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.

Barnard Castle, Anne Beauchamp and oriel windows.

IMG_6617Barnard Castle was built by the Baliol family. It remained in their hands until the reign of King Edward I when it was confiscated and passed into the ownership of the Earl of Warwick. Two centuries later it was in the hands of the Neville family but the Earl of Warwick at that time- the Kingmaker- ultimately backed the wrong monarch and managed to get himself killed at the Battle of Barnet in April 1471 as was his brother John.

Warwick left two daughters who became joint heiresses to the title and estates. Isabel Neville, the older daughter, was married to George, Duke of Clarence (brother of Edward IV) while her younger sister Anne had been married off to Prince Edward, son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou demonstrating the Kingmaker’s ability to swap the colour of the rose in his lapel at the drop of.. er…a rose.

Detail from door grill leading to the vault where George Duke of Clarence and his wife Isobel Neville are buried in Tewkesbury Abbey.

Detail from door grill leading to the vault where George Duke of Clarence and his wife Isobel Neville are buried in Tewkesbury Abbey.

Anyway, to cut a long story short Prince Edward got himself killed scarcely a month after his father-in-law at the Battle of Tewkesbury on the 4th of May 1471. Anne was placed, by Edward IV, in the custody of her brother-in-law.  George calmly tried to ensure all the titles, estates and loots ended up in his fat little paws. It arrived at the point where Anne was hidden in the kitchen as a maid of work to prevent Richard, Duke of Gloucester and George’s little brother, from finding her. If you’re a romantic Richard and Anne had liked one another since childhood when Richard was part of Warwick’s household. If you’re a pragmatist – an heiress at the altar is a bankable asset. So Richard married Anne and there followed an undignified squabble about which husband was getting what – Richard landed Barnard Castle amongst other Northern estates. After George managed to get himself drowned in a vat of Malmsey in 1478 (two years after Isobel died) the rest of the Warwick inheritance found its way into Richard’s keeping along with his small nephew Edward and niece Margaret. Tewkesbury Abbey continued to play its role in the history of the period by being the final resting place for both George and his wife, due in part to the fact that Isobel’s grandmother was the last Despenser heiress. Tewkesbury has strong links to the Despenser family.

You have to feel a degree of sympathy for Warwick’s widow, Anne Beauchamp, who was actually the daughter of Richard Beauchamp, the previous Earl of Warwick and his wife Isobel Despenser. Her brother died in 1446 and her niece died in 1449 making her husband- Richard Neville- the Earl of Warwick. So, actually neither of her daughters should have inherited anything at that point because it was Anne – the widow of the Earl of Warwick- who came with the lands and titles. Not to worry, Edward IV swiftly ensured that for legal purposes poor Anne was declared legally dead allowing his brothers to divide up the Warwick estates between them despite the assortment of letters that Anne Neville nee Beauchamp wrote from Beaulieu Abbey demanding that her rights be recognised.

Ultimately Anne emerged from sanctuary and was handed into the care of her son-in-law Richard – we have no idea how she felt about her daughters or indeed their respective spouses.  Rous, no supporter of Richard, wrote that Anne was kept in close confinement but there is other evidence that demonstrates that the countess must have had an allowance and must have travelled around the northern estates that had once been hers.

It wasn’t until 1486 that Anne had some restitution for the loss of her money and lands and that came from the Tudors. Henry VII granted her 500 marks a year and the following year Parliament gave her estates back which she promptly gifted to the king….which suggests some shady double dealing somewhere along the line or perhaps a bid to keep her grandson the young Earl of Warwick, Isabel and George’s son safe. He was after all in protective custody in The Tower at that point.

DSC_0014Having gone all around the houses – or castles- it’s back to Barnard Castle which overlooks the Tees. Richard seems to have spent a lot of time at Barnard Castle.  He also carried out renovation and extension works.  His tenure is evidenced in the remnants of the great hall. He added an oriel window – a bay window supported by corbels- on the first floor and caused a white boar to be engraved in the ceiling above it – where it can still, just about, be seen today as can an English Heritage artist’s interpretation of what it might have looked like originally.DSC_0012