Mary and Anne are the only two daughters who are mentioned by name in their father's will.
Mary is singled out two times in her father's will, which was written on the 2nd of June 1530: «ALLSO I will my daughter marye have towardes hir marriage one thousand poundes so that she marye by thadvise of my wif, and after the deathe of my wif by thadvise of the more parte of myn executours [...] for lacke and defaulte of Issue male of my bodye laufully begotton I will that my doughter Marye have all and singulier my said [Manours?] londis and ten(emen)tis in the said counties of Combr and Lancastre to hur and to the heires of hur body lawfully begotton only»
She was probably dead before 1544, when she is not mentioned in the will of her brother-in-law Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor, along with the rest of her family.
In all likehood she was probably dead before 1533, when it is written in the household accounts of Princess Mary that on Tuesday the 15th of April, the Marchioness of Dorset, lady Matravers and her two sisters came to dine, implying that at that point there were only those three Grey sisters left.
The fact that she is singled out two times by name by her father could indicate that she was the eldest daughter, though this is by no means certain.
I still put her down tentatively as eldest daughter, though.
In all probability she died between the 2nd of June 1530 when her father made his will and the 19th of November 1532, the first occasion on which her sister is named as the wife of Lord Maltravers. Since her father singles out Mary two times in his will it is exceedingly likely that she was the eldest sister, and would have been the wife of Lord Maltravers herself if she had lived.
(The Maria uxor Walteri Douoreux Vicocom’ Heref. that is listed in the Heraldic Visitations of Leicester in 1619 as the daughter of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquis of Dorset and Margaret Wotton, was the daughter of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquis of Dorset and Cecily Bonville and the Mary Grey who married Walter Devereux, 1st Viscount Hereford prior to 1501. She was the sister of Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquis of Dorset, not his daughter. That Mary was the aunt of this Mary.)
Since she may have died before or shortly after Holbein's return to England and before he started painting court personalities, I hold the likelihood for the lady in the portrait being Mary less likely than it being one of her sisters.
There is also a mysterious Lady Margaret Grey that keeps appearing in many documents as very favoured by Henry VIII.
For a time I had great hopes Mary could have been a misreading Margaret.
Because a 'Lady Margaret Grey' is well-documented. She first appears as a receiver of a New Year's gift from Henry VIII in 1534. She must have been quite an important lady, because she was also in the second chariot as one of the 29 female mourners in the procession at Queen Jane Seymour's funeral.
In fact, Lady Margaret Grey is present on every list of New Year's Gifts from 1534 until 1540.
I thought that the abbreviation 'Marg.' may have been used in some document or letter or another. Handwritten, this could have been easily mistook for 'Mary'. However, Lady Margaret Grey appears to be the aunt of these girls, another of the many daughters of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquis of Dorset and Cecily Bonville.
This would make her the Margaret Grey who married Richard Wake, esquire. She is mentioned, as 'Margaret Grey', in the will of her brother, Sir John Grey, dated 3rd of March 1523. If that is the case, she married exceptionally late by the standards of the time, as she appears in the list of receivers of New Year's gifts in 1540. Nevertheless, this appears to be the case. On the list of New Year's gifts for 1541, however, Lady Margaret Grey is ominously and conspicuously missing after having been present on them since 1534, indicating perhaps a marriage taking place at this time.
She is, however, still referred to as Lady Margaret Grey in the household accounts of Princess Mary for November 1543 and for January 1544 when she gave the Princess a high collar for a partlet.
The editor of the household accounts of Princess Mary reaches the same conclusion I do and identifies her as Graye, Grey, Lady Margaret, 51, 55, 135, 144. Daughter of Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, and sister to Lady Kildare. She was subsequently married to Richard Wake of Hartwell, co. Northt., whim whom she lies buried, at Rode, in the same county.
So she was another aunt to these girls, not a descendant of Margaret Wotton, and therefore not in the running to be the sitter in this portrait.
Anne Grey (d. 1548) married Sir Henry Willoughby (slain on the 27th of August 1549 during Kett's Rebellion) of Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, by whom she had two sons, Thomas (d. 1559) and Sir Francis, and a daughter, Margaret.
The Pathway to Prayer, originally composed in 1542, was later dedicated to Lady Anne Gray. It may be Lady Jane Gray's aunt, if this Anne was the third daughter of Thomas Gray, Second Marquis of Dorset,' Between request and song of hope: the horizon of prayer in Thomas Becon
However, the rest of the account is riddled with mistakes.
The dedication may very well have been to this Lady Anne Grey, however, as all of the Greys seemed strong in book learning and lacking in common sense.
However, as this Lady Anne Grey would probably have been known as Mistress Willoughby at this point, it is far more likely that the dedication is to one of her aunts by marriage. Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquis of Dorset had two sisters-in-law who went by Lady Anne Grey, also after having been widowed by his brothers and their subsequent remarriages.
Anne was «married by agreement dated 20 Sept. 1528.» Initially, I took this to mean that she was at least at the canonical age of consent of 12 at this point, and in all probability older, however, her father's will makes it clear that Anne was in fact still under the canonical age of consent of 12 nearly two years later when he wrote his will on the 2nd of June 1530.
«Allso I will that if the mariage solemnised and had betwene Anne my doughter and Henry Willowghby Esquier sonne and heire apparannt of s(ir) Edwarde Wyllowghby knyght be dyssolvid by reason and disag^r^ement of either of them at their laufull age of consent or by reason of dethe of the same Henry Willowghby and before carnall knowledge had betwene them that then the said Anne shalhave towardes hir mariage one thousand poundes sterling as hir other susters shalhave.»
Henry Willoughby was also under the canonical age of consent when the will was written, which was 14 for boys.
Ordinarily a marriage could not be contracted until the parties had reached the age of seven, but the Church found it difficult to enforce this as marriage alliances were so popular, and amended their stance on the matter to that an urgent need such as the desire for peace, not only internationally, but even between disputing landowners would be grounds for exception.
If we make the assumption, however, that both Henry Willougby and Anne Grey both were at least seven years old in compliance with the law when their marriage contract was drawn up in 1528, that means that Anne Grey was born between the 2nd of June 1518 and the 20th of September 1521 and Henry Willougby between the 2nd of June 1516 and the 20th of September 1521.
A birth of around 1520 seems to fit well for Anne Grey. Her eldest son was born around 1540, indicating that the marriage was consummated shortly before or around that time. All of the three surviving Grey sisters appear to have had their marriages consummated and their first child born when they were around 21–22 years of age.
As previously mentioned, the children born to the marriage of Lady Anne Grey and Sir Henry Willoughby were:
- Sir Thomas Willoughby (c.1540–1559)
- Sir Francis Willoughby (1546/7–1596)
- Margaret Willoughby (1544-1578+), who married her second cousin and the nephew of Queen Katherine Howard Sir Matthew Arundell (c.1533 – 24 December 1598) of Wardour Castle