Owen Tudor

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For other people named Owen Tudor, see Owen Tudor (disambiguation).
Sir Owen Tudor
Spouse Catherine of Valois
Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond
Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford
Edward Tudor
[?Margaret] Tudor
Sir David (or Davy) Owen
Full name
Owen ap Maredudd ap Tudur
Family House of Tudor
Father Maredudd ap Tudur
Mother Margaret ferch Dafydd
Born c. 1400 (1400)
Anglesey, Principality of Wales
Died 4 February 1461 (1461-02-05) (aged 60)
Buried Hereford, Herefordshire

Owen Tudor Welsh: Owain ap Maredudd ap Tewdwr (c.1400–1461) was a Welsh courtier and the second husband of Catherine of Valois (1401–1437)—Henry V's widow. He was the grandfather of Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty. Owen was the scion a prominent family from Penmynydd in Anglesey that were descended from Ednyfed Fychan (d. 1246). His grandfather Tudur ap Goronwy married Margaret, daughter of Thomas ap Llywelyn ab Owain of Cardiganshire, the last male of the princely house of Deheubarth; her elder sister married Gruffudd Fychan of Glyndyfrdwy, whose son was Owain Glyndŵr. Owen's father Maredudd ap Tudur and his uncles were prominent in the rebellion of their kinsmen's—Glyn Dŵr—revolt.[1]


Historians consider the descendants of Ednyfed Fychan the most powerful family in 13th to 14th-century Wales. He married Gwenllian—daughter of Rhys ap Gruffydd— enabling the family to act as leading servants of the princes of Gwynedd and play a key role in the attempts to create a single Welsh principality. This power was maintained after the Conquest of Wales by Edward I with the family continuing to enjoy significant roles in exercising effective power in the name of the king of England at a local level in Wales. However, there remained an awareness of their Welshness and its concomitant loyalties which led them to take part in the suppressed Glyndŵr Rising and to the end of that predominance.[2]

Early life[edit]

Owen Tudor's and his family's rebellion explain why there is little documented evidence of his early life and instead his background became the subject of myth and storytelling. At various times he was said to be the bastard son of an alehouse keeper, that his father was a fugitive murderer, that he fought at Agincourt, that he was keeper of Queen Catherine's household (or of her wardrobe), that he was an esquire of Henry V, that relationship with Catherine began when he fell into the queen's lap while dancing or he caught the queen's eye when swimming. The sixteenth-century Welsh chronicler Elis Gruffydd did note that he was her sewer and servant. What is known that after the rebellion several Welshmen secured a positions at court and in May 1421 an ‘Owen Meredith’ joined the retinue of Sir Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford who was steward of the king's household from 1415 until 1421 to serve in France.[1]

Catherine of Valois[edit]

Owen entered the service of Queen Catherine of Valois as keeper of the Queen's wardrobe, (essentially her major-domo) after the death of her husband Henry V of England on 22 August 1422. The Queen initially lived with her infant son, King Henry VI, before moving to Wallingford Castle early in his reign and taking Tudor with her.

In 1427 it is believed that Catherine embarked on an affair with with Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset. Evidence is sketchy, however the liaison prompted a parliamentary statute regulating the remarriage of queens of England. The historian G. L. Harriss surmised that it was possible that another of its consequences was the birth of Edmund Tudor and that Catherine, to avoid the penalties of breaking the statute of 1427–8, quickly and secretly married Owen. He wrote By its very nature the evidence for Edmund ‘Tudor's’ parentage is less than conclusive, but such facts as can be assembled permit the agreeable possibility that Edmund ‘Tudor’ and Margaret Beaufort were first cousins and that the royal house of ‘Tudor’ sprang in fact from Beauforts on both sides.[3]

Henry VI in due course gave his two oldest Tudor half-brothers the rank of Earl though, as a signal recognition of their rank, they ranked above Marquesses and immediately below non-royal Dukes. Henry VI also issued an edict that the legitimisation of his two Tudor half-brothers was unnecessary[when?]. Henry VI knighted his stepfather Owen, made him Warden of Forestries, and appointed him a Deputy Lord Lieutenant[citation needed]. Prior to his creation as a Knight Bachelor, Owen, though excused from duty, was appointed an Esquire to the King's Person[when?]. Many years later, in order that he could command Henry VI's forces at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross, Owen was made a Knight Banneret.


