Sunday, 11 July 2010

Tuesday, 11 July 1553 – Confusion in Ipswich and an earl’s support is secured

Non aliena putes homini, quæ obtingere possunt:
Sora hodierna mihi, tunc erit illa tibi

Do never think it strange,
Though now I have misfortune,
For if that fortune change,
The same to thee may happen.

(Verse written by Jane Grey during her imprisonment in the Tower)

Whilst Mary was preparing to move to Framlingham, Thomas Wentworth, Baron Wentworth and his cousin Sir Thomas Cornwallis, sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, received instructions from the Council to proclaim Jane queen in Ipswich. This they duly did though they soon learnt that Thomas Poley, a servant of Mary’s, had come to the town and announced her accession there. Standing in the market place, he boldly declared that Mary was the rightful queen and then gathered his men and fled. Poley had succeeded in not only alerting the people of Ipswich to Mary’s stand but in disturbing Cornwallis. Now he ‘had reached the crossroads’, as one contemporary put it. Clearly his heart was not fully with Jane’s cause and he had taken note of the sympathy for Mary amongst the people. Perhaps more importantly, his wife was a relation of Henry Jerningham, one of Mary’s most loyal allies. Quickly making up his mind he rode to Framlingham, reaching it the next day, and paid homage to Mary. It would take Wentworth another three days to come to the same conclusion.

Meanwhile in London men were called to assemble on Tothill Fields and ordered to guard the city against possible attack. The duke and fellow conspirators realised that Mary could be drawing upon significant support and prepared for the possibility that she may advance to London. This was the worst case scenario and not one the duke was prepared to happen. Hence he, along with the William Parr, marquess of Northampton and Francis Hastings, second earl of Huntingdon (whose son was married to Northumberland’s daughter) would ride out with armies to suppress Mary’s supporters. There is ambiguity about the exact date of the duke’s departure – the 12the to the 14th has been given – but it is clear that by this date he was preparing to muster forces and leave. Given that letters written on the 12th indicated that the men were ‘presently in the field’, it seems the 12th is the more likely date. Clearly the duke wanted to deal with Mary sooner than later.

In Spain, English diplomat Sir Richard Shelley had the hapless task of informing Mary’s cousin, Charles V, of the accession of Jane Grey and the unsuitability of Mary as a claimant. If Charles or Mary begrudged Shelley for completing this task they never showed it. He would remain in his position and two years later granted an annual income of £50 for life.

Mary had won the support of various gentlemen of the counties she was strongly affiliated to, including men of her household. Yet she had yet to secure the support of a prominent peer. All this was about to change. Sir John Huddleston, the same man who had housed Mary as early as the 4th, was busy recruiting support for his queen in local areas. He had heard that Robert Dudley was still operating with an army nearby, making him vigilant of individuals he encountered on the roads. Along the way he came across a young man of about twenty. The man was carrying letters to the Council in London detailing Mary’s activities. So far so good; Huddleston had acquired an excellent prize. But he quickly learnt that the man was more valuable than that. For he was none other than Henry, second son of Henry Radcliffe, second earl of Sussex. As Robert Wingfield would put it, ‘fortune was beginning to smile on scared Mary’s righteous undertaken’. Young Henry was quickly captured and a letter dispatched to his father detailing what would happen if he persisted in his support for Jane. Now the earl had to decide: his son or Queen Jane. For the earl it was not a particularly hard decision to make. Whilst the anxious earl wrote to his son’s captors and preparing to ride to Framlingham, young Henry was taken to Mary who was ‘thoroughly delighted with his arrival’. She had every reason to be.

(Image – Medal of Sir Richard Shelley by Bernardo Rantvic, 1577)


  1. Very interesting post. Could you tell me the origin of the medal illustration please? Do you also have an image of the reverse of the medal? I am interested in medals related to the Order of St. John. My email address is Thanks David Dandria,

  2. Thank you!

    Unfortunately I have no additional information on the medal. The image is included in the Oxford DNB entry for Sir Richard Shelley, which merely states the artist, the date of the piece, and that copyright is held by the British Museum (though the object is not catalogued in their online database and I have never seen it on display).

    More information can be found in Edward Chaney and Peter Mack (eds.), England and the Continental Renaissance: essays in honour of J.B. Trapp (Woodbridge, 1990).

    Unfortunately, only some of the pages have been uploaded on google books; the pages of relevance are not available to preview online. It does briefly discuss the medal and includes images of the medal (figure 8 – not online). From the limited information included, it does appear that a reverse of the medal is shown. Apparently it depicts an arm emerging from a cloud, clutching Shelley’s arms and crest.