Was Anne Neville Pregnant in 1471?

In the second edition of THIS TIME, I speculate that Anne Neville was pregnant at the time she was sequestered in George of Clarence’s household after her father (Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick) and husband (Edward of Westminster—aka Edward of Lancaaster) were killed. This speculation is based on two points. First, from this excerpt of The Reign of Henry the Eighth by James Anthony Froude, Everyman Edition, 1925, p 412 – 413:

On their return to’ Oxford, Jones, continues Sir William, said further, ” That there should be a field in the north about a se’n- night before Christmas, in which my Lord my brother [Lord Latimer] should be slain; the realm should be long without a king; and much robbery would be within the realm, specially of abbeys and religious houses, and of rich men, as merchants, graziers, and others; so that, if I would, he at that time would advise me to find the means to enter into the said castle for mine own safeguard, and divers persons would resort unto me. None of Cadwallader’s blood, he told me, should reign more than twenty-four years; and also that Prince Edward [son of Henry VI. and Margaret of Anjou, killed at Tewkesbury], had issue a son which was conveyed over sea; and there had issue a son which was yet alive, either in Saxony or Almayne ; and that, either he or the King of Scots should reign next after the King’, Grace that now is….1

1 Confession of Sir William Neville: Rolls House MS

In December, 1470, Anne Neville, age 14, married Prince Edward, age 17. Although some well-regarded references claim the marriage between Prince Edward and Anne Neville was not consummated, whether it was or not is unknown. Second, considering Edward IV deposed Henry VI (Edward of Lancaster’s father) and Warwick had failed in selecting Edward IV’s queen, and switched from being Edward IV’s ally to enemy, Warwick would likely want to insure there was issue from this marriage to use against Edward IV. This would also fit in with Henry VI’s queen and Edward Lancaster’s mother—Margaret of Anjou.

What prompted Warwick, Clarence, and Lancaster to attack England when to retake the throne? Some factors may have been that Henry VI was still a captive of Edward IV and Anne Neville was pregnant, thus insuring the Lancastrian line. George of Clarence was Edward IV and Richard Gloucester’s brother, married to Isabel, Anne’s sister and conspiring with Warwick. On April 14, 1471, Warwick was defeated and killed in the Battle of Barnet.

The Lancastrian army continued its march, arriving at Tewkesbury on May 3, 1471. They faced the Yorkist forces the next day and were defeated. Exactly how Edward of Lancaster died is in some dispute, but according to the Crowland Chronicles: “In the end King Edward gained a famous victory while of the queen’s force, either on the battlefield or afterwards at the avenging hands of certain persons, there were killed Prince Edward himself, King Henry’s only son [and others]”. Once Prince Edward and Warwick were killed, Clarence “rolled over” and begged forgiveness, which Edward IV granted. Anne was placed in his household.

Did George of Clarence know Anne was pregnant? If my speculation and the cited reference are correct, then he probably did and was likely planning to use her as a bargaining chip, or ensure Anne’s issue was “disappeared” if she had a boy. Once Richard tried to gain access to her, George hid her disguised as a cookmaid. Following two passages are from the Croyland Chronicle Continuations.

After, as already stated, the son of king Henry, to whom the lady Anne, the youngest daughter of the earl of Warwick, had been married, was slain at the battle of Tewkesbury, Richard, duke of Gloucester, sought the said Anne in marriage. This proposal, however, did not suit the views of his brother, the duke of Clarence, who had previously married the eldest daughter of the same earl. Such being the case, he caused the damsel to be concealed, in order that it might not be known by his brother where she was; as he was afraid of a division of the earl’s property, which he wished to come to himself alone in right of his wife, and not to be obliged to share it with any other person. Still however, the craftiness of the duke of Gloucester, so far prevailed, that he discovered the young lady in the city of London disguised in the habit of a cookmaid; upon which he had her removed to the sanctuary of St. Martin’s. …

Once Anne Neville was removed to sanctuary, the three brothers argued as to who should gain custody. Richard prevailed and married Anne.

