Deep breath everyone! As you can see Joan Beaufort and Ralph Neville had five daughters. One of them, I am delighted to report, became a nun. Joan who was born according to different sources at the earliest in 1399 but often reported as a later birth was a Poor Clare. So I shall move swiftly on.
The countess’s eldest daughter was much married. Katherine was married in the first instance to John Mowbray 2nd Duke of Norfolk. The couple who were married for about twenty years had only one surviving child – named after his father who became the 3rd Duke. Katherine’s son has been described as having a decisive part to play at the Battle of Towton which settled Edward IV onto the throne. She would eventually become the great grandmother of Anne Mowbray Countess of Norfolk who was married as a child to her distant cousin Richard Duke of York, more famous as one of the ‘princes in the Tower.’ The pair were married in 1478 when the groom was five and the bride was six. Edward IV arranged the match because little Anne was a hugely wealthy heiress. After her death in 1481 the title should have gone to the Howard family who were her third cousins whilst Richard kept the lands and the money because he was Anne’s legal husband. In the event Edward IV passed an act of parliament making his son the Duke of Norfolk reverting to the Crown if the boy died without heirs. All of that changed in 1483.
Meanwhile Katherine retained her dower and jointure rights as the dowager Duchess of Norfolk. Her second marriage was somewhat scandalous as she married one her previous husband’s knights without license. Thomas came from Harlsey Castle near Northallerton and had a long association with the Neville family. The couple had two daughters Joan and Katherine before Strangeways death which occurred before August 1443. Joan married Sir William Willoughby of Lincolnshire –a further link in the network of gentry and aristocratic families which spread beyond county boundaries. And as an interesting aside it was a member of the Willoughby family who fought against Edward IV at the behest of the Kingmaker at Losecoat Field but I wouldn’t want to comment on the familial relationship.
Katherine Strangeways was married to Henry Grey of Codnor on 29 August 1454. Grey swapped his loyalties from Lancaster to York following Towton. He was a key member of the Derbyshire aristocracy and managed to get into a feud with the Vernon family in 1467 which resulted in the Duke of Clarence being sent to the region to restore order. In 1468 the families were required to swear not to intimidate jurors. Three years later Katherine’s husband was summoned to London because he caused a riot in Nottingham. Katherine had no children and predeceased her argumentative husband.
Meanwhile the dowager duchess was widowed for a second time and married for a third time to John Viscount Beaumont who was killed in 1460 at the Battle of Northampton. Beaumont was a rather wealthy Lancastrian who was always loyal to Henry VI. It is perhaps not surprising he met his death whilst guarding the king.
In January 1465 Katherine Neville, who might reasonably expected to have enjoyed her widowhood in charge of her own estates, made her final marriage to Sir John Woodville. A chronicler described the match as a ‘diabolical marriage.’The bride was past sixty years in age and the groom was not yet twenty. There is no indication about how Katherine felt about the match – it is usually rolled out to illustrate Woodville greed but for all we know the unlikely couple may have been on friendly terms. Rather unexpectedly Katherine outlived her young husband as he was executed without trial at Coventry by her nephew the Earl of Warwick following the Battle of Edgecote.
Katherine was issued with Coronation robes in 1483 and was part of Anne Neville’s coronation procession. She died later the same year.
Three Neville sisters to go!