Lady Jane Grey was born in October 1537. She was the daughter of Henry Grey and Frances Brandon, daughter of Henry VIII’s youngest sister, Mary. She was well educated and also a devout Protestant.
At the age of 9 years she was sent to court under the protection of Katherine Parr. After the death of Henry VIII she stayed with Katherine Parr. When Katherine Parr married Thomas Seymour, Jane joined their household.
Following Katherine Parr’s death in 1548, Jane became the ward of Thomas Seymour. Seymour tried, unsuccessfully, to arrange a marriage between Jane and Prince Edward. In 1549 Thomas Seymour was executed for treason and Jane became the ward of John Dudley.
In 1551 John Dudley was created Duke of Northumberland and Edward VI’s chief councillor.
By 1552 it was apparent that Edward VI would not survive to adulthood. John Dudley realised that if Mary or Elizabeth were to take the throne he would lose his high position. Since both Mary and Elizabeth had been declared illegitimate, Jane Grey had a claim to the throne. Dudley therefore decided to marry Jane to his son Guildford. The wedding took place on 25th May 1553.
Edward VI died on 6th July 1553. He had proclaimed Jane Grey as his successor on his deathbed over-ruling the terms of the Third Succession Act of 1543 which had restored Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession.
Dudley attempted to withhold the news that Edward had died because he wanted to capture Mary and prevent her from gathering support and taking the throne from Jane. However, the plan failed and although Jane was officially proclaimed Queen on 10th July 1553, it was Mary that the people believed should be Queen.
Although Dudley attempted to raise a force against Mary, support for Mary was greater and on 19th July Mary was proclaimed Queen. Jane and her husband were imprisoned in the Tower of London. John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland was executed on 21st August 1553.
In January 1554 Thomas Wyatt led a rebellion against the marriage of Mary to Philip II of Spain. Many nobles joined the rebellion and called for Jane to be restored as Queen. Mary was pressured into authorising the execution of Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley to prevent further rebellions.
Jane Grey and her husband were executed on 12th February 1554.