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Uncle Richard?

richard-iii-huffington

A long time ago, I posted a short article about one of my ancestors, Thomas Snellgrove, who was a portrait artist and painted an actor portraying Richard III. Here is the link.

Portrait of actor playing Richard by Snellgrove

George Frederick Cooke playing Richard III by T.W. Snellgrove

I have been researching my family history for over thirty years and it used to be a very slow and painstaking process. The internet has obviously made things easier and quicker in many ways and I now have some other interesting Ricardian links to report.

I found a probable direct ancestor called Sir Henry Vane, the Younger – I had not heard of him, but discovered that he was a Parliamentarian in the Civil War and was beheaded on Tower Hill after Charles II returned to the throne. Interesting, so I started tracing his family back further and came upon a Vane who had married a lady called Joan Haute. As you probably know, there was a Katherine Haute to whom Richard gave an annuity of £5 and this was considered suggestive of her having been his mistress and mother of one or both of his illegitimate children. I did find a Katherine, married to a James Haute, brother of my ancestor.

I carried on further and found that Joan Haute’s grandfather, Richard, was married to an Elizabeth Tyrrell, sister of James Tyrrell, one of Richard’s henchmen, accused of murdering the ‘Princes in the Tower’ on his orders. It was odd to think I had recently visited the Tyrrell chapel at Gipping and seen the memorials for the Tyrrell family in the church at Stowmarket – how strange that these could be my relatives!  James was executed at the Tower too, by Henry VII.

And Richard Haute’s mother was a Woodville, sister to Richard Woodville, Elizabeth Woodville’s father. Elizabeth, as we know, was Richard’s sister-in-law (or at least was thought to be until it was found the marriage was invalid).

Sir Henry Vane’s wife was Frances Wray, and I next followed her line back. Her father married Albinia Cecil, great granddaughter to William Cecil, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. One of his sons (half-brother to my presumed ancestor, Thomas Cecil) was Robert Cecil, who was thought to be the ‘model’ for Shakespeare’s Richard III; he was an unpopular politician of the time and also a hunchback.

Pic of Robert Cecil

Robert Cecil

Thomas Cecil meanwhile was married to a Neville! This was Lady Dorothy Neville, descended from George Neville, brother to Cecily Neville, Richard’s mother! This would make Richard my 1st cousin 17 times removed.

It’s not all good though; there are four connections to the Stafford family, two of which are direct lines to Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who betrayed Richard and was called by him ‘the most untrue creature living’ – another executed ancestor.  And, of course, via the Nevilles, I would also be related to Margaret Beaufort and Henry Tudor through the John of Gaunt line. ☹

Another not-so-good link is to the Percy family and thence to Henry Percy, who was lynched by a mob when he tried to raise taxes in Yorkshire, for not supporting Richard at Bosworth.

Yet another is to the Brandon family via the sister of William Brandon, Henry Tudor’s Standard Bearer, whom Richard personally killed at Bosworth. He would be my 16 x great uncle.

Other significant names that I haven’t fully explored yet are: Howard, Harrington, De Vere, Zouche, Somerset, Bourchier and  Clifford.  I haven’t found any Stanleys yet!

One of the Stafford links also leads to Margaret, daughter of George of Clarence and there is another to Margaret Courtenay, whose mother could be Katherine of York, the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville (her father married twice and it isn’t known which wife Margaret was born to – the second one was descended from John Neville, brother of Warwick the Kingmaker). These connections would make Richard also my 16 x great uncle. This would mean that one 16 x great uncle (Richard III) killed the other (William Brandon)!

Graham Turner painting of Richard III at Bosworth killing William Brandon

The Battle of Bosworth (Richard III killing William Brandon) by artist Graham Turner, copyright Graham Turner. N.B. Prints and cards of this and many other Ricardian scenes are available – click on the picture above to see.

How convoluted and complicated were the relationships in those days. But it just reveals how, if you can just find one key link into the nobility, you are basically related to them all!! It is also said that nearly all English people are descended from Edward III, so going by my experience (and Danny Dyer’s!) it could be true. I encourage anyone to have a go at researching their family – it is fascinating.

One caveat if you use the internet to do your research though – you have to be careful not to replicate others’ mistakes – I have found Cecily Neville given as the mother of Elizabeth Woodville and someone getting married before they were born – I know they married young in those days, but really!

 

 

Cecil image credit: John de Critz the Elder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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To be, or not to be, the Bard?

William Shakespeare’s contribution to the image of Richard III, as of many other historical figures, has been less than helpful in terms of accuracy. However, just as Shakespeare’s original plays misrepresented his sources and the true course of  events, not every performance of one of the plays is as he left them.

His version of Richard III was, of course, adapted to be more hostile by the relatively melodramatic Poet Laureate Colley Cibber. Garrick seems to have restored the original content somewhat although the horror film The Tower of London was a further diversion

Then there is uncertainty over which plays Shakespeare either wholly wrote, co-wrote with the likes of Fletcher, adapted or delegated; the late Eric Sams providing us with an alternative canonical list. Some of the others may be the responsibility of contemporaries such as Marlowe (d.1593). The Bard’s acknowledged British “history” plays appear to be centred wholly upon monarchs but those in question focus on Thomas of Woodstock, Thomas Cromwell and others.

Beyond this come the known forgeries of the tabula rasa variety. The principal exponent was the eighteenth century London youth William Ireland, who momentarily fooled even his own father and part of the theatrical world to the point that his Rowena and Vortigern was performed.

Another famous Shakespearean Richard from the past….

Garrick as Richard III

David Garrick was an 18th century actor whose name is still synonymous with the Shakespearean roles he performed. Raised in Lichfield, he had intended to be a lawyer but was instead drawn into the theatre

AT THE age of 24, David Garrick made his stage debut in Ipswich and only a few months later took the title role in Richard III at a small theatre in the unfashionable East End of London. His performance was so electrifying that crowds flocked to see him and his success was assured. Within a few years he had moved to the Drury Lane theatre in central London where he became actor-manager until his retirement in 1776.

Garrick’s style of acting did not rely on simply declaiming the lines so they could be clearly heard at the back of the theatre, but in a much more naturalistic style using variations in tone of voice, expression and gesture.

His performance as Richard III was preserved in the painting by William Hogarth. The original is now at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, but it was widely reproduced as an engraving. This Victorian figure, pictured, is copied from the painting, and was made by an unknown Staffordshire factory. It shows Richard III, the night before the Battle of Bosworth, having woken from a nightmare in which he was haunted by the ghosts of those he had “murdered”.

From The Sentinel, 5th February 2016

Read more:http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Way-Murder-mystery/story-28678528-detail/story.html#ixzz3zNFzI9jx

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