Women who Married for Love

Chapter 7 : Frances Brandon

Love matches seem to have run in the Suffolk family. Frances Brandon (daughter of Mary and Charles Brandon), was married, aged 16, to Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset. On the death of Frances’ father, Henry was created Duke of Suffolk.

Frances and Henry were of an age, and well-matched. He was a zealous Protestant reformer and, together with the Duke of Northumberland, attempted to place their elder daughter, Lady Jane Grey, famous for her dedication to the Protestant religion, on the throne. Initially, the Suffolks were forgiven by Queen Mary, who perhaps remembered that she and Frances had once been close companions, but a second rebellion by Henry was too much, and he and Lady Jane were executed.

Frances was again allowed back into favour, and with her younger daughters, was kept close to the Queen until she remarried in 1555. Her choice fell upon one of her own servants: Adrian Stokes. The match was considered outrageous not only because of the disparity in rank (Stokes was the Duchess’ Master of Horse) but also because he was 22 to her 38. The couple had a mere four years together, with their three children dying in infancy, before Frances died in 1559.

Tomb of Frances Brandon

So far, all of the ladies mentioned found happiness with their husbands, no matter how shocked everyone else was - the final lady in our collection has a sadder story.