Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent

GREY, EDMUND, first Earl of Kent (1420?–1489), high-treasurer of England, was eldest son of Sir John Grey, K.G., by Constance, daughter of John Holland, duke of Exeter, and grandson of Reginald, third lord Grey of Ruthin [q. v.] He was born about 1420, served in Aquitaine before 1440, was knighted on 9 Oct. 1440, having succeeded his grandfather as fourth Lord Grey of Ruthin on 30 Sept. In November of that year he was chief commissioner for a loan in Bedfordshire. His name occurs several times as present at meetings of the privy council in 1443. During the wars of the Roses Grey at first sided with the king, and in 1449 some of his followers killed William Tresham while on his way to join the Duke of York (William of Worcester, p. 769), He was summoned to the great council in 1454 (Proc. Privy Council, vi. 186), and in 1466 was a commissioner in Bedford to raise money for the defence of Calais (ib. vi. 241). In 1457 he was falsely accused, along with Ralph, lord Cromwell, and Sir John Fastolf, before the privy council by a priest named Robert Colynson (ib. vi. lxvi; cf. Paston Letters, i. 344). Grey seems to have fallen under suspicion with the king, for at the parliament at Coventry in December 1459, when the Duke of York was attainted, he is said to have `declaird himself worshipfuly to the kinges grete plaisir’ (Paston Letters, i. 500). But next year, at the battle of Northampton on 10 July, where he led the vanguard of the royal army, he went over to Warwick, and so decided the day in favour of the Yorkists (William of Worcester, p. 773). For this he was rewarded by Edward IV with a grant of the manor of Ampthill. On 24 June 1463 he was made treasurer of England and a privy councillor. He was created Earl of Kent on 30 May 1465, and chief justice of the county of Merioneth on 28 Aug. of the same year. He was a commissioner of array in Kent in 1470, and in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire in 1471. He carried the second sword at the coronation of Richard III on 7 July 1483, and in the same year was appointed a commissioner of oyer and terminer in London and the adjoining counties. Kent obtained confirmation of his titles from Richard III in 1484 and Henry VII in 1487. He died in 1489, having married Katherine, daughter of Henry Percy, second earl of Northumberland, by whom he had three sons and two daughters. There is a letter from Kent, then Lord Grey, dated 11 July 1454, in the ‘Paston Letters’ (i. 244).

He was succeeded by his second son, George Grey, second earl of Kent (d. 1503), soldier, who was born before 1455. He was knighted in 1464 (William of Worcester, p. 784). During his father’s life he was styled Lord Grey of Ruthin. He served in Edward IVs army during his expedition to France in 1475. On 5 July 1483 he was made a knight of the Bath, in 1485 was constable of Northampton Castle, and held a command in the royal army during Simnel’s insurrection in 1487 (Speed, Chron. p. 744). In 1488 he was appointed commissioner to muster archers in the counties of Bedford and Northampton. Next year he succeeded his father as Earl of Kent. In 1491 he was one of the commanders of the force sent, under Jasper Tudor, duke of Bedford, to assist the Emperor Maximilian in France (Polydore Vergil, Hist. ed. 1585, p. 584), and again in 1497 held a similar position in the army which defeated the Cornish rebels at Blackheath (ib. p. 601). He died on 21 Dec. 1503, having married, first, in 1465, Anne Woodville, viscountess Bourchier, third daughter of Richard, earl Rivers, and sister of Elizabeth, queen of Edward IV (William of Worcester, p. 785, but Doyle says after 26 June 1480); Anne died on 30 July 1489. Kent afterwards married as his second wife Katharine Herbert, third daughter of William, first earl of Pembroke.

[William of Worcester’s Annales in Letters … illustrative of Wars of English in France, vol. ii. (Rolls Ser.); Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner; Sir Harris Nicolas’s Proceedings of the Privy Council, vols. v. vi.; Dugdale’s Baronage, i. 718; Collins’s Baronies by Writ, p. 253, where a genealogy of the family is given; Collins’s Peerage, ii. 516, ed. 1779; Doyle’s Official Baronage, ii. 281-2.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23
Grey, Edmund by Charles Lethbridge Kingsford

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