Anne Brandon, Baroness Gray of Powys

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Anne Brandon, Baroness Gray of Powys (between 1506 and 1509 ; † January 1558 ) was an English noblewoman and eldest daughter of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk from his marriage to Anne Browne. Born under obscure circumstances and under constant suspicion of illegitimacy, she fought all her life for social recognition as her father's co-heir. Her adultery and open coexistence with her lover caused a scandal and led to her separation from her husband Edward Gray, Baron Gray of Powys . Through her half-sister Frances Brandon , she was an aunt of the Nine Day Queen Lady Jane Gray .



Anne was born in London as the eldest daughter of Charles Brandon and Anne Brownes. Her exact date of birth is controversial as her parents' marriage started anything but normal. Charles Brandon had become aware of Anne Browne in about 1503, a daughter of Sir Anthony Browne of Calais, who was serving as lady-in-waiting to the Queen Elizabeth of York . The two became engaged in front of Brandon's patron Henry Bourchier, the 2nd Earl of Essex , which at the time was as binding as an actual marriage, and Anne became pregnant. However, in the summer of 1506, Brandon left his pregnant fiancée and instead married her aunt Dame Margaret Mortimer, who was nearly twenty years his senior.

Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk.jpg
Mary Brandon, Baroness of Monteagle.jpg

Anne's father, Charles Brandon, and her younger sister, Mary Brandon, Baroness Monteagle

Meanwhile, Anne Browne gave birth, most likely Anne Brandon. The Biographica Britannia states: "Sir Charles Brandon signed a contract to marry a lady named Mistress Anne Browne and before the wedding he had a daughter with her who later married Lord Powys." However, it is no longer clear today whether Anne Brandon was actually the child Anne Browne was pregnant with in 1506, as years later friends would claim that Anne Browne miscarried because of the shock of Brandon's betrayal. In any event, Charles Brandon returned to Anne Browne in 1508 and married her. Shortly after the birth of a second daughter named Mary, named after her godmother María de Salinas , Anne Browne died in the summer of 1510.

Around 1514, Charles Brandon, now known by his new title Suffolk , managed to accommodate his eldest daughter at the court of Margaret of Austria , who also had the young Anne Boleyn under her care. However, it is unknown whether Anne Brandon ever had contact with the future queen. With her came a girl, unknown by name, to Margaret's court, whom Suffolk claimed to have rescued and adopted. She was intended to be Anne's friend and companion, but she was brought back to England when Suffolk's flirting with Margaret outraged the European courts.

Thus Anne remained alone at the regent's court for about a year, but shortly after Suffolk's marriage to Mary Tudor , the French royal widow insisted on taking the girl into her household. Margarete herself protested against this decision on the grounds: "If you will leave her to me, I intend to raise her in such a way that it should give you reason to rejoice." Suffolk stated that she wanted to leave Anne at Margaret's court, which corresponded to it but at the request of his wife and had his daughter brought back to England in the summer of 1515 by Sir Edward Guildford and William Wodale. Together with her younger sister Mary and the soon -to-be-followed half-siblings Frances , Eleanor and Henry , Anne grew up mostly in Westhorpe over the next few years.

Baroness Gray of Powys

Two years after his marriage to Mary Tudor, Suffolk acquired the guardianship of the underage Edward Gray, 3rd Baron Gray of Powys . As a legal guardian, he now had the right to decide whom Edward Gray should marry and became engaged to Anne. To make this marriage possible, Suffolk, or even a friend of his, had to pay a thousand pounds. The two married in March 1525 in Welshpool , Wales and Anne was given the courtesy title of Baroness Gray of Powys , although she became better known under the name "Lady Powys".

In 1528, Suffolk finally took steps to secure the legitimacy of Anne and her half-siblings of Mary Tudor. The annulment of his marriage to Margaret Mortimer had not been confirmed by Rome at the time, so both Anne and Mary Tudor's children would have been bastards under current law. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey eventually managed to get a papal bull stating that Suffolk's marriage to Mortimer was indeed invalid and that only Anne Browne and Mary Tudor Suffolk were legitimate wives. Nevertheless, Anne was still not viewed on a completely equal footing with her siblings, since, unlike them, she was very likely born out of wedlock and only subsequently legitimized by her parents' marriage.

The landscape of the former
Powys Barony

In the next few years Anne was often to be found at court. In January 1532 she received silver falcon hoods as a gift and later became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Jane Seymour . The marriage with Edward Gray turned out to be more and more difficult. Although Suffolk did its best for the couple, for example by giving them a court as a gift in the early 1530s, the two were not happy together. The marital crisis worsened when Anne took a lover, Esquire Randall Haworth (sometimes Randolph or Ralf). A contemporary described Anne and her sister Mary, who also struggled with marital problems, as "beautiful women" who, however, "got on the wrong track and became vulgar women." Since Anne stopped bothering to hide her affair at some point, there were some scenes between her and Edward Gray. The Baron had Haworth forcibly removed from Anne's bedroom in a nightly operation and kidnapped him.

