Guest Post: The Paternity of King Edward IV by Carolina Casas

King Edward IV’s Paternity and The Duchess of York’s Reputation

(Intro and editing by Meg McGath)

The Duchess is accosted by Lady Rivers about her supposed affair in 'The White Queen'.

The Duchess is accosted by Lady Rivers about her supposed affair in ‘The White Queen’.


Edward IV was born on April 28th, 1442 in Rouen, France. He was the eldest surviving son of Lord Richard, Duke of York and Lady Cecily (Neville), later known as “Queen by Right”. Edward became the first York monarch after his father was killed in battle. His father had planned on being crowned as soon as possible, but his untimely death left his son and heir the new King of England. Edward was King from 1460 to 1470 then again in 1471 until his death in 1483. Edward was cousin to queen Katherine Parr’s paternal great-grandmother, Lady Alice FitzHugh (born Neville). The relationship between Katherine Parr’s paternal grandfather, Lord Parr of Kendal, and Edward IV has been well documented as the two were close due to his marriage to Edward’s cousin, Elizabeth FitzHugh. The FitzHugh’s were closely affiliated with the Earl of Salisbury (Katherine Parr’s great-great-grandfather) and the Earl of Warwick (Parr’s great-granduncle). The FitzHugh and the Earl of Warwick’s properties were in close proximity so Elizabeth grew up next to her cousins Ladies Isabel (later Duchess of Clarence) and Anne (later queen).

King Edward IV’s Paternity and The Duchess of York’s Reputation by Carolina Casas

The ‘White Queen‘ (BBC) popularized the myth that Edward IV was the son of a Welsh archer called Blaybourne; a result of an affair Blaybourne had with Edward’s mother Cecily while she and the Duke of York were in Rouen. Several historians have given credence to this myth arguing that Cecily conceived while her husband was away fighting at Pontoise. While the fact that York fought in Pontoise in August is true – it is in no way proof that Edward was the product of an illicit union. What none of these historians and novelists factored in however, is the time between conception and giving birth. Nowadays with modern science it is easier to predict when one conceives and one gives birth, but it is not an exact science yet. There will be mistakes. There will be factors that determine whether a pregnancy comes to term or not, whether the baby arrives at the exact date the doctor or midwife foresees is 50/50. Now imagine yourself in the first half of the fifteenth century with no modern medicine and only midwives and religious superstition to tell you whether you were pregnant or not, if the child you expected was a boy or girl, or if you were closer to term according to the fullness of your belly. Doesn’t sound like it would give us much accuracy, does it?

This is the world that medieval women lived in. They had to rely on the science of the day which was religion and they had no other experts to go on to give them advice except for midwives and they had to believe in (outrageous to us now) methods of conception such as potions made of different ingredients like rabbit’s blood, sheep urine, mare’s milk, quale’s testicles, etc. Edward was Cecily’s third pregnancy. She and the Duke were married by October 1429 (some put their marriage two years before when she had reached the age of majority that was required of girls to marry at twelve); he would have been eighteen and she fourteen. They didn’t have their first child until 1439, more than eight years after their marriage. If Cecily and Richard were eager to conceive why wait so long? Like with most arranged marriages, there was bound to be some shyness. Richard and Cecily were by no means strangers to each other. Before Cecily’s father died, he passed on Richard’s custody to his wife Lady Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland (only daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford Roet). Cecily was the youngest of Lady Joan’s children and being so close in age, Cecily and Richard grew up under the same roof and it is highly likely that when Lady Joan took Richard to London, she brought along her daughter. But being so young, they could have been hesitant to consummate the marriage and waited until they knew each other better. There is no indicator that the couple was unhappy, it soon became known that Cecily was an excellent mistress of the Duke’s household and tried in every way to imitate the royal court by ordering expensive fabrics and arranging for extravagant banquets, especially after he became Lord Lieutenant in Normandy and moved to Rouen. The reason as to why the couple might not have had children is because before moving to Normandy, Richard was often away. This was the reality many wives had to face. Husbands were often gone for long periods of time due to war or business. Another possibility could be that because during this period miscarriages and births were not often recorded, she could have been pregnant but suffered several other miscarriages that we simply do not know about.

Either way, the fact remains that when Edward was born there was not a lot of fanfare for his christening. This could have been due to him being conceived after Richard, Duke of York returned from Pontoise which would make Edward premature and make his parents alarmed since this was an age where infant mortality was very high. Newborns that were too small or too weak were christened immediately to save them from the eternal damnation of limbo. This makes even more sense when we take into account that the year before Cecily had given birth to a boy who lived less than a week. It was vital at the time for the two to have a male heir to continue the York line.

During his lifetime, Richard, Duke of York never showed any indication that he suspected Edward was not his. In fact during their last years at Rouen before they were recalled to England, he was negotiating a marriage between his son and the King of France (Charles) daughter, Marie, who was born in 1444. Had Edward not been his son, he would not have shown this much favor or invested so much in his education and military training. As for the silly rumors of his appearance that he was fair while his father and brother (Richard III) were dark, we must remember that Edward III (from where both his parents descended) was fair and tall so he could have gotten his looks either from their ancestor or his mother.

The theories that still surround his parentage are nothing but wild rumors and conjectures based on propaganda and history is filled with this. History is made by the winner but I would also add, by conspiracy and fantasy and very often these get mixed up with the truth that in the end we lose track of what is fact and what is fantasy.
The fact of the matter is, the name Blaybourne did not come up until 1460 which was the year let us all remember that England was in open war with itself, two rivaling Houses –Lancaster and York- competing for the English throne. York had used years before the same device against the Lancastrian Queen, Marguerite of Anjou to strengthen his own claim, now it was only fair that her side shot back by saying the same thing about his wife. It was a way to discredit Richard and discredit his son who was the Earl of March at this time. That was what was often done to opponents of the king when they wanted to take his crown, they spread rumors surrounding their rival’s parentage or their families, and the targets would always be women.

Duchess Cecily played by Caroline Goddall in 'The White Queen'

Duchess Cecily played by Caroline Goddall in ‘The White Queen’

Cecily Neville is known today by many names –“proud Cis” “Queen by Rights” “Rose of Raby” –etc. She’s been portrayed countless of times in fiction, sometimes negatively, sometimes positively, but all of these portrayals miss the real woman behind the myth. The real truth about Cecily lies buried in the pages of her religious books, in her sons, her actions, her words and her religion which she always held dear. As a noble woman, she held to the standards of the time by giving opulent parties and indulging in the fashions of the time, she was known to be one of the best dressed women in England, as a woman she was a mother and peacemaker, she always tried to bring her sons together when she sensed there was trouble. And as a Duchess, she was her husband’s equal. Richard relied on her for everything. Whenever he returned he always asked for her to accompany him, after his short-lived triumph in 1460, he sent for his wife to London to join him in his triumphant moment when he attempted to take the throne. After he had been recognized as the King’s legal heir years back, Cecily began using the moniker “Queen by Rights”; after he died she became her son’s advisor and the first woman in the fifteenth century to use the title “my lady the King’s mother”, and until her son married in 1464, she was the top woman in England. After years of fighting however, Cecily retired and chose to lead an ascetic life. Like her mother, she was very religious and aware of her lineage. While there were cases of spousal infidelity, a woman like Cecily was unlikely to risk everything she had for an affair.


Amy Licence. ‘Cecily Neville: Mother of Kings

Amy Licence. ‘On Bed with the Tudors’

Sarah Gristwood. ‘Blood Sisters

Claire Ridgeway. ‘On This Day in Tudor History

Family of Queen Katherine: Lady Margaret, Countess of Oxford

Redrawn effigy of John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford and Lady Margaret before it was destroyed; original illustration was by Daniel King, Colne Priory Church, destroyed c. 1730. Redrawn effigy of John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford and Lady Margaret before it was destroyed; original illustration was by Daniel King, Colne Priory Church, destroyed c. 1730.

Margaret Neville, Countess of Oxford (c.1443[1]-after 20 November 1506/1506[1][2]) was the daughter of Sir Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and Lady Alice [Montague], suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury [in her own right]. Margaret was born in her mother’s principal manor in Wessex.[1] She was the last of six daughters and ten children.[1] Margaret’s godmother and namesake may have been after Margaret Beauchamp (1404 – 14 June 1468), eldest daughter of Sir Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick and his first wife Elizabeth Berkeley. Beauchamp was wife to John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury [a brother to Mary Talbot, Lady Greene, the maternal 3x great-grandmother to Queen Katherine Parr and thus a 4x great-uncle]. Margaret Talbots’s sister, Anne, suo jure 16th Countess of Warwick would marry Margaret Neville’s brother, Richard, and he would inherit Anne’s title through marriage making him the 16th Earl of Warwick.