… In consequence of this, such violent discussion arose between the brothers, and so many arguments were, with the greatest acuteness, put forth on either side, in the king’s presence, who sat in judgment in the council-chamber, that all present, and the lawyers even, were quite surprised that these princes should find arguments in such abundance by means of which to support their respective causes. In fact, these three brothers, the king and the two dukes, were possessed of such surpassing talents that, if they had been able to live without dissensions, such a threefold cord could never have been broken without the utmost difficulty. At last, their most loving brother, king Edward, agreed to act as mediator between them; and in order that the discord between princes of such high rank might not cause any hindrance to the carrying out of his royal intentions in relation to the affairs of France, the whole misunderstanding was at last set at rest, upon the following terms: the marriage of the duke of Gloucester with Anne before-named was to take place, and he was to have such and so much of the earl’s lands as should be agreed upon between them through the mediation of arbitrators; while all the rest were to remain in the possession of the duke of Clarence. …

Which brings us to the mystery of Richard of Eastwell. If Anne were pregnant and carried to term, then what happened to the baby? Could her potential pregnancy explain Richard of Eastwell? According to legend, on the night before his final battle Richard III acknowledged a third bastard who became known as Richard Plantagenet. The Eastwell Church registry contains a 1550 entry for the death of Richard Plantagenet. In addition, Richard Plantagenet’s putative tomb exists at that location. Anne Smith quoted Arthur Mee’s account of who is thought to be Richard Plantagenet quoted below and referenced here:

Richard Plantagenet was a bricklayer or stonemason, employed by Walter’s son, Sir Thomas, on the rebuilding of Eastwell Manor. Mee states: “… Sir Thomas Moyle, building his great house here, was much struck by a white-bearded man his mates called Richard. There was a mystery about him. In the rest hour, whilst the others talked and threw dice, this old man would go apart and read a book. There were very few working men who could read in 1545, and Sir Thomas on this fine morning did not rest till he had won the confidence of the man …” It is said the book Richard was reading was in Latin, which was a language reserved for the highborn. The mason told Sir Thomas he was brought up by a schoolmaster. “From time to time, a gentleman came who paid for his food and school, and asked many questions to discover if he were well cared for,” wrote Mee. Richard went on to describe being taken to Bosworth Field and meeting his father for the first time. The king said: “I am your father, and if I prevail in tomorrow’s battle, I will provide for you as befits your blood. But it may be that I shall be defeated, killed, and that I shall not see you again … Tell no one who you are unless I am victorious.” When the battle was lost, Richard Plantagenet chose a simple trade in which to lose his identity and had thus come to work at Eastwell Manor. According to Mee: “Sir Thomas Moyle, listening to this wonderful story, determined that the last Plantagenet should not want in his old age. He had a little house built for him in the Park (which is still standing) and instructed his steward to provide for it every day.”

Suppose, Richard of Eastwell were Anne and Edward Lancaster’s son instead of Richard III’s natural son. To have Anne be his wife, Richard might have promised her to adopt her daughter or protect her son from being killed so that he could never lay claim to the throne. What better way to protect him than make him one of Richard’s bastards that he didn’t openly acknowledge? Given all the mysteries surrounding Richard III, I think this is a plausible solution for Richard of Eastwell.


Anonymous, Public Domain edition of The Croyland Chronicle Continuations, 1459–1486, http://www.r3.org/on-line-library-text-essays/crowland-chronicle/part-vi/, accessed 7/4/2018

James Anthony Froude, The Reign of Henry the Eighth, Everyman Edition, 1925

Susan Higginbotham, The Boy Who Did Not Become King: Edward of Lancaster, 1453–1471, Ricardian Register, Dec. 2011

Nicholas Pronay and John Cox ed., The Crowland Chronicle Continuations, 1459-1486, printed for The Richard III and Yorkist History Trust by Alan Sutton Publishing, 1986.

Anne Smith, Richard of Eastwell (Kent), http://www.r3.org/on-line-library-text-essays/back-to-basics-for-newcomers/bastards-of-richard-iii/richard-of-eastwell/, Accessed 7/4/2018

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Neville,_16th_Earl_of_Warwick, accessed 7/4/2018

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