“Bloody” Queen Mary I Orders the Pardon of a Partisan of King Edward VI and Consolidates Her Rule, Just Months After Seizing Power from Lady Jane Grey

The only such pardon we know of that has reached the market.

Purchase $12,000

Mary I was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death in 1558. A strong Catholic in a nation converted by her father Henry VIII to Protestantism, she sought to restore her religion to power in England. She met opposition, and her ensuing executions of Protestants led to...

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“Bloody” Queen Mary I Orders the Pardon of a Partisan of King Edward VI and Consolidates Her Rule, Just Months After Seizing Power from Lady Jane Grey

The only such pardon we know of that has reached the market.

Mary I was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death in 1558. A strong Catholic in a nation converted by her father Henry VIII to Protestantism, she sought to restore her religion to power in England. She met opposition, and her ensuing executions of Protestants led to her posthumous sobriquet, “Bloody Mary.”  She was the only child of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon to survive to adulthood. Her younger half-brother Edward VI (son of Henry and Jane Seymour) succeeded their father in 1547; she also had a half-sister Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, who would later become Queen and reign for 45 years.

When King Edward became mortally ill in 1553, he attempted to remove Mary from the line of succession because of religious differences, instead naming Lady Jane Grey as his successor. He died on July 6, 1553. On July 9, Jane Gray was informed that she was now Queen, though according to her own later claims, accepted the crown only with reluctance. The next day, she was officially proclaimed Queen of England after she had taken up secure residence in the Tower of London, where English monarchs customarily resided from the time of accession until coronation.

As soon as Mary was sure of King Edward’s demise, she left her residence at Hunsdon and set out to East Anglia, where she began to rally her supporters. Her opposition left London with troops on July 14; the Privy Council then switched their allegiance from Jane to Mary, and proclaimed her Queen in London on July 19 among great jubilation of the populace. Jane was imprisoned in the Tower’s Gentleman Gaoler’s apartments, her husband in the Beauchamp Tower. The new queen entered London in a triumphal procession on August 3. In September, Parliament declared Mary the rightful Queen and denounced and revoked Jane’s proclamation as that of a usurper.

In 16th century England, people could seek a general pardon for previous offenses, provided they abide by certain stipulations and pay a fine.  When a change of regime happened, such an act was all the more important to ensure the good graces of the current monarch.

The Court of Wards and Liveries was created during the reign of Henry VIII to collect feudal dues owed to the crown.  William Dansell was its Received General, a very high position, under Edward VI and he would have wanted to have the blessing and pardon of the new Queen as she was solidifying her power. When Mary succeeded to the throne in 1553, she had every reason to shore up support and was happy to welcome supporters into the fold.

Document, November 15, 1553, with a very uncommon original seal of Queen Mary I (most of which is still intact), displaying on one side the monarch on the throne and the other on horseback, pardoning him for all offenses committed prior to October 1, 1553, covering that early period of the change of power.  These types of documents, with flourished text, are referred to as letters patent. They are generally unsigned.

How many Mary allowed to be issued is unknown, but this is the only pardon from Queen Mary we can find ever having reached the market, and one of only a handful of Mary letters patent that remain.

Purchase Now $12,000

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