The Neville family was one of the oldest and most powerful families of the North. They had a long standing tradition of military service and a reputation for seeking power at the cost of the loyalty to the crown as was demonstrated by her brother, the Earl of Warwick.[5] Warwick was the wealthiest and most powerful English peer of his age, with political connections that went beyond the country’s borders. One of the main protagonists in the Wars of the Roses, he was instrumental in the deposition of two kings, a fact which later earned him his epithet of “Kingmaker”.

By her paternal grandmother, Lady Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland, Margaret was the great-great-granddaughter of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. Lady Joan Beaufort was the legitimized daughter of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Aquitaine, and his mistress, later wife, Katherine Roët Swynford. As such, Margaret was a great-niece of the Lancastrian King Henry IV. Margaret’s paternal grandfather was Sir Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, the second husband of Lady Joan. One of their daughters (Margaret’s aunt), Lady Cecily, became Duchess of York and mother to the York kings, Edward IV and Richard III. Margaret’s mother, Lady Salisbury, was the only child and sole heiress of Sir Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury by his first wife Eleanor Holland [both descendants of King Edward I].  Margaret’s grandmother, Lady Eleanor, was the granddaughter of Princess Joan of Kent, another suo jure Countess (of Kent) and Princess of Wales. Princess Joan was of course the mother of the ill-fated King Richard II making Eleanor Holland his niece. Princess Joan herself was the daughter of Prince Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent; son of Edward I by his second wife, Marguerite of France.

Margaret married to John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, the second son of John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, and Elizabeth Howard. Oxford was one of the principal Lancastrian commanders during the English Wars of the Roses. Margaret was the last of the sisters to marry. It was her brother, Warwick, who secured the marriage between Margaret and Oxford.[3] Margaret had 1000 marks to offer as a dowry which had been settled upon her in her father’s will in 1460. The financial gain for Oxford was important, but with Margaret he gained a whole family of political advantage; as Margaret was the sister of Warwick. Oxford’s family had been on the Lancastrian side. His father had been executed after trying to replace Edward IV with Henry VI.

At the battle of Bosworth and Stoke, Oxford is recorded as fighting beside the Stanleys’ (husband and son of Oxford’s sister-in-law, Eleanor Neville) on behalf of the House of Lancaster.

As for the wives of rebels, Richard III did indeed give the Countess of Oxford, Margaret Neville, £100, but this was a continuation of a grant from Edward IV, who is not given any particular credit for generosity. In any case, as David Baldwin notes, Richard had been given the Earl of Oxford’s estates following the Battle of Barnet and could presumably afford to part with £100. Back in the 1470′s, the young Richard had bullied Margaret Neville’s mother-in-law, Elizabeth de Vere, the dowager Countess of Oxford, into giving him her own estates for an inadequate consideration, but this inglorious episode doesn’t find its way into Kendall’s biography.


  1. David Baldwin. The Kingmaker’s Sisters: Six Powerful Women in The War of the Roses, Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2009.
  2. Douglas Richardson. “Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families,” 2nd Edition, 2011. p. 274. (“She was living 20 Nov. 1506.”)
  3. Anne Crawford. “The Yorkists: The History of a Dynasty,” Continuum International Publishing Group, Apr 15, 2007. p. 78, 98, 108.
  4. James Ross. “John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442-1513): The Foremost Man of the Kingdom,” Boydell Press, Mar 17, 2011. p. 51.
  5. Linda Porter. “Katherine the Queen; The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII,” Macmillan, 2010.

Family of Queen Katherine: Anne of York, Lady Howard

Anne of York from the Canterbury window of her mother and sisters.

Anne of York from the Canterbury window of her mother and sisters.

Anne of York, Princess of England, Lady Howard (2 November 1475[1] – 23 November 1511[2]) was the fourth surviving daughter of King Edward IV of England and his queen consort Elizabeth Woodville.[1]

Up until early 2013, the wife of the eventual 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Princess Anne of York (daughter of Edward IV), was labeled incorrectly on Wikipedia as “Countess of Surrey.”

Early life

She was born in the Palace of Westminster, London. She was a younger sister of Elizabeth of York (queen consort to King Henry VII), Mary of York, Cecily of York, King Edward V, Margaret of York, and Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York.[1] She was also an older sister of George Plantagenet, Duke of Bedford, Catherine of York and Bridget of York.

On 5 August 1480, King Edward IV signed a treaty agreement with Maximilian, Archduke of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor).[1] According to its terms, Princess Anne was supposed to marry his eldest son Philip the Handsome (the future Duke of Burgundy and husband to Queen Juana of Castile, sister of Katherine of Aragon).[1]

Maximilian was the eldest son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and would eventually become Emperor himself in 1493. His wife and mother to Archduke Philip was Mary of Burgundy, suo jure Duchess of Burgundy who became Duchess in 1477 after the death of her father, Charles. By her paternal grandmother, Isabel of Portugal, the Duchess was a great-granddaughter of Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (son of Edward III of England) and his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster. Both relations made Maximilian a valuable ally for Edward IV. The marriage would also place Anne at the court of her aunt, Margaret of York, the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy. Having a family member of the same house (York) at court would have been a comfort and helpful; especially since Margaret was the a previous Duchess. However, the marriage treaty was repudiated after Edward’s death and was never concluded.[1]


Portrait of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk by Han Holbein, the Younger c. 1539-40. Royal Collection, Windsor.

Portrait of Thomas Howard as the 3rd Duke of Norfolk by Han Holbein, the Younger c. 1539-40. Royal Collection, Windsor.

As a sign of closeness between King Richard III (Anne’s uncle) and the Howard family, Princess Anne was betrothed to Thomas Howard in 1484.[1] After the overthrow of Richard III, Howard renewed his martial claim to Princess Anne and planned to marry her anyway.[1] At this time, Princess Anne was attending her sister, Elizabeth of York, who had become queen consort of King Henry VII as a lady-in-waiting.[1] The marriage of Elizabeth of York to Henry of Richmond (Tudor) ended the War of the Roses as both York and Lancaster finally came together. Elizabeth, as the eldest daughter of Edward IV, was technically the “rightful heir” to the throne of England after the death of Richard III. Her younger brothers, King Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury, had disappeared in The Tower of London. However, being a woman was a problem. No queen would rule England in her own right until Queen Mary in 1553; a granddaughter of Elizabeth of York by her son King Henry VIII.

On 4 February 1495, Anne was married to Thomas Howard (later 3rd Duke of Norfolk) at Westminster Abbey.[1][2] Howard was the eldest son and heir of Sir Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Surrey (later 2nd Duke of Norfolk) by his first wife, Elizabeth Tilney (the widow of Sir Humphrey Bourchier).[1][2]

Their only son known with certainty was Thomas Howard (dates unknown, but Wiki [with no source] states c. 1496 – 1508).[1][2] Richardson only states one child, Thomas, no others. The Dictionary of National Biography states however that the couple had four children who all died young.[1]

Later life and legacy

Anne of York, Lady Howard.

Anne of York, Lady Howard.

In 1486, at the lavish christening of her nephew Prince Arthur Tudor of Wales the first Tudor prince, she carried the chrisom. And in 1489, at the christening of her niece, Princess Margaret Tudor, later Queen of Scots, she again carried the chrisom during the ceremony.

On the death of her brother-in-law, King Henry VII Tudor, her nephew became king as King Henry VIII on 21 April 1509.

In 1510, King Henry VIII granted Anne and her heirs the various properties as compensation for the lands claimed in right of her great-grandmother, Lady Anne (Mortimer), Countess of Cambridge, wife of Richard, 3rd Earl of Cambridge.[1] These properties included the Castle and Manor of Wingfield and several other prominent properties.[1]

Anne died on 23 November 1511 probably from consumption and was buried at Thetford Priory.[2] After the Reformation, she was relocated, along with other Howards, to the large aisle chancel of the Church of St Michael the Archangel, Framlingham.[2]

Lord Howard, as a childless widower, later married a very reluctant Lady Elizabeth Stafford around Easter 1513. Lady Elizabeth was a daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Eleanor Percy by whom he had surviving issue including the infamous Lord Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.

Wikipedia Title Issue (2013)

2nd to 4th Duke of Norfolk by European Heraldry (1483 creation).

2nd to 4th Duke of Norfolk by European Heraldry (1483 creation).