Owen and Catherine had three, possibly four children:

  • Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond (1430 – 1 November 1456). He married Lady Margaret Beaufort, and fathered Henry Tudor, the future king. He died of the plague at Carmarthen shortly before his son's birth.
  • Jasper Tudor, 1st Earl of Pembroke and 1st Duke of Bedford (1431 – 21/26 December 1495). He married Catherine Woodville, daughter to Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Interestingly, Jasper married Catherine, the sister-in-law of Edward IV, in 1485, immediately after Henry VII married her niece Elizabeth of York, several months after Bosworth Field. By an unknown mistress (or mistresses), he had one illegitimate daughter, Ellen (wife of William Gardiner and William Sibson), and one possible illegitimate son, Owen.
  • Edward Tudor, third son. Very little is known of this child’s life. The Tudor historian Polydore Vergil stated this child, whom he did not name, became “a monke of the order of St. Benet, and lived not longe after.”[4] An ancient pedigree chart of the English royal family dated c.1500 states that Owen and Queen Catherine had three sons, the third of which was named Edward: “Owyn tedder marrydd wt queen Kateryn yt was wyffe un to kyng henry ye vth & had by har Edmunde yerle of rychemond Jaspar & Edward …”.[5] The historian William Camden likewise referred to this child as Edward Tudor, and indicated that he lies buried in the chapel of St. Blaise in Westminster Abbey near the tomb of Abbot Nicholas Litlington.[6] Samuel Bentley, on the other hand, believed that this child is the same person as a much later Owen Tudor [see above] who received a payment of £2 in reward from King Henry VII in 1498, and who died in 1501. This identification is impossible, however, if any credence is to be given to Polydore Vergil’s statement that this child “lived no longe after.”[7]
  • Margaret Tudor. Little is known of her life, if she existed. She allegedly died young or became a nun.[8]

Owen Tudor had at least one illegitimate child, by an unknown mistress:

  • Sir David Owen, Knt., of Westminster, Middlesex, Old, Northamptonshire, Lagham (in Godstone) and Wotton, Surrey, Oxhill, Warwickshire, and Southwick (in North Bradley), Wiltshire, Knight of the Body to King Henry VII, King’s carver, 1486–1529, Constable of Winchester, 1489, Sheriff of Hampshire, 1498–9, Knight of the Shire for Sussex, 1491–2, 1523, and, in right of his 1st wife, of Cowdray (in Midhurst), Buddington (in Easebourne), Climping, Ford, and Newtimber, Sussex, Weston Corbett, Hampshire, etc., born in Pembrokeshire, Wales about 1459 (aged 70 in 1529).

Within six months of Queen Catherine's death in January 1437, Owen Tudor was imprisoned at Newgate Prison, but he managed to escape. After recapture, he was sent to Windsor Castle where he remained until 1439 when he was pardoned by the king and released with a restoration of goods and lands.[9] In Dec. 1444, as “Owen Tudur, esquire,” he was appointed Captain of Règnéville in Normandy, which post he held until Sept. 1449, when he surrendered it to Admiral de Coëtivy after six days of siege. In 1459 he was granted an annuity of £100 for life by King Henry VI. In 1460 he was granted the office of parker of the parks of Moeliwrch, Garsnodiok, etc. in the lordship of Denbigh in Wales.

Participation in the Wars of the Roses[edit]

Owen Tudor became an early casualty of the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487) between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. On 2 February 1461, as a man of advanced years, Owen led the Lancastrian forces[citation needed] at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross against Edward, Earl of March. They were defeated. Owen was subsequently beheaded[10] 4 February following at Hereford along with other prisoners, and buried there.


Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, Owen Tudor's grandson, became King Henry VII of England, founding the Tudor dynasty, when his supporters defeated those of Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485.

Owen Tudor's descendants include Charles I of England, Ireland and Scotland; King Juan Carlos of Spain and Elizabeth II, the current Queen regnant of the United Kingdom and of 15 other independent states.


Coat of arms of Owen Tudor

Owen was a descendant of Rhys ap Gruffydd (1132–1197) via the lineages that follow:

Rhys had a daughter, Gwenllian ferch (daughter of) Rhys, who was married to Ednyfed Fychan, Seneschal of the Kingdom of Gwynedd (d. 1246).

Ednyfed Fychan and Gwenllian ferch Rhys were the parents of Goronwy, Lord of Tref-gastell (d. 1268). Goronwy was married to Morfydd ferch Meurig, daughter of Meurig of Gwent. (Meurig was the son of Ithel, grandson of Rhydd and great-grandson of Iestyn ap Gwrgant. Iestyn had been the last King of Gwent (reigned 1081–1091) before its conquest by the Normans.)

Goronwy and Morfydd were parents of Tudur Hen, Lord of Penmynydd (d. 1311). Tudur Hen later married Angharad ferch Ithel Fychan, daughter of Ithel Fychan ap Ithel Gan, Lord of Englefield. They were the parents of Goronwy ap Tudur, Lord of Penmynydd (d. 1331).

Goronwy ap Tudur was married to Gwerfyl ferch Madog, daughter of Madog ap Dafydd, Baron of Hendwr. They were the parents of Tudur Fychan, Lord of Penmynydd (d. 1367).

