Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Devon

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Lady Margaret Beaufort
Countess of Devon
MargaretCourtenay ColytonChurch Devon.JPG
Born c. 1409
Died 1449 (aged c. 40)
Noble family Beaufort
Spouse(s) Thomas de Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon
Thomas Courtenay, 14th Earl of Devon
Henry Courtenay
Sir John Courtenay
Joan Courtenay
Elizabeth Courtenay
Anne Courtenay
Eleanor Courtenay
Maud Courtenay
Father John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
Mother Margaret Holland

Lady Margaret Beaufort (c.1409 – 1449)[citation needed] was a great-granddaughter of King Edward III (1327–1377).


Arms of Beaufort family, Earls and Dukes of Somerset: The Royal Arms of England (Quarterly, 1st & 4th: Azure, three fleurs de lis or (France); 2nd & 3rd: Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale or (England)) all within a bordure compony argent and azure[1] for difference

Margaret Beaufort was the second and youngest[2] daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (c.1371 – 16 March 1410), by his wife Margaret Holland (c.1385/6 – c.1439/40), the daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent by his wife Alice Arundel. Her father, John Beaufort, was an illegitimate son of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340–1399), the third surviving son of King Edward III (1327–1377), by his mistress, later his third wife, Katherine Swynford. Margaret was thus a great-granddaughter of King Edward III.

Margaret had prominent siblings, including the following four brothers and a sister:[3]

Marriage and children[edit]

At some time after 1421 Margaret married Thomas Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon (1414–1422), whom she bore three sons and five daughters. Her sons were all killed or executed during the Wars of the Roses due to their strong adherence to the Lancastrian cause, and left no children, and thus the senior line of the Courtenays was extinguished. Margaret's children included the following:[4]

  • Thomas Courtenay, 14th Earl of Devon (1432 – 3 April 1461), eldest son and heir, who shortly after 9 September 1456 married Mary of Anjou,[citation needed] illegitimate daughter of Charles, Count of Maine. The marriage was without children. As a Lancastrian supporter[5] during the Wars of the Roses he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Towton (1461) (in which the victor was the Yorkist Edward, 4th Duke of York (who became King Edward IV (1461–1483)), was attainted and beheaded at York on 3 April 1461, when all his honours, including the original Earldom of Devon,[6] became forfeited.[7]
  • Henry Courtenay (d. 17 January 1469), Esquire, of West Coker, Somerset. Due to the attainder of his elder brother he did not inherit the Earldom of Devon. Also a Lancastrian supporter,[8] he was beheaded for treason in the market place at Salisbury, Wiltshire on 17 January 1469.
  • John Courtenay, 15th/16th Earl of Devon, (1435[citation needed] – 3 May 1471, youngest brother. After his eldest brother Thomas's attainder the earldom was in May 1469 bestowed away from the family by King Edward IV, the new Yorkist king, onto his supporter Humphrey Stafford, 1st Earl of Devon (c. 1439 – 1469) known as "an Earl of three months and no more". The Complete Peerage states him to have been 15th Earl of Devon,[9] whilst other authorities treat his earldom as a new creation. Following the temporary reversal in the dominance of the Yorkists and the temporary restoration of the Lancastrian King Henry VI, Stafford was beheaded in August 1469 and John Courtenay was restored to the honours of his family, with the attainder of 1461 having been reversed and thereby became 15th/16th Earl of Devon. However, the position was short-lived as the Yorkists definitively terminated the reign of Henry VI in April 1471 at the Battle of Barnet and on 4 May 1471 Courtenay was slain during the Battle of Tewkesbury, having commanded the rear of the Lancastrian army.[10] On his death the earldom fell into abeyance between his sisters or their descendants.[11]
  • Joan Courtenay, (born c. 1447), who married firstly, Sir Roger Clifford, second son of Thomas Clifford, 8th Baron de Clifford, beheaded after Bosworth in 1485. She married secondly, Sir William Knyvet of Buckenham, Norfolk.
  • Elizabeth Courtenay (born c. 1449), who married, before March 1490, Sir Hugh Conway.
  • Anne Courtenay.
  • Eleanor Courtenay.
  • Maud Courtenay.

Two of Margaret's nieces were also named Margaret Beaufort. Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Stafford, was the mother of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, was the mother of King Henry VII.



  1. ^ Debtett's Peerage, 1968, p.125
  2. ^ The Complete Peerage, vol.IV, p.326, Earldom of Devon
  3. ^ Richardson IV 2011, pp. 38–40
  4. ^ Richardson I 2011, p. 547; Richardson IV 2011, pp. 38–43
  5. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.245, pedigree of Courtenay
  6. ^ Vivian, p.245
  7. ^ The Complete Peerage, vol.IV, p.326, Earldom of Devon
  8. ^ Vivian, p.245
  9. ^ The Complete Peerage, vol.IV, p.327, Earldom of Devon
  10. ^ The Complete Peerage, vol.IV, p.328, Earldom of Devon
  11. ^ The Complete Peerage, vol.IV, p.328, Earldom of Devon
  12. ^ a b c d Brown 2004.
  13. ^ Weir 2008, p. 232.
  14. ^ a b Weir 2008, p. 92.
  15. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 93.
  16. ^ Marshall 2003, p. 50.
  17. ^ Weir 2007, p. 6.
  18. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 125.
  19. ^ a b Browning 1898, p. 288.
  20. ^ a b Weir 2008, pp. 94–95.
  21. ^ Weir 2008, pp. 94, 125.
  22. ^ a b Weir 2008, pp. 97, 104.
  23. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 77.


  • Brown, M.H. (2004). "Joan [Joan Beaufort] (d. 1445)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14646. Retrieved 21 November 2013.  (subscription required)
  • Browning, Charles H. (1898). The Magna Carta Barons and Their American Descendants. London: Genealogical Publishing Company. 
  • Cokayne, George Edward (1916). The Complete Peerage, edited by Vicary Gibbs. IV. London: St. Catherine Press. 
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. I (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1449966373. 
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1460992709. 
  • Marshall, Rosalind (2003). Scottish Queens, 1034–1714. Tuckwell Press. 
  • Weir, Alison (2008). Britain's Royal Families, The Complete Genealogy. London: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-09-953973-5. 
  • Weir, Alison (2007). Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster. London: Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-45323-5.