Sir John Howard (great-grandfather of Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Katherine Howard) was a supporter of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Howard was created Duke of Norfolk and given his half of the Mowbray estates after Richard III’s coronation on 28 June 1483. Howard was the maternal grandson of Lord Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk by his daughter Lady Margaret Howard (Mowbray). The dukedom of Norfolk had been inherited by the Mowbray family for several generations. The title would descend from the 1st Mowbray Duke of Norfolk’s eldest son, Lord John Mowbray, 2nd Duke of Norfolk [not an ancestor to the Howard Dukes of Norfolk]. The title would hold in the Mowbray family until the death of the Mowbray 2nd Duke of Norfolk’s great-great-granddaughter, Lady Anne Mowbray, suo jure 8th Countess of Norfolk (d.1481); who died without issue. Upon her death, her heirs normally would have been her cousins Sir William, Viscount Berkeley (descendant of the 2nd Duke’s sister, Lady Isabel Mowbray) and John, Lord Howard (descendant of the 2nd Duke’s other sister, Lady Margaret Mowbray), but by an act of Parliament in January 1483 the rights were given to the 8th Countess’s husband, Prince Richard of Shrewsbury [one of the Princes in The Tower], with reversion to his descendants, and, failing that, to the descendants of his father Edward IV.[3] Looking at this, it’s rather interesting to point out that with the disappearance of the Prince in the Tower [most likely death], the Howard family advanced. This may explain the Howards attachment to the Lord Protector (Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King) who was the uncle of Edward V and the other Prince in the Tower who held the Mowbray estates and title they would be given.

Sir John Howard, son of Lady Margaret Mowbray, would become the 1st Duke of Norfolk of the Howard family.[1] After John Howard’s elevation to Duke, his son, Thomas, was created Earl of Surrey on 28 June 1483.[2] The titles were forfeited and attained after the Battle of Bosworth field (22 August 1485). The “2nd Duke” (grandfather to Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Katherine Howard) was restored as Earl of Surrey in 1489; and was created (or restored as) Duke of Norfolk in 1514 (2nd Duke of the Howard creation), and resigned the Earldom of Surrey to his son (also named Thomas) on the same day. This Thomas Howard (later 3rd Duke of Norfolk) married to Princess Anne of York, daughter of King Edward IV on 4 February 1495. The couple had been betrothed since 1484 when the Howard family rose in favor with King Richard. Even after the death of King Richard, Howard went on to marry Anne. At the time of their marriage, Howard, however, had no titles and wasn’t even knighted (knt. 1497) which was very unusual for a marriage to a Princess. As Princess of England, Anne had been previously contracted to marry Philip “the handsome”, future Duke of Burgundy (a proper marriage for a Princess in that period of time). On the death of her father in 1483, the marriage however, never took place.[see note 1] Therefore, Anne who died in 1511, was never Countess of Surrey, but technically Lady Anne Howard (more informal: Anne of York, Lady Howard).[1]

Parr Relations

For those of you wondering how on earth Anne of York relates to Queen Katherine Parr — she does; by both parents.

  • Sir Thomas Parr, Lord Parr of Kendal’s closest connection was a 2nd cousin.
  • Lady Maud Parr (Green) was a 2nd cousin of Anne of York.


  1. Sidney Lee. “Dictionary of national biography: Howard, Anne,” Volume XXVIII: From HOWARD to INGLETHORP, Macmillan, Smith, Elder & Co. in New York, London, 1891. pg 64-67. Open Library
  2. Douglas Richardson. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. pg 273-78.
  3. Charles Ross. “Edward IV,” (second ed.) New Haven: Yale University Press. 1997.
  4. European Heraldry. “House of Howard.”


  1. Philip of Burgundy would go on to marry Queen Juana I of Castile, daughter of Queen Isabel I of Castile. Queen Juana was sister to Katherine of Aragon, wife to Lady Howard’s nephews by her sister Queen consort Elizabeth of York; Arthur, Prince of Wales (thus Princess of Wales from 1501-1502) and queen consort to King Henry VIII (previously Duke of York) (thus Queen consort of England from 1509-1533).

Researched by Meg McGath
© 15 APRIL 2013

Ancestors of Queen Katherine: Joan of Kent, Princess of Wales

Medieval depiction of Princess Joan of Kent.

Circa 1380, Joan of Kent, Princess of Wales (1328 – 1385), wife of Edward, the Black Prince, mother of Richard II. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Princess Joan of Kent, suo jure 4th Countess of Kent and 5th Baroness Wake of Liddell, later the first Princess of Wales, as wife to Edward, the Black Prince, son and heir of King Edward III. Joan was the daughter of Prince Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent (5 August 1301-19 March 1330) and his wife Hon. Margaret, suo jure 3rd Baroness of Wake of Liddell (c.1297-29 September 1349). Princess Joan had three other siblings; Edmund, 2nd Earl of Kent (1326 – before 5 October 1331); John, 3rd Earl of Kent and 4th Baron Wake of Liddell (7 April 1330 – 26 December 1352); and Margaret, Viscountess of Tartas. Upon the death of her brother, the 3rd Earl of Kent and 4th Baron Wake, Joan assumed the titles as the 4th Countess and 5th Baroness. Joan is one of the few women in Medieval history to hold/inherit a title in her own right. Joan’s great-granddaughter, Lady Alice Montacute, would be another women to hold that honor as the suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury. Jean Froissart called her “the most beautiful woman in all the realm of England, and the most loving.”

By her maternal grandfather, Sir John Wake, 1st Baron Wake of Liddell, Joan was descended from Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd and Joan, Lady of Wales, the illegitimate daughter of John I of England. Her maternal grandmother, Joan de Fiennes, was a sister of Margaret de Fiennes, making her a cousin of Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. Joan’s great-grandfather, William Fiennes, was killed at the battle of Courtrai in 1302; her great-great-great-grandfather Jean de Brienne was Emperor of Constantinople and King of Jerusalem; and her great-great-great-great-grandmother Berenguela of Castile was the sister of Edward II’s grandfather Fernando III of Castile, both being children of Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile, daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

The Earl and Countess of Kent, Prince Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret, suo jure Baroness Wake of Liddell.

The Earl and Countess of Kent, Prince Edmund of Woodstock and Margaret, suo jure Baroness Wake of Liddell.

Joan’s father, Edmund of Woodstock, was executed after the deposition of her uncle, Edward II. At the time of her father’s death, her mother was pregnant with John who would become the 3rd Earl at age one after the death of his elder brother in 1331. Joan and her sister Margaret were brought to court after Edward III learned of the injustice done to his uncle by the hand of his mother, Queen Isabella (the French queen consort of Edward II) and her love Roger Mortimer, Earl of March (cousin of Joan’s mother). Joan and her siblings were raised in the royal nursery; therefore she was brought up along side her cousin and future husband, Edward, Prince of Wales. After the death of her mother on 29 September 1349, Joan was made a ward of Edward III and his queen Philippa of Hainault. This connection perhaps led to the marriage of her brother, the 3rd Earl of Kent, to Isabella of Jülich (died 6 June 1411), the daughter of William V, Duke of Jülich and Joanna of Hainaut, a younger sister of Queen consort Philippa of Hainault on 3 April 1348. They couple had no children, but Isabella’s brother, Gerhard VI of Jülich, Count of Berg and Ravensberg, was grandfather to Adolf I, Duke of Cleves and thus was an ancestor to Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of King Henry VIII.

Left, Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent and right William, Earl of Salisbury; from the Bruges Garter Book, 1430/1440, BL Stowe 594

Left, Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent and right William, Earl of Salisbury; from the Bruges Garter Book, 1430/1440, BL Stowe 594

Joan was eventually assigned a govern and governess; William and Catherine Montacute, the 1st Earl and Countess of Salisbury. The couple was determined to have Joan married to their son and heir William. Instead of following their plans, Joan followed her own path and fell in love with Sir Thomas Holland, Baron Holland. She married her first husband, Sir Thomas Holland, around the age of twelve. Thomas was about fourteen years older, which was not considered an issue at the time. Sir Thomas Holland was an English nobleman and would become a military commander during the Hundred Years’ War. He was from a gentry family in Holland, Lancashire. He was a son of Sir Robert Holland, 1st Baron and Maud la Zouche, daughter of Sir Alan le Zouche, 1st Baron and Eleanor de Segrave. Alan Zouche’s mother, Ela Longespee was the granddaughter of the 1st Earl of Salisbury, the illegitimate son of King Henry II of England. His other ancestors included Henry I of England (twice), David I of Scotland (twice), Raoul Count of Marche Lusignan, and Duncan II of Scots. Holland would be granted the honour of being chosen as one of the founders of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. He secretly married Joan of Kent in a clandestine marriage without first gaining the royal consent necessary for couples of their rank. Since the couple did not get consent of the crown and the marriage was simply one of sworn love for each other, Joan was forced by the Salisbury’s to marry their son Sir William Montague, 2nd Earl of Salisbury while her husband was overseas.

Joan of Kent, Princess of Wales

Joan of Kent, Countess of Kent, Baroness Wake of Liddell, and Princess of Wales. The Montacute arms (bottom left) represent her forced marriage to the 2nd Earl of Salisbury; above Montacute is that of the Prince of Wales; and above both is that of the Holland family. In the top right corner — is her mother’s family crest, Wake of Liddell and below that of her father Prince Edmund of Woodstock.

