List of heirs to the English throne

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This is a list of the individuals who were, at any given time, considered the next in line to inherit the throne of England, should the incumbent monarch die. Those who actually succeeded (at any future time) are shown in bold. Stillborn children and infants surviving less than a month are not included.

It may be noted that the succession was highly uncertain, and was not governed by a fixed convention, for much of the century after the Norman Conquest of 1066.

Significant breaks in the succession, where the designated heir did not in fact succeed (due to usurpation, conquest, revolution, or lack of heirs) are shown as breaks in the table below.

The symbols +1, +2, etc. are to be read "once (twice, etc.) removed in descendancy", i.e., the child or grandchild (etc.) of a cousin of the degree specified. The symbols -1, -2, etc. indicate the converse relationship, i.e., the cousin of a parent or grandparent (etc.).

1066 to 1135[edit]

Heir Status Relationship to Monarch Became heir Reason Ceased to be heir Reason Monarch
Robert Curthose Heir presumptive Son 1066 father became king 1077 exile William I
Succession unclear 1077-1087
Robert Curthose Heir presumptive Elder brother 1087 By agreement 1088 failed rebellion William II
Henry Beauclerc Heir presumptive Younger brother 1088 Robert's rebellion 2 August 1100 became king on childless brother's death
Succession unclear 1100-1103 Henry I
William Adelin Heir apparent Only son 1103 born 25 November 1120 died
Empress Matilda Heiress presumptive Only child 25 November 1120
proclaimed 1127
brother died 1 December 1135
(22 December 1135)
became claimant to throne
(throne usurped by cousin Stephen of Blois)

1135 to 1199[edit]

Heir Status Relationship to Monarch Became heir Reason Ceased to be heir Reason Monarch
Eustace IV of Boulogne Heir apparent Eldest Son 22 December 1135 father became king 17 August 1153 died Stephen
William of Blois Heir apparent Third Son 17 August 1153 Brother died November 1153 Treaty of Wallingford
Henry Curtmantle, Count of Anjou Heir apparent 1st cousin +1 November 1153 treaty 25 October 1154 became king
William IX, Count of Poitiers Heir apparent eldest son 25 October 1154 father became king April 1156 died Henry II
Henry the Young King Heir apparent son April 1156 brother died 11 June 1183 died
Richard, Duke of Aquitaine Heir apparent son 11 June 1183 brother died 6 July 1189 became king
Arthur I, Duke of Brittany Heir presumptive nephew 6 July 1189 uncle became king 6 April 1199 throne usurped by youngest uncle John Lackland Richard I

1199 to 1399[edit]

Heir Status Relationship to Monarch Became heir Reason Ceased to be heir Reason Monarch
Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine Heir presumptive nephew 6 April 1199 uncle became king 1 October 1207 son born to king John
Henry Heir apparent eldest son 1 October 1207 born 19 October 1216 became king
Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall Heir presumptive younger brother 19 October 1216 brother became king 17 June 1239 son born to king Henry III
Edward Longshanks Heir apparent eldest son 17 June 1239 born 20 November 1272 became king
Henry Heir apparent eldest son 20 November 1272 father became king 16 October 1274 died Edward I
Alphonso, Earl of Chester Heir apparent son 16 October 1274 brother died 19 August 1284 died
Edward of Caernarfon, Prince of Wales Heir apparent son 19 August 1284 brother died 7 July 1307 became king
Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl of Norfolk Heir presumptive younger brother 7 July 1307 brother became king 13 November 1312 son born to king Edward II
Edward, Earl of Chester Heir apparent eldest son 13 November 1312 born 25 January 1327 became king
John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall Heir presumptive younger brother 25 January 1327 brother became king 15 June 1330 son born to king Edward III
Edward "the Black Prince", Prince of Wales Heir apparent eldest son 15 June 1330 born 8 June 1376 died
Richard, Prince of Wales Heir apparent grandson 8 June 1376 father died 22 June 1377 became king[1]
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster Heir presumptive uncle 22 June 1377 nephew became king 24 October 1386 Roger Mortimer named as heir[1] Richard II
Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March Heir presumptive 1st cousin +1 24 October 1386 royal edict 20 July 1398 died
Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March Heir presumptive 1st cousin +2 20 July 1398 father died 30 September 1399 king deposed

1399 to 1485[edit]

