Anne Neville the widow of the Lancastrian heir Edward was widowed at the age of fourteen having been married off by her father the Earl of Warwick when he decided that putting King Henry VI back on the throne was a better option than allowing King Edward IV to continue to rule. By the middle of May 1471 Anne had gone from being the daughter of an earl and a princess to the widow and daughter of traitors – without cash or land. However, by the following year Anne was married to Richard Duke of Gloucester despite the fact that his brother George Duke of Clarence was against the match because he wanted to control all of the estates associated with the Earldom of Warwick by right of his own wife Isabel, Anne’s sister. Oh and by the way neither of them were entitled to any of it because Warwick’s wife, Countess Anne, was the suo jure Countess of Warwick – or in her own right. Not that it mattered. King Edward IV simply arranged for Parliament to declare her legally dead.
Edward created Earl of Salisbury during infancy by his uncle King Edward IV lived his short life in Yorkshire. His parents were celebrating Easter at Nottingham Castle in 1384 when word arrived that he died suddenly. One of the mysteries around Anne Neville and Richard III’s son was his age. He might have been born in 1473 or as late as 1477. It appears that his household was still largely female so he is more likely to have been a younger rather than older boy.
The lengthy aside demonstrates that although we don’t know exactly where or when Anne married Richard that we have a year – and add nine months for the earliest date Edward might have been born. he was named after his chief godparent – Richard’s brother, King Edward IV. Tradition says that he was born in Middleham but tradition isn’t quite the same a recorded fact. By 1477 he starts to appear in the written record and his doting uncle gave him his great grandfather’s title which had been lost by Warwick when he turned traitor and died at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. Accounts show that he received £20 a year from estates in Wiltshire.
Edward spent his childhood at Middleham and Sheriff Hutton – once in the hands of the Nevilles now in the hands of Anne’s husband who ruled the north on behalf of the king. History records the name of his wet nurse – Isabel Burgh – who may have been related to a mistress of Richard and also Anne Idley the mistress of the boy’s nursery. Anne Idley’s husband Peter was the author of a book on the education of boys which perhaps explains her appointment. In April 1483 Edward’s life changed – his uncle died.
By July Richard was king and Anne was his queen. Edward became the heir to the throne. He didn’t travel to London either for the coronation or the Christmas festivities that year. There are any number of reasons for this from safety considerations, to young age, to ill health – the last of which is usually assumed. However, on 29th August 1483 Edward and his family were at York where they were welcomed by the mayor with a pageant and a play before retiring to the archbishop of York’s house. it was said by Edward Hall that Anne led her son through the streets of York by the hand. Edward was being formally invested as Prince of Wales and knighted by his father. At the same time as he was knighted so was his half-brother John of Pontefract and his cousin Edward Earl of Warwick – the son of Isabel Neville and George Duke of Clarence. There’s no indication if this was the first time the three boys met but it is the first written reference to them being together. In total the family were in York for three weeks before Anne and her son retired to Middleham and Richard continued his progress to Lincoln where the wheels rather came off the cart when news of Buckingham’s Rebellion arrived.
King Richard’s accounts provide an insight into the boy’s life in the summer of 1483 but the record becomes almost silent until news of his death at the end of March 1483. Nor can we be certain that he is buried in Sheriff Hutton were a tomb of a small boy wearing what looks like a coronet may be found. We know from Richard III’s itinerary that he – and presumably Anne- left Nottingham almost as soon as they heard the news of Edward’s death. The couple were consumed by grief and it is possible that Richard ignored the precedent of monarchs not attending their children’s funerals because he was in Middleham at the beginning of May. It is plausible that Edward lies in Middleham still. The tomb at Sheriff Hutton may date to the first half rather than the second half of the Fifteenth century. And why the lack of certainty?
Well – when Anne died in 1485 she had no monument either. Richard was in the process of commissioning a very fine chantry in York but he ran out of time by the end of the summer he would also be dead and Henry Tudor would be on the throne. It was perfectly normal for bodies to be translated to their final resting place when the chantry chapel in which they were to be interred was complete. Richard may have intended for his wife and son to be buried in Middleham, Barnard Castle or York – but once he was killed at Bosworth no one at the time had any interest in remembering him or his family.
if you’re looking for a good read why not try Amy Licence – The Lost Kings which covers the boys who never became king in the houses of Lancaster, York and Tudor.