In 1341 when Holland returned from the Crusades, Salisbury refused to believe the validity of the marriage between Lady Joan and Holland. In 1342, Holland accompanied Robert of Artois to Brittany in support of the Countess of Montfort. In 1346, Holland captured Raoul, Count of Eu, and Jean Tancerville at Caen, France. The same year he fought in the Battle of Crecy as Edward, the Black, Prince of Wales’s chief officers. In 1347, he was awarded 80, 000 florins by the King for the exchange of the Count of Eu. Soon after, Holland appealed to the Pope in Avignon for the return of his wife and confessed to the King. Salisbury decided to keep Joan captive in his home rather than let her return to Holland. In 1349, Pope Clement VI annulled Joan’s marriage to Salisbury and had her sent back to Holland. In 1352, Joan assumed the title of 4th Countess of Kent and 5th Baroness Wake of Liddell after the death of her brother, John, 3rd Earl of Kent. Joan inherited her brother’s title as 4th Countess of Kent and 5th Baroness Wake of Liddell (the barony and title of her mother which passed to her children along with the title of Earl of Kent). These titles were suo jure, meaning “in her own right” as her mother and siblings predeceased her leaving no issue. With the title also came a substantial amount of property and money. The happy couple had three sons and two daughters:

  1. Thomas Holland (later 2nd Earl of Kent), married Lady Alice FitzAlan, daughter of Sir Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and Lady Eleanor of Lancaster. Katherine Parr and King Henry VIII descended from them.
  2. Edmund who died young, and
  3. John Holland, the youngest son and child — later became 1st Duke of Exeter and married Lady Elizabeth of Lancaster, daughter of his cousin Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster by his first wife, also a cousin, Blanche of Lancaster.
  4. Lady Maud Holland, Countess of Ligny (d.1407) as wife to Waleran III of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny; they had one daughter, Jeanne of Luxembourg who married Antoine, Duke of Brabant. The Count and Countess of Ligny’s lineage died out after the death of their two grandsons, John IV, Duke of Brabant (1403–1427) and Philip of St. Pol (1404–1430), Duke of Brabant.
  5. Lady Joan Holland, Duchess of Brittany (1350–1384) who married John V, Duke of Brittany in London, May 1366. They had no issue. The Duke had previously been married to the Duchess’s cousin, Princess Mary of Waltham, daughter of Edward III. John V was knighted by Edward III in 1375-1376 as a member of the Order of the Garter. It is believed he is the only Duke of Brittany to have attained this English honor. The Duke would marry thirdly to Joanna of Navarre (mother to his children), the future queen consort to King Henry IV of England.

Her two surviving sons were the godsons of Lady Kent’s cousin and future husband, Edward, Prince of Wales. Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent died in 1360.

Although marriages within the Royal Family and between Royal Families are the most desirable, it is interesting to note the marital ties of the Holland children also to the English royal family.

The 1st Duke of Exeter married John of Gaunt’s daughter, Lady Elizabeth of Lancaster; their children married nobility. The 3rd Duke would marry into the royal family — as husband to Anne of York, sister of Edward IV and Richard III. Their daughter, also named Anne, would marry the 1st Marquess of Dorset; son of Queen Elizabeth, wife of Edward IV, by her first husband.

The children of the 2nd Earl of Kent: Lady Joan Holland married Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York (son of Edward III); no issue. Lady Joan was the sister of Lady Margaret Holland who married firstly to Gaunt’s son John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (ancestors of Lady Margaret Beaufort) and secondly to the Duke of Clarence (Thomas of Lancaster), grandson of John of Gaunt by his son King Henry IV; she would be known as the Duchess of Clarence for the rest of her life. Another sister, Lady Eleanor Holland was mother-in-law to Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, grandson of John of Gaunt by his daughter Lady Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. Yet another sister, Lady Alianore Holland was mother to Anne de Mortimer, wife to York’s (Langley) son, Richard of Conisburgh, Earl of Cambridge. Another sibling of Lady Joan, Edmund Holland, 4th Earl of Kent would father a child by York’s daughter Constance of York; it has been claimed there was a marriage betrothal between the two, but no evidence that they were officially married.(Richardson)

Princess of Wales

By Sophie Carter.

By Sophie Carter.

Now a rich widow, Joan was sought after by just about every eligible bachelor in the country. The Countess’s royal birth, her extraordinary beauty and grace, and the circumstances of her life had caused this cynosure of every man; that she was the universal subject of men. Joan declined all that approached her. In one instance her cousin, the Prince of Wales, had been approached by a soldier in his entourage to intercede upon his behalf; now identified as a Sir Denis Brocas. According to the story (for the full account see Burrows),

“an English noble, whose name history does not mention, having fallen in love with the widowed Countess of Kent, and found his suit tardy, entreated the Prince’s good word; but that after certain denials, she told him plainly, ‘that when she was under ward, she had been disposed of by others; but now, being mistress of her own actions, she would not cast herself beneath her rank, but remember that she was of the blood-royal of England, and therefore resolved never to marry again but a Prince of quality and virtue like herself;’ and that the hero, while pleading the cause of his friend, felt the old flame rekindled.” (Finch)

A valuable anonymous MS reposited in the National Library at Paris has been edited by the well known antiquary M. Simeon de Luce, called the “Chronique des quatre premiers Valois” of which this one copy alone exists. According to the chronicler:

 “The Prince did speak many times for the knight to the said Lady of Holland; for he went with great good will for his own pleasure to see the said lady, who was his cousin, and he oftentimes observed with admiration her brilliant beauty and most gracious presence, which marvellously delighted him. And when one day the Prince was speaking to the said Countess for the said knight, she gave him her answer. She never would have any husband. And often said she this to the Prince, for she was very subtle and clever. ‘Ha!’ said the Prince fair, ‘cousin if you decline to marry my friends your wonderful beauty will be all the worse for you. If you and I were not so near of kin there is no lady under heaven whom I should love so dearly as I should you.’ Then was the Prince much overcome with love of the Countess; and so the Countess fell a weeping just like the subtle woman that she was and full of wiles. And now the Prince began to console her and tenderly affected by her tears took to kissing her very often and said; ‘Fair cousin, I am come to speak to you for one of the most perfect knights in England, and moreover of high lineage.’ Bathed in tears, Madame the Countess thus addressed him: ‘Ah sire! for God’s sake I beseech you say no more on that point, for I am resolved never to marry. I have already given myself away to the most perfect knight in all the world and for the love of him never do I mean to have so long as I shall live, any spouse but God. It is quite impossible. For his love I forswear the society of men, not one of whom do I intend to marry.’ The Prince was tormented with a vehement desire to know who this most perfect knight in the world might be and repeatedly pressed the Countess to tell him his name. But the said Countess, the more eager she saw him become, the more she besought him that he would ask no further question. Falling on her knees, she cried: ‘For the love of God and of His most sweet Lady Mother, will you not submit to this restraint?’ To bring the story to an end, the Prince told her that if she would not inform him who was the most perfect knight in the world he would be her mortal enemy. Then said the Countess: ‘Most dear and honoured lord, it is you. It is for the love of you that I declare that knight shall never marry me.’ The Prince who was by this time well nigh beside himself with love, then said: ‘Lady, and I also on my part vow to God that as long as you shall be alive, never will I take any other woman to my wife.’ And there and then he plighted her his troth, shortly enough after which the marriage took place. . .Edward, the king of England, was marvellously vexed and annoyed at this affair and was even desirous of putting her to death, for this Prince might have made a very much more lofty match. There was neither emperor, king, nor prince under the sky who would not have been rejoiced to have the Prince enrolled among his lineage.”(Burrows)

The tales and accounts may have been exaggerated as most records were back then. This seems to be a tad too romantic for the time and I doubt anyone would remember such detail as stated in the Burrow’s account. Looking at the dates of the publications — it is no doubt the Victorian romanticized version of the tale.

Princess Joan of Kent and her son, King Richard II

Circa 1377, Joan of Kent (1328 – 1385) Princess of Wales, wife of Edward the Black Prince and mother of King Richard II of England (1367 – 1399) (second and only surviving son). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Prince of Wales became affectionate towards the Countess of Kent. It is said that even the Prince had fallen for her charm earlier in his lifetime, but that his parents did not approve. Nevertheless, it seems that their marriage was one of love. Although his parents did not approve of the match (they most likely wanted him to marry a foreign Princess to forge some sort of alliance between England and another European country). Although Joan had been a favored ward of the King and queen, the Countess’s living ex-husband was an issue when it came to inheritance. The secret marriage the Prince of Wales and Countess of Kent are said to have contracted in 1360 would have been invalid anyway because of the consanguinity prohibition (they were first cousins, once removed). At the King’s request, the Pope granted a dispensation allowing the two to be legally married. The official ceremony occurred on 10 October 1361, at Windsor Castle with the King and Queen in attendance. The Archbishop of Canterbury presided.

