Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland

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Joan Beaufort
Countess of Westmorland
Joan's tomb[1]
SpouseRobert Ferrers, 5th Baron Boteler of Wem
Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland
Issue
Elizabeth Ferrers, 6th Baroness Boteler of Wem
Mary Neville, Countess of Westmorland
Katherine Neville, Duchess of Norfolk
Eleanor Percy, Countess of Northumberland
Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury
Robert Neville, Bishop of Durham
William Neville, 1st Earl of Kent
Edward Neville, 3rd Baron Bergavenny
Anne Neville, Duchess of Buckingham
Cecily Neville, Duchess of York
George Neville, 1st Baron Latimer
John Neville
Cuthbert Neville
Thomas Neville
Henry Neville
Joan Neville
FatherJohn of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
MotherKatherine Swynford
Bornc. 1379
Château de Beaufort, Anjou
Died13 November 1440(1440-11-13)
Howden, Yorkshire
BurialLincoln Cathedral, Lincolnshire
 
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Joan Beaufort
Countess of Westmorland
Joan's tomb[1]
SpouseRobert Ferrers, 5th Baron Boteler of Wem
Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland
Issue
Elizabeth Ferrers, 6th Baroness Boteler of Wem
Mary Neville, Countess of Westmorland
Katherine Neville, Duchess of Norfolk
Eleanor Percy, Countess of Northumberland
Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury
Robert Neville, Bishop of Durham
William Neville, 1st Earl of Kent
Edward Neville, 3rd Baron Bergavenny
Anne Neville, Duchess of Buckingham
Cecily Neville, Duchess of York
George Neville, 1st Baron Latimer
John Neville
Cuthbert Neville
Thomas Neville
Henry Neville
Joan Neville
FatherJohn of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
MotherKatherine Swynford
Bornc. 1379
Château de Beaufort, Anjou
Died13 November 1440(1440-11-13)
Howden, Yorkshire
BurialLincoln Cathedral, Lincolnshire

Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland (c. 1379 – 13 November 1440) was the third or fourth child (and only daughter) of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and his mistress, later wife, Katherine Swynford; and, in her widowhood, a powerful landowner in the North of England.

Contents

Early life and marriages

She was likely born at the Swynford manor of Kettlethorpe in Lincolnshire. Her surname probably reflects her father's lordship of Beaufort in Champagne, France, where she might also have been born.[2] In 1391, at the age of twelve, Joan married at Beaufort-en-Vallée, Anjou, Robert Ferrers, 5th Baron Boteler of Wem, and they had two daughters before he died in about 1395.

Legitimation

Along with her three brothers, Joan had been privately declared legitimate by their cousin Richard II of England in 1390, but for various reasons their father secured another such declaration from Parliament in January 1397. Joan was already an adult when she was legitimized by the marriage of her mother and father with papal approval. The Beauforts were later barred from inheriting the throne by a clause inserted into the legitimation act by their half-brother, Henry IV of England, although it is not clear that Henry IV possessed sufficient authority to alter an existing parliamentary statute. Soon after this declaration, on 3 February 1397, when she was eighteen, Joan married Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, who had also been married once before.

Inheritance

When Ralph de Neville died in 1425, his lands and titles should, by law of rights, have passed on to his eldest surviving son from his first marriage, another Ralph Neville. Instead, while the title of Earl of Westmorland and several manors were passed to Ralph, the bulk of his rich estate went to his wife, Joan Beaufort. Although this may have been done to ensure that his widow was well provided for; by doing this, Ralph essentially split his family into two, and the result was years of bitter conflict between Joan and her stepchildren, who fiercely contested her acquisition of their father's lands. Joan however, with her royal blood and connections, was far too powerful to be called to account, and the senior branch of the Nevilles received little redress for their grievances. Inevitably, when Joan died, the lands would be inherited by her own children.

Death

Joan died on 13 November 1440 at Howden in Yorkshire. Rather than be buried with her husband Ralph (who was not buried with his first wife, though his monument has effigies of himself and his two wives) she was entombed next to her mother in the magnificent sanctuary of Lincoln Cathedral. Joan's is the smaller of the two tombs; both were decorated with brass plates — full-length representations of them on the tops, and small shields bearing coats of arms around the sides — but those were damaged or destroyed in 1644 during the English Civil War. A 1640 drawing of them survives, showing what the tombs looked like when they were intact, and side-by-side instead of end-to-end, as they are now.

Descendants

Joan Beaufort was the grandmother of Edward IV of England and Richard III of England, whom Henry VII defeated to take the throne. (Henry then married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, and their son became Henry VIII of England). King Henry's sixth wife, Catherine Parr was also a descendant through Joan and Ralph's son, Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury making the couple third cousins. Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, 'the Kingmaker', was also a descendant.

Children of Joan Beaufort and Robert Ferrers

In 1391, at the age of twelve, Joan married Robert Ferrers, 5th Baron Boteler of Wem at Beaufort-en-Vallée, Anjou. They had 2 children:

Children of Joan Beaufort and Ralph Neville

They had 14 children:

Joan Beaufort and mother, Katherine Swynford's tomb — 1809 drawing

References

  1. ^ 1640 drawing of the tombs of Joan and her mother Katherine Swynford in Lincoln Cathedral before the tombs were despoiled in 1644 by the Roundheads
  2. ^ Armitage-Smith 196-199

External links