Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter

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Anne Plantagenet
Duchess of Exeter
Anne of York and Sir Thomas St. Leger.jpg
Anne with her second husband
Spouse Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter
Thomas St. Leger
Issue Lady Anne Holland
Anne St. Leger, Baroness de Ros
House House of York (by birth)
House of Lancaster (by marriage)
Father Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York
Mother Lady Cecily Neville
Born (1439-08-10)10 August 1439
Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire
Died 14 January 1476(1476-01-14) (aged 36)
Burial 1 February 1476
St. George's Chapel, Windsor
Religion Roman Catholicism

Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter (10 August 1439 – 14 January 1476) was the first child and eldest surviving daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville. She was thus an elder sister of Kings Edward IV (1461-1483) and Richard III (1483-1485); and of Edmund, Earl of Rutland, Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy and of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence.

Marriages and issue[edit]

In 1447, at eight years old, Anne married Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter. They had one daughter, Anne Holland (c. 1455 – between 26 August 1467 and 6 June 1474),[1] who married Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset.

During the Wars of the Roses, Exeter sided with the House of Lancaster against the House of York despite Anne being a member of the latter. Exeter was a commander at the great Lancastrian victories at Wakefield and St Albans. He was also a commander at the Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton. He fled to the Kingdom of Scotland after the battle, and then joined Margaret of Anjou, queen consort of King Henry VI, in her exile in France.

On 4 March 1461, her younger brother was declared King Edward IV in London. Exeter was attainted but the king gave his estates to Anne, with remainder to their daughter Anne Holland. Anne and Exeter separated in 1464 and divorced in 1472.

Her daughter Anne, now a wealthy heiress, was married in October 1466[1] at Greenwich Palace to Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, son of Edward IV's queen Elizabeth Woodville by her first husband. Lady Dorset died sometime between 26 August 1467 and 6 June 1474 without having produced children. Grey subsequently married Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington, another rich young heiress, with whom he had issue.[2]

The king had, in 1467, extended the remainder of most of the Exeter lands to Anne and any heirs of her body (that is, if she remarried any future children could inherit them).

During the Readeption of Henry VI, Anne remained loyal to her brother Edward, and, in what seems to have been her only intervention in politics, worked hard to persuade her brother George, Duke of Clarence, to abandon the Lancastrian cause. If not decisive, her arguments are agreed to have had some effect and so she played some part in Edward's restoration.

Anne married secondly in about 1474 Thomas St. Leger, a loyal follower of Edward IV who rose up against Richard III as part of the Duke of Buckingham's attempted rebellion, and died giving birth to their only daughter, Anne St. Leger (14 January 1476 – 21 April 1526), who was heiress to the Exeter estates.[3]

DNA and Richard III[edit]

In August 2012, a dig to find the remains of King Richard III took place in Greyfriars, Leicester. In September, it was reported that remains had been found during the dig. The remains were tested using the mitochondrial DNA of Canadian Michael Ibsen.[4] Mitochodrial DNA (mDNA) is inherited unbroken from mother to offspring along a female line. Michael is a 17th generation descendant of Anne of York by his mother Joy, herself a direct female descendant.[5] The results of the DNA testing were officially announced on 4 February 2013, when University of Leicester researchers said that it was "beyond reasonable doubt" that a battle-scarred skeleton unearthed in 2012 was the king, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.



  1. ^ a b Cawley 2011, Earls of Kent.
  2. ^ Ross, Charles Derek (1974). Edward IV. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p.336
  3. ^ Ross 1997, pp. 336-337.
  4. ^ Emma Sword. Archaeologists begin dig to uncover grave of Richard III in Leicester, London: The Independent, 24 August 2012. The Independent Online
  5. ^ Caroline Davies. Canadian descendant of Richard III is asked to give DNA after 'grave' find, Guardian, 12 September 2012. The Guardian Online


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