Monday, April 27, 2009

Question from Rhoda - Seal of Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley

I recently came across a copy of Richard Davey’s biography ‘The Nine Days Queen’ in a local library. A good wealth of information, but very outdated, as it was published in 1909.

Anyways, on pg. 266, the author mentions that in the Museum of Hastings there exists a supposed impression of Jane and Guilford Dudley’s seal. The image is described as having ‘an arched crown’ with the initials G.D. on either side. There are also ‘2 escutcheons, one to the left bearing the royal arms of England… and to the right, 2 animals, probably bears, grappling a ragged staff, the arms of the Dudleys…Under the escutcheons are the words IOANNA REG (Jane the Queen), and on either side the date 1553’.

Does anyone know about this seal impression? In all my readings on Jane Grey, this is the only source about it. I’m wondering if it wasn’t a fake of some sort, perhaps made centuries later even. For one thing, the inclusion of the G.D. (apparently for Guilford Dudley) - sounds fishy as he wasn’t even King Consort. He wasn’t even officially made a duke yet as Jane had tentatively promised him in the Tower of London.

Surely, the seal impression would’ve received attention from other historians if it were authentic.


PhD Historian said...

You are quite right to be suspicious, Rhoda. Leanda de Lisle and I have been exchanging emails recently discussing how unreliable Richard Davey's book about Jane Grey actually is, and how pieces of it appear to have been simply invented out of his imagination.

I have spent many years doing serious academic research on Jane Grey, and I have never once come across any hint that a seal was created for Jane Grey. In fact, the general question was asked of me on my own website some time ago, so you might read my response there:, see the question from Jennifer.

But you point out, from Davey, a very specific artifact reputed to be a seal of Queen Jane. And oddly, I do not recall having seen that in Davey myself, despite having read his book several times.

I did check the modern Hastings Museum website, but they do not have a searchable Collections database. I will send them a note to query them on the presence of such an object, as I would be interested to see it.

However, I might point out a few details that make me think the seal is a forgery. First, Jane's name in Latin is Jana, and was consistently rendered that way. "Joanna" is a quite different name. Further, "G.D." might also represent "Gratia Dei," the usual slogan of royalty. It would be very odd indeed for a "King Guildford" to have used his surname initial in a monogram. How many "HT"s have you seen, or "MT"s or "ET"s? Davey notes that the arms are in reversed positions, but ascribes this to "hurry" in making the seal. I strongly disagree. Heraldry was massively important in the Tudor period, and no amount of "hurry" would have caused any maker of the seal to make such a serious error.

I am by nature a skeptic, especially when it comes to artifacts related to Jane Grey. Until I have seen this seal in person and had a chance to examine it very carefully, I have to say I am 90% convinced that it is a forgery, probably from the 19th century.

Foose said...

You can see a drawing of the seal if you go to Google books and call up the "Sussex Archaeological Collections Relating to the History of the County" from 1856 -- the seal is on page 332. It looks like Davey might have lifted his information nearly verbatim from this source (?) rather than having actually viewed the item himself. The document reveals nothing more than Davey reports -- not the provenance, or any accounting for the discrepancies Phd historian notes.

PhD Historian said...

I could not find the reference provided by Foose, but I did find this one in a different publication:

And here again the text is remarkably similar to that in Davey ... but it would not be the first example of Davey "lifting" text and repeating it as his own.

Upon seeing the drawing of the seal, I am now convinced that the "GD" was intended by its designer, whether he was working in 1553 or at some much later date, to mean "Gratia Dei," not "Guildford Dudley."

The inclusion of the bear-and-ragged-staff next to the royal arms is a bit odd, to my mind. [The "royal arms" seen on the seal is actually just the shield from the full formal heraldic "achievement." The crest, helm, motto, supporters, and mantle are all absent (as would be expected in this context).] The bear-and-ragged-staff, however, are not actually part of the Dudley arms. They are instead the traditional badge of the earls of Warwick, beginning with the Beauchamp holders of that title in 1268. Richard Neville, the "Kingmaker" Earl of Warwick, used the badge on his seal in the late 15th century. And Robert Dudley used it in other setting (but not in his heraldic achievement, which can be seen in his portrait in the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon) in the Elizabethan period.

