19 July 1553 – Mary I Proclaimed Queen

On this day in history, 19th July 1553, Mary I was proclaimed Queen. Her half-brother, King Edward VI, had died on the 6th July but it had been Lady Jane Grey who was officially proclaimed Queen on the 10th July, not Mary.


Mary had had to fight for her inheritance and fight she had. Once she heard of the death of Edward she had a meeting with prominent members of her household, told them of her plan to assert her right to the throne, sent one of her men, Thomas Hungate, to London with a proclamation of her accession and then announced to the rest of her household that she was in fact Queen.

A few days later, she moved from Kenninghall to Framlingham Castle, where she rallied her supporters. As Nasim points out in her blog article Wednesday, 12 July, 1553 – Mary arrives at Framlingham, “Mary’s cause had yet to reach a turning point. Jane’s hold on the throne was still secure; she still had the support of nearly all the highest peers in the land and of the church, and her armies were more significant than Mary’s”, Mary’s subsequent victory was far from assured at this time and she was risking her life in moving against Queen Jane and her council.

Over the next few days things began to swing in Mary’s favour:-

  • Mary’s supporters and forces grew – Mary was supported by men such as Sir Edward Hastings, the Earl of Sussex, Sir Thomas Cornwallis, Lord Wentworth, Sir Henry Bedingfield, John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford, and many prominent families of eastern England such as the Rochesters, the Jerninghams and Waldegraves.
  • Mary was proclaimed Queen in various counties and towns.
  • Queen Jane’s ship’s crews mutinied and offered their ships to Mary.
  • Members of the Privy Council began to desert Queen Jane – Sir Edmund Peckham, Lord Windsor and Sir Edward Hastings, and then the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke fled to Baynard’s Castle to be joined by William Paget.

Finally, on the 19th July 1553, the Earl of Arundel spoke to the Privy Council, who were split over who should be the rightful queen, and spoke against the Duke of Northumberland and how the rights of the true Queen, the Lady Mary, had been usurped. The council eventually agreed to proclaim Mary as Queen and Pembroke announced Mary’s accession to the people of London that afternoon. The reaction? Celebrations – ringing bells, street parties and bonfires. It was victory for Mary and London was happy.

In the Tower of London, Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, interrupted his daughter’s evening meal to inform her that she was no longer Queen. Her canopy of state was taken down and Lady Jane Grey turned from Queen to prisoner, Queen to traitor. The short reign of Queen Jane was over.

At this point, Mary was still in the dark. She did not find out that she had been proclaimed Queen until the 20th July when Paget and Arundel arrived at Framlingham to give her the news. It was the start of a new era, the reign of Queen Mary I.

Notes and Sources

11 thoughts on “19 July 1553 – Mary I Proclaimed Queen

  1. Poor Lady Jane, she seemed to be an innocent girl who never wanted to be Queen in the first place.

    Why did Mary have her executed? I don’t think Lady Jane would have been any threat to Mary if she was left alive, does anyone else agree?

    Mary was such a strong Catholic, her mother too, obviously, but was her father? Why did Mary feel the need to murder anyone who did not follow the Catholic religion? She was a bitter woman.

    Julie B.

  2. In Tudor times, innocent people were often executed in times of rebellion if their ancestry posed a threat to the royal line. Henry VII killed Edward, Earl of Warwick, along with Perkin Warbek because Warwick, as the nephew of Edward IV, had a claim to the throne; Henry VIII brutally executed the Countess of Salisbury (Edward IV’s niece) for a similar reason. Mary didn’t have Lady Jane executed until Jane’s father jointed the Wyatt Rebellion; that rebellion made Mary regret her initial mercy (only two or three people were beheaded for placing Lady Jane on the throne … suprisingly merciful for any ruler of that era).

    Also, at the time, it was common for rulers to execute people who did not worship as they did. Henry VIII executed people early in his reign for criticizing the Pope; after splitting with the Church, Henry executed people who defended Papal authority. The only difference is that Mary burned for heresy, whereas Henry called them traitors and they were hung, drawn and quartered. Either way, failing to worship as the ruler said meant a horrible death.

  3. Hi Julie

    I too feel sorry for Lady Jane, she didn’t want to be Queen and believed that Mary was the rightful heir. I don’t believe that Mary actually wanted to have her executed, from what I have read it seems to have been the case that she intended to imprison her for an indefinite period. However, Jane’s father was silly enough to become involved in Wyatt’s rebellion which in my opinion meant that Jane’s fate was sealed. It became clear that while Jane lived she would be a focus for Protestant rebellion (even though she wasn’t actually involved in the plots herself) and there was no choice for Mary but to have her executed. I think Mary must have agonised over that decision, Jane was after all her cousin and from all accounts Mary had been quite close to the family.
    Mary was very much a product of her time, the Inquisition had been happening in mainland Europe for some time and religious tolerance was virtually unheard of. The religion that was held by those in power was the right one, and anything else was just weird and wrong and had to be got rid of (they couldn’t just hang heretics, they had to burn them at the stake because of the belief that they would pollute the land if they were buried) .I think Mary was very damaged by the fallout of Henry and Katherine’s divorce and I think because she had given in to her conscience that one time (when she signed the document saying that her mother and father’s marriage had never been valid) and I think in a way she was trying to make up for it. I don’t think anyone nowadays would think what she did was ok, but there are reasons why she did the things that she did and her past probably had a lot to do with it.

