Cecily Neville, Duchess of York

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Cecily Neville, Duchess of York

Also Known As: "Cicely", "Cecylle", "the Rose of Raby", "Proud Cis", "Duchess of York"
Birthplace: Raby Castle, Staindrop, County Durham, England
Death: Died in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England
Place of Burial: St Mary and All Saints Church, Fotheringhay, England
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland and Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland
Wife of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York
Mother of Joan Plantagenet of York, Duchess; Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter; Henry Plantagenet of York, Duke; Edward IV of England; Edmund Plantagenet of York, Earl of Rutland and 10 others
Sister of Eleanor Percy, Countess of Northumberland; Katherine Neville, Duchess of Norfolk; Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury; Baron Thomas de Neville,; Cuthbert de Neville and 8 others
Half sister of Matilda (Maud) de Neville; Alice Lancaster; Anne Umfreville; Philippa de Neville, Baroness Dacre; John de Neville, Lord Neville and 6 others

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About Cecily Neville, Duchess of York

a short summary from Wikipedia:

Lady Cecily Neville

Duchess of York

Father: Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland

Mother: Joan Beaufort

Spouse: Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York


Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter

Edward IV, King of England

Edmund, Earl of Rutland

Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk

Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy

George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence

Richard III, King of England

House: House of York

House of Neville

Born: 3 May 1415

Raby Castle, Durham

Died: 31 May 1495 (aged 80)

Berkhamsted Castle, Hertfordshire

Burial: St Mary and All Saints Church, Fotheringhay


"Cecily Neville, Duchess of York (3 May 1415 – 31 May 1495) was the wife of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and the mother of two Kings of England, Edward IV and Richard III. Lady Cecily Neville was a daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, and Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. Her maternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and Katherine Swynford. John of Gaunt was the third surviving son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault.

She was the aunt of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, one of the leading peers and military commanders of his generation, and also the great-great-great-aunt of the queen consort Catherine Parr, sixth wife of her great-grandson, King Henry VIII.

Cecily was called "the Rose of Raby", because she was born at Raby Castle in Durham, and "Proud Cis", because of her pride and a temper that went with it. Historically she is also known for her piety. She herself signed her name "Cecylle"."


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Citations / Sources:

[S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume XII/2, page 908. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.

[S8] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, page 17. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition.

[S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 134. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Family.

[S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family, page 132.

[S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume XII/2, page 909.

[S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume III, page 260.

[S14] #236 Encyclopédie généalogique des maisons souveraines du monde (1959-1966), Sirjean, Gaston, (Paris: Gaston Sirjean, 1959-1966), FHL book 944 D5se., vol. 1 pt. 2 p. 66.

[S15] Les Valois (1990), Van Kerrebrouck, Patrick, (Villeneuve d'Ascq [France]: P. Van Kerrebrouck, 1990), FHL book 929.244 V247k., p. 383.

[S16] #894 Cahiers de Saint-Louis (1976), Louis IX, Roi de France, (Angers: J. Saillot, 1976), FHL book 944 D22ds., vol. 2 p. 97, 107, vol. 12 p. 911.

[S22] #374 The Lineage and Ancestry of H. R. H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (1977), Paget, Gerald, (2 volumes. Baltimore: Geneal. Pub., 1977), FHL book Q 942 D22pg., vol. 1 p. 21, 24.

[S23] #849 Burke's Guide to the Royal Family (1973), (London: Burke's Peerage, c1973), FHl book 942 D22bgr., p. 201.

[S47] #688 Collectanea topographica et genealogica (1834-1843), (8 volumes. London: J.B. Nichols, 1834-1843), FHL book 942 B2ct; FHL microfilms 496,953 item 3 a., vol. 1 p. 297.

[S65] #389 Histories of Noble British Families: with Biographical Notices of the Most Distinguished Individual in Each, Illustrated by Their Armorial Bearings, Portraits, Monuments, Seals, Etc. (1846), Drummond, Henry, (2 volumes. London: W. Pickering, 1846), FHL microfilm 990,417 item 1., vol. 2 p. 9.

"Cicely was remarkably beautiful, and was called in the neighbourhood "the Rose of Raby." She was two years older than Richard; they were a long time without children but ultimately left twelve."

[S67] #205 Baronagium Genealogicum, Or, the Pedigrees of the English Peers, Deduced from the Earliest Times, of Which There Are Any Attested Accountes Including, as Well Collateral as Lineal Descents (1764-1784), Segar, Sir William, (6 volumes. [London]: Engraved and printed for the author, [1764-1784].), Volumes 1-4 FHL microfilm 164,680; volume 5 FHL mi., vol. 4 p. 350.

[S69] #2251 The Royal Bastards of Medieval England (1984), Given-Wilson, Chris and Alice Curteis, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984), FHL book 942 D5g., p. 148.

[S77] #33 An Official Genealogical and Heraldic Baronage of England (filmed 1957), Paget, Gerald, (Typescript, filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1957), FHL microfilm 170,063-170,067., no. 406, Nevill, Earls of Salisbury & Warwick.

[S191] #247 [1816-1840] The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham (1816-1840), Surtees, Robert, of Mainsforth, Esq. F. S. A., (4 volumes. London: J.B. Nichols, Parliament-Street and G. Andrews, Durham 1816-1840), FHL book Folio 942.81 H2s; FHL microfilms 899,861-., vol. 4 p. 161.

[S300] #242 [1978 edition] Genealogical History of the Dormant, Aberant, Forfeited, & Extinct Peerages, Burke, Sir Bernard, (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore. 1978), 942 D22 bug 1978., p. 394.

[S338] Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families (2004), Richardson, Douglas, edited by Kamball G. Everingham, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004), FHL book 942 D5rd., p. xxix.

[S339] #664 An Historical and Genealogical Account of the Noble Family of Nevill, Particularly of the House of Abergavenny, and Also a History of the Old Land Barony of Abergavenny: with Some Account of the Illustrious Family of the Beauchamps (1830), Rowland, Daniel, (London: Bentley, 1830), FHL book Q 929.242 N416r; FHL microfilm 1,145,984 ., p. 31.

[S631] An Encyclopedia of World History; Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically Arranged (1972), Langer, William L., (5th edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1972), p. 292.

[S756] King Edward III (1983), Packe, Michael, and Lewis Charles Bernard Seamen, (Boston, Massachusetts: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983), FHL book 921.42 P694p., Gen tables.

[S757] #676 De Nova Villa; Or, the House of Nevill in Sunshine and Shade (1885), Swallow, Henry J. (Henry James), (Newcastle-on-Tyne: Reid, 1885), FHL book 929.242 N416s; FHL microfilm 990,329 item., Table 3.

[S910] #696 Visitations of the north, or, some early heraldic visitations of, and collections of pedigrees relating to, the north of England, Blair, Charles Henry Hunter, (Durham [England] : Andrews, 1912-1932. Part of the Publications of the Surtees Society.), 942 B4s., vol. 144 p. 30. -------------------- Cecily Neville, Duchess of York (3 May 1415 – 31 May 1495) was an English noblewoman, the wife of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and the mother of two Kings of England, Edward IV and Richard III. Cecily Neville was called "the Rose of Raby", because she was born at Raby Castle in Durham, and "Proud Cis", because of her pride and a temper that went with it. Historically she is also known for her piety. She herself signed her name "Cecylle".

Her husband, the Duke of York, was the leading contender for the House of York's claim to the throne of England. York was made Lord Protector of England in 1453 and 1455, however he did not press his claim to the throne during these two periods. In 1460, York was named Prince of Wales and again Lord Protector of the Realm. With King Henry VI in custody, the Duke of York became the de facto ruler of England. However, before York could claim his crown, he was defeated in December 1460 at the Battle of Wakefield with his son, Edmund of York, and his brother-in-law the Earl of Salisbury. The Duchess of York narrowly missed becoming queen consort of England and her son, Edward, Earl of March, was crowned in March 1461. However, in 1477, following the marriage of her grandson Richard of York, the Duchess was accorded the title Queen of right after using the title of Cecily, the king's mother and late wife unto Richard in right king of England and of France and lord of Ireland since 1464.


Cecily Neville was a daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, and Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. Her paternal grandparents were John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby and Hon. Maud Percy, daughter of Henry de Percy, 2nd Baron Percy. Her maternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and Katherine Swynford. John of Gaunt was the third surviving son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. By her mother, Cecily was a niece of King Henry IV of England.

She was the aunt of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, one of the leading peers and military commanders of his generation, a grand-aunt of queen consort Anne Neville, and a great-great-grand-aunt of queen consort Catherine Parr, sixth wife of her great-grandson, King Henry VIII.

Duchess of York

In 1424, when Cecily was nine years old, she was betrothed by her father to his thirteen-year-old ward, Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York. Ralph Neville died in October 1425, bequeathing the wardship of Richard to his widow, Joan Beaufort. Cecily and Richard were married by October 1429. Their daughter Anne was born in August 1439 in Northamptonshire. When Richard became a king's lieutenant and governor general of France in 1441 and moved to Rouen, Cecily moved with him. Their son Henry was born in February but died soon after.

Their next son, and the future King, Edward IV was born in Rouen on 28 April 1442 and immediately baptised privately in a small side chapel. He would later be accused of illegitimacy directly by his cousin, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, and by his own brother, George, Duke of Clarence; this was a common method of discrediting political enemies, and George and Warwick were in dispute with Edward at the time and seeking to overthrow him. The claims would later be dismissed. Nonetheless, some modern historians give serious consideration to the question, and use Edward's date of birth as supporting evidence: assuming Edward was not premature (there being no evidence either way), Richard of York would been several days march from Cecily at the time of conception and the baby's baptism was a simple and private affair (unlike that of his younger brother, Edmund, which was public and lavish). This is countered by other historians, however, who point out that Cecily's husband could easily, by the military conventions of the time, have returned briefly to Rouen, where Cecily was living at the time, whilst baptism conventions of the time meant that a low-key baptism would be more likely due to Richard of York's political standing at the time vis-a-vis his later position, and fears for the baby's survival; if the difference in baptisms was to be taken as a disavowal of an otherwise acknowledged and cherished heir, it would not only be a humiliation of a wife Richard otherwise valued before and after Edward's birth, but also a personal and political humiliation. In any case, Richard acknowledged the baby as his own, which established legal paternity.

