Sharing my birthday with a famous ancestor – 11th June

Anne Neville
the King Maker’s Daughter / Princess of Wales / Duchess of Gloucester / Queen consort of England / Lady of Ireland

The day she died England plunged into darkness, the moon blotted out the Sun an omen perhaps of things to come ‘The reign of bad King Richard was coming to an end’.

Stained glass depiction of Anne Neville in Cardiff Castle

Stained glass depiction of Anne Neville in Cardiff Castle

my relationship to Anne Neville
Anne is the wife of my 1st cousin 16x removed and my 2nd cousin 18x removed.

Anne “Queen of England” NEVILLE (1456 – 1485)
wife of 1st cousin 16x removed

Edward ‘of Westminster’ “Prince of Wales” de LANCASTER (1453 – 1471)
husband of Anne “Queen of England” NEVILLE and my 1st cousin 16x removed

Henry VI “King of England” “4th Duke of Cornwall” PLANTAGENET (1421 – 1471)
father of Edward ‘of Westminster’ “Prince of Wales” de LANCASTER and my 15th great grand uncle

Catherine “Princess of France” de VALOIS (1401 – 1437)
mother of Henry VI “King of England” “4th Duke of Cornwall” PLANTAGENET and my 16x great grandmother

Sir David OWEN (1459 – 1542)
son of Catherine “Princess of France” de VALOIS and my 15x great grandfather

Sir Henry OWEN (1490 – 1542)
son of Sir David OWEN and my 14x great grandfather

Thomas ‘of Broadwater’ OWEN (1520 – )
son of Sir Henry OWEN and my 13x great grandfather

William ‘of Horsham and Slinfold’ OWEN (1560 – )
son of Thomas ‘of Broadwater’ OWEN and my 12x great grandfather

Thomas ‘of Burwash & Brighton’ OWEN (1598 – 1639)
son of William ‘of Horsham and Slinfold’ OWEN and my 11x great grandfather

William OWEN (1633 – 1680)
son of Thomas ‘of Burwash & Brighton’ OWEN and my 10x great grandfather

Thomas OWEN (1666 – 1749)
son of William OWEN  and my 9x great grandfather

Mary OWEN (1692 – 1739)
daughter of Thomas OWEN  and my 8x great grandmother

Ann ANDREW (1721 – 1769)
daughter of Mary OWEN  and my 7x great grandmother

Ann RUSBRIDGE (1757 – 1805)
daughter of Ann ANDREW  and my 6x great grandmother

Napper CHALLEN (1782 – 1855)
son of Ann RUSBRIDGE  and my 5x great grandfather

Martha CHALLIN (1806 – 1868)
daughter of Napper CHALLEN  and my 4x great grandmother

Hannah HARRIS (1845 – 1925)
daughter of Martha CHALLIN  and my 3x great grandmother

William Richard TAYLOR (1873 – 1948)
son of Hannah HARRIS and my 2x great grandfather

Doris Margery TAYLOR (1904 – 1999)
daughter of William Richard TAYLOR and my great grandmother

Joyce Margery PLASKETT (1934 – 2013)
daughter of Doris Margery TAYLOR and my grandmother

Born into Englands most powerful family and at the centre of the wars of the Roses, she saw war, death and blood like none of us can imagine. She was the King Maker’s Daughter, Princess of Wales, Queen consort of England and Lady of Ireland. If that wasn’t enough she was also used as a pawn in a bitter power struggle and married twice each marriage placing her firmly into the hands of the opposing side.

By birth she was Lady Anne Neville born on the 11th June 1456 in Warwick Castle, Warickshire, England and daughter of the most powerful man in England Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (the “Kingmaker”).

England in the 15th Century

Six sovereigns came and went, and at least 15 major battles were fought between rival contenders to the throne since that moment in 1399 when the divinity that “doth hedge a king” was violated and Richard II was forced to abdicate. England in the 15th century was a time of uncertainty for it’s people.
Plague remained endemic in England and there was little change in population although the period has been considered a golden age for the English labourer, but individual prosperity varied widely. There was a well-developed land market among peasants, some of whom managed to rise above their neighbours and began to constitute a class called yeomen.
It was also an important century for the foundation of schools and colleges, Eton College in 1440 and King’s College, Cambridge in 1441.
The 15th Century for the ruling classes was a dangerous time and the Neville family in particular witnessed that more so then others.

The life of Anne Neville

Anne was the youngest daughter of Richard Neville and Anne de Beauchamp. Her father was the leading supporter for the house of York and the most powerful nobleman in England.
Much of her childhood was spent with her elder sister Isabel at Middleham Castle Wensleydale, in the county of North Yorkshire, England. It was here that both sisters met the future Richard III and George, Duke of Clarence the two younger sons of Richard, Duke of York, who claimed the crown for York.

