A Strange Tale from the Reign of Henry VIII

The following is based on information found in The Reign of Henry VIII, by James Anthony Froude. A book originally published in 1909.

Sir William and Sir George Neville were brothers of Lord Latimer – the same Latimer who was husband to the famous Catherine Parr. They were arrested on mere suspicion – possibly because they were related to Lady Salisbury – and the following emerged from their confessions.

In the summer of 1532, William Neville lost some silver spoons. So – like you do – he made his way to Cirencester to consult a wizard as to their recovery. The wizard couldn’t help with the spoons, but took the opportunity to tell Neville’s fortune, advising him that his wife would die and that William would marry an heiress. However, feeling his powers inadequate, the wizard referred him on to a sort of Consultant wizard in Oxford, by the name of Jones.

This Jones went a lot further. It would be tedious to relate the whole saga, but among other things he promised Sir William that he would receive Warwick Castle and the earldom of Warwick. This prophecy involved an actual visit to Warwick by the two Nevilles and Jones so that the latter could check that the room he had seen in his ‘vision’ was identical to the one in the castle. Naturally, it was.

On their return to Oxford, Jones went even further, stating that ‘None of Cadwallader’s blood should reign more than twenty-four years.’ This was getting into dangerous territory, but he added that Prince Edward of Lancaster (the one killed at Tewkesbury) had a son who had been conveyed over seas. Moreover, this son had himself had a son, who was alive in either Saxony or Almayne. Either this person or the King of Scots should succeed Henry VIII.

Sir William said (or claimed he said) that he would not meddle in the matter, but leave it to God. Sir George, generally supporting his brother’s version, was careful to add that he not been party to any treasonable conversation.

As for Jones, he declared himself a good subject and offered to hazard his life to make a philosopher’s stone for Henry VIII within twelve months. He volunteered to be kept in prison for the meantime.

What happened to Jones is unknown, but the two Nevilles were released without charge or punishment.

The most obvious explanation for this little scene is that Jones was babbling nonsense, seeking to please two potentially lucrative clients, and that the Nevilles were naive enough to be prepared to sit and listen to it.

However, is it just possible that Edward of Lancaster had a son? Such a child, to be relevant to the succession, would have to be born to Anne Neville. Does this explain Anne’s temporary disappearance from the Clarence household? Sadly we shall never know. It seems highly unlikely, but it would make for an interesting piece of fiction!


  1. Oh, sighthound6, what a glittering nugget you have unearthed. I haven’t looked at all the dates yet, but if they fit, and Anne was the mother, does it also imply that Richard would have known? Of course, it could all be pie in the sky, but it’s certainly something to conjure with. And just imagine what it would have done to Henry VII’s already ragged peace of mind. Not only Yorkist heirs surviving in the wings, but Lancastrian ones as well? He’d be beset on all sides, but I’ll hazard a guess that even so, he would have hung on to the crown. Maybe it would have knocked a few years off his life, though.


  2. I found this nugget a while back but forgot until I read the book again. A friend and I, some years ago, thought that – if this was true, which is a big if – Richard must have known, and that the boy might even have been brought up as ‘John of Gloucester’, hidden in plain sight. But this is pure speculation, I must stress, and probably belongs in the world of fiction. Still, it’s more probable than Elizabeth Woodville conjuring up storms and fogs. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The truth is often stranger than fiction, sighthound6. Is that not what they say? It’s as possible as a lot of other speculation. You’ll have to get writing, I’m afraid. All this great material requires putting down in black and white.


    2. My immediate thought that this is who could have been Richard of Eastwell if Anne was indeed pregnant. It’s about as good a tale as the kitchen maid one.


  3. Edward could have fathered a son with a concubine as we are led to think Anne was not to his liking due to her Yorkist blood ,but that would have made the child a bastard .If she had a legit kid Richard would have wanted it raised in his household i assume .Interesting theory though ,of course the kid and his kid would have to hide from the Dragon of Fatswaller “.


  4. Anne’s disappearance is something I’ve had kicking around in my head for a while. When I asked “What if she was pregnant?” I was howled out of the room. Now this….would be nice to know who these wizards really were & if most people at the time suspected Anne “disappeared” for that reason. If so, finding her working as a kitchen maid would become the 15th-century equivalent of “going to visit my Aunt in the country.”

    Liked by 2 people

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