Tag Archives: Margaret Stafford

Joan Beaufort’s family – Anne Neville, Countess of Stafford

Joan Beaufort neville family tree

 

Joan BeaufortAn earlier post looked at Katherine Neville’s four marriages.  Today I am looking at Anne Neville’s marriages.  Anne was born in about 1410 (depending on the source you read). By the time she was fourteen she was married to Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford who would go on to become the First Duke of Buckingham.  The family was hugely wealthy.  Anne like many of the other women in her family became noted for her interest in books and spent money on lavishly illustrated prayer books and psalters. The Wingfield Book of Hours was hers for example.  In addition, as with others of her family History also has her book of accounts detailing her expenditure. She died in 1480 at the age of seventy (ish) after two marriages and many children – again figures vary depending upon the source but there were at least ten of them.  Sadly of their sons, only three survived to adulthood.

Anne’s eldest son with Humphrey Stafford – unsurprisingly another Humphrey died in 1458 of plague – a reminder of the fact that disease stalked the land culling various Beaufort descendants just as much as war. Anne’s son had been married to his cousin Margaret Beaufort – not to be confused with the Margaret Beaufort. This one was the daughter of  Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (the one who had a thing with Katherine of Valois and managed to get himself killed at the first Battle of St Albans in May 1455) rather than her more famous cousin who was first married to Edmund Tudor.

The next son was Henry Stafford who married the widowed Margaret Tudor – nee Beaufort.  It must have been a bit confusing to have two Margaret Beauforts in the family.  This Margaret, other than being Henry VII’s mother, was the daughter of John Beaufort the older brother of Edmund who died in 1444 under suspicious circumstances having lost vast chunks of France due to ineptitude.  Henry seems to have had a skin condition called St Anthony’s Fire – the condition involving inflation of the skin as well as headaches and sickness which cannot have been ideal when you had to get togged up in armour and go and fight battles.  There were no grandchildren from this union but the pair seem to have genuinely loved one another celebrating their wedding anniversary each year and Margaret Beaufort celebrated St Anthony’s day throughout her life. Sir Henry also fell victim to the Wars of the Roses dying from injuries sustained at the Battle of Barnet in October 1470.  Although the family had started off loyal to Henry VI, Henry had made his peace with Edward IV and when he was injured was fighting on the side of the White Rose.

The third and final son to survive to adulthood was called John and he would become the Earl of Wilshire.  Like his brothers he fought in the Wars of the Roses.  History knows that he was at Hexham in 1464 fighting on the side of Edward IV.  He went on to become Chief Butler for England.  Like his brothers he married an heiress.   He and his wife, Constance, had one son, also called John, who inherited John’s title and estates when he was a child.  As his cousin Buckingham would do, John found himself under the care of his paternal grandmother – Anne Neville.

Several daughters from Anne’s marriage to Humphrey survived to marriageable age and this proved to be a bit of a headache for the Buckinghams despite the wealth I mentioned earlier.  Part of the problem was the Humphrey’s mother held extensive dower estates having not only been married to Humphrey’s father but to his older brother before that.  There was also the fact that Buckingham wished to make extremely good marriages for his daughters and that cost money.

The couple’s oldest daughter, another Anne, married the heir to the Earl of Oxford. Aubrey de Vere is best known to history for being executed for treason in 1462 along with his father the twelfth Earl of Oxford.  Edward IV had Aubrey and his father arrested for writing to Margaret of Anjou and planning to have a Lancastrian force land in England. This was rather unfortunate as up until that time the de Vere’s had done rather well at keeping themselves out of the fifteenth century fracas. It would also have to be said that the exact nature of the plot is rather blurred round the edges.  Anne de Vere nee Stafford went on to marry Thomas, Lord Cobham. Thomas died in 1471 without legitimate male issue so his title passed to Anne’s daughter also called Anne who was married to Edward Burgh of Gainsborough who was unfortunately declared insane.

Anne Cobham married Edward Burgh when he was thirteen.  Katherine Parr’s first spouse was a member of the Burgh family.  Anne Neville and Humphrey Stafford’s 2x-great grandson Thomas Burgh fought at Flodden in 1513 and sat on Anne Boleyn’s trial having been very forceful in her favour at the time of Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon – he is on record as ripping the royal coat of arms from her barge. His residence in Gainsborough was Gainsborough Old Hall which I have posted about before. Sir Thomas does not seem to have been a terribly pleasant man given his towering rages and having his own grandchildren declared illegitimate.

