Elizabeth Woodville Royal Window Canterbury Cathedral
Very soon after the clandestine marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville had taken place in 1464 it became abundantly clear to the old nobility that the siblings of the new Queen would henceforth be having their pick of the most sought after heirs and heiresses of England in marriage. These marriages as well as the aggrandisement of the Woodville clan unsurprisingly led to much resentment and hatred of the parvenu Woodvilles which would later inevitably boil over leading to disaster, tragedy and a bloody day at Bosworth in 1485. But I’m off on a tangent here and back to the marriages. Who were the spouses of the Woodville Queen’s siblings and how did they fare?
ANNE c 1438 – 30 July 1489
First married to William Bourcher, Viscount Bourchier, heir the the Essex Earldom. William would fight at the battle of Barnet for York on the 14 April 1471. The couple would go on to have three children. When William died in 1480 Anne married George Grey , 2nd Earl of Kent and 5th Baron Grey de Ruthyn with whom she had one son. He was made a Knight of the Bath by Richard III in July 1483. However tempus fugit as they say and June 1487 would find George fighting for Henry Tudor against the Yorkist Pretender, Lambert Simnel at the Battle of Stoke. On 17 June 1497, he again fought for Henry at the Battle of Blackheath when the Cornish rebels were defeated. How things could turn on a sixpence in those turbulent times! After Anne’s death George would go on to marry Katherine Herbert, daughter of William Herbert, Ist Earl of Pembroke. Herbert’s oldest son, another William, married another Woodville sister, Mary. Anne was buried in Old Warden Church, Bedfordshire.
St Leonard Church, Old Warden. Photo Rhodielke
ANTHONY WOODVILLE 2ND EARL RIVERS c.1440-1483.
Anthony became the second husband of Elizabeth Scales, 8th Baroness Scales. This marriage ‘substantially improved his prospects’ since his mother’s dower was only for her lifetime and thus ‘Woodville could inherit only his father’s barony and three manors in Kent and Northamptonshire, there was some justification for the condescension towards him of the Yorkist earls in 1460 (1). This marriage would prove to be childless. On Elizabeth’s death in 1473, although it was not strictly legal, he managed to retain her land which he would go on to bequeath to his brother Edward at a loss to Elizabeth’s heirs – ‘ I bequeath such lands as were my first wife’s, to my brother Sir Edward Woodville, and to his heirs male, and in default of such heirs male, to the right heirs of my father’. Anthony would go on make a second advantageous marriage in 1480 to Mary Lewis daughter of Sir Henry Lewis and Elizabeth Beaufort, the daughter of Edmund, duke of Somerset (d. 1455), and sister of the last two Beaufort dukes. Mary was her father’s heir, more importantly, she was potentially coheir to the Beaufort dukes themselves. This marriage too would prove to be childless. It is known that Anthony had at least one illegitimate child, Mary. For those who would like to delve deeper into Anthony’s life I would recommend Michael Hicks’ online ODNB article Woodville (Wydeville), Anthony, second Earl Rivers.
MARY WOODVILLE 1443-1481. Married William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. This marriage seems to have been a happy one for William who died 16th July 1491 aged 35 (although there is a possibility it could have been earlier in 1490) was buried at Tintern Abbey next to Mary as he requested in his will ‘in or neare as may be the same where my dear and best loved wife resteth buried’. William would go on to marry Katherine Plantagenet , illegitimate daughter of Richard III. This marriage was short lived, Katherine presumed dead by 1487 when her husband was recorded as a widower at the coronation of Elizabeth of York. Tintern Abbey. William and Mary were buried close to the high altar to the north of his parents tomb. Watercolour c.1794 Joseph M.W. Turner.
JACQUETTA 1444-1509 – Married John Strange, 8th Lord Strange of Knockin in 1450 while they were both still children thus this marriage was the only one of the siblings to have been contracted prior to the marriage of Elizabeth to King Edward. One of Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting. The couple had one daughter, Joan, Lady Strange, who married George Stanley, son and heir to Thomas Stanley who let Richard III down so grievously at Bosworth. Joan commissioned a monument for her parents in Hillingdon Church, Middlesex. However although Joan was buried as she had requested, by her father’s side, according to a now lost inscription her mother was buried elsewhere (2).