The couple had two children, Edward of Angoulême and Richard of Bordeaux (later King Richard II). The eldest died around age 6 while the couple was ruling in Bordeaux as Prince and Princess of Aquitaine. The couple returned to England in 1371 where the plague had become an issue. Edward was a Prince who enjoyed fighting and was usually pre-occupied with some campaign. In 1371, he attempted one final campaign to regain his father’s French possessions. On 7 June 1376, he died at Westminster, a week before his forty-six birthday. Joan’s son by the Prince, young Richard, became heir to his grandfather Edward III. Edward died circa a year after his son and Richard was crowned King at the age of ten.

Portrait of Joan of Kent (1328-1385) with her son Richard II, 1377. (Photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)

Portrait of Joan of Kent (1328-1385) with her son Richard II, 1377. (Photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)

As a power behind the throne, she was well loved for her influence over the young king – for example, on her return to London (via her Wickhambreaux estate) from a pilgrimage to Becket’s shrine at Canterbury Cathedral in 1381, she found her way barred by Wat Tyler and his mob of rebels on Blackheath but was not only let through unharmed, but saluted with kisses and provided with an escort for the rest of her journey. She was well loved by the people.

By Sophie Carter Designs.

By Sophie Carter Designs.

In 1385, Sir John Holland (1st Duke of Exeter), son of the Princess of Wales’s first marriage, was campaigning with the King in the Kingdom of Scotland, when a quarrel broke out between him and Ralph Stafford, son of the 2nd Earl of Stafford, a favorite of the new Queen Anne of Bohemia. Stafford was killed, and John Holland sought sanctuary at the shrine of St John of Beverley. The Princess of Wales herself did not take to foreign queens for some reason so one wonders if she got along with Queen Anne of Bohemia. On the King’s return, Holland was condemned to death. Joan pleaded with her son for four days to spare his half-brother. On the fifth day (the exact date in August is not known), she died, at Wallingford Castle. Richard relented, and pardoned Holland (though he was then sent on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land).

This head, believed to represent Joan Plantaganet, wears her hair in a netted fret, a fashion popular in the late 14th century. The actual boss in Canterbury Cathedral is not terribly prominent and takes a few minutes to locate - like most cathedrals it is possible to discover something new on each visit.

This head, believed to represent Joan Plantaganet, wears her hair in a netted fret, a fashion popular in the late 14th century. The actual boss in Canterbury Cathedral is not terribly prominent and takes a few minutes to locate – like most cathedrals it is possible to discover something new on each visit.

Joan was buried, as requested in her will, at the Greyfriars, the site of the present hospital, in Stamford in Lincolnshire, beside her first husband, the Earl of Kent. In her will she stipulated:

‘My body is to be buried in my chapel at Stanford, near the monument of our late lord and husband, the Earl of Kent.’

Her third husband, the Black Prince, had built a chantry for her in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral where he was buried with ceiling bosses of her face (seen above). She however chose to be buried with the Earl of Kent, as stated above.

The Prince and Princess of Wales portrayed by James Purefoy and an unknown actress in "A Knight's Tale" (2001)

The Prince and Princess of Wales portrayed by James Purefoy and an unknown actress in “A Knight’s Tale” (2001)

Lady Joan was featured without credit in “A Knight’s Tale” (2001) as the woman sitting next to the Black Prince [alias Coleville in the film] at the final tournament. As the Prince of Wales had no other wife, we can assume that this is the Princess of Wales, Joan.

So just how is Queen Katherine Parr descended from Princess Joan?



  • Wentersdorf, Karl P (1979). “The Clandestine marriages of the Fair Maid of Kent,Journal of Medieval History 5 (3): 203–231.
  • Douglas Richardson. “Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families,” 2nd Edition, 2011.
  • Anne Crawford. “Yorkists: The History of a Dynasty,” Continuum International Publishing Group, Apr 15, 2007.
  • Montagu Burrows. “The family of Brocas of Beaurepaire and Roche court: hereditary masters of the royal buckhounds, with some account of the English rule in Aquitaine,” Longmans, Green, 1886. Google eBook (available for download)
  • Barbara Clay Finch. “Lives of the princesses of Wales,” Volume 1, Remington and co., 1883. Google eBook
  • Getty Images — Search: Joan of Kent, Princess of Wales

© Meg McGath
27 March 2013

16 MARCH 1485: THE DEATH of Queen Anne

Anne Neville from Cardiff Castle.

Anne Neville from Cardiff Castle.

Today, 16 March, in 1485, the death of Lady Anne Neville at Westminster Palace at the age of 28. Anne was Queen consort to Richard III from 26 June 1483 until her death. Anne was a younger daughter of Sir Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick and 6th Earl of Salisbury, known in history as ”the Kingmaker”, and Lady Anne Beauchamp, suo jure 16th Countess of Warwick.

Anne was betrothed to King Henry VI and Queen Margaret’s son, Prince Edward as a truce between the Lancastrians and Warwick and Clarence, when being exiled in Brittany.

Shortly after Warwick’s defeat at Barnet, on Easterday 1471 Queen Margaret and Prince Edward returned from France and were decisively defeated. Prince Edward was killed in the battle of Tewkesbury, and King Henry VI was executed soon after, making Anne widow at the age of just 15.

St Katherine by the Tower, Middlesex, England – Queen Anne (Neville) consort of King Richard III from 1483 France modern quartering England; impaling: Quarterly of eight, 1: Checky or and azure a chevron ermine (Newburgh); 2: Gules a fess between six crosscrosslets or (Beuachamp); 3: Argent three fusils conjoined in fess gules (Montague); 4: Or an eagle displayed vert (Monthermer); 5: Gules a saltire argent and a label of five points or (Neville) [label should be compony argent and azure]; 7: Or three chevronels gules (Clare); r three chevronels gules (Clare); 8: Quarterly argent and gules a fret or a bendlet sable (Despenser).

Luckily, Anne’s sister Isabel and her husband Clarence agreed to take in Anne and by 1474, Anne was married to Richard Duke of Gloucester. After the death of his brother, Edward, Richard became Lord Protector of the Realm for the young King Edward V. Edward V and his brother, Richard, the Duke of York, were taken to the Tower as was custom before a Kings coronation. Things unfortunately did not go as planned. The two boys were declared illegitimate under an Act of Parliament by the Lord Protector in 1483. With the Act now in place, the Lord Protector took the throne and crowned himself King Richard III of England. Lady Anne was crowned Queen of England with him in Westminster Abbey on 6 July in a joint coronation. Richard and Anne had one son; Edward, Prince of Wales. The young prince died on 9 April 1484.

The Eclipse as portrayed in the the BBC TV Series 'The White Queen'

The Eclipse as portrayed in the the BBC TV Series, ‘The White Queen’.

Soon after Christmas of 1483, queen Anne became ill. By early 1485, Anne was spending less time at court functions. These absences lead to speculation that the queen was already dead. After the death of her son, Anne’s mental health, no doubt, suffered which could have contributed to the slow decline in health. There were also rumors that Richard was going to kill Anne with poison so that he could marry his niece, Elizabeth of York. This of course, has only been speculation and there are no contemporary sources to prove this. However, the symptoms of Tuberculosis were present in Anne’s last few months; fever, breathlessness, night sweats, coughing up blood, weakness, weight loss and anorexia. Another possibility was cancer. Physicians during this time did not understand illness. There was always some remedy invented that in some cases just made patients worse. The doctors, perhaps, may have tried to prescribe garlic and the poisons Mercury and arsenic. To any modern reader, we know today that Mercury and arsenic are toxic and can kill you. Never the less, Anne died on 16 March 1485. Some sources record that she passed away during an eclipse of the sun. The York dynasty used the brilliant sun as one of their motifs — in all its splendor. The eclipse was seen as prophecy for the future of Richard’s reign.

'The White Queen' [BBC]

‘The White Queen’ [BBC]

Few tributes to Queen Anne remain. Her reign was one of the shortest in English history, lasting only twenty-two months. According to Fabyan, she was a woman of ‘gracious fame, upon whose soul … Jesus have mercy’. Agostino Barbarigo, future Doge of Venice, wrote to Richard III, regretting the loss of his ‘beloved’ consort and exhorting him, ‘endowed with consummate equanimity and marvellous virtues, of your wisdom and grandeur of mind to bear the disaster calmly and resign yourself to the divine will’. According to the Italian, who had never met Anne, she lived a ‘religious and catholic life, and was so adorned with goodness, prudence, and excellent morality, as to leave a name immortal’. In the intervening centuries, though, it was Anne’s mortal name that was often overlooked. Her life has been overshadowed by the controversies of Richard’s reign and his death in battle. (Amy Licence p 203)

Queen Anne lying in state as portrayed by the TV series, 'The White Queen'.