Around 1454, when Richard began to resent the influence of Edmund Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset (a first cousin of Cecily's), Cecily spoke with Queen consort Margaret of Anjou on his behalf. When Henry VI suffered a nervous breakdown later in the year, Richard of York established himself as a Protector.

After the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses, Cecily remained at their home, Ludlow Castle, even when Richard fled to Ireland and Continental Europe. At the same time she surreptitiously worked for the cause of the House of York. When a parliament began to debate the fate of the Duke of York and his supporters in November 1459, Cecily travelled to London to plead for her husband. One contemporary commentator stated that she had reputedly convinced the king to promise a pardon if the Duke would appear in the parliament in eight days. This failed and Richard's lands were confiscated, but Cecily managed to gain an annual grant of £600 to support her and her children.

After the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Northampton in July 1460, Cecily moved to London with her children and lived with John Paston. She carried the royal arms before Richard in triumph in London in September. When the Duke of York and his heirs officially recognised as Henry VI's successors in the Act of Accord, Cecily became a queen-in-waiting and even received a copy of the English chronicle from the chronicler John Hardyng.

In the Battle of Wakefield (30 December 1460), the Lancastrians won a decisive victory. The Duke of York, his second son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and Cecily's brother Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, were among the casualties. Cecily sent her two youngest sons, George and Richard, to the court of Philip III, Duke of Burgundy. This forced Philip to ally with the Yorkists.

Mother of two kings

Her eldest son Edward successfully continued the fight against the Lancastrians. When Cecily moved to Baynard's Castle in London, it became the Yorkist headquarters and when Edward defeated the Lancastrians, she became an effective Queen Mother.

During the beginning of Edward's reign, Cecily appeared beside him and maintained her influence. In 1461 she revised her coat of arms to include the royal arms of England, hinting that her husband had been a rightful king. When Edward married Elizabeth Woodville, he built new queen's quarters for her and let his mother remain in the queen's quarters in which she had been living.

In 1469, her nephew, the Earl of Warwick, father-in-law of her sons George and Richard, rebelled against Edward IV. Warwick also began to spread rumours that the king was a bastard and that his true father was not the Duke of York but an archer named Blaybourne at Rouen, evidence of which has been assembled. By some interpretations, that would have meant that Clarence was the rightful king. Warwick had earlier made similar accusations against Margaret of Anjou. Cecily said little about the matter in public, despite the fact that she had been accused of adultery. She visited Sandwich, possibly trying to reconcile the parties. When the rebellion failed the first time, she invited Edward and George to London to reconcile them. Peace did not last long and in the forthcoming war she still tried to make peace between her sons.

Edward IV was briefly overthrown by Warwick and Margaret of Anjou, and for about six months (October 1470 – April 1471) Henry VI was restored to the throne. The breach between Edward and his brother George was apparently never really healed, for George was executed for treason in the Tower of London on 18 February 1478. Edward IV died suddenly on 9 April 1483, leaving two sons aged 13 and 10. Cecily Neville's youngest son Richard, their uncle, was appointed their protector by Edward's will, but he had them placed in the Tower, whence they were never to emerge; their subsequent fate is a matter of dispute. A subsequent 'enquiry' found that that Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville had been invalid: their children were thus pronounced illegitimate, making Richard the legal heir to the crown. The Princes in the Tower were declared illegitimate by Act of Parliament in 1483 to allow their uncle Richard to be crowned Richard III on 6 July 1483.

Duchess Cecily was on good terms with Richard's wife Lady Anne Neville (her grandniece), with whom she discussed religious works such as the writings of Mechtilde of Hackeborn.

Richard's reign was brief, as he was defeated and killed on 22 August 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth by the last Lancastrian, Henry Tudor. Thus by 1485, Cecily's husband and four sons had all died, although two of her daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, still lived. On 18 January 1486, Cecily's granddaughter, Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, married Henry VII and became Queen of England. Cecily devoted herself to religious duties and her reputation for piety comes from this period.

Duchess Cecily died on 31 May 1495 and was buried in the tomb with her husband Richard and their son Edmund at the Church of St Mary and All Saints, Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire, with a papal indulgence. All subsequent English monarchs, beginning with Henry VIII, are descendants of Elizabeth of York, and therefore of Cecily Neville.

"Cecill wif unto the right noble Prince Richard late Duke of Yorke" made her will on 1 April 1495. It was proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 27 August of the same year.

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Cecily Neville, Duchess of York's Timeline

May 3, 1415
Staindrop, County Durham, England
October 18, 1437
Age 22
Age 22
August 10, 1439
Age 24
Fotheringhay, Northhampton, England
February 10, 1441
Age 25
Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England
April 28, 1442
Age 27
Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France
May 17, 1443
Age 28
Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France
April 22, 1444
Age 28
Rouen, Normandie, France
May 3, 1446
Age 31
Fotheringhay Castle, Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire, England
July 7, 1447
Age 32
Fotheringhay Castle, Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire, England