Dorothy Bray, Lady Chandos of Sudeley (c.1524-31 October 1605) was the daughter of Edmund, 1st Baron Bray (1484-18 October 1539) and Jane Hallighwell (c.1480-24 October 1558). She was at court as a maid of honor to Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr.
She embarked upon a brief tryst with Sir William Parr, brother of the future queen c.1541, which was over by 1543. Parr’s wife, Anne Bourchier, heiress to the Earl of Essex, had already left their marriage and embarked with her lover and had children by him, so Parr was left behind. Parr’s interest was then diverted to Dorothy’s niece, Elisabeth Brooke.
Dorothy married Edmund Brydges, 2nd Baron Chandos (d.11 September 1573) and their children were Eleanor (b.c.1546), Giles (1547-1594), Mary, Katherine (1554-1596), and William (d. 1602). Dorothy was at court as Lady Brydges during Mary Tudor’s reign.
In 1574, Queen Elizabeth visited Lady Chandos at Sudeley Castle. In 1588, she was living in Essex House in London and had 220 books in her bedchamber there.
Dorothy’s second husband was a younger man, Sir William Knollys (1545-1632).
Dorothy was known among courtiers as “old lady Chandos”. Unfortunately, her husband fell in love with one of the queen’s maids of honor, Mary Fitton. During that time, Dorothy was living with him in a house adjoining the royal tilt yard (Violet Wilson. Queen Elizabeth’s Maids of Honor and Ladies of the Privy Chamber).
Dorothy’s daughters, Eleanor and Katherine, and eventually her granddaughters, Frances and Elizabeth Brydges, would also become maids of honor.
Portraits: The “Duchess of Chandos” attributed to John Bettes the Younger, 1578, could be Dorothy Bray, although the sitter looks very young for someone who would be around fifty-four years old at the time. Dorothy’s effigy appears with her second husband in the church at Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire.
- Kathy Lynn Emerson. A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.