All right, so far, so good. We have a portrait of a girl in the precise fashions of Lady Jane Grey's youth. We have an engraving in the Royal Collection, dated c. 1700-1800, called Ieanne Grey, which is clearly based on this portrait, another version of it, or a copy. We have my (possibly subjective) opinion that the lady in the Duckett Portrait bears a certain resemblance to the lady in the Streatham Portrait, a portrait that bears the inscription Lady Jayne. We have my theory that the person who painted the Streatham Portrait or created the pattern for it 'borrowed' Queen Mary I Tudor's scarlet dress complete with Queen Mary I Tudor's jewellery, the famous brooch with La Peregrina, to create a full-length portrait, while keeping Lady Jane Grey's actual features and the distinctive necklace. We must also remember that Queen Mary I Tudor's own dress was black (or of a very dark colour) in the original painting by Anthonis Mor. The decision to change the colour of her dress in many of the resulting copies of the famous portrait in itself implies a conscious decision of the workshops.
But what about the provenance of the portrait? All that good stuff?
For 300 years, it was owned by [...] Sir Lionel Duckett, and his family. In 1832, it was put on sale in London with the rest of Sir George Duckett’s collection, and sold to Sir Joseph Neeld of Grittleton House near Chippenham Wiltshire. In 1851, it was described in the Grittleton catalogue as ‘the portrait of Queen Anne Boleyn’.
Who then, was Sir Lionel Duckett?
Lionel Duckett (1511 – August 1587) was one of the Merchant adventurers of the City of London. He was four times Master of the Mercers' Company, and Lord Mayor of London (1572).
He became enormously wealthy through his trading. He subscribed to Martin Frobisher's three voyages in search of the North-West Passage and to John Hawkins' voyage of 1562 which led to the formation of the Africa Company. In 1553, he acquired monastic and chantry lands in Surrey, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. In 1556, he also acquired lands in Somerset and Devon. In 1572, he bought the manor of Calne, Wiltshire. He later acquired property in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, and Kent. In 1565 he served as a Sheriff of London. In 1566, he also became Master of the Mercers' Company - a position he also held in 1571, 1577, and 1583. In 1572-73 he was Lord Mayor of London. He died in August 1587 and his will was proved on 20 February 1588.
He married twice. Firstly to Mary Leighton, by whom he had a short-lived son, George Duckett, and secondly to Jane Baskerville, (née Pakington, the widow of Humphrey Baskerville), on 29 June 1564 at St Peter, Westcheap, by whom he had a son Thomas Duckett (1566-1608).
All right. That doesn't actually make us all that much wiser. It tells us that he would have had the means to acquire the portrait if he so wished. But why would he want a picture of Lady Jane Grey? And how can we even be sure that if he should have acquired a portrait of her, believing it to be Lady Jane Grey, that it was actually her?
Well, as it turns out, our Lionel Duckett was a reformer.
«The Packington and Duckett families were in turn related by marriage and also associated with reform early on. Duckett, for example, served his apprenticeship in the Mercers under John Colet and was the lord mayor in 1573 responsible for banning excessive feasting and encouraging godly moderation.» Faith and Fraternity: London Livery Companies and The Reformation 1510-1603 by Laura Branch
Foxe's Book of Martyrs, a polemical account of the sufferings of Protestants under the Catholic Church, with particular emphasis on England and Scotland, was published in 1563. It was enormously popular and would catapult poor little Lady Jane Grey to fame.
A secondary motive for displaying a portrait of the Protestant icon Lady Jane Grey on his wall might have been to demonstrate his loyalty to the Protestant Elizabeth against her Catholic enemies. I can imagine that the richer and the more powerful he became the more important it would be to display that he had his loyalties in all the right places and no interest to pose a threat to the ruling order.
That Elizabeth's own feelings towards her cousin might have been slightly more complicated than 'Protestant heroine' would probably not have been known to Sir Lionel Duckett. He did not have access to Leanda de Lisle's excellent The Sisters Who Would Be Queen.
All right, so Lionel Duckett may very well have had the means and the interest to possess a portrait of Lady Jane Grey. That's all good and well. But what about opportunity?
It wasn't as if portraits of Lady Jane Grey were exactly thick on the ground in this period. In fact, we only know of two that with any certainty can be said to be of her and that belonged to people who knew her. One hung in 1566 in the bedchamber of Bess of Hardwick, a long-time friend of the family, and another was in the Lumley collection in 1590. John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley (c.1533–1609), to whom the collection belonged, was Jane's contemporary and married to her first cousin Jane FitzAlan, Baroness Lumley (1537–1578). There were for a time some confusion whether or not there were one or two portraits of Lady Jane Grey in the Lumley collection, but thanks to J. Stephan Edwards's research into and clarifications regarding the matter it is now clear that there was only ever one portrait of Lady Jane Grey inventoried in the Lumley collection, however, a half-length.