The use here of a badge rather than the actual Dudley arms may be ascribed to the complexity of the Dudley arms and its mutliple quarterings, which would be impossible to reproduce on a small seal ... even a forgery.

The original article on the seal was published by Mark Antony Lower in 1851, but that volume is apparently not available on the Internet, though the Huntington Library two hours drive from my house does have the entire collection. Next time I am there, I will check the original article. Perhaps that article gives some information on the provenance, etc.

But be assured that I will be following up on this issue! Thank you very much, Rhoda, for alerting all of us to the possible existence of a seal!

Foose said...

Sorry - I should have mentioned it's Book VIII of the Archaeological thingummy. Actually, the easiest way to see the seal in this source is go to Google Books, type in "jane grey seal" and it's the third selection that turns up.

Anyway, I wanted to reproduce the text from Davey and this source, to show that Davey might not actually have seen the seal, but rather borrowed its descriptions from other sources.

Here is Davey:
"In the Museum at Hastings there is the impression of a hexagonal seal which was to have figured on the State documents of "Queen Jane and King Guildford Dudley." Under an arched crown, between the initials 'G.D.' (Guildford Dudley) - a striking proof of the extent to which his claims to the Crown were carried - are two escutcheons, one to the left bearing the royal arms of England, lions and fleurs-de-lys, and the other to the right, two animals, probably bears, grappling a ragged staff, the arms of the Dudleys. Properly speaking, according to heraldic rule, the royal arms should be on the right and the family arms on the left. Doubtless the mistake was made due to the haste with which this seal was prepared. Under the escutcheons are the words 'Ioanna Reg,' and on either side the date 1553. The matrix of the seal seems to have been lost ..."

and here is the Sussex Archeological Collection:

"Impression from an hexagonal seal, taken from one in the Museum at Hastings; it is not known where the matrix exists. (See woodcut). It is supposed to be the seal of Lady Jane Grey, hastily made during the short period from her succession being proclaimed, July 10, 1553, until she abandoned the title of Queen, July 20. Under an arched crown between G.D., the initials of her husband Lord Guildford Dudley, are two escutcheons, one of the royal arms, the other charged with two animals grappling a ragged staff, possibly the cognizance of the Dudleys."

The two paragraphs are very close in the choice of words and narrative. Well, at least he didn't plagiarize from the Internet ...

PhD Historian said...

I received a note from Leanda de Lisle today regarding the seal. She checked with the museum in Hastings as well as the Hasting Museum in Worcestershire but was unable to locate the elusive seal. She suggests that it may have been "on loan" to either institution and may have been returned to some private collector. Its current whereabouts are unknown.

I am still suspicious that it was a modern 19th century forgery. The article cited by Foose, as well as the one that I found, make no mention of the seal being attached to any document. I find it very odd indeed that a seal impression would have survived completely intact for three centuries, independent of and separated from any document. And of all the documents surviving from the reign of Jane Grey, virtually none still have even a fragment of the seal attached. The closest we get is some reddish discoloration on several of the Loseley docuemtns at the Surrey History Center and the Folger Shakespeare Library indicating the former presence of a small seal, now lost.

Foose said...

It does seem suspicious. The 18th and 19th centuries abounded in historical forgeries, the latter particularly susceptible to the sentimental Protestant kind.

And, as Phd Historian pointed out, the drawing of the thing made it look so crude. Surely a Tudor master craftsman in the employ of the government who created these types of seals, even if under pressure -- and nobody knew Jane's regime would collapse so quickly --would have shown more care and observance of the conventions in the insignia and Latin.

Anonymous said...

I am, supposedly, a descendant of the family Grey. My grandmother was a descendant of a relative of the Greys when the persecution occurred. She married a below her station the only person of note who recognised her marriage was the Marquis of Anglesey. My father, (Richardson), still retains the very heavy gold chain that was has passed through the family. I would be very interested in any information wrt my , purported, family's history.
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