A while ago, I talked about the non-existence of a short-lived child of Richard Duke of York and Cecily Neville called Joan of York, who mysteriously made it into Alison Weir’s royal genealogies, despite only ever appearing in someone’s self-made family tree from the 1960’s.
Since then I have come across yet another non-existent child named by Weir, who frequently also appears in online genealogical tables and potted biographies. ‘Edward’, the child of Henry IV and his first wife, Mary de Bohun, is frequently described as having been born when his mother was only 12 and hence lived only a few days. In fact, it appears that Mary was, as one might expect, still living with her mother at the time she was supposed to be carrying this baby. The non-existent child perhaps has been confused with a son of Mary’s sister, Eleanor, who was born that same year (though Humphrey died as a teen rather than a baby.)
A ‘Thomas of Windsor’ has also been attributed to Edward III and Philippa of Hainault in several sources. Again, there seems to be no evidence of his existence. According to historian Kathryn Warner, Philippa was in Calais, not Windsor, at the time this fictional baby was supposed to have been born. His tale seems to have grown out of a story by several French chroniclers that Philippa was pregnant when in Calais. Philippa’s last son, who was named Thomas of Woodstock, may also have contributed to the confusion.
I have also recently come across some entries for ‘extra’ children of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. Besides the children we know about, there are FOUR more occasionally listed in biographies: Richard (1247–1256), John (1250–1256), William (1251–1256) and Henry (1256–1257). Despite the birth and death dates listed for these supposed children, there are no contemporary records that mention any of them, and it is unlikely that a 9 year old prince, at the very least, would not get a mention somewhere in the chronicles of the time.
Here’s pictures of ‘Ugly Medieval Babies’ looking at YOU, lazy historians!