The Neville’s were an ambitious family and daughters of nobility were often seen as commodities and exploited for the advancement of family power and for the strengthening of allegiances.
When the relationship between Richard Neville and Edward IV began to show signs of distrust and collapse. Richard without the permission of the king married his eldest daughter to Edward IV’s brother’ George, Duke of Clarence in the hope of overthrowing the man he had made King and replacing him with George and his daughter. It was a complicated struggle for the Neville’s and a dangerous game.
In 1470 Richard went a stage further and his youngest daughter Anne was betrothed and married to Edward of Westminster, the Lancastrian heir to the throne of England, Enemy of Edward IV. They married on the 13th December 1470 in the Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d’Angers, France, making Anne Princess of Wales because Warwick had restored Henry VI to the throne in October 1470.

This second reign of Henry VI was short lived and lasted between 30 October 1470 – 11 April 1471 when Edward IV defeated Warwick and took the mentally ill Henry, prisoner at the Battle of Barnet and incarcerated him in the Tower of London following his victory at Tewkesbury on 4 May Henry was reported to have died of “pure displeasure and melancholy” although it is believed he was murdered by orders of Edward IV.

Margaret of Anjou wife of Henry VI had returned to England with Anne Neville and Prince Edward in April, bringing additional troops. At the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471, Edward IV crushed this last Lancastrian army. Prince Edward was killed in or shortly after the battle and Anne Neville was taken prisoner. She was taken first to Coventry and then to the Duke of Clarence’s house in London. She became the subject of some dispute between Clarence and Gloucester, who still wanted to marry her. Anne Neville and her sister, the Duchess of Clarence, were heiresses to their parents’ vast estates. Clarence, anxious to secure the whole inheritance, treated her as his ward and opposed her getting married, which would strengthen her position to claim a share. Edward IV refused her safe conduct to plead her case and she wrote to Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth of York and several others to no avail. There are various accounts of what happened subsequently, including the story that she escaped from Clarence’s custody and sought refuge in a London cookshop, disguised as a servant. Richard, Duke of Gloucester is said to have tracked her down and escorted her to sanctuary at the Church of St Martin le Grand.

Gloucester married Anne shortly before 1473 although the exact date of their marriage is unknown, they made Middleham Castle their marital home and upon their marriage Anne was styled Duchess of Gloucester. They had only one child, Edward, born at Middleham in around 1473.

The fortunes of Richard and Anne changed considerably when Edward IV died on the 9th April 1483 and Gloucester was named Lord Protector to his 12 year old nephew Edward V. This is where we see things get a little dark too and many theories examined as to what happened next. We know that on the 25th June 1483 Edward V and his siblings were declared illegitimate and Gloucester ascended the throne as King Richard III. This all happened in a short space of time and over the years an ugly picture of Richard III has been painted, fuelled by Tudor propaganda after his death.

Warwick’s plan to see his own bloodline on the throne of England had succeeded with his youngest daughter who’s coronation took place alongside Richard’s at Westminster Abbey on the 6th July 1483. Their son Edward of Middleham, was styled Prince of Wales although he died a year later on the 9th April 1484, while his parents were absent.

After the death of her son, Anne Neville effectively adopted Edward, Earl of Warwick, the mutual nephew of Richard III and Anne Neville. Richard III made the boy his heir presumptive, probably in deference to Anne Neville’s wishes. Edward of Warwick was described as “simple-minded”, and after Anne Neville died, Richard promptly named another nephew, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, as his heir presumptive.

Anne Neville died on 16 March 1485, probably of tuberculosis, at Westminster. The day she died, there was an eclipse, which some took to be an omen of her husband’s fall from heavenly grace. She was buried in Westminster Abbey, in an unmarked grave to the right of the High Altar, next to the door to the Confessor’s Chapel. Richard III is said to have wept at her funeral. Nevertheless, rumours circulated that Richard III had poisoned her in order to marry his niece Elizabeth of York.

There was no memorial to her until 1960, when a bronze tablet was erected on a wall near her grave by the Richard III Society.


4 thoughts on “Sharing my birthday with a famous ancestor – 11th June

  1. My spouse’s paternal line also connects to the Nevilles and Plantagenets. I haven’t finished researching yet – probably never will, considering the number of people to find out about. Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you, very true about the research into these branches never ending.
      I have shelved my medieval ancestry for a while so I can concentrate on the last 500 years.
      Good luck with your own research too 🙂

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