Who was Lord Grey?


Lord Henry Grey (the 4th), 7th Baron of Codnor (born 1435 / died April 1496)

 (This ancient barony was created simply as Grey by writ, but is referred to as "Grey of Codnor" to distinguish it from other Grey baronies, and so as not to be confused with the extant Grey earldom "of tea fame",  which was a different family) 

  • Lord Henry Grey was heavily involved in the Wars of the Roses and was present at many of the great battles including, Towton 1461, Barnet 1471, Tewkesbury 1471, Bosworth 1485 and Stoke 1487

  • In the early years of the battles eventually called the Wars of the Roses, Lord Grey was a supporter of King Henry VI, and the Lancastrian cause.

  • In 1461, at the age of 26, Lord Grey and his retinue fought with the Lancastrian forces, headed by Queen Margaret and her eight year old son, Edward, Prince of Wales. The Lancastrian army was lead by Sir Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. The army, some 25,000 men strong met their Yorkist counter parts at the Second Battle of St. Albans, commanded by the Earl of Warwick. On February 17th, Warwick was driven from St. Albans and Henry VI, who was in Yorkist hands, was reunited with his wife and son. However the Lancastrian victory would be short lived.

  • On March 29th, 1461 the Lancastrian forces, including Lord Grey, met the Yorkist Army, commanded by the newly crowned Yorkist King, Edward IV at Towton, near Leeds. This time the battle went to the Yorkists and was a complete rout for the Lancastrians. The Duke of Somerset, the Duke of Exeter, Lord Roos, and John Fortescue managed to escape with Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou to Scotland. Forty-two of the captured Lancastrian knights were executed, but many other lords and knights were spared, including Lord Grey of Codnor.

  • Per common practice of the time, Lord Grey eventually gained a royal pardon by Edward IV, in early 1462. After the battles, Lord Grey had earned a reputation as not only a formidable soldier, and active participant in local and kingdom politics, but as a quarrelsome and violent man. He engaged in a bitter and drawn out feud with the Vernon Family of Haddon Hall.

  • In 1463, Edward IV gave license to Lord Grey to ‘labour by the conning of philosophy the transmutation of metals at his own cost, but he should answer to the king if any profit grew.’ Lord Grey was now a legal alchemist (Yes, Alchemy), who searched for the philosopher’s stone of immortality and the secret of changing lead into gold.

  • In 1464, Lord Grey became the well willer of Lord William Hastings of Hastings, chamberlain to King Edward IV. The powerful Hastings will prove to be an indispensable friend to Lord Grey in his future legal issues.

  • In 1467, Lord Grey’s retinue clashed with the retinue of the Earl of Shrewsbury, which contained Roger Vernon of Haddon Hall. Vernon was murdered by Lord Grey’s men in the melee. A battle is said to have taken place around this time at Codnor Castle between the households of Grey and Vernon.

  • In the early months of 1468, the fighting between the two factions became so violent, that Lord Hastings, the Duke of Clarence, and the Earl Rivers were sent to restore the King’s Peace. By that summer Lord Grey, the Vernons, and the Earl of Shrewsbury had to be bound over to prevent them from intimidating jurors (a common practice of the time). While the final outcome of the hearings is not known, at some point both sides were ordered to pay £1000 to the Earl of Shrewsbury and leave each other in peace.

  • In 1470, Edward IV was driven from England by the Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker, who replaced the Lancastrian Henry VI, back onto the Throne of England.

  • On April 14th, 1471 Edward returned and met the Earl of Warwick at the Battle of Barnett. Warwick was killed and the Lancastrians were defeated.

  • On May 4th, 1471 King Edward dealt another crushing blow to the Lancastrians at the Battle of Tewkesbury. The Lancastrian Prince Edward was killed in the battle, and his father Henry VI, was murdered shortly thereafter. It is known that Lord Grey was at least at the battle of Tewkesbury, as many of the Yorkist forces came from the midlands, where Codnor was located. Lord Grey was a known royalist and afterwards, he was awarded 100 pounds for ‘bringing unto us (Edward IV) a great number of men defensibly arranged at his cost and charge.’ Lord Grey and his retinue was a part of the 3,000 men force that Lord Hastings brought with him to Tewkesbury.  **Of interesting note was that Hastings force also included another retainer, Henry Vernon, son of the murdered Roger Vernon. More than likely the two retinues of Grey and Vernon were kept well apart from each other during the campaign.

  • In late 1471, Lord Hastings assisted Lord Grey legally, when he was accused of inciting dangerous riots in Nottingham against the Lord Mayor and the City Corporation. More than likely he did it, in a bid to gain control of the office of Sheriff of Nottingham.

  • After Edward IV died and his brother Richard III became king, Lord Grey was specially noted for his loyalty and in 1484 was awarded estates in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Rutland, with a combined yearly income of 266 pounds and 4 ducats. Greatly enlarging his revenue that he already received from his hereditary estates of Codnor, Thurrock, and Aylesford.

  • On August 22, 1485 Henry fought alongside King Richard III at Bosworth. At the age of 50 Lord Grey mustered his retinue for the final battle of the Wars of the Roses. Despite the final Yorkist defeat, and the death of Richard III, Lord Grey was pardoned and was even invited to attend the coronation of the Duke of York, Henry Tudor (the future Henry VIII), in 1494.

Family Details:

  • He was the son and heir of Lord Henry Grey, the 6th Baron of Codnor (born 1405 / died 1443) and Margaret Percy (Daughter of and heir of Sir Henry Percy of Athol)

  • In 1444 (at 9 years old) he inherited the title and his family’s ancestral home, Codnor Castle, in Ripley, Derbyshire; located North of the river Trent in the Midlands of England.

  • Lord Henry Grey, 7th Baron of Codnor had three wives:

  1. Catherine Strangeways – Married on 29 August 1454. Daughter of Sir Thomas Strangways by Katherine Neville, Duchess of Norfolk, daughter of Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland and Joan Beaufort
  2. Margaret Stanley (wife in 1471) – Married on October 2, 1465 (b. 1431/d. 1481). The widow of Sir William Troutbeck, Knight. Daughter of Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley and his wife Joan Goushill. She had five children from her previous two marriages. She and Lord Grey had one child, a daughter, Anne Grey, born in 1470 (Anne died before her father).
  3. Katherine Stourton – Married on May 5, 1492. The daughter of William Stourton, the 2nd Baron Stourton

  • He died with no legitimate heir but did have three acknowledged illegitimate sons:

  1. Richard Grey
  2. “Greater” Henry Grey
  3. “Little” Henry Grey (“Little” Henry Grey’s Mother was Katherine Flindern and she is mentioned in his will.)

  • Lord Grey died in 1496 at the age of 61. Although he married three times he died without any legitimate heirs. He willed generous provisions to his surviving wife and his 3 illegitimate sons, but the Barony of Codnor itself fell into abeyance.

Lord Grey was buried at Aylesford and his last wife remarried in 1497 to William de la Pole.