And it was here that I discovered something amazing.
Actually, I discovered two amazing things. But first things first:
«Investors flocked to buy shares. In all, 201 people invested in the new company – 199 men and two women, widows who probably inherited their stake from their merchand husbands. The merchands were dominant, and they included not only the principal doers – Sir George Barne and William Garrard – but also Sir Andrew Judde and his son-in-law, Thomas Smythe; Thomas Gresham and his uncle, Sir John; Lionel Duckett, Gresham's business partner and Thomas Lok, a Gresham family associate; and Sir John York, who had helped conduct the revaluation of the coinage just a few years earlier. Among the noblemen on list of investors were Henry FitzAlan, the Earl of Arundel, who was lord steward of the royal household; John Russell, Earl of Bedford, who was lord keeper of the privy seal; William Howard, baron Howard of Effingham, who was lord high admiral; and William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester, who was lord high treasurer. Henry Sidney and William Cecil were also investors. Although they had been close to John Dudley and supported Lady Jane Grey's succession, they had saved themselves and their positions through political cunning.» New World, Inc.: The Story of the British Empire’s Most Successful Start-Up by John Butman and Simon Targett
Lionel Duckett was in a business venture with Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel. Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel, was the father of the afore-mentioned Jane FitzAlan. He was Lady Jane Grey's uncle by marriage.
The Lumley collection included portraits of 196 contemporary sitters, and (unlike most inventories of the period) often named the painter. This collection included a portrait of ‘The Lady Jane Graye executed’. John Lumley acquired the nucleus of the Lumley collection from his father-in-law, Henry Fitzalan, 19th Earl of Arundel.
So we now have a direct link between Lionel Duckett and Lady Jane Grey's uncle, her family and also the man who either himself or his son-in-law owned one of the two paintings of Lady Jane Grey that we know actually existed.
Wait. It gets better.
JANE PACKINGTON (d.1589/90)
Jane Packington was the daughter of Humphrey Packington (1502-1556), a mercer, and Elizabeth Harding (d. September 27, 1563). On January 15, 1541 at St. Michael Bassishaw, London, Jane married Humphrey Baskerville or Baskerfield of Wolverley, Worcestershire (d. March 1564), a mercer and alderman. Their children, baptized between 1544 and 1561, were Elizabeth, Humphrey, Angelica, Sarah, Mary, Richard, Anne (March 10, 1559-May 14, 1622), and Martha. Another child was born posthumously. Baskerville left Jane a very wealthy widow. In his will, written September 1, 1563, he also appointed guardians from among his fellow mercers and relatives for his minor children. Anne and Martha were to go to Richard Hollyman, Humphrey to Thomas Heaton, Angell to William Leonard, Richard to John Jackson, and Sarah to Harry Hungate, who was married to Elizabeth and received £200 as her dowry. Jane was to bring up “the childe she nowe goeth withall.” On June 29, 1564 at St. Peter West Cheap, Jane married Lionel Duckett (1511-August 1587), another mercer and Lord Mayor of London in 1572-3. They had a son, Thomas (1566-c.1608), who was his father’s heir, the only child of a first marriage having died young. At the time his father died, Thomas was out of favor for marrying against his wishes. Jane died between September 8, 1589 and February 4, 1590. Jane Packington – A Who's Who of Tudor Women
Jane Pakington, Lionel Duckett's second wife and the mother of his heir, was the daughter of Humphrey Pakington. Humphrey Pakington was the brother of Sir John Pakington. Sir John Pakington had by his wife Anne Dacres two daughters, Ursula (d.1558), who married William Scudamore and Bridget, who married Sir John Lyttelton of Frankley, Worcestershire. Sir John Lyttelton and Bridget Pakington had a daughter, Elizabeth Lyttelton (1546 – 4 June 1594), who in 1564 married Sir Francis Willoughby (d. 16 November 1596) of Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire. Sir Francis Willoughby of Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire was Lady Jane Grey's first cousin.
Lionel Duckett's wife was the cousin of the wife of the cousin of Lady Jane Grey.
Not only that, but both couples, Lionel Duckett and his wife, and Sir Francis Willoughby and his wife Elizabeth Lyttelton, were married in the same year, 1564, one year after Foxe's Book of Martyrs was published.
The Pakington family was a close one. (Faith and Fraternity: London Livery Companies and The Reformation 1510-1603 by Laura Branch) So had the Grey family been until the fall of Queen Jane Grey.
It is therefore supremely unlikely that Lionel Duckett would have had a portrait on his wall of someone purporting to be Lady Jane Grey without it actually looking like her.