead of his oldest sister, Mary Tudor, an ardent Roman Catholic.

On July 10, 1553, Grey was proclaimed by the Lords of the Council as queen of England. Grey tried to garner support by issuing "a proclamation to the sheriff, justices of peace, and the gentlemen of Surrey."[1] All the while, Mary Tudor "was making strenuous efforts to supersede her unstable authority."[2]

In the proclamation, Grey gives glory to God, acknowledging His divine providence. In addition, Grey draws attention to the dangers and subversiveness of Roman Catholicism to the Protestant Christian state. This proclamation gives us an idea of how her reign might have been had she stayed on the throne; a God-honoring reign that would be committed to the Christian faith, and would defend this faith from the dangerous leaven of Roman Catholicism. 

Unfortunately, in the end, Mary Tudor and her supporters dethroned Grey on July 19, 1553, just nine days after her reign began. Grey would eventually be executed; the world was not worthy of Jane Grey.

Grey's warning about the dominion of papists went unheeded, although history would prove her right, as England would go on to face the tyranny of "Bloody" Mary.

Queen Jane Grey's proclamation to the sheriff, justices of peace, 
and the gentlemen of Surrey

Jane the Queen,

"Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. Albeit that our estate in this imperial crown, whereof we be actually and really possessed, as partly may appear by our proclamation, wherein our title is published, is not, nor can be, any wise doubtful to all such our good and faithful subjects as, setting blind affection apart, do, in reason and wisdom, consider the very foundation and ground of our title, with the great commodities thereby, coming through God's Providence to the preservation of our common weal and policy, yet for that we understand the Lady Mary doth not cease, by letters in her name, provoked thereto by her adherents, enemies of this realm, to publish and notify, slanderously, to divers of our subjects, matter derogatory to our title and dignity Royal, with the slanders of certain of the nobility and Council; we have thought fit to admonish and exhort you, as our true and faithful subjects, to remain fast in your obedience and duty to the imperial crown of this realm, whereof we have justly the possession, and not to be removed anywise from your duty by slanderous reports, or of letters dispersed abroad, either by the said Lady Mary, or by her adherents; for truly like as the nobility of our realm, our Council, our prelates, our judges, and learned men, and others, good, wise, godly, and natural subjects, do remain fast and surely in their allegiance towards us, ready to adventure their lives, lands, and goods for our defence, so can a great number of the same nobility, council, and judges truly testify to all the world, in safety of their conscience, how carefully and earnestly the late King, of famous memory, our dear cousin, King Edward VI., from time to time motioned and provoked them, partly by persuasions, partly commandments, to have such respect for his succession, if God should call him to His mercy without issue, as might be the preservation of the crown in the holy undefiled English blood. 

"Bloody" Mary Tudor
"And therefore, of his own mere motion, both by grant of his letters patent, and by declaration of his will, established the succession, as it is declared by our proclamation. And for the testimony hereof, to the satisfaction of such as shall conceive any doubt herein, we understand that certain of our nobility have written to you at this present, in some part to admonish you of your duties, and to testify their knowledge of the truth of our title and right. 

"Whereof we leave to proceed further therein, being assured, in the goodness of God, that your hearts shall be confirmed to own your duty to us, your Sovereign Lady, who mean to preserve this Crown of England in the Royal blood, and out of the dominion of strangers and Papists, with the defence of all you, our good subjects, your lives, lands, and goods, in our peace, against the invasions and violences of all foreign or inward enemies and rebels.

"Given under our signet, at our Tower of London, the 6th day of July, in the first year of our reign."[3]

Lady Jane Grey at her execution


[1] Robert Folkestone Williams, Domestic Memoirs of the Royal Family and of the Court of England: Chiefly at Shene and Richmond: Volume 2 (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1860), 86.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Cited in Ibid., 86-88.

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