On this day in Tudor history, 4th July 1551, in the reign of King Edward VI, Gregory Cromwell, 1st Baron Cromwell, died of sweating sickness at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire. He was buried at the abbey’s chapel on 7th July.

Gregory Cromwell was the son of the more famous Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex and, at one time, chief advisor to King Henry VIII. But what do we know about Gregory and what happened to him after his father’s fall in July 1540?

Find out about the life and career of Gregory Cromwell, 1st Baron Cromwell in the video or transcript below…


On this day in Tudor history, 4th July 1551, Gregory Cromwell, 1st Baron Cromwell, died of sweating sickness at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire. He was laid to rest at the abbey’s chapel on 7th July.

You will, of course, recognise the surname Cromwell, but who was Gregory Cromwell?

Here are some facts about him:

  • Gregory Cromwell was born in late 1519 or early 1520 and was the son of Thomas Cromwell, who would become King Henry VIII’s chief minister, and his wife, Elizabeth Wyckes.
  • His mother and sisters, Anne and Grace, appear to have died in 1529.
  • Gregory was educated first under the supervision of Margaret Vernon, the Prioress of Little Marlow, in Buckinghamshire, and then at Cambridge University, at Pembroke Hall and Christ’s College. He was later mentored by Rowland Lee, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. Gregory was clearly an intelligent young man. Teri Fitzgerald in an article on him on the Anne Boleyn Files writes that Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, praised him as “a wise quick piece” in 1536, and states that he spoke Latin and French, played the lute and virginals, learned accounting, was skilled with the longbow, and was an accomplished horseman.
  • Following a failed match to marry the only daughter of Sir Thomas Neville of Kent, Gregory married Queen Jane Seymour’s sister, Elizabeth, who was the widow of Sir Anthony Ughtred, on 3rd August 1537, at Mortlake. In October 1537, while Elizabeth was one of the principal mourners at Queen Jane’s funeral, Gregory and his cousin, Richard, carried banners.
  • Gregory and Elizabeth appear to have had a successful and happy marriage. They had five children together: three sons: Henry, Edward and Thomas, and two daughters: Katherine and Frances. They resided first at the former Lewes Priory, then at Leeds Castle in Kent, and finally at the former priory of Launde.
  • In December 1539, Gregory was appointed to the Lord Admiral’s retinue to go to Calais and meet Anne of Cleves, who was on her way to England to marry King Henry VIII. In May 1540, Gregory took an active part in the May Day jousts. His father had recently been made Earl of Essex and Gregory was now Lord Cromwell. However, Gregory’s father was arrested on 10th June 1540 at a council meeting at Westminster and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Thomas Cromwell was found guilty of treason by an act of attainder and executed on 28th July 1540. Gregory lost his title of Lord Cromwell at his father’s fall and his father’s lands and fortune were taken by the Crown. Gregory and Elizabeth must have feared for their own lives, and Elizabeth wrote a letter to the king affirming their loyalty.
  • On 18th December 1540, just under 5 months after his father’s execution, Gregory was created Baron Cromwell, as a new creation, by letters patent, and two months later he was granted some of his father’s former lands, including Launde Priory in Leicestershire, which would become his family’s main estate and home.
  • Gregory’s offices included justice of the peace for Sussex and Ranger of Rutland Forest, and he also served on several commissions, including the commission of the Muster in Leicestershire and the commission for relief. He was made a Knight of the Bath when Edward VI was crowned in 1547.
  • Between 1541 and his death in 1551, Gregory divided his time between administration of his estates and attending the House of Lords, in which he was an active peer.
  • By his death on this day in 1551, Gregory Cromwell, Baron Cromwell, was a wealthy man, owning property in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Norfolk and South Wales.
  • Following his death on 4th July 1551, Gregory’s widow, Elizabeth, married John Paulet, the future Marquess of Winchester.

I’ll give you a link to read Teri Fitzgerald’s excellent article on Gregory, which also includes information on a couple of miniatures which Teri believes to be Gregory – https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/the-real-wolf-hall-the-cromwell-family-in-wolf-hall-gregory-cromwell/

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One thought on “July 4 – The death of Gregory Cromwell, son of Thomas Cromwell, from sweating sickness”
  1. Thomas Cromwell had done very well for himself, he had pulled of the coup to get ride of Anne Boleyn and some of his enemies, William Brereton for one, he had been rewarded with a peerage and his son was married to Queen Jane Seymours sister Elizabeth, thus aligning his family to the king, the portrait of Elizabeth Baroness Cromwell as she later became was thought at one time to be that of Queen Catherine Howard, but now is thought to be Lady Cromwell, Gregory Cromwell had the baronetcy restored to him after his fathers disgrace and he became a very rich nobleman, owning property and lands and he resided with his family at Launde Abby Leicestershire, he had had a happy childhood it is supposed and was educated well, he speaking French and Latin and especially was fond of Greek and Roman history, he was also a good horseman and he was close to his cousin, Richard Cromwell who on his death gifted his horse to him, portraits of Gregory show a man with a youthful round face and upturned nose, he does not resemble his father much but he had obviously inherited his fertile brain, and there is evidence that the Cromwell family were very close to each other, later at court, he also enjoyed a career in politics, he was involved in the Bill of Attainder against Queen Catherine Howard and in the proceedings against Thomas Seymour, he had five children with his wife and had a fortunate life, and then the curse of the age struck and he caught the dreaded sweat, he died at just thirty one years of age, this awful disease also claimed the lives of the two children of the Duchess of Suffolk, he was buried in the chapel of Launde Abbey and has a magnificent tomb, his eldest son inherited his title and his line continues to this day.

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