Queen Anne lying in state as portrayed by the TV series, ‘The White Queen’.

Anne had a magnificent funeral and was buried on the southern side of the Abbey near the altar. No stone or monument marked her grave, possibly because Richard was killed that year at Bosworth.

Detail of an illuminated initial 'H'(ere) with the arms of Anne Neville, wife of Richard III, at the beginning of book 3.

Detail of an illuminated initial ‘H'(ere) with the arms of Anne Neville, wife of Richard III, at the beginning of book 3. The British Library, all rights reserved [Royal 18 A XII]

A brass plate and coat of arms, designed by J.S.Comper, was erected in 1960 on the wall of the south ambulatory with the inscription:
ANNE NEVILL 1456-1485 QUEEN OF ENGLAND YOUNGER DAUGHTER OF RICHARD EARL OF WARWICK CALLED THE KINGMAKER WIFE TO THE LAST PLANTAGENET KING RICHARD III. In person she was seemly, amiable and beauteous … And according to the interpretation of her name Anne full gracious. Requiescat in pace.

Plaque of Queen Anne [Neville], consort to the last York King, Richard III


  • Vegetius, translation attributed to John Walton. De re militari (the Book of Vegecye of Dedes of Knyghthode), England, 1483/85. The British Library [Online]
  • Amy Licence. Anne Neville: Richard III’s Tragic Queen, Amberley Publishing, United Kingdom, 2013. pg 200-05.

See also — The Coronation of King Richard III and Queen Anne

Family of Queen Katherine: Lady Alice, suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury

Alice Montacute, suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury.

Alice Montacute, suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury.

Lady Alice Montacute (1407 – bef. 9 December 1462) was an English noblewoman in her own right as the suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury, 6th Baroness Monthermer, and 7th and 4th Baroness Montacute having succeeded to the titles in 1428.

Alice was born in 1407, the daughter and only legitimate child, of Sir Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury [descendant of Edward I] and Lady Eleanor Holland, who was the daughter of Sir Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent and Lady Alice FitzAlan. The Earl of Kent was a grandson of Lady Joan of Kent who became Princess of Wales upon her marriage to Edward, the Black, Prince of Wales, heir to King Edward III. As the Prince of Wales predeceased his father, Edward was succeeded by his grandson by Lady Joan, Richard who became King Richard II. The Earl of Kent’s wife, Lady Alice FitzAlan, was a daughter of Sir Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and Lady Eleanor of Lancaster; granddaughter of Prince Edmund, 1st Earl of Lancaster and his wife Blanche of Artois. The 1st Earl of Lancaster was the younger son of Henry III and as such was brother to Edward I. Blanche was the widow of Henry I of Navarre and mother to Queen Regnant Joan I of Navarre. Coincidentally, Queen Joan married Philip IV of France by whom she had Isabel of France, queen consort of England and ancestress to most of the royalty and nobility at court as the mother of King Edward III of England.

In 1420, she married Richard Neville, who became the 5th Earl of Salisbury by right of his wife on the death of her father the 4th Earl in 1428. Richard was the eldest son of Sir Ralph, Earl of Westmorland and his second wife Lady Joan Beaufort, the legitimized daughter of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Titular King of Castile. As the grandson of the Duke of Lancaster, Richard was put above his brothers and sisters from his father’s first marriage to Lady Margaret Stafford. Richard did not inherit the title of Earl of Westmorland, but the marriage to the heiress of the Earl of Salisbury was a  good match which gave him a title. In short, the children by Westmorland and his second wife, Lady Joan, were given precedence over the children of his first marriage due to Joan’s status. This would cause rifts within the family for quite some time.

The Neville family was one of the oldest and most powerful families of the North. They had a long standing tradition of military service and a reputation for seeking power at the cost of the loyalty to the crown as would be demonstrated by the Earl and Countess’s eldest son, Richard, the 16th Earl of Warwick.[1] Warwick would become  the wealthiest and most powerful English peer of his age, with political connections that went beyond the country’s borders. One of the main protagonists in the Wars of the Roses, he was instrumental in the deposition of two kings, a fact which later earned him his epithet of “Kingmaker”.

The principal seat of the family was at Bisham Manor in Berkshire although their lands lay chiefly around Christchurch in Hampshire and Wiltshire.

Bisham Abbey where the Montacute Earls of Salisbury are buried.

She died some time before 9 December 1462 and was buried in the Montacute Mausoleum at Bisham Abbey.

Alice and Richard had ten children who survived infancy including Katherine Parr’s great-grandmother, Lady Alice Neville and Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick [“Warwick, the Kingmaker”]. By Warwick, she was the grandmother of Queen Anne Neville and great-grandmother to Margaret Pole [Plantagenet], 8th Countess of Salisbury. Another daughter, Eleanor Neville, married the would be fourth husband of Lady Margaret Beaufort, Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby and had issue. Another daughter, Lady Katherine Neville would go on to marry William Bonville, Baron of Harrington and would become mother to Cecily Bonville, the great-grandmother of Lady Jane Grey.

Lady Salisbury was mother to Queen Katherine Parr’s paternal great-grandmother also named Alice [born Neville]. Lady Salisbury was also great-grandmother to Lady [Princess] Margaret of Clarence who would become the 8th Countess of Salisbury in her own right during the reign of King Henry VIII as the daughter of Lady Isabel, Duchess of Clarence; the eldest daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick [Warwick, the Kingmaker]. She was the last descendant of the Plantagenet House of York who would be executed by the man who elevated her, Henry VIII.


[1] Linda Porter. Katherine the Queen; The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII. Macmillan, 2010.

Family of Queen Katherine: Elizabeth FitzHugh, Lady Parr and Vaux

Impaled arms of Parr and FitzHugh, Hampton Court Palace Pedigree window of Katherine Parr.

Impaled arms of Parr and FitzHugh, Hampton Court Palace Pedigree window of Katherine Parr.

Hon. Elizabeth FitzHugh Lady Parr of Kendal and Lady Vaux of Harrowden (1455/65 – 29 January 1508) was an English noblewoman and the co-heiress to her father, Hon. Sir Henry FitzHugh, 5th Baron FitzHugh of Ravensworth. Lady Parr is best known for being the grandmother of the sixth queen of Henry VIII, Katherine Parr and her siblings Lady Anne Herbert, Countess of Pembroke and William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton.

Ravensworth Castle, ancestral home to the Barons FitzHugh

Ravensworth Castle, ancestral home to the Barons FitzHugh

Elizabeth FitzHugh was born at her family’s ancestral home, Ravensworth Castle, in North Yorkshire, England. She was the daughter of Sir Henry FitzHugh, 5th Baron Fitzhugh of Ravensworth Castle. Her family was of the Northern gentry. Lady Parr’s mother was born Lady Alice Neville, daughter of Sir Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and Lady Alice Montacute, suo jure 5th Countess of Salisbury, only daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Montague, 4th Earl of Salisbury and Lady Eleanor Holland. Her paternal grandparents were Sir William FitzHugh, 4th Baron Fitzhugh of Ravensworth and Marjory Willoughby, daughter of Sir William Willoughby, 5th Baron Willoughby de Eresby and his first wife, Lucy Le Strange. Through her mother Lady FitzHugh, Lady Parr descended from Edward III by his son Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Titular King of Castile. Lady FitzHugh was sister to Sir Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (“Warwick, the Kingmaker”). Her paternal aunts included Lady Cecily, Duchess of York making her a cousin to King Edward IV, Richard III, and his siblings. Elizabeth had nine siblings[1], including Alice FitzHugh, Lady Fiennes and Henry, 6th Baron FitzHugh who married Elizabeth Burgh, daughter of Sir Thomas Burgh, 1st Baron Burgh of Gainsborough. Their son George, the 7th Lord FitzHugh, inherited the barony but after his death in 1513, the barony fell in abeyance between Lady Parr and her older sister Alice, Lady Fiennes. This abeyance continues today between the two families.[2]

The current co-heirs to the barony are:

  • Hon. Emily Douglas-Home, suo jure 29th Baroness Dacre (b. 1983)
  • Hon. Tessa Ogilvie Thompson née Brand (b. 1934)
  • Francis Brand, 7th Viscount Hampden (b. 1970)
  • William Herbert, 18th Earl of Pembroke (b. 1978), a descendant of Lady Anne [Parr], Countess of Pembroke