Horrified at the disgrace Anne brought on the family, Suffolk asked Minister Thomas Cromwell to “remain in favor of my daughter Powys” and promised to be a good father to her “as long as she followed your advice and afterwards Live an honest life, so it does you and me credit. ”However, Anne ran away with Haworth and refused to return to her husband. Edward Gray then declared the official separation from his wife in 1537, even if the marriage lasted on paper. Cromwell's brokerage secured her an annual pension of £ 100. According to a source, Anne and Haworth subsequently lived in the parish of St Clement Danes . In 1540, Edward Gray went to court again, this time on charges that his wife and her lover planned to murder him. He also demanded that Anne should be prosecuted for adultery because she "continued her abomination and fornication every day." However, his efforts were unsuccessful. Possibly the allegations prompted Suffolk to disinherit its eldest daughter. Financially speaking, the disinheritance was a hard blow to Anne, since as an adulteress she was no longer entitled to her wittum .

Inheritance disputes

Holbein Henry Brandon 2nd Duke of Suffolk.jpg
Holbein Charles Brandon 3rd Duke of Suffolk.jpg

Henry and Charles Brandon, Anne's half-brothers and heirs to her father

After the death of her father in 1545, Anne was unwilling to let her exclusion from the line of succession rest. Her sister Mary had since died and her father's main heir was Henry Brandon, 2nd Duke of Suffolk , his eldest son from his marriage to Katherine Willoughby . In addition to him, his mother, brother Charles Brandon and their half-sisters Frances and Eleanor were also included in Suffolk's will. Eleanor Brandon wrote in her only surviving letter to her husband Henry Clifford: "My sister Powys has come to see me and desperately wants to see you, which, given the circumstances, is likely to happen soon." Anne may have been motivated by sisterly concern there Eleanor was sick at this point. However, it is also possible that the visit had something to do with Anne's efforts to secure her share of the inheritance.

Anne's chances of being recognized as her father's legitimate heir rose considerably when her half-brothers Henry and Charles died of English sweat in July 1551 . With the male line of the Brandon house now extinct, Anne, as Suffolk's eldest daughter, was theoretically first in line of succession. The doubts about their legitimacy made this claim more difficult. First, she secured the support of Judge John Beaumont from Chancery, who helped her with the forgery of various papers. According to these papers, her father Suffolk had allegedly bequeathed her several lands, which in fact belonged to her sister Frances. Beaumont's reward for the forgery was Anne selling him these fraudulent lands so that his own holdings increased. Anne herself kept the profit from the sale of the land and received a farm from Beaumont that belonged to an estate. However, the hoax was discovered in 1552 and on February 9th Beaumont was ordered by the young King Edward VI. thrown in jail. For Anne, however, no punishment is recorded. In the summer of that year, her husband Edward Gray died, after which Anne married her long-time lover Haworth. He and she tried several times in the following years to claim Annes Wittum in court.

As the next maneuver to enforce her inheritance claim, Anne tried to prove in court in 1552 that her half-sisters were illegitimate, as Suffolk's divorce from Margaret Mortimer had not yet been ratified at the time of her birth. Since her own legitimacy was questionable, she took friends on the stand who stated that Anne Brandon was not born until after her parents got married. The child Anne Browne was pregnant with at the time of Suffolk's marriage to Margaret Mortimer would have died in a miscarriage. Frances Brandon and her husband, on the other hand, swore that Anne was conceived and born out of wedlock. There was also another difficulty. The exact date of birth of a child was usually only determined when one of the parents died, and that only if the child was the main heir. So there were no records of Anne's actual date of birth. Finally, to clear the mess, Walter Devereux, Viscount Hereford and Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, were interviewed as witnesses. The very elderly Norfolk was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time and had to be taken out of his cell especially for the trial. Both agreed that Suffolk had a relationship with Anne Browne before she married, with Hereford confirming that Anne was born out of wedlock. Her sisters Frances and Eleanor, however, were confirmed by the court as legitimate and lawful heirs.

Eleanor Brandon had now died and her inheritance claims had passed to her daughter Margaret Clifford . She, Mary Brandon's son Sir William Stanley, and Frances Brandon were now Anne's contenders for Suffolk's inheritance. To resolve the dispute, an attempt was made on September 15, 1554 to reach an agreement. It stipulated that Anne should receive an annual pension of 100 English marks. In the event of her death, her husband Haworth would receive 40 English marks as an annual pension. Anne's marriages had both remained childless, so that, unlike her sisters, her rights would not be passed on to offspring. Each party was required to give £ 3,000 bail as a guarantee that the agreement would be upheld. But soon another dispute broke out over the lands from Suffolk's estate, which would revert to Suffolk's remaining heirs after the death of his widow Katherine Willoughby. In May 1557 another attempt was made to keep the agreement. Eventually it was agreed to repay Anne and Randall for their arrears and expenses. The amount was £ 100.