Brass memorial of John le Strange and his wife Jacquetta. Chancel of Hillingdon Church. Photo with thanks to lostcityoflondon.co.uk
JOHN b.1445 – 1469 I don’t think anyone will need reminding about this infamous Woodville marriage. Married in 1465 when he was nineteen, Katherine Dowager Duchess of Norfolk b.c1400-d.1483, a lady thrice his age and described at the time as a ‘maritagium diabolicum’ by William Worcester (3). Confusingly this marriage made him uncle to both Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as the ‘Kingmaker’ and his brother in law Edward IV ergo he was also his mother’s uncle – I think – ! Anyway Warwick would get his own back when John fell into his hands in 1469 after the battle of Edgcote and he was, along with father, executed. What Katherine thought of the early demise of her much younger spouse is alas, lost in time.
Katherine is despicted here as a young woman along with her sisters including Cicely Neville, mother to Edward IV and Richard III. Their mother Joan Beaufort, in black, is shown at the front of her brood of daughters.
JANE/JANE 1452-1512 Lady Grey of Ruthyn. Confusingly known sometimes as ‘Eleanor’. Married Sir Anthony Grey, son of Edmund Grey, Ist Earl of Kent. No child would be born and Anthony would die before his father. Attended and led the ladies in mourning at the funeral and burial of Mary Plantagenent daughter of Elizabeth and Edward who died at Greenwich Palace in May 1482.
Greenwich Palace. Following the death of her niece Mary Plantagenet here in May 1482 Jane attended the funeral rites and burial at Windsor.
MARGARET 1454-1490 Married Thomas Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel. Thomas whose mother was Joan Neville sister to Richard Neville ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’ would outlive Margaret not dying until 1524. W E Hampton described this marriage as another ‘tangle of allegiances’ for Thomas’ and Margaret’s daughter, another Margaret, married John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, a possible heir to Richard III until his death at Stoke Field 1487. Thomas himself was granted a yearly pension of £300 by Richard in 1484 when he was commissioner of array in Sussex and Hampshire. However he also went on to do well under the Tudor regime. Little is known of Margaret however except she had four children with Thomas and was the great grandmother of Henry Pole the younger. She lies buried in the Fitzalan Chapel at Arundel Castle alongside her husband and his parents.
Margaret’s in-laws, William Fitzalan and his wife Joan Neville, sister to the Kingmaker. Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel Castle. Photo authors.
KATHERINE 1458-1497 – Married the even younger Henry Stafford Duke of Buckingham 1455-1483 while they were still children. This marriage would perhaps have serious repercussions for it has been suggested that Henry strongly objected to marrying a Woodville who he considered beneath him. Did this cause him later as an adult to throw in his lot with Richard Duke of Gloucester? Richly rewarded by Richard his volte-face in betraying the king has never been satisfactorily explained. Whatever the condition of his marriage the couple did have four children. Katherine would go on to marry Jasper Tudor – an advantageous marriage for him as she brought with her extensive Stafford lands – and thus become Duchess of Bedford. After Jasper’s death in 1495 Katherine would marry Sir Richard Wingfield who outlived her.
Thornbury Castle, home to Katherine and Jasper Tudor. Photo Joabsmithphotography
MARTHA b? d.c1550. Married Sir John Bromley of Bartomley and Hextall, Shropshire (4). Very little is known of either Martha or Sir John. This obscurity is rather puzzling. Perhaps this is due to them living out their lives quietly and peacefully or maybe an error has been made somewhere in Martha’s lineage?
1. Woodville/Wydeville, Anthony. Second Earl Rivers (c. 1440–1483). ODB online article 2011. Michael Hicks.
2.Memorials of the Wars of the Roses p.116. W E Hampton..
3.Edward IV Charles Ross.
4. Elizabeth Woodville A Life p.187 David MacGibbon
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