Queen of England
Rev. Angus Stewart
(Slightly modified from a review first published in
the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal)
Grey: Nine Day Queen of England
Authoress: Faith Cook
Britain: Evangelical Press, 2004
ISBN 0 85234
From Leicester’s Bradgate Park (where she was born
and where the ruins of Bradgate Manor, including "Lady Jane’s Tower,"
can still be seen) to the Tower of London (where she was beheaded for
high treason), this biography traces the short but eventful 16 years of
the nine-day queen, Lady Jane Grey.
Faith Cook does an excellent job setting the scene,
with a treatment of Henry VIII (1509-1547) and his six wives, godly
Edward VI (1547-1553) and his reforms, and Bloody Mary (1553-1558) and
her counter-reforms, to help the reader understand the complicated
political and religious circumstances which led to Lady Jane Grey’s
brief reign (10-19 July, 1553).
An unwilling bride (to Lord Guilford Dudley), she was
also an unwilling queen. Both were the result of the strong hand of John
Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, who effectively ruled the country in
the latter days of young Edward VI by holding two high offices: Lord
President of the Council and Great Steward of the King’s Household.
Jane’s father-in-law deceived her and pressurized her into accepting the
crown. Many claimed that John Dudley was a tyrant; he was certainly an
apostate. A strong political advocate of the Reformation, when he
was outmanoeuvred and imprisoned in the Tower by Queen Mary, he sought
to escape death by converting to Romanism and affirming
transubstantiation. On the scaffold, he denounced Reformed doctrines and
preachers (pp. 154-155). The man who had made many tremble died a
despised and contemptible figure. Lady Jane recalled Christ’s words:
"Whoso denieth him before men, he will not know him in his Father’s
kingdom" (p. 158).
To a former family chaplain, Dr. Harding, another
apostate, she wrote,
I cannot but marvel at thee and lament thy case,
which seemed sometime to be a lively member of Christ, but now the
deformed imp of the devil; sometime the beautiful temple of God, but
now the filthy and stinking kernel of Satan; sometime the unspotted
spouse of Christ, but now the unashamed paramour of antichrist;
sometime my faithful brother, but now a stranger and an apostate;
sometime a stout Christian soldier, but now a cowardly runaway (p.
Lady Jane’s biblical convictions, by the blessing of
God, developed and grew through the instruction of her first tutor and
family chaplain, John Aylmer, a Protestant graduate of Cambridge (who
returned from Switzerland to England after Mary’s reign and became
Bishop of London; p. 233) (pp. 31-32); her reading of the English Bible
and Christian books, and prayer; her friendship with the pious Katherine
Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife (pp. 62-64); and her correspondence with
various Reformers, including Sturm, Bucer and Bullinger (who dedicated
portions of his The Decades to Lady Jane; p. 235) (pp. 94-99).
She learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew, besides the
modern languages of French, Spanish and Italian. One historian, Alison
Weir describes her as one of "the finest female minds of the [sixteenth]
This young Christian woman did not waver as her
execution drew near. Only sixteen, she "kept the faith," while many
erstwhile Protestants denied Jesus Christ to win the favour of Bloody
Mary. Lady Jane recited all of Psalm 51 at her execution and, like her
Saviour, commended her spirit to God, before the axe fell (pp. 199-200).
Victim of the ambition of professed friends and the
enemies of the Reformed faith, one of Lady Jane’s last written
statements was, "God and posterity will show me more favour" (p. 196).
Faith Cook’s fine work helps redress the injustice for twenty-first
The book’s final chapter mentions some of the
bloodiest aspects of Mary’s reign, including the martyrdoms of John
Rogers, John Bradford, Hugh Latimer, Nicolas Ridley and John Hooper. The
three appendices contain a record of Lady Jane’s debate with Dr. John
Feckenham, a priest sent to convert her during her imprisonment (she
ably defends the truths of justification by faith alone, the Lord’s
Supper and the supremacy of Scripture); a letter commending God’s Word,
written on the night before her execution and sent to her sister,
Katherine, and a moving prayer offered "in the time of her trouble;" as
well as Lady Jane’s family tree (helpful to keep the various connections