Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset

GREY, THOMAS, first Marquis of Dorset (1451–1501), born in 1451, was elder son of Sir John Grey, lord Ferrers of Groby (1432-1461) [q. v.], by Elizabeth Woodville, afterwards queen of Edward IV. He succeeded his father as ninth Lord Ferrers of Groby on 17 Feb. 1461. By his mother’s marriage to Edward IV in 1464 he obtained a position of importance, and was created Earl of Huntingdon on 14 Aug. 1471. In this same year he had fought for Edward IV at Tewkesbury, and was one of those who took part in the murder of Prince Edward. He became Lord Harington and Bonville by right of his wife in 1475. On 18 April in this year he was knighted, and on Whitsunday, 14 May, was made a knight of the Bath (Book of Knights, p. 4). He was created Marquis of Dorset on 30 May, and served in Edward IV’s expedition to France. Next year he was made a knight of the Garter, and was shortly afterwards appointed a privy councillor. On the accession of his half-brother as Edward V, Dorset became constable of the Tower, and prepared to support his relatives by equipping some vessels for war. When, however, Richard III obtained the throne, Dorset took refuge in sanctuary, and after a little time made his escape and took up arms in Yorkshire. In October 1483 a reward was offered for his capture (Fœdera, xii. 204); next year he took up arms in Buckingham’s rising, and proclaimed Henry of Richmond at Exeter. During this period he incurred many dangers (Fabyan, Chron. p. 670), but when the rising failed fled to Brittany, only to find Richmond still absent, and therefore proceeded to Vannes, but soon afterwards joined Richmond at Rennes. Dorset became one of Richmond’s principal supporters, but in 1485 his mother was reconciled to Richard III, and wrote to him, urging him to return to England. Dorset was then at Paris, and despairing of Richmond’s success he secretly started for Flanders, intending to proceed to England. Richmond hearing of his departure despatched Humphrey Cheney, who intercepted him at Compiègne, and prevailed on him to abandon his intention. Dorset did not take part in the expedition to England, for Richmond, who still mistrusted him, left him behind at Paris with John Bourchier as surety for a loan of money. After the victory of Bosworth Henry VII redeemed his pledge, and recalled Dorset to England, In 1485 Dorset’s attainder was reversed, and in November 1486 he received confirmation of his titles. In July 1486 he was justice of oyer and terminer for London and the suburbs (Mat. Hist. of Henry VII, i. 482). Next year, on Sinnel’s insurrection breaking out, he fell under suspicion, and was for a time committed to the Tower; but after the battle of Stoke on 16 June, he was released and restored to full favour (Polydore Vergil, pp. 572,578). In 1492 he took part in the expedition to assist Maximilian against the French, and in 1497 held a command in the royal forces raised to suppress the Cornish insurrection. Dorset died on 20 Sept. 1501, and was buried in the collegiate church of Astley, Warwickshire. He is described as ‘ vir bonus et prudens’ (ib. p. 567). He was an early patron of Wolsey, under whose charge he placed three of his sons at Magdalen College School, Oxford, and whom he presented to the living of Limington, near Ilchester, in Somersetshire (Cavendish, Life of Wolsey, pp. 4, 5, ed. Holme). Dorset married (1) in 1466 Anne, daughter and heiress of Henry Holland, duke of Exeter, an alliance which excited the displeasure of the Earl of Warwick (William of Worcester, p. 786), and (2) before 23 April 1475, Cicely, daughter and heiress of William Bonville, lord Harington. By his second wife he had seven sons and eight daughters; his two eldest sons died young: of the others, Thomas (1477-1530) and Leonard (d. 1541) are noticed separately.

[Polydore Vergils Hist. ed. 1555; Holinshed’s Chron.; Materials for Hist. of Reign of Henry VII in Rolls Ser.; Dugdale’s Baronage, i.719; Doyle’s Official Baronage, i. 617; Burke’s Dormant and Extinct Peerages, p. 249 ; Nichols’s Leicestershire. iii, 663.] Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23
Grey, Thomas (1451-1501) by Charles Lethbridge Kingsford

Leave a Reply