But back to the daughters of Anne Neville and Humphrey Stafford. Joan Stafford, was married aged ten to William, Viscount Beaumont who started out as a Lancastrian, became temporarily Yorkist after Towton when he was captured but wasn’t given back his lands- Edward chose to give them to his friend Lord Hastings- so remained Lancastrian at heart which meant that the next two decades were eventful for him until he returned with Henry Tudor and took part in the Battle of Bosworth. William was unusual in that his loyalty to the Lancastrians was pretty much unwavering. Unfortunately for Joan the marriage was set aside in 1477.  She went on to marry Sir William Knyvett of Buckenham in Norfolk.  The family was an important part of the Norfolk gentry and feature in the Paston Letters.  Like her mother, Joan commissioned many books which survive today.

A third daughter called Catherine married into the Talbot family.  John Talbot became the third Earl of Shrewsbury after his father’s death in 1460.The couple had two sons and a daughter.  It feels as though Neville strands of DNA link most of the important fifteenth century families and reflects the way in which a power base and affinity could be built.  Another daughter, Margaret married Robert Dunham of Devon.

Humphrey Stafford overstretched himself as he was still paying his daughters’ dowries when he died and accommodation had to be made for that in his will.  The Buckinghams were good Lancastrians.  Humphrey was killed in 1460 at the Battle of Northampton whilst guarding Henry VI’s tent.  If you recall this was the battle that Edmund Grey rather ruined for the Lancastrians by changing sides mid battle and allowing the Earl of Warwick through his lines. This event rather changed things within the wider Neville family dynamic.  In 1459 after the Battle of Ludford Bridge (which really wasn’t a battle – more of a stand-off followed by a tactical scarpering by Richard of York) Anne and Humphrey had accommodated Anne’s sister Cecily who was Richard of York’s wife along with her younger children.  Thanks to popular fiction if we think of Anne at all it is usually in her rather frosty welcome of disgraced Cecily. The wheel of Fortune turned in 1460 at the Battle of Northampton and by Easter 1461 the Lancastrians had been labelled traitors and the house of York was in the ascendant with Cecily lording it over widowed Anne.

 

The Second duke of Buckingham was Anne’s grandson.  He wasn’t even five years old when he acquired the title.  Wardship of the new duke passed into the hands of Anne but Edward IV – who was Anne’s nephew (Cecily Neville was his mother)- purchased the wardship from her and with it the right to organise the young duke’s marriage.  He’s the one who ended up married to Katherine Woodville, feeling resentful of his Yorkist cousin who didn’t allow him the freedoms and rights that he felt were his due. Ultimately he undertook a spot of light revolting against Richard III in October 1483 which ended in his execution at the beginning of November the same year in Salisbury.

 

Six years after the death of Humphrey Stafford, Anne married  again to Walter Blount who was the first Baron Mountjoy.  They had no children (and trust me when I say that since beginning to track the descendants of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford that I am grateful whenever I come across that fact.) Mountjoy died in 1474 mentioning his beloved wife in his will.

Anne died in 1480 and is buried in Pleshy, Essex next to Humphrey Stafford as her will requested. Only her daughter Joan Stafford survived her. Most famously she left books to her one time daughter-in-law Margaret Beaufort who was now married to Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby.

 

Baldwin, David. (2009).  The Kingmaker’s Sisters. Stroud: The History Press

The Encyclopaedia of the Wars of the Roses

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A Yorkshire tragedy – 1536 style.

pilgrimage-of-grace-banner2The Office for National Statistics estimates the UK population in 2014 to be something in the order of 64,000,000 – which is rather a lot of people! Consequentially I am always delighted by the way in which the same names pop up throughout history and even more delighted when they prove to be related to one another. Take Sir John Bulmer of Lastingham for instance. He appears to be related one way or another to most of the Yorkshire gentry. His mother was a Conyers and his first wife was Anne Bigod – another Yorkshire name.

