Joan Beaufort’s family

Joan Beaufort and her daughters

I’m still wading through the Plantagenet descendants of John of Gaunt. I think that Joan’s family is probably the most complex element of this particular branch. So here goes…

Joan’s eldest son Richard Neville was the father of the Kingmaker Earl of Warwick. As a son from the First Earl of Westmorland’s second family the Westmorland title did not pass to Richard but he did become Earl of Salisbury by right of his wife Alice Montacute. Richard cannily ensured that his own son, also called Richard, was equally well provided for in marriage. By the age of six Joan Beaufort’s grandson Richard was betrothed to Anne Beauchamp the daughter of the thirteenth Earl of Warwick and likely to inherit a goodly fortune from the Beauchamp, Depenser and Montacute connections. It should be noted that the earldom of Warwick fell by luck into Richard junior’s hands with the deaths of Anne Beauchamp’s brother and niece. Joan Beaufort’s grandson was the Earl of Warwick known as The Kingmaker. From there of course we find ourselves with Joan’s great grand daughters Isabel and Anne – Isabel who married George, Duke of Clarence who had the unfortunate interlude with a vat of Malmsey and Anne who was married first to Henry VI’s son Edward of Westminster and then to the Duke of Clarence’s brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester a.k.a. Richard III – and yes papal dispensations were required all round.

Katherine Neville born around 1400 was married four times – which doesn’t help this post so I shall content myself with the two marriages I can remember. In 1412 she married John Mowbray, the 2nd Duke of Norfolk – the first Mowbray duke of Norfolk, if you recall, was the Lord Appellant who challenged Henry of Bolingbroke to trial by combat just outside Coventy, got himself banished for his pains and died in Venice. His older son Thomas was only created earl and eventually got himself executed in York for rebelling against Henry IV in 1405. John was Thomas’s younger brother – one can only imagine how John felt to be marrying the niece of the man who had effectively ruined his family – though Ralph Neville was his guardian – Ralph was ensuring his family kept their hands on the Mowbray wealth and title when he arranged Katherine’s marriage. The couple had only one son – John born in 1417. He inherited the dukedom whilst still a minor. He would become one of the Yorkists leaders who played an important role in making Edward IV king.

Katherine’s fourth marriage was perhaps the most notorious of her weddings. By that time she was sixty-five. Her groom, the brother of Elizabeth Woodville – her niece by marriage- was John Woodville aged nineteen. John was executed after the Battle of Edgecote in 1469 by her nephew the Earl of Warwick – demonstrating that family events today have nothing on those in the fifteenth century – and there’s you worrying about whose going to sit where at Christmas – this lot just seem to have lopped off each other’s heads at the first opportunity.

Henry, Thomas and Cuthbert Neville died either in infancy or as young children as did John Neville who was born in 1411. Robert Neville became the Bishop of Durham and Salisbury. Whilst being a catholic priest ought to have precluded having children of his own there is a mention in his will of a Thomas, Ralph and Alice who it might reasonably be supposed were his own children.

Eleanor Neville born in 1402 found herself in the invidious position of being required to marry her family’s opponents for power in the North after her first husband Richard le Despenser died without them having children. Despenser is going to appear again during the next week and suffice it to say a papal dispensation was required for the marriage since he was yet another cousin. Husband two was the Earl of Northumberland – despite the two families opposition to one another the couple had ten children.

In addition to marrying to solve political problems this post has demonstrated that the first earl of Westmorland and his wife Joan were very good at marrying their sons to heiresses – which probably didn’t enhance Neville popularity during the period when everyone was looking for a likely heiress to give their own family a boost up the social ladder. William Neville was no exception. William married Joan de Fauconberg who inherited a large North Yorkshire estate. Not only was she a bit older than William but she was also described as being an “idiot from birth.” Despite this the couple had four children but the child of William’s that is best know in history, thanks to the Wars of the Roses, is Thomas Neville sometimes known as the Bastard of Fauconberg. He would one day become Viscount Fauconberg. He was executed in 1471.

Anne Neville married the First Duke of Buckingham Humphrey Stafford – making her the mother-in-law of Lady Margaret Beaufort, who married the couple’s second son Henry Stafford after the death of her first husband (or second if you count John de la Pole and she didn’t) Edmund Tudor. And if nothing else demonstrates the tangled knot of Plantagenets that led to the Wars of the Roses this particular relationship should! Especially when you bear in mind that Anne’s sister Cicely married Richard of Cambridge and mothered Edward IV and Richard III. The Battle of Bosworth was really a family affair.

Quite clearly so far as the Plantagenets were concerned blood wasn’t thicker than water unless it was being spilled in pursuit of a crown. And I think that’s more than enough about Joan Beaufort’s off spring.

Tomorrow the Beaufort earls and dukes of Somerset – a quick tour before getting back to the sons of Edward III. There’s only a week until Christmas and I still haven’t tackled Edmund of Langley or Thomas of Woodstock.

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