Heir Status Relationship to Monarch Became heir Reason Ceased to be heir Reason Next in succession Monarch
Henry, Prince of Wales Heir apparent eldest son 30 September 1399 father became king 20 March 1413 became king Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence 1399-1413, younger brother Henry IV
Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence Heir presumptive younger brother 20 March 1413 brother became king 22 March 1421 died John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford 1413-1421, younger brother Henry V
John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford Heir presumptive younger brother 22 March 1421 brother died 6 December 1421 son born to king Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester 1413-1421, younger brother
Henry, Duke of Cornwall Heir apparent eldest son 6 December 1421 born 31 August 1422 became king John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford 1421-1422, uncle
John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford Heir presumptive uncle 31 August 1422 nephew became king 14 September 1435 died Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester 1422-1435, younger brother Henry VI
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester Heir presumptive uncle 14 September 1435 elder brother died 23 February 1447 died uncertain[2]
uncertain[2]
Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales Heir apparent eldest son 13 October 1453 born 4 March 1461
(25 October 1460)[3]
king deposed uncertain[2]
Richard, Duke of York Heir apparent 3rd cousin +1 25 October 1460 Act of Accord[3] 30 December 1460 died Edward, Earl of March 1460, son
Edward, Duke of York Heir apparent 3rd cousin +2 30 December 1460 father died 4 March 1461 became king George 1460-1461, brother
George, Duke of Clarence Heir presumptive younger brother 4 March 1461 brother became king 12 March 1470 fled after failed rebellion Richard, Duke of Gloucester 1461-1466, younger brother Edward IV
uncertain[4]
Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales Heir apparent eldest son 31 October 1470 father restored as king 4 May 1471 died George, Duke of Clarence[5] Henry VI
Edward, Prince of Wales Heir apparent eldest son 11 April 1471 father restored 9 April 1483 became king George, Duke of Clarence 1471-1473, uncle Edward IV
Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York 1473-1483, younger brother
Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York Heir presumptive younger brother 9 April 1483 brother became king 22 June 1483 declared illegitimate Richard, Duke of Gloucester 1483, uncle Edward V
Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales Heir apparent eldest son 22 June 1483 father became king 9 April 1484 died Edward, Earl of Warwick Richard III
Edward, Earl of Warwick Heir presumptive nephew 9 April 1484 royal edict March 1485 removed from succession Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln Heir presumptive nephew March 1485 royal edict 22 August 1485 king killed Edmund de la Pole

1485 to 1603[edit]