However, it’s not his family tree that I’m interested in today. It’s what happened to him and his second wife. Margaret Cheyney had been Sir John’s mistress prior to the death of Anne but once Sir John was free to marry – not having the facility to chop off his wives’ heads in the same way as his monarch- he eventually married Margaret. In October 1536, after two years of marriage, Margaret was pregnant with their child.

 

Unfortunately the Pilgrimage of Grace destroyed their world. Sir John claimed that he’d only joined the rebels because they threatened to burn his home. It was a common assertion. Adam Sedbar, Abbot of Jervaulx only came out of hiding when rebels threatened to do the same to the abbey. As a member of the gentry Sir John was expected to take a lead and he is evident at the end of October as part of the group negotiating with the Duke of Norfolk. Along with the other rebels he was pardoned and duly hurried home for the festive season not realising that Thomas Cromwell had a little list of names for future reference.

 

In January 1537 Margaret gave birth to a boy and Sir Francis Bigod, not a close relation of Sir John’s first wife, alarmed at Henry VIII’s continued military build up in Hull became concerned that the Tudor monarch wasn’t going to keep his word or re-establish the monasteries. He, in his turn, instigated rebellion. It was all over by February 20th with Sir Francis in cold storage at Carlisle Castle.

 

Now Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell took their opportunity to cleanse the north of perceived enemies and break the power of the old nobility. First Robert Aske and the leading captains, including Sir Robert Constable, were invited to London and imprisoned. Then Cromwell began to fling his net more widely. Sir John Bulmer was caught in the wider circle but Sir John and his wife didn’t want to be separated from one another. Moorhouse records that Sir John is supposed to have said that he would rather be racked than separated from Margaret.  This meant that Sir John couldn’t flee and besides Sir John is supposed to have said that he was an Englishman and had no desire to leave his country.

 

As a result, rather than fleeing, the pair rather unfortunately began, it was alleged, to plot another uprising. Sir John is supposed to have gone along to his neighbours and told them his plan.  They, in their turn, informed Cromwell. Interestingly even if they hadn’t done this Margaret’s council that her husband should flee the kingdom also constituted treason. Inevitably the pair were arrested.

 

Ultimately both husband and wife pleaded guilty but Sir John absolutely refused to implicate Margaret and although Margaret appears to have confessed there is no paper evidence of this confession. In reality, during the Pilgrimage of Grace she was heavily pregnant so the claim that she was an active leader of that particular rebellion is either fanciful or Margaret was a very determined woman. Sir John was executed on the 25 May 1537 at Tyburn for his part.  His lot it would have to be said is not a great deal different to the fate of Sir Nicholas Tempest.  That gentleman joined the rebels under duress but having taken the oath appears to have played his part to the full.  The argument that the gentry became part of the rebellion in order to help contain it cut little ice with Henry VIII.

 

Cromwell seems to have had a bit of an agenda when it came to Margaret. She was the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Buckingham (executed 1521) and had been Sir John’s mistress before she became his wife. In London, where they were tried, Cromwell was very keen to have it appear that no marriage had taken place despite the repeated insistence of Sir John and Margaret that they were lawfully wed. Cromwell’s need for Margaret to be ‘no better than she ought to be’ was because it really wasn’t the done thing to go around executing respectable women….unless they were ex-queens or Plantagenets. But, and there is a but, there needed to be a message to the aristocratic ladies of England that they couldn’t go around formenting rebellion. Lady Hussey, for example, had clearly encouraged her husband to rebel against his better judgment. He was executed in Lincoln but she was unharmed. Margaret, on the other hand had no title and no family to protect her.   She was convicted of encouraging Sir John to join in the Pilgrimage of Grace and that she had continued her treasonous activities in January 1537.

 

There’s a reason why you don’t hear of women being hanged, drawn and quartered. It’s not seemly apparently. Far better to burn them. This was the fate that befell Margaret Cheyney, sometimes called Stafford at Smithfield on the same day that her husband was executed.

 

History does not record what befell their infant son. The  Complete Peerage reveals that Sir John did have another son.  Sir Ralph Bulmer was the son of Anne Bigod.  Although his father had been convicted of treason he was restored to his position in society in 1548.

 

 

 

 

 

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