The Swynford/ Beaufort case again

As we said five years ago, it is unclear whether John, Marquess of Somerset and Dorset, really was the son of John of Gaunt or of Sir Hugh Swynford. Furthermore, the common law answer to that question may be different to the genetic answer, as we revealed that Swynford could well have died after the conception, or even the birth of John “Beaufort”.

As hathawaysofhaworth reminded us in a comment here, the mediaeval year commenced on Lady Day, 25 March. Thus January, February and most March dates fall later in the same year as do 25 March to December. This gives more scope for Swynford’s life to have overlapped with the life, or gestation (“pre-life”) of Catherine de Roet’s middle child of seven.

Whilst Somerset’s (half-?) brother, Henry Beaufort, was a Cardinal, he did have an illegitimate daughter, unlike Thomas, Duke of Exeter. As Jane married Sir Edward Stradling in about 1423, according to the Cardinal’s will, we are still faced with the strong possibility that all those still surnamed Beaufort after his 1447 death were descended from Sir Hugh Swynford.

By super blue

Grandson of a Town player.


  1. It’s tantalising to wonder if Katherine Swynford knew which man was the baby’s father. Or if she just plain couldn’t be sure. Which then begs the question, did she mislead Gaunt? Or did she confess her uncertainty to Gaunt, and he was so in love with her that he was prepared to give the child his name, based on there being a 50/50 chance?


  2. o it’s OK to accuse a Lancasstrian woman of being promiscous, but never a Yorkist. They just couldn’t do that. Human nature being what it is, surely some Medieval women cheated, but given the drastic punishments (including burning at the stake) for doing so, I doubt there were very many.
    I’m also a little tired of having inverted commas around ‘tudor’. If Henry VII wasn’t entitled to the name of Tudor, what was he? If his father, Edmund, was a bastard, he would take the name of his mother. As she was the widow of Henry Plantagenet (Henry IV) her name, and therefore his, and therefore his son’s, would be – wait for it – Plantagenet!


    1. Actually I think there was more promiscuity in the Middle Ages than is credited. Sanitised versions of history by the Victorians have a lot to answer for. The more you read, the more you hear of it. And of course men had mistresses. Who were they sleeping with? Usually NOT unmarried girls, that is for certain. Generally widows, sometimes wives who were estranged from their husbands or who had husbands far away.


    2. It is the conventional historical record, as cited in the likes of the ODNB and CP, that gives Catherine de Roet four bastards by Gaunt whilst both were married to others (“in double advowson begotten”).
      Our suggestion is that there were only three.


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