Tudur Fychan married Margaret ferch Thomas of Is Coeod,of the native and Ancient Royal Houses of Wales, Margaret and her sister Ellen and Eleanor were descended from Angharad ferch Llywelyn, daughter of Llewellyn the Great. (Margaret was the daughter of Thomas ap Llewelyn, Lord of Is Coed, South Wales, and his wife Eleanor ferch Philip. Margaret was descended independently from King John and his legitimised daughter Princess Joan, King John and his son Henry III and grandson Edward I. Margaret's sister Ellen ferch Thomas was the mother of Owain Glyndŵr (the last native "Prince of Wales"). Her sister Eleanor ferch Thomas was the ancestor of the Newport family and the Earl of Bradford and the Lingen family and Baron Lingen of Lingen. Margaret's paternal grandfather was Llewelyn ab Owain, Lord of Gwynnionydd. Her maternal grandfather was Philip ab Ifor, Lord of Is Coed.)(ref Visitation of Shropshire 1623,R Tresswell. Somerset Herald)

Tudur and Margaret were parents to:

Maredudd ap Tudur (died 1406); Maredudd married Margaret ferch Dafydd. (Margaret was the daughter of Dafydd Fychan, Lord of Anglesey, and his wife, Nest ferch Ieuan.)

Maredudd ap Tudur and Margaret ferch Dafydd were the parents of Owen Tudor.

There is little doubt that Owen was of gentle birth. Queen Catherine, upon being denied permission by her son's regents to wed John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, allegedly said upon leaving court, "I shall marry a man so basely, yet gently born, that my lord regents may not object." (The objection to Somerset was that he was a second cousin of Henry V through the legitimised Beaufort line sired by John of Gaunt).

Ednyfed Fychan
d. 1246
Goronwy ab Ednyfed
d. 1268
Tudur Hen
(also known as Tudur ap Goronwy)
d. 1311
Goronwy ap Tudur Hen
d. 1331
Elen ferch Tomos
(mother of Owain Glyndŵr)
Marged ferch Tomos
Tudur ap Goronwy
d. 1367
Maredudd ap Tudur
Rhys ap Tudur
d. 1409
Gwilym ap Tudur
d. 1413
Owen Tudor
(Owain Tudur)
Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond
d. 1456
Jasper Tudor
Henry VII of England
d. 1509



  1. ^ a b Griffiths 2004, p. 1
  2. ^ Carr 2004, p. 1
  3. ^ Richmond 2008, p. 1
  4. ^ [see Ellis, Three Books of Polydore Vergil’s English Hist. (Camden Soc. 29) (1844): 62 (sub Historie of England)].
  5. ^ [see Cheetham, Life & Times of Richard III (1992): frontispiece]
  6. ^ [see Camden, Reges, Reginæ, Nobiles (1603)]
  7. ^ Bentley, Excerpta Historica (1833): 119, 128.
    Banks, Dormant & Extinct Baronage of England 4 (1837): 378–380 (“Owen Tudor, third son of Owen Tudor and queen Catherine, took upon him a religious habit in the abbey of Westminster.”).
    Stanley, Hist. Mems. of Westminster Abbey (1868): 357. Antiq. 3 (1881): 241–242.
    D.N.B. 19 (1909): 1217–1218 (biog. of Owen Tudor [Sr.]) (states Owen Tudor, [Senior] and Queen Catherine “had three sons, of whom Edmund and Jasper are separately noticed; and a third became a monk at Westminster … [and] two daughters … of whom one became a nun, and the other, Jacinta, is said to have married Reginald, lord Grey de Wilton.”).
    Broadley, Doctor Johnson & Mrs. Thrale (1910): 280–281.
    Williams, Llyfr Baglan, or, Book of Baglan (1910): 36 (omits reference to Owen or Edward Tudor as alleged son of Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine).
    Griffith, Peds. of Anglesey & Carnarvonshire Fams. (1914): 106 (Plas Penmynydd ped.) (“Owen [Tudor], a monk, bur. at Westminster Abbey), 223 (Berain ped.).
    Pearce, Monks of Westminster (1916): 7 ([Stanley Hist. Mems. of Westminster Abbey discusses] “Owen, third son of Owen Tudor, and uncle of Henry VII,’ who ‘lies in the chapel of St. Blaize.’
  8. ^ Banks, Dormant & Extinct Baronage of England 4 (1837): 378–380 (author refers to an unnamed daughter of Owen Tudor [Sr.] and Queen Catherine “who died young.”).
    D.N.B. 19 (1909): 1217–1218 (biog. of Owen Tudor) (author states that Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine “had three sons, of whom Edmund and Jasper are separately noticed; and a third became a monk at Westminster … [and] two daughters … of whom one became a nun, and the other, Jacinta, is said to have married Reginald, lord Grey de Wilton.”).
    Burton, Pageant of Early Tudor England (1976): 2 (“… Owen, about whom very little is known. Polydore Vergil says he became a Benedictine monk and he may have died in 1502. There was also possibly a daughter who became a nun.”).
    Bartrum, Welsh Gens. 1400–1500 8 (1983): 1284 [Marchudd 13(A)] (chart assigns Owain Tudor three daughters, Grace, Joan, and Rose [but not Margaret], cites as its source Harleian MSS 1974, fo. 111).
  9. ^ The Tudors:History of a Dynasty by David Loades (2012) page 2
  10. ^ Charles Ross, Edward IV, (University of California Press, 1974), 31.


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