Anne Brandon died in January 1558. In her will she described herself as Suffolk's legitimate daughter and co-heir and named two places where she wanted to be buried. The first desired location was St Paul's Cathedral "right above the steps that led to the altar", the second Westminster Abbey . On January 13, she was buried either in Westminster Abbey itself or in the adjacent St Margaret's Church . Her religious orientation is not known, but since Queen Maria I ruled at the time of Anne's death , the burial was carried out according to the Catholic rite "with great pomp". Her younger sister Frances Brandon, with whom she had been in legal dispute for the last few years, only survived by a year.


  • Steven J. Gunn: Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. C. 1484-1545 . Blackwell, Oxford et al. a. 1988, ISBN 0-631-15781-6 .
  • George Lillie Craik: The Romance of the Peerage Or Curiosities of Family History: The Kindred of Queen Anne Boleyn . Chapman and Hall, London 1866, pp. 1-17 ( online ).
  • Barry Coward : The Stanleys, Lords Stanley and Earls of Derby, 1385-1672 . The Origins, Wealth and Power of a landowning Family . Chatham Society, Manchester 1983, ISBN 0-7190-1338-0 ( extracts online ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Steven Gunn: Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, c . 1484-1545 . 1988 Blackwell Publishers, p. 28
  2. ^ Biographica Britannia Or: Lives of the Most Eminent Persons Who Have Flourished in Great Britain and Ireland From the Earliest Ages, down to present times . Volume 4, p. 2405: "Sir Charles Brandon [...] made a contract of matrimony with a gentlewoman called Mrs. Anne Browne, and before any solemnization of that marriage [...] had a daughter by her, which after was married to the lord Powes "
  3. ^ Steven Gunn: Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, c . 1484-1545 . 1988 Blackwell Publishers, pp. 30-31: "Not only was his embassy canceled, he also had to offer partially to cut his links with Margaret's court, by recalling a girl he had adopted and placed there as companion to his daughter Anne, whom the regent had undertaken to bring up in her household. "
  4. ^ Steven Gunn: Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, c . 1484-1545 . 1988 Blackwell Publishers, p. 57: "si vous la me eusses laissee, j'avoje inte [n] cion de la si bien traicter que eusses eu cause de vous rejouir"
  5. Suffolk to Margarete Savoy "Thanks her for the reception she has given to his daughter Anne, whom he had intended to leave permanently with her, but the Queen is desirous of her presence. Sends, therefore, Sir Edward Guildford and William Wodale to conduct her to England. "
  6. a b c Steven Gunn: Brandon, Charles . In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Volume 7: Box - Browell. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004
  7. a b c Barry Coward: The Stanleys, Lords Stanley and Earls of Derby, 1385 - 1672: The Origins, Wealth and Power of a landowning Family . Chatham Society, London 1983, p. 29
  8. Duke of Suffolk to Cromwell, July 1534 : "Granted the farm more than half a year ago to lord Powes and his wife, the Duke's daughter. They intend to be there shortly, and lie there, so that he cannot comply with Cromwell's request . "
  9. ^ Steven Gunn: Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, c . 1484-1545 . 1988 Blackwell Publishers, p. 174: "Though 'handsome women', they reportedly 'took to evil courses, and became common women"
  10. Charles Duke of Suffolk, to Cromwell, June 30, 1537 Begs him still to continue his goodwill to his daughter Powes, to whom he will be good lord and father if she will follow Cromwell's advice and live after such an honest sort "as shall be to your honor and mine. "
  11. ^ State, Sovereigns and Society in Early Modern England . Ed .: Charles Carlton. St Martin's Press 1998, p. 16
  12. ^ A b c Lady Doris Mary Parsons Stenton: The English woman in history. Studies in the Life of Women . 1977 Schocken Books, p. 63
  13. Barbara J. Harris: English Aristocratic Women 1450-1550. Marriage and Family, Property and Careers. 2002 Oxford University Press, p. 86: "continually and daily persevering in her abomination and whoredom"
  14. BRANDON (B. Powis) Anne Brandon (B. Powis)
  15. ^ Dulcie M. Ashdown: Tudor Cousins: Rivals for the Throne . 2000 Sutton Publishing, p. 59
  16. a b c d George Lillie Craik: The Romance of the Peerage Or Curiosities of Family History: The Kindred of Queen Anne Boleyn . 1866 Chapman and Hall, pp. 256-257
  17. ^ Gilbert Burnet: The history of the reformation of the Church of England, Volume 4. 1839 London, p. 232
  18. Starkey, David (ed.): Rivals in Power: Lives and Letters of the Great Tudor Dynasties Macmillan, London 1990, p. 40
  19. ^ A b Morris Charles Jones: The Feudal Barons of Powys . 1868 J. Russell Smith, p. 89