Heir Status Relationship to Monarch Became heir Reason Ceased to be heir Reason Next in succession Monarch
No recognised heir 1485-1486 Henry VII
Arthur, Prince of Wales Heir apparent eldest son 20 September 1486 born 2 April 1502 died none 1486-1489
Margaret Tudor 1489-1491, younger sister
Henry, Duke of York 1491-1502, younger brother
Henry, Prince of Wales Heir apparent son 2 April 1502 brother died 22 April 1509 became king Margaret, Queen of Scots 1502-1509, sister
No recognised heir 1509-1511[6] Henry VIII
Henry, Duke of Cornwall Heir apparent eldest son 1 January 1511 born 11 February 1511 died Margaret, Queen of Scots 1511, aunt
No recognised heir 1511-1514[6]
Henry, Duke of Cornwall Heir apparent eldest son December 1514 born December 1514/January 1515 died Margaret, Queen of Scots 1514/15, aunt
No recognised heir 1515-1516[6]
Mary Tudor Heiress presumptive eldest daughter 18 February 1516 born March 1534 Deprived by Act of Parliament Margaret, Queen of Scots 1516-1533, aunt
Elizabeth Tudor, 1533–1534, younger sister
Elizabeth Tudor Heiress presumptive daughter March 1534 Act of Parliament 1536 Deprived by Act of Parliament Margaret, Queen of Scots 1534-1536, aunt
No recognised heir 1536-1537[6]
Edward, Prince of Wales Heir apparent eldest son 12 October 1537 born 28 January 1547 became king Mary Tudor, older sister, 1543–1547
Mary Tudor Heiress presumptive elder sister 28 January 1547 brother became king 21 June 1553 excluded by letters patent Lady Elizabeth 1547-1553, younger sister Edward VI
Lady Jane Grey Heiress presumptive 1st cousin +1 21 June 1553 Named in letters patent 6 July 1553 proclaimed queen Catherine, Lady Herbert of Cardiff 1553, younger sister
Upon the death of Edward VI, the succession was disputed between his sister Mary, the heir by primogeniture and the will of Henry VIII, and Lady Jane Grey, whom Edward had named his heir. Since Jane Grey's short reign is a matter of dispute, so are her heirs.
Catherine, Lady Herbert of Cardiff[citation needed] Heiress presumptive
(disputed)
younger sister 6 July 1553 sister proclaimed queen 19 July 1553 sister deposed Mary Grey 1553, younger sister Jane
Elizabeth Tudor Heiress presumptive younger sister 6 July 1553 Sister became queen 17 November 1558 became queen None Mary I
Since Elizabeth I (1558–1603) never designated an heir, the succession was disputed among heirs of Henry VII by cognatic primogeniture and the heirs established under the Third Succession Act and the will of Henry VIII. The last two documents placed the English descendants of his younger sister Mary ahead of the Scottish descendants of his elder sister Margaret. The following are the leaders of both lines:
Mary, Queen of Scots Potential heirs by cognatic primogeniture 1st cousin +1 17 November 1558 Cousin became queen 8 February 1587 Executed James VI of Scotland, son (1566-1587) Elizabeth I
James VI of Scotland 1st cousin +2 8 February 1587 Mother executed 24 March 1603 became King Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, son (1594-1603)
Lady Frances Stokes Potential heirs by the will of Henry VIII 1st cousin 17 November 1558 Cousin became queen 20 November 1559 Died Lady Catherine Grey, daughter
Lady Catherine Grey 1st cousin +1 20 November 1559 Mother died 26 January 1568 Died Lady Mary Grey, sister
Lady Mary Grey 1st cousin +1 26 January 1568 Sister died 20 April 1578 Died Margaret, Countess of Derby, 1st cousin
Margaret, Countess of Derby 1st cousin +1 20 April 1578 1st cousin died 28 September 1596 Died Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, son (1578-1594)
Lady Anne Stanley, granddaughter (1594-1596)
Lady Anne Stanley 1st cousin +3 28 September 1596 Paternal grandmother died 24 March 1603 succession of new king Lady Frances Stanley, sister

1603 to 1689[edit]

Heir Status Relationship to Monarch Became heir Reason Ceased to be heir Reason Next in succession Monarch
Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales Heir apparent eldest son 24 March 1603 father became king 6 November 1612 died Charles, Duke of York 1603-1612, younger brother James I
Charles, Prince of Wales Heir apparent son 6 November 1612 brother died 27 March 1625 became king Elizabeth, Electress Palatine 1612-1625, elder sister
Elizabeth, Electress Palatine Heiress presumptive elder sister 27 March 1625 brother became king 29 May 1630 son born to king Frederick Henry 1625-1629, son Charles I
Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine 1629-1630, son
Charles, Prince of Wales Heir apparent son 29 May 1630 born 30 January 1649[7] became king Elizabeth, Electress Palatine 1630-1631, aunt
Mary, Princess Royal 1631-1633, sister
James, Duke of York 1633-1649, brother
James, Duke of York Heir presumptive younger brother 30 January 1649[7] brother proclaimed King 6 February 1685 became king Henry, Duke of Gloucester 1649- Sept 1660, younger brother Charles II
Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange Sept-Oct 1660, elder sister
Charles, Duke of Cambridge Oct 1660-May 1661, son
Prince William of Orange May 1661-Apr 1662, nephew
Princess Mary Apr 1662-July 1663, daughter
James Stuart, Duke of Cambridge July 1663-June 1667, son
Princess Mary June-Sept 1667, daughter
Edgar Stuart, Duke of Cambridge Sept 1667-Nov 1669, son
Princess Mary 1669-1677, daughter
Charles, Duke of Cambridge Nov-Dec 1677, son
Mary, Princess of Orange 1677-1685, daughter
Mary, Princess of Orange Heiress presumptive eldest daughter 6 February 1685 father became king 10 June 1688 younger brother born Princess Anne of Denmark 1685-1688, younger sister James II
James, Prince of Wales Heir apparent son 10 June 1688 born 13 February 1689 father deposed Mary, Princess of Orange, elder sister 1688-1689

Jacobite Heirs, 1688-1807[edit]

The following are the heirs of the Jacobite pretenders to the throne to the death of the last Stuart pretender. For other persons in this lineage, see Jacobite succession.