Elizabeth FitzHugh had an easy-going and pleasure-loving disposition. As Lady Parr, she joined the household of her cousin, the Duchess of Gloucester.[7] The Duchess of Gloucester was born Lady Anne Neville, the youngest daughter of Sir Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (“Warwick, the Kingmaker”) and Lady Anne Beauchamp. Lady Parr was close to her cousin which showed in her positions under Anne as Duchess and Queen consort. Because of the family connections, Elizabeth’s mother, Lady FitzHugh pressured Lady Parr’s husband, Lord Parr, to follow the rule of the Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III) while he was serving as Lord Protector of the Realm. When the Duchess became queen in 1483, Lady Parr was appointed by the Queen herself and served as lady-in-waiting. Lady Parr and her mother were both present at the coronation on 6 July 1483. Both were dressed in fine dresses made by cloth that the King himself had given them. Elizabeth received seven yards of gold and silk; her mother received material for two gowns, one of blue velvet and crimson satin as well as one of crimson and velvet with white damask. It is not known which gown Elizabeth wore as she rode behind Queen Anne; but she was one of the seven noble ladies given this honour. Her husband who had been deeply devoted to Edward IV declined his role in the coronation and headed north where he died shortly after.[8]

After her husband Sir William Parr died in 1483, Elizabeth, who was twenty three at the time, was left with four small children. As a widow, Elizabeth’s life revolved around the court. Elizabeth would be second in a four generation span of family that would serve England’s queens which started in 1483 with her mother, the redoubtable Alice Neville, Lady Fitzhugh. Her granddaughter, Anne Parr would continue the tradition by becoming lady-in-waiting to all six of Henry VIII’s wives. Even Anne’s sister, Catherine Parr, who would later become queen served in the household of the Lady Mary until she caught the eye of King Henry.[3]
Elizabeth was lucky enough to remarry. After the overthrow of Richard III and The House of York, Elizabeth made a dubious second marriage with a protege of Lady Margaret Beaufort, Sir Nicholas Vaux, the future 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden, which saved the family fortunes.[3]

Marriages and Issue

FitzHugh was married twice. She married firstly, at the age of 12, Sir William Parr (d.1483), a man twenty eight years her senior. William was a Knight of the Garter, among other high positions at court, who was held high in favour with King Edward IV; who by marriage to Elizabeth became a cousin. He fought as a Yorkist on the side of the Neville’s at Banbury. The couple did not produce their first child until Elizabeth was sixteen years of age. Lord and Lady Parr had three sons and two daughters:
  1.  Anne Parr, Lady Cheney (AFT 1475–4 November 1513), who married Sir Thomas Cheney of Irthlingborough. Their daughter Elizabeth, would go on to marry the son of Nicholas Vaux, 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden (Elizabeth FitzHugh’s second husband) by his second marriage to Anne Green; maternal aunt to Katherine Parr. When Elizabeth Cheney married Lord Vaux, she was age 18 and he was age 14. While there were no blood relations,  Lord Vaux’s father had issue by his marriage to his first wife (see below); thus making Hon. Katherine, Hon. Alice, and Hon. Anne Vaux her maternal aunts. Through these relations, Elizabeth Cheney and her husband, the 2nd Lord Vaux, would have Throckmorton cousins in common.[4]
    Elizabeth, Lady Vaux of Harrowden, wife to the 2nd Baron Vaux.

    Elizabeth Cheney (or Cheyne), Lady Vaux of Harrowden; daughter of Anne Parr and Sir Thomas Cheney.

    Elizabeth was originally drawn by Holbein c.1536. For more on the original drawing and copies of paintings, see: The OTHER Elizabeth Cheney

  2. Sir Thomas Parr, Lord of Kendal (AFT 1475–11 November 1517), who was the eldest son, was knighted and was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1509; he was master of the wards and comptroller to Henry VIII. He was rich, owing to his succeeding, in 1512, to half the estates of his cousin, Lord FitzHugh, and also to his marriage with Maud Green, daughter and coheiress of Sir Thomas Green of Boughton and Greens Norton in Northamptonshire. He died on 12 November 1518, and was buried in Blackfriars Church, London. His widow died on 1 September 1532, and was buried beside him. Of their children, Katherine Parr, queen of Henry VIII, and William Parr (afterwards Marquess of Northampton), are separately noticed; while a daughter, Anne, married William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke of the tenth creation. The couple also had two other children who died as infants; a son was born before their eldest, Katherine, but was stillborn. The second infant who was conceived after their fourth child, Anne; but was either miscarried, dead at birth, or died shortly after, the same year their father died, 1517. The only descendants alive today are the descendants of their youngest surviving daughter, Anne. Her descendants include the current Earls of Pembroke, Earls of Montgomery, Earls of Carnarvon, and more.[4]
  3. Sir William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Horton (BEF 1483–10 September 1547), the second son, was knighted on 25 December 1513, was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1518 and 1522, and after his niece’s Katherine Parr’s promotion became her chamberlain. On 23 December 1543 he was created Baron Parr of Horton, Northamptonshire. He died on 10 September 1547, and was buried at Horton (for his tomb, see Bridges, Northamptonshire, i. 370). By Mary, daughter of Sir William Salisbury, he left four daughters.[4]
  4. John Parr, Esq. (BEF 1483–8 September 1508), married Constance, daughter of Sir Henry Vere of Addington, Surrey. They had no issue.[4]
  5. Alice, died young (b. before 1483).

Second Marriage

After the death of Sir William Parr in fall of 1483, Elizabeth re-married Sir Nicholas Vaux c.1484/5 (probably right before the fall of Richard III), who later became 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden as his first wife.[4] Vaux was the protege of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, so the marriage came at a good time, saving the family fortunes. Vaux’s mother, Katherine Peniston, had been lady to Margaret of Anjou and as such, the Vauxs’ were sympathetic to the Lancastrian cause bringing the Parr family back in to favor. Lady Katherine Vaux (Peniston) would remain with Margaret of Anjou in exile and died in her service.[6] After the accession of Henry VII, Vaux was raised by Lady Margaret Beaufort.[6] Elizabeth’s son by her first marriage, Sir Thomas Parr (father of Katherine), is thought to have been educated under Beaufort’s tutelage (Susan James) which would explain the closeness he formed with her grandson, King Henry VIII. Vaux became close to his Parr step-children. After the death of Elizabeth, Vaux would re-marry to Anne Green, sister to Lady Maud Parr and thus sister-in-law to Sir Thomas Parr.

Their issue:

  1. Hon. Katherine Vaux (abt 1490-1552/1571)[5], married the Catholic Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton Court. Sir George was one of those opposed to the divorce of Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon. He also opposed the break from Rome. As the divorce of Queen Katherine and the marriage of Anne Boleyn was still pending, Sir George said that the king “had meddled with both the mother and sister.” The couple had 19 children and in his life time 112 grandchildren who were mostly ardent Catholics.[4] For over 500 years now, their family has remained one of England’s oldest Catholic families.

    British English School An Unknown Lady once called Katherine Vaux, Lady Throckmorton National Trust Collections Coughton Court, Warwickshire 1576.

    British English School An Unknown Lady once called Katherine Vaux, Lady Throckmorton National Trust Collections Coughton Court, Warwickshire 1576.

  2. Hon. Alice Vaux (d. 1543), married Sir Richard Sapcott/Sapcote c. 1501. No issue; some genealogies state she was the mother of one of Sapcott’s younger sons, but that has not been proven.[4]
  3. Hon. Anne Vaux, married Sir Thomas Le Strange (1493-1545) and had issue.[4]


  1. The Complete Peerage vol. V, pp. 428-429.
  2. Crofts Peerage Online, Baron FitzHugh
  3. Susan James. Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Last Love,” (2009), pg 15, 81.
  4. Douglas Richardson. “Plantagenet Ancestry,” Genealogical Publishing Com, 2004. pg 144, 561.
  5. Peter Marshall, Geoffrey Scott (OSB.) “Catholic Gentry in English Society: The Throckmortons of Coughton from Reformation to Emancipation,” Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Nov 17, 2009. (several errors, i.e. Katherine Parr’s relation to the Throckmorton’s and Lord Throckmorton died in 1552, pretty sure his wife didn’t die in the same year.)
  6. Barbara J. Harris. “English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550 : Marriage and Family, Property and Careers: Marriage and Family, Property and Careers,” Oxford University Press, Jul 26, 2002. pg 218.
  7. Michael Hicks. “Anne Neville: Queen to Richard III,” Tempus, 2006. pg 189.
  8. Linda Porter. “Katherine, the Queen,” Macmillan, 2010.

See also


25 February 1475: THE BIRTH of Edward, Earl of Warwick

Coat of arms of Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick, the last male Plantagenet.

Coat of arms of Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick, the last male Plantagenet. European Heraldry: War of the Roses

Today, 25 February, in 1475, birth of Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, son of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence and Lady Isabel Neville. Edward was a potential claimant to the English throne during the reigns of both Richard III and his successor, Henry VII. Edward was a double 2nd cousin to Queen Katherine Parr’s father. He was also a younger brother of Lady Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury, Governess to Princess Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon.

