Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk & family

Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk was buried in St Edmund's chapel in Westminster Abbey. She was the elder daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk (d.1545) and his third wife Mary Tudor (d.1533), sister of King Henry VIII and widow of King Louis XII of France. She was born on 16th July 1517 at Hatfield. In 1533 she married, probably at Southwark, Henry Grey, 3rd Marquess of Dorset and later Duke of Suffolk. He was the son of Thomas Grey and Margaret (Wotton) and served as Lord High Constable and a Privy Councillor. But he was beheaded on Tower Hill for joining the Wyatt plot not long after the execution of his daughter Jane.

Their three daughters were Jane, Katherine and Mary. Lady Jane Grey was the "nine days queen", as proclaimed by her father after Edward VI's death, who was executed in 1554. Katherine married Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Mary married Thomas Keys (Keyes).

After the attempt to put Jane on the throne Frances was confined in the Tower of London for a time. She lived in poverty during the reign of Mary I and in about 1555 married her young master of horse Adrian Stock, or Stokes, (d.1585). Elizabeth I was said to remark "Has the woman so far forgotten herself as to marry a common groom?". She died on 21st November 1559 and was buried on 5th December.

Her monument

Adrian erected a fine alabaster monument for her, possibly by the sculptor Cornelius Cure. Her effigy wears an ermine-lined mantle over her dress, with a pendant round her neck. She lies on a rush mattress with a lion at her feet. Her coronet has been repaired and gilded. The date 1563 appears at the west end of the tomb. The inscription in English reads:

Here lieth the ladie Francis, Duches of Southfolke, daughter to Charles Brandon, Duke of Southfolke, and Marie the Frenche Quene: first wife to Henrie Duke of Southfolke and after to Adrian Stock Esquier

On the south side the inscription is in Latin and can be translated:

Dirge for the most noble Lady Frances, onetime Duchess of Suffolk: naught avails glory or splendour, naught avail titles of kings; naught profits a magnificent abode, resplendent with wealth. All, all are passed away: the glory of virtue alone remained, impervious to the funeral pyres of Tartarus [part of Hades or the Underworld]. She was married first to the Duke, and after was wife to Mr Stock, Esq. Now, in death, may you fare well, united to God.

Shields and lozenges around the base of the tomb (which have been re-painted) show the coats of arms of the families of Brandon, Stock or Stokes, Bruyn and Rokele.

Mary Grey

Her daughter Mary was buried with her in 1578 but has no tomb or marker. She was probably born in 1545 and became a maid of honour to Elizabeth I. She secretly married the much older Thomas Keys (or Keyes) (died 1571), the queen's sergeant porter, in August 1565. When it was discovered Keys was sent to the Fleet prison and Mary was confined at various houses. She later lived with her step-grandmother Katherine. She died at Aldersgate on 20th April 1578.

[Katherine was buried in the Seymour family vault in Salisbury Cathedral. There is a portrait of her with her son at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. Lady Jane Grey was buried in the chapel of St Peter in the Tower of London].

Margaret, Countess of Derby

Near Frances' tomb lies Margaret, Countess of Derby who died on 29th September 1596 and was buried on 22nd October. She was the daughter of Frances' only sister Eleanor, who had married Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland. Margaret was accused of witchcraft and imprisoned by her cousin Elizabeth I in 1590. She was released but forbidden to attend Court or live with her husband Henry (Stanley), Earl of Derby, whom she had married at the Chapel Royal in Whitehall in 1555. Her grave is unmarked.

Further reading for Frances, her parents and daughters

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004

"The Sisters who would be Queen. The tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey" by Leanda De Lisle, 2008

"The sisters of Lady Jane Grey" by R. Davey, 1911

A portrait of Frances and Adrian is at Chatsworth House


21st November 1559


Chapel of St Edmund

Memorial Type


Material Type


Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk & family
Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk & family
Effigy of the Duchess

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster