Jane Grey’s Character Statement:
This is supposedly written as her statement to Queen Mary I regarding her involvement in the cause to make her Queen of England.
Although my fault be such that, but for the goodness and clemency of the queen, I can have no hope of finding pardon, nor in craving forgiveness, having given ear to those who at the time appeared, not only to myself but also to a great part of this realm to be wise, and now have manifested themselves the contrary, not only to my and their great detriment, but with the common disgrace and blame of all, they having with such shameful boldness made so blameable and dishonourable an attempt to give to other that which was not theirs, neither did it become be to accept (wherefore rightly and justly am I ashamed to ask pardon for such a crime), nevertheless, I trust in God that as now I know and confess my want of prudence, for which I deserve heavy punishment except for the very great mercy of your majesty I can still on many grounds conceive hope of your infinite clemency, it being known that the error imputed to me has not been altogether caused by myself. Because, although my fault may be great, and I confess it to be so, nevertheless I am charged and esteemed guilty more than I have deserved. For whereas I might take upon me that of which I was not worthy, yet no one can ever say either that I sought it as my own, or that I was pleased with it or ever accepted it. For when it was publicly reported that there was no more hope of the king’s life, as the duchess of Northumberland had before promised that I should remain in the house with my mother, so she, having understood this soon after from her husband who was the first that told it to me, did not wish me to leave my house, saying to me that if God should have willed to call the king to his mercy, of whose life there was no longer any hope, it would be needful for me to go immediately to the Tower, I being made his majesty heir of his realm. Which words being spoken to me thus unexpectedly, put me in great perturbation, and greatly disturbed my mind, as yet soon after they oppressed me much more. But I, nevertheless, making little account of these words, delayed not to go from my mother. So that the duchess of Northumberland was angry with me and with the duchess my mother, saying that, if she had resolved to keep me in the house, she should have kept her son, my husband, near her, to whom she thought I would certainly have gone, and she would have been free from the charge of me. And, in truth, I remained in her house two or three nights, but at length obtained leave to go to Chelsea, for my recreation, where soon after, being sick, I was summoned by the council, giving me to understand that I must go that same night to Sion, to receive that which had been ordered for me by the king. And she who
brought me this news was the lady Sidney, my sister-in-law, the daughter of the duke of Northumberland, who told me with extraordinary seriousness that it was necessary for me to go with her, which I did. When we arrived there, we found no one, but soon after came the duke of Northumberland, the marquis of Northampton, the earl of Arundel, the earl of Huntingdon, and the earl of Pembroke. By which lords I was long held in conversation, before they announced to me the death of the king, especially by the earlsof Huntingdon and Pembroke, who, with unwonted caresses and pleasantness, did me such reverence as was not at all suitable to my state, kneeling down before me on the ground, and in many other ways making semblance of honouring me. And acknowledging me as their sovereign lady (so that they made me blush with infinite confusion), at length they brought to me the duchess Frances my mother, the duchess of Northumberland, and the marchioness of Northampton. The duke of Northumberland, as president of the council, announced the death of King Edward, shewing afterward what cause we had all to rejoice for the virtuous and praiseworthy life that he had led, as also for his very good death. Furthermore, he pretended to comfort himself and the by-standers by praising much his prudence and goodness, for the very great care that he had taken of his kingdom at the very close of his life, having prayed God to defend it from the Popish faith and to deliver it from the rule of his evil sisters. He then said that his majesty had well weighed an act of parliament wherein it was already resolved that whoever should acknowledge the most serene Mary, that is your most serene majesty, or the lady Elizabeth, and receive them as true heirs of the crown of England, these should be held all for traitors, one of them having formerly been disobedient to her father, Henry the 8th, and also to himself, concerning the truth of religion, and afterwards also capital enemies of the Word of God, and both bastards. Wherefore in no manner did he wish that they should be heirs of him and of that crown, he being able in every way to disinherit them. And therefore, before his death, he gave order to the council that, for the honour they owed to him, and for the love they bare to the realm, and for the affection that was due to their country, they should obey this his last will. The duke then added that I was the heir named by his majesty to succeed to the crown, and that my sisters should likewise succeed me in case of my default of issue. At which words all the lords of the council kneeled down before me, telling me that they rendered to me the honour that was due to my person, I being, of true and direct lineage, heir to that crown, and that it became them in the best manner to observe that which, with deliberate mind, they had promised to the king, even to shed their blood, exposing their own lives to death. Which things, as soon as I had heard, with infinite grief of mind how I was beside myself stupified and troubled, I will leave it to those lords who were present to testify, who saw me, overcome by sudden and unexpected grief, fall on the ground, weeping very bitterly; and then, declaring to them my insufficiency, I greatly bewailed myself for the death of so noble a prince, and at the same time turned myself to God, humbly praying and beseeching him, that if what was given to me was rightly and lawfully mine, his Divine Majesty would grant me such grace and spirit that I might govern it to his glory and service, and to the advantage of this realm.
On the day following (as is know to ever one) I was conducted to the Tower, and shortly afterwards were presented to me by the marquis of Winchester, lord high treasurer, the jewels, with which he was also brought me the crown, although it had never been demanded from him by mor or by any one in my name; and he further wished me to put it on my head to try whether it really became me well or no. The which, although with many excuses, I refused to do, he nevertheless added that I might take it without fear, and that another also should be made to crown my husband with me. Which thing I, for my part, heard truly with a troubled mind, and with ill will, even with infinite grief and displeasure of heart. And, after the said lord was gone, and I was reasoning of many things with my husband, he assented that if he were to be made king, he would be made so by me, by act of parliament. But afterwards I sent for the earls of Arundel and Pembroke and said to them that, if the crown belonged to me, I should be content to make my husband a duke, but would never consent to make him king. Which resolution of mine gave his mother (this my opinion being related to her) great cause for anger and disdain, so that she, being very angry with me and greatly displeased, persuaded her son not to sleep with me any longer as he was wont to do, affirming to me moreover that he did not wish in any wise to be a duke but a king. So that I was constrained to send to him the earls of Arundel and Pembroke, who had negociated with him to come, from me, otherwise I knew that the next morning he would have gone to Sion.
And thus in truth was I deceived by the duke and the council, and ill treated by my husband and his mother. Moreover (as Sir John Gates has confessed) he (the duke) was the first to persuade king Edward to make me his heir. As to the rest, for my part, I know not what the council may have determined to do, but I know for certain that, twice during this time, poison was given to me, first in the house of the duchess of Northumberland, and afterwards here in the Tower, as I have the best and most certain testimony, beside that since that time all my hair has fallen off. And all these things I have wished to say for the witness of my innocence and the disburdening of conscience.
Letters of royal and illustrious ladies of Great Britain, from the commencement of the twelfth century to the close of the reign of Queen Mary; by Green, Mary Anne Everett; Published 1846; pages 274-279