Edward was born at Warwick, ancestral home to his mother, the Duchess of Clarence. His paternal grandparents were Richard, Duke of York and Lady Cecily Neville, great-aunt to his mother. His maternal grandparents were Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (known as “Warwick, the Kingmaker”) and Lady Anne Beauchamp, suo jure 16th Countess of Warwick.

He succeeded to the title of Earl of Salisbury on 12 December 1476. He was created Earl of Warwick in 1478 shortly after the attainder and execution of his father for treason. With the title, he received Warwick Castle which had belonged to his grandfather. His potential claim to the throne following the deposition of his cousin Edward V in 1483 was overlooked because of the argument that the attainder of his father also barred Warwick from the succession, although an Act of Parliament could have reversed that.

Edward (Plantagenet), Earl of Warwick and Salisbury by Edward Harding, published by  E. & S. Harding, after  Sylvester Harding, stipple engraving, published 26 March 1793.

Edward (Plantagenet), Earl of Warwick and Salisbury by Edward Harding, published by E. & S. Harding, after Sylvester Harding, stipple engraving, published 26 March 1793. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Edward, at the age of only ten years old, was kept as prisoner in the Tower of London by Henry VII. He remained a prisoner until 1499 when a plot between Warwick and Warbeck (pretender of Edward of Shrewsbury and claimant to the throne) for Warwick’s escape was alleged. Warwick didn’t escape, was brought to trial on 21 November, plead guilty, and was executed. He was in his early 20s.

King Richard III, Queen Anne, Edward, Prince of Wales, Margaret, Countess of Salisbury and Edward, Earl of Warwick after Unknown artist

(L to R) Lord Edward, Earl of Warwick; Lady Margaret, Countess of Salisbury; Queen Anne (Neville); King Richard III; and Edward, Prince of Wales after Unknown artist. © National Portrait Gallery, London

18 FEBRUARY 1478: THE DEATH of the Duke of Clarence

The Duke and Duchess of Clarence, Cardiff Castle. From WikiCommons, no copyright.

The Duke and Duchess of Clarence, Cardiff Castle. From WikiCommons, no copyright.

Another bad day for the Nevilles’ — 18 February 1478 — death of the Duke of Clarence, husband of Lady Isabella Neville, both cousins of Elizabeth Parr (grandmother of Queen Catherine). The Duke was granted the titles of 1st Earl of Salisbury and Warwick, which had last been held by Isabella’s father, Richard, who was the 16th Earl of Warwick and 6th Earl of Salisbury. George, Duke of Clarence was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Lady Cecily Neville (great-aunt of Isabella Neville and Elizabeth Parr), and the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses. He is also remembered as the character in William Shakespeare’s play Richard III who was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. The Duke and Duchess were parents to the last Plantagenet’s which included Lady Margaret, suo jure 8th Countess of Salisbury, who was executed by Henry VIII.

BBC ‘THE WHITE QUEEN’: Queen Katherine Parr Family Relations

The White Queen covers to promote the series by Philippa Gregory.

The White Queen covers to promote the series by Philippa Gregory.

The 3 cousins are coming to tv soon in the BBC Series “The White Queen”; which features Lady Anne Neville (daughter of Warwick, the Kingmaker and later Queen to Richard III), Elizabeth Woodville (mother of Elizabeth of York), and Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII Tudor). All three women were cousins to Katherine Parr. The series will air on STARZ in the US in August.

The White Queen

The White Queen

The White Queen Elizabeth Woodville.

The White Queen Elizabeth Woodville.

Based on the The Cousin’s War series of novels by Phillipa Gregory and developed for TV by Emma Frost, The White Queen is set in 1464, during the height of the War of the Roses, and tells the story of the women caught up in the ongoing conflict for the throne. The House of York’s young and devilishly handsome Edward IV is crowned King of England with the help of the master manipulator Lord Warwick “The Kingmaker.” But when Edward falls in love and secretly marries a beautiful young widow, the commoner Elizabeth Woodville, Warwick’s plan for control over the English throne comes crashing down around him. Frustrated by the new Queen’s influence he will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on the King. The ten-part drama series stars Max Irons, James Frain, Rebecca Ferguson, Janet McTeer, Amanda Hale, Faye Marsay, Aneurin Bernard, David Oakes, Juliet Aubrey, Eleanor Tomlinson, Frances Tomelty, Michael Maloney, Ben Lamb, Hugh Mitchell, Simon Ginty, Eve Ponsenby and Robert Pugh. Company Pictures is producing with John Griffin, George Faber, Charles Pattinson, Eurydice Gysel and Polly Hill serving as executive producers. — (Patrick Munn)

Lord and Lady Warwick, Sir Richard Neville (James Frain) and Lady Anne Beauchamp (Juliet Aubrey). STARZ "The White Queen" (2013)

Lord and Lady Warwick, Sir Richard Neville, “Warwick, the Kingmaker” (James Frain) and Lady Anne Beauchamp, suo jure 16th Countess of Warwick (Juliet Aubrey). STARZ “The White Queen” (2013)

Lady Anne Neville, daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (“Warwick, the Kingmaker”) was a first cousin of Hon. Elizabeth FitzHugh, Lady Parr/Vaux [so she would have been Queen Katherine’s first cousin, twice removed].

Lady Isabel (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Lady Anne (Faye Marsay); daughters of Lord and Lady Warwick.

Lady Isabel (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Lady Anne (Faye Marsay); daughters of Lord and Lady Warwick.

Elizabeth and her mother, Lady Alice [sister of Warwick], were appointed personally by Queen Anne to be ladies when she became queen and participated in the coronation, receiving gifts from Richard III himself. They were close.[1]

Lady Margaret Beaufort portrayed by Amanda Hale.

Lady Margaret Beaufort portrayed by Amanda Hale.

Sir Thomas Parr’s father, William, 1st Baron Parr of Kendal, had once been Lady Margaret Beaufort’s revisionary heir to her substantial lands in Westmoreland, known as the “Richmond fee.” Lord Parr married to Hon. Elizabeth FitzHugh, daughter of Henry, 5th Baron FitzHugh and Lady Alice Neville (sister of Warwick). Lady Margaret Beaufort was a double second cousin to Elizabeth FitzHugh, Lady Parr [so she would have been a double second cousin, thrice removed of Katherine]. After the death of Lord Parr, his widow made a marriage with the Lancastrian family, the Vauxs’ of Harrowden. The Vaux family was close to Margaret, enjoying a long-term relationship with her. The previous Lady Vaux, mother of Thomas Parr’s step-father Nicholas, had been lady and friend to the Lancastrian queen Margaret of Anjou. Katherine, Lady Vaux served the queen during her exile. Nicholas Vaux (later 1st Baron Vaux) was a protege of Lady Margaret Beaufort. The young Thomas Parr [Katherine’s father and Margaret’s cousin] most likely studied under Maurice Westbury of Oxford who had been installed as a teacher by Lady Margaret Beaufort at her estate of Colyweston. It was at Colyweston that certain gentlemen, including the son of the Earl of Westmoreland [cousin of Sir Thomas], not only received an education but also gained political connections that would prove useful in their future careers.[1][2]

The "White Queen," Elizabeth Woodville.

The “White Queen,” Elizabeth Woodville.

Elizabeth Woodville was the niece of Queen Katherine’s maternal great-great-grandmother Joan Wydeville [Katherine would have been a first cousin, thrice removed of Queen Elizabeth by her mother, Maud Green]. Joan Wydeville married Sir William Haute/Hawte. Their daughter, Alice, married Sir John Fogge. The Haute family which Joan married into was quite prominent during the reign of Edward IV and Richard III. Fogge had originally been a supporter of the Lancastrian king, but in 1460 Fogge joined the Yorkist earls in Kent. It is obvious however that he was a Yorkist by the families which he married into; Alice Kyriel (daughter of Yorkist Sir Thomas) and Alice Haute c. 1465 who was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth. The previous year, Elizabeth Woodville had married Edward. Queen Elizabeth brought her favorite female relatives to court to serve her.[2] Lady Alice Fogge (Haute) would be one of five ladies-in-waiting to her cousin, queen consort Elizabeth Woodville during the 1460s.[2] The other ladies included her sister Lady Anne (wife of William Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier and George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent) and her sister-in-law Lady Elizabeth Scales (wife of Sir Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers).[2]


The White Queen BBC one commercial – Directors cut from Jamie Childs on Vimeo.


STARZ ‘The White Queen’: Elizabeth Woodville

STARZ ‘The White Queen’: The Kingmaker’s Daughters

STARZ ‘The White Queen’: Lady Margaret Beaufort


  1. Linda Porter. “Katherine the Queen; The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII.” Macmillan, 2010.
  2. Barbara J. Harris. “English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550 : Marriage and Family, Property and Careers: Marriage and Family, Property and Careers,” Oxford University Press, Jul 26, 2002. pg 218.