Heir Status Relationship to Pretender Became heir Reason Ceased to be heir Reason Next in succession Pretender
James, Prince of Wales Heir apparent son 13 February 1689 father deposed 16 September 1701 became pretender Mary, Princess of Orange 1689-1694, elder sister James II
Princess Anne of Denmark 1694-1701, elder sister
Princess Anne of Denmark Heiress presumptive elder sister 16 September 1701 father died, brother became pretender 1 August 1714 died Louisa Maria 1701-1712, younger sister James III
"The Old Pretender"
Anne Marie d'Orléans 1712-1714, 1st cousin
Anne Marie d'Orléans Heiress presumptive 1st cousin 1 August 1714 cousin died 31 December 1720 son born to pretender Victor Amadeus, Prince of Piedmont 1714-1715, son
Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Piedmont 1715-1720, son
Charles, Prince of Wales Heir apparent son 31 December 1720 born 1 January 1766 became pretender Anne Marie d'Orléans 1720-1725, 1st cousin -1
Henry, Duke of York 1725-1766, younger brother
Henry, Duke of York Heir presumptive younger brother 1 January 1766 brother became pretender 31 January 1788 became pretender Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia 1766-1773, 2nd cousin Charles III
"The Young Pretender"
Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia 1773-1788, 2nd cousin +1
Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia Heir presumptive 2nd cousin +1 31 January 1788 cousin became pretender 14 October 1796 died Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Piedmont 1788-1796, son Henry IX
"Cardinal York"
Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia Heir presumptive 2nd cousin +2 14 October 1796 father died 13 July 1807 Death of last Stuart pretender Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia 1796-1807, younger brother

1689 to 1707[edit]

Heir Status Relationship to Monarch Became heir Reason Ceased to be heir Reason Next in succession Monarch
William III Mutual heirs husband 13 February 1689 Act of parliament 28 December 1694 became sole monarch Princess Anne of Denmark, sister(-in-law), 1689–1702 Mary II
Mary II wife died William III
Princess Anne of Denmark Heiress apparent sister-in-law and 1st cousin 28 December 1694 sister's death 8 March 1702 became queen William, Duke of Gloucester 1694-1700, son
Uncertain 1700-1701
Sophia, Dowager Electress of Hanover, 1701–1702, 1st cousin -1
Sophia, Dowager Electress of Hanover Heiress presumptive 1st cousin -1 8 March 1702 death of William III 1 May 1707 became heiress-presumptive to Great Britain George Louis, Elector of Hanover 1702-1707, son Anne

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b In 1376 Edward III entailed the throne on his heirs male. This entailment was set aside at the Wonderful Parliament of 1386 where Richard II named Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March as his heir. Mortimer, Fears of Henry IV, pp. 366-9
  2. ^ a b c No clear heir to the throne existed following the deaths of Henry VI's uncles, which left him the last of Henry IV's legitimate descendants to survive. The nearest legitimate heirs by blood were the descendants of Henry IV's older sister, Philippa of Lancaster; however, as these were Kings and Princes of Portugal (the senior heir of this line was King Afonso V), it was very unlikely that they would be offered the throne of England. The next most senior line were the descendants of Elizabeth of Lancaster, Duchess of Exeter, of whom the senior heirs were John Holland, Duke of Exeter (d. 1447) and his son Henry. Another potential line were the descendants of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, half-brother of Henry IV, whose senior heir was Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of the future Henry VII of England. However, the legitimacy of the Beaufort line was suspect. None of these potential heirs was given any legal standing in England.
  3. ^ a b The Parliamentary Act of Accord established Richard of York as the heir of Henry VI. The Act was rejected by Lancastrian partisans who continued to recognise Edward of Westminster as his father's heir.
  4. ^ After Clarence's rebellion flight, no alternative was declared. His younger brother, Richard of Gloucester, was next in line.
  5. ^ Clarence supported the restoration of Henry VI and was named next-in-line, after the King's son and his future offspring. Upon Edward IV's return to England in April 1471, Clarence switched his allegiance back to his brother.
  6. ^ a b c d The next in line was Margaret, Queen of Scots, sister of Henry VIII.
  7. ^ a b Charles II was proclaimed and recognised as King by royalists immediately after his father's death, though his effective rule only began with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

References[edit]

  • Ian Mortimer, The Fears of Henry IV: the Life of England's Self-Made King (Vintage, 2008)