Who Wrote this Letter? Part 2

The letter was written by Lady Jane Grey, the “9-days Queen”, just before she was put to death at about 17 years of age. One of the most well educated people of her time and a devout Protestant, she took no interest in the common pursuits of the young people of her day. She had her “affection on things above, not on things of the earth” Col. 3:2. She was one of the only true friends of the beloved King Edward VI, and as he was dying at the age of 16, hasty alterations were made to the law of succession so that she could become queen after his death. The crown would have otherwise devolved to Edward’s half-sister Mary Tudor, whose bitterness toward Protestants was a huge concern of Edward’s. The decision to transfer the kingdom to Jane Grey was also motivated by the self-interest of power-seeking individuals, and viewed as a rebellion. Lady Jane, whose eyes were on the unseen Kingdom, was shocked and very reluctant to accept, doing so only after much urging. As power shifted to Mary Tudor, those who had been following Edward’s plan (and Dudley’s!) began to surrender. The new queen Mary had no personal hatred toward Jane and her life was secure until Wyatt’s uprising forced queen Mary to do away with anyone who could supply a basis for opposition. Mary’s resolution to execute Lady Jane came as no surprise to her, and also as no concern. She wrote to her sister Catherine, “And as touching my death, rejoice as I do, good sister, that I shall be delivered of this corruption and put on incorruption. For I am assured that I shall, for losing of a mortal life, win an immortal life, the which I pray God grant you, and send you of his grace to live in his fear, and to die in the true Christian faith, from the which, in God’s name, I exhort you that you never swerve, neither for hope of life nor for fear of death.” John Feckenham was sent to try to persuade her to become Catholic, and their debates were a great delight to Jane. Feckenham was astonished at her calm behavior, great knowledge, and sense of religion. She was beheaded on February 12, 1554. According to John Foxe (1517-1587), Judge Morgan who pronounced her sentence was so affected by her death that he went mad. Queen Mary was also troubled.

While Bloody Queen Mary suffered both the trouble of ruling the kingdom and the agony of both bitterness and guilt, Lady Jane Gray was living in the splendor of eternal life in the kingdom of God and in the presence of her “Saviour Christ”. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” 2 Cor. 4:17-18. Remember, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us” 2 Tim. 2:12


  1. Michael July 23, 2008 at 4:58 am #

    This was posted a day late because our internet connection was out yesterday. 🙂
    So, folks, what do you think? There are some who would use the letter to Mr. Harding to claim that Lady Jane was intolerant of other religious beliefs and would have been as bloody as Queen Mary. However, based on her whole personality, as well as her reaction to Mr. Freckenham, this does not appear to be the case. If she had been cruel toward Catholics, she would have missed the whole point of Protestantism which is that people should be free to “go against the flow” and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and be brought to God through conviction and knowledge, not force or threat. I do not think that the goal of the letter was to pass hopeless condemnation, but to cry out to the recipient to realize the severity of his error and find life by returning to Christ, the once-for-all sacrifice for sin.

  2. Joshua, Jennifer, Sarah, & Daniel July 24, 2008 at 4:30 pm #

    Thank you for the well written biography of a lady who indeed loved not her life unto death. It sparked some wholesome conversation in our midst. What an inspiration she is and what a role model for young people today!

  3. Donald August 4, 2008 at 2:47 pm #

    What a powerful piece of history! I find it painfully hard to give up my time, which is after all my life. Yet you wisely spent a good deal of time fully writing out the account of one who, also so wisely, gave up their time on the earth completely for a lasting heritage and testimony. I appreciate that Michael. May we continue, joyfully, to take the time to learn from history before it is actually too late.

  4. Amanda August 20, 2008 at 4:35 am #

    Thank you for this interesting information about Lady Jane Grey! I was very pleasantly surprised to find this article, and I really enjoyed reading it! I love history, and Jane Grey is actually one of my favorite historical women, so it was exciting to find out more about what she believed!

  5. Denise August 24, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Sadly, Lady Jane was a pawn in her father and mother’s desire to rule England, and as a woman during the Tudor era, she could not refuse to do their bidding. Had the Duke of Suffolk (Jane’s father) not been a part of the uprising, Jane may have been allowed to live. But in the end her father’s foolish decision ultimately cost her her life, as well as his own. Her mother went on to serve Queen Mary as one of her ladies in waiting. The political atmosphere at the time was dog eat dog, rife with back stabbing and underhanded political machinations. Monarchs, especially women, were constantly on guard, ever viligent to protect their throne. The fear of having their throne stolen often led kings and queens to eliminate any kin who might possibly claim their right to rule. Queen Elizabeth reluctantly executed her cousin the Queen of Scots for the same political reasons that Mary eliminated the “threat” that was Lady Jane.

  6. Michael September 23, 2009 at 8:16 am #

    Thank you for your comment, Denise. I think it is true that Jane’s Protestant beliefs were only a threat because Protestantism was involved in the uprising (against Mary’s marriage to Philip V). Since rebellion against those God has put into power is not Scriptural, it is a shame that Queen Mary had to fear an Protestant-based uprising. The instability, the back-stabbing, the fear, the revenge, and the confusion on the part of all parties involved comes back to the fact that the teachings of Christ were not the guide and final authority in people’s motives and decisions. Lady Jane was an example of one who was not wrestling against flesh and blood, and whose eyes were on the eternal riches. Queen Mary’s concern was holding onto her kingdom, and this caused her to kill the innocent along with the guilty. I wonder sometimes how much of Queen Mary’s murderous cruelty during her reign could have been avoided if a true follower of Jesus Christ had demonstrated His love to her in her younger years.
    By the way, it is somewhat ironic to me that the people so happily supported Mary Tudor, and then oposed her marriage to Philip. Then when Henry Grey (the Duke of Suffolk) took advantage of the situation they failed to support him. The whims of people are the shakiest foundation anyone could ever attempt to stand on.

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