  4. I am sure Mary had some good qualities, though I must be like a majority of people and know mainly the dark side of Mary’s reign.

    She had a happy childhood upto her father’s ‘secret matter’ began. Then times changed for the worst for her, and I think those times of being separated from her mother, bullied and neglected by her father, and never having the chance to marry young and have children, set her one the road to becoming the bitter, religious zealot she became.

    I am afraid, Julie B, that Jane would have become a very big threat eventually, not by Jane herself, but by anyone with the idea of causing an uprising against Mary,whether to do with religion or which ever other cause they thought the country would fair better with Jane as Queen, they would use her name as a figure head to raise armies of like-minded people, although Jane herself would have no knowledge and be completely innocent of these conspiracies, she would be implicated by name and Jane’s enemies would use this against her, therefore forcing the Queen to remove the threat. So unfair I know, but that was the way of things in those times… Similar to the situation between Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots, though Elizabeth took a lot longer to make the decision…

  5. Thank you Dawn, Valerie, and Esther for your responses.

    I agrre that these executions were part of normal procedures and that the fact that Mary burned people alive makes her seem like a “worse” tyrant.
    I guess John Dudley was to blame for Jane even becoming Queen in the first place. Would Mary have become Queen after Edward died if John Dudley didn’t interfere?
    Was Jane the first “woman” Queen?

  6. Esther, Valerie and Dawn – you’ve made excellent points about why Mary had Jane executed, but there is one more. Mary was contemplating marrying Philip II of Spain, and she was initially hesitant about it. However, she finally approved the match, but the Spanish ambassador, hearing about Wyatt’s Rebellion, supposedly pushed Mary to get rid of Jane, because she was a security risk, willing or not.

    Mary held firm, but the ambassador kept up the pressure, because the Spanish were worried about King Philip’s safety, if he came to a foreign country to marry, and that foreign country was embroiled in a war of succession or even a civil war over religion.

    The Wars of the Roses, back in Henry VII’s time was well known, and the Spanish did not want to risk their King to possible assassination attempts, especially since at this point, Philip did not have a legitimate heir. It was believed (whether it was true or not is anyone’s guess) that Richard III murdered the Princes in the Tower, and the Spanish did NOT want that happening to Philip. Wars of succession, revolutions, and civil wars are messy business.

    Sadly, this meant Jane had to die. Henry Grey is fully and wholly responsible for putting his daughter in this mess, but Mary I takes the blame for it.

  7. Julie, it is not exactly known why Jane & Guildford were executed at the time they were. The Wyatt rebellion was definitely not on behalf of Jane — she was obviously too “burnt” as a candidate to the throne. Princess Elizabeth was the much greater threat to Mary. Jane & Guildford simply were the weakest. Jane’s Mom & Dad and many other “adults” had gone free very soon after Mary’s accession, while J & G had been condemned to death as late as November 1553; the Wyatt uprising in February 1554 then gave Mary’s councillors an opportunity to get rid of reminders of their own past as Jane’s supporters. Interestingly, there continued to be conspiracies against Mary without Jane alive; they all had to do with France because England was then firmly in the Habsburg camp, and France and ‟Spain“ were at war. The Wyatt rebellion had likewise been caused by the planned match with Philip of Spain (Philip II).

  8. Hi everone
    I had forgotten about the spanish marriage urging for the threat Jane to be removed before it could go a head miladyblue.

    I maybe wrong Christine, but I think Jane’s mum reverted back to the catholic faith which saved her neck, the others might have done the same, but Jane wouldn’t, so that could possibly have been the final nail in poor Jane’s coffin, excuse the pun, she could also have been used as an example showing what would happen to anyone who questioned Marys right to be Queen… To be honest I think Mary felt threatened by any one that didn’t share her beliefs and it seems to become more apparent as her rule went on. But as miladyblue says I think it was the Spanish marriage that finally pushed Mary to the decision to execute Jane. Mary was so desparate to marry and have children of her own, with her biological clock running out fast she couldn’t afford to wait any longer. I agree Elizabeth was the greater threat, and why she never did the same to her, though she toyed with the idea, I can’t figure out, maybe she did feel the smallest of sisterly bond, though she kept it well hidden,or maybe she thought that it would really ‘hit the fan’ if she murdered her sibling, doing that and the very unpopular spanish match, would not put her at the top of the popularity chart, and make her reign very unstable, she certainly is an enigma, is Mary…

  9. Miladyblue, you may well be right. The Spanish ambassador reportedly pushed for Elizabeth’s execution around the same time (although they changed their position after it was clear that Mary would not have children.) Also, I have read in some books that ambassadors from Ferdinand and Isabella insisted on Henry VII executing Warbeck and Warwick before they would send Catherine to marry Arthur (and Catherine was reported to have said years later that it was this that cursed her marriages.)

  10. I think Mary was pushed to execute them after Jane’s father was implicated in Wyatt’s rebellion…She even let them all go free at first. only after Wyatt’s rebellion did she start executing people. I think she was told that Jane had to go because she would become a focal point for dissatisfied Protestants, much as Elizabeth did later. Sad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *