Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter
|Duchess of Exeter|
10 August 1439|
|Died||14 January 1476(aged 36)|
|Burial||1 February 1476
St Leger Chantry, St. George's Chapel, Windsor
|Spouse||Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter
Thomas St. Leger
|Issue||Lady Anne Holland
Anne St. Leger, Baroness de Ros
|Father||Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York|
|Mother||Lady Cecily Neville|
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 the eldest 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
Anne married twice and divorced her first husband:
In 1447 aged eight years old, Anne was married to Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter (1430-1475). During the Wars of the Roses Exeter sided with the House of Lancaster against his wife's family the House of York. Exeter was a commander at the great Lancastrian victories at the Battle of Wakefield and Second Battle of 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 in her exile in France, queen consort of the Lancastrian King Henry VI. On 4 March 1461 Anne's younger brother Edward, Duke of York, was declared in London as King Edward IV. Exeter was attainted but the new king gave his estates to Anne, with remainder to their daughter Anne Holland. Anne and Exeter separated in 1464 and divorced in 1472. 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 certainly had some effect and thus she played some part in Edward's restoration.
Progeny of 1st marriage
By the Duke of Exeter Anne had one daughter, Anne Holland (c. 1455 – between 26 August 1467 and 6 June 1474), who  was married in October 1466 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 progeny. Grey subsequently married Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington, another rich young heiress, by whom he had issue.
Anne married secondly in about 1474 to Thomas St. Leger (c.1440-1483), a loyal follower of his brother-in-law King Edward IV (1461-1483). He took part in the Duke of Buckingham's attempted rebellion against King Edward's younger brother and eventual successor King Richard III (1483-1485), on the failure of which he was executed in 1483. King Edward IV had however in 1467 extended the remainder of most of the former Duke of Exeter's lands to his sister Anne and to any heirs of her body. Thus, if she remarried any future children could inherit them.
Progeny of 2nd marriage
Anne died giving birth to her only daughter by Thomas, Anne St. Leger (14 January 1476 – 21 April 1526), who due to the special remainder was heiress to the estates of her mother's first husband Henry Holland. She married George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros, and was mother of the royal favourite Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland.
DNA and Richard III
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. 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. 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.
Death and burial
Anne died and was buried on 1 February 1476 in the St Leger Chantry, forming the northern transept of St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, founded in 1481 by her husband, "with two priests singing forevermore". It was later named the Rutland Chantry in honour of her son-in-law George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros (whose effigy, with that of his wife Anne St Leger, is situated in the chantry), father of Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland. A Monumental brass in memory of Anne of York and her husband Sir Thomas St Leger survives on the east wall of the St Leger Chantry inscribed as follows:
"Wythin thys Chappell lyethe beryed Anne Duchess of Exetur suster unto the noble kyng Edward the forte. And also the body of syr Thomas Sellynger knyght her husband which hathe funde within thys College a Chauntre with too prestys sy’gyng for ev’more. On whose soule god have mercy. The wych Anne duchess dyed in the yere of oure lorde M Thowsande CCCCl xxv"
The arms above Anne show her paternal arms of the Dukes of York: in the dexter half the royal arms of England, emphasising their descent from Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence (1338–1368), third son of King Edward III (on which basis the House of York claimed the throne), who married Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster (1332–1363). Their daughter Philippa de Burgh married Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, whose son Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, was the great-grandfather of King Edward IV; In the sinister half are shown in chief: Or a cross gules (de Burgh) and in base: Barry or and azure, on a chief of the first two pallets between two base esquires of the second over all an inescutcheon argent (Mortimer).
|Ancestors of Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter|
- Cawley 2011, Earls of Kent.
- Ross, Charles Derek (1974). Edward IV. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p.336
- Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.365, St Leger, Earl of Doneraile
- Ross 1997, pp. 336-337.
- Emma Sword. Archaeologists begin dig to uncover grave of Richard III in Leicester, London: The Independent, 24 August 2012. The Independent Online
- Caroline Davies. Canadian descendant of Richard III is asked to give DNA after 'grave' find, Guardian, 12 September 2012. The Guardian Online
- Cawley, Charles (3 June 2011), Earls of Kent –1408, Holand, Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved May 2010,[better source needed]
- Ross, Charles (1997). Edward IV. Yale English monarchs (illustrated ed.). Yale University Press. pp. 336–337. ISBN 0-300-07372-0.
- Ladies of the Bower & Lords of the Tower A Medieval Re-enactment Society based in London, featuring members of the Neville/Plantagenet family.