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Lady Jane Grey's Prayer Book

Image from Lady Jane Grey's Prayerbook

Lady Jane Grey's Prayerbook
British Library Harley MS 2342, ff.74v-75
Copyright © The British Library Board
A high-quality version of this image can be purchased from British Library Images Online. For more information email imagesonline@bl.uk

This tiny Book of Prayers, written in English, is probably that used by Lady Jane Grey on the scaffold at her execution in 1554.

After the death of Edward VI on 6 July 1553, his cousin, the 15-year-old Lady Jane Grey, was persuaded by her father-in-law, the Duke of Northumberland, to accept the English throne in order to prevent the accession of the Catholic Princess Mary. After a reign of only nine days, Jane was overthrown in favour of Mary and confined to the Tower of London. Eventually, on 12 February 1554, she was beheaded.

In the moments before her execution, Jane is said to have given to Sir John Bridges, the lieutenant of the tower, the prayerbook which she had read during her final journey and had held in her hand during her speech from the scaffold; this is apparently that book.

In the margins, Jane had written various farewell messages. At the bottom of the pages shown here is a message to Sir John Bridges, which begins 'Forasmutche as you have desired so simple a woman to wrighte in so worthye a booke (good) mayster lieutenaunte therefore I shall as a frende desyre you and as a christian require you to call uppon god to encline youre harte to his lawes to quicken you in his waye and not to take the worde of trewthe utterlye oute of youre mouthe'.

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