Elizabeth Woodville Royal Window Canterbury Cathedral

Reblogged from A Medieval Potpourri

Very soon after the clandestine marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville had taken place in 1464 it became abundantly clear to the old nobility that the siblings of the new Queen would henceforth be having their pick of the most sought after heirs and heiresses of England in marriage.   These marriages as well as the aggrandisement of the Woodville clan  unsurprisingly  led to much resentment and hatred of the parvenu Woodvilles which would later inevitably boil over leading to disaster, tragedy and a bloody day at Bosworth in 1485.  But I’m off on a tangent here and back to the marriages.  Who were the spouses of the Woodville Queen’s siblings and how did they fare?

ANNE c 1438 – 30 July 1489

First married to William Bourcher,  Viscount Bourchier, heir the the Essex Earldom.  William would fight at the battle of Barnet for York on the  14 April 1471.   The couple would go on to have three children.  When William died in 1480 Anne married  George Grey , 2nd Earl of Kent and 5th Baron Grey de Ruthyn with whom she had one son.  He was made a Knight of the Bath by Richard III in July 1483. However tempus fugit as they say and  June 1487 would find George fighting for Henry Tudor against the Yorkist Pretender, Lambert Simnel  at the Battle of Stoke. On 17 June 1497, he again fought for Henry at the Battle of Blackheath when the Cornish rebels were defeated.    How things could turn on a sixpence in those turbulent times!   After Anne’s death George would go on to marry Katherine Herbert, daughter of William Herbert,  Ist Earl of Pembroke.   Herbert’s oldest son, another William, married another Woodville sister, Mary.  Anne was buried in Old Warden Church, Bedfordshire.


St Leonard Church, Old Warden.  Photo Rhodielke


Anthony became the second husband of  Elizabeth Scales, 8th Baroness Scales.  This marriage substantially improved his prospects’  since his mother’s dower was only for her lifetime and thus  ‘Woodville could inherit only his father’s barony and three manors in Kent and Northamptonshire, there was some justification for the condescension towards him of the Yorkist earls in 1460 (1).  This marriage would prove to be childless.  On Elizabeth’s death in 1473, although it was not strictly legal,  he managed to retain her land which he would go on to  bequeath to his brother Edward at a loss to Elizabeth’s heirs – ‘ I bequeath such lands as were my first wife’s, to my brother Sir Edward Woodville, and to his heirs male, and in default of such heirs male, to the right heirs of my father’.  Anthony would go on make a second advantageous marriage in 1480 to Mary Lewis daughter of Sir Henry Lewis and Elizabeth Beaufort, the daughter of Edmund, duke of Somerset (d. 1455), and sister of the last two Beaufort dukes.  Mary was her father’s heir, more importantly, she was potentially coheir to the Beaufort dukes themselves. This marriage too would prove to be childless.  It is known that Anthony had at least one illegitimate child, Mary.  For those who would like to delve deeper into Anthony’s life I would recommend Michael Hicks‘ online ODNB article Woodville (Wydeville), Anthony, second Earl Rivers.


MARY WOODVILLE 1443-1481.  Married William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke.  This marriage seems to have been a happy one for William who died 16th July 1491 aged  35 (although there is a possibility it could have been earlier in  1490)  was buried at Tintern Abbey next to Mary as he requested in his will  ‘in or neare as may be the same where my dear and  best loved wife resteth buried’.   William would go on to marry Katherine Plantagenet , illegitimate daughter of Richard III.  This marriage was short lived, Katherine presumed dead by 1487 when  her husband was recorded as  a widower at the coronation of Elizabeth of York. Tintern Abbey.  William and Mary were buried close to the high altar to the north of his parents tomb. Watercolour c.1794 Joseph M.W. Turner.

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