Sir Reginald BRAY, Knight of the Garter

Died: 5 Aug 1503

Buried: Bray Chapel, Windsor Castle, England

Notes: Knight of the Garter.

Father: Richard BRAY

Mother: Joan TROUGHTON

Married: Catherine HUSSEY

Statesman and architect, was the 2nd son of Sir Richard Bray, one of the Privy Council to Henry VI, by his wife Joan Troughton. The father was of Eaton-Bray in Bedfordshire, and lies buried in the north aisle of Worcester Cathedral; Leland speaks of him as having been, by the report of some, physician to Henry VI (Itenerary, 113a). The son was born in the parish of St. John Bedwardine, near Worcester (Nash, Worcestershire, ii. 309). He was a particular friend of the Bishop of his diocese. He was spoken of as being sober, discreet, and well-witted, and a man of prudent policy. He was first receiver-general and master of the household to Sir Henry Stafford who was the second husband of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, mother of the Earl of Richmond, who afterward became Henry VII, and he continued in her service during her subsequent marriage with Thomas, Lord Stanley (afterwards Earl of Derby), by whom he was appointed a trustee for her dower of 500 marks per annum. In 1472 Reginald Bray engaged himself to serve beyond the sea for the King from where he "brought many trophies to his government". In 1 Richard III (1483) he had a general pardon granted to him, probably for having taken part with Henry VI. On Bosworth Field, Aug 22, 1485, after Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet Kings, was slain, Reginald Bray found his golden crown hanging on a thorn bush and gave it to Lord Stanley, who placed it on the head of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, proclaiming him Henry VII. Five weeks later at his coronation in Westminster Abbey, the King created Reginald Bray a Knight of the Bath.

When the Duke of Buckingham had concerted with John Morton, Bishop of Ely (then his prisoner at Brecknock in Wales), the marriage of the Earl of Richmond with the Princess Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV, and the Earl's advancement to the throne, the Bishop recommended Bray for the communication of the affair to the countess, telling the Duke that he had an old friend who was in her service, a man sober, secret, and well witted, called Reginald Bray, whose prudent policy he had known to have compassed matters of great importance; and accordingly he wrote to Bray, then in Lancashire with the Countess, to come to Brecknock with all speed. Bray readily obeyed the summons, entered heartily into the design, and was very active in carrying it into effect, having engaged Sir Giles Daubeney (afterwards Lord Daubeney), Sir John Cheney, Richard Guildford, and many other gentleman of note, to take part with Henry (Hall, Chronicle, f. 37). After the defeat of Richard III at Bosworth he became a great favourite with Henry VII, who liberally rewarded his services; and he retained the King's confidence until his death. He was created a knight of the Bath at the King's coronation, and afterwards a knight of the Garter. In the first year of the King's reign he had a grant of the constableship of the castle of the castle of Oakham in Rutland, and was appointed joint chief justice, with Lord Fitzwalter, of all the forests south of Trent, and chosen of the privy council. After this he was appointed high-treasurer and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster.

In 3 Henry VII he was appointed keeper of the parks of Guildford and Henley, with the manor of Claygate in Ash for life; and the year following, by letters patent dated at Maidstone 23 Dec 1488, a commissioner for raising the quota of archers to be furnished by the counties of Surrey, Hampshire, and Middlesex for the relief of Brittany. By indenture dated 9 May 1492 he was retained to serve one whole year in parts beyond the seas, with twelve men of arms, including himself, each having his custrel (shield-bearer) and page, twenty-four half-lances, seventy-seven archers on horseback, and two hundred and thirty-one archers and twenty-four foot bill-men on foot; being at the same time made paymaster of the forces destined for this expedition (Rymer, Foedera, ed. 1711, xii. 480). On the King's intended journey to France, Sir Reginald was one of those in whom the King vested his estates belonging to the duchy of Lancaster for the purpose of fullfilling his will.

In Jun 1497 he was at the battle of Blackheath when Lord Audley, who had joined the Cornish rebels, was taken prisoner. On this occasion Bray was made a knight banneret (Holinshed, Chronicles, iii. 1254), and after the execution and attainder of Lord Audley, that nobleman's manor of Shire, with Vacherie and Cranley in Surrey, and a large estate there, was given to Sir Reginald. On the marriage of Prince Arthur he was associated with persons of high rank in the church and state as a trustee for the dower assigned to the Princess Catalina de Aragon.

Sir Reginald Bray received many royal benefits and high honors, being created a Knight of the Garter; Privy Councillor and joint Chief Justice of all the forests south of Trent; Constable of Oakham Castle, Member of Parliament one term; High Treasurer and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; paymaster of forces in Brittany, 1492; high steward of the University of Oxford and perhaps of the University of Cambridge. For his bravery at the battle of Blackheath in Jun, 1497, he was made a knight banneret. He was trustee for the dower of Catalina de Aragon and guardian to Arthur, Prince of Wales, who died Apr 2, 1502, and also guardian of his brother Prince Henry. After the marriage of Catalina de Aragon to King Henry VIII (which he helped to arrange), Sir Reginald Bray was made trustee "for the fulfilling of the King's own will", equivalent to Prime Minister. He was also said to be a doctor to the King. As an architect, he designed Henry VII's chapel, and laid its foundation stone in Westminster in Jan, 1503.

Sir Reginald Bray also played a major part in the building of St. George's Chapel at Windsor (also called the Bray chapel), which has become the center of the historic castle. Of it is written, "In the reign of Edward IV, Windsor saw the beginning of what was to become its culminating glory in the erection of the famous and splendid Chapel of St. George. Alterations and additions to the castle have been made in successive reigns until the present time, but the stately chapel remains as the centerpiece of the castle and its crowning ornament. Begun and completed in one design, and the work of craftsmen who have never been excelled, if indeed, they have ever been equalled, it exhibits one style of architecture in completeness and perfection and is the wonder and admiration of every beholder. The south transept is occupied by the chantry or chapel, known as the Braye Chapel, from Sir Reginald Bray, who, after the death of Bishop Beauchamp in 1481, was appointed superintendent of the works at the castle"

Bray married Catherine, daughter of Nicholas Hussey, a descendant of the ancient barons of the name in the reign of Edward III. He had no issue, and his elder brother John having only one daughter, married to Sir William Sandys, afterwards Lord Sandys of the Vine, he left the bulk of his fortune to Edmund, eldest son of his younger brother John (for he had two brothers of that name). This Edmund was summoned to parliament in 1530, as Baron of Eaton-Bray; but his son John, Lord Bray, dying without issue in 1557, the estate was divided among six daughters of Edmund. Sir Reginald left very considerable estates to Edward and Reginald, younger brothers of Edmund.

His portrait was in the window of the Priory Church of Great Malvern, in Worcestershire, and this can be seen in Strutt's "View of the Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants of England."

to Bios Page

to Family Page

to Peerage Page to Home Page