Biographies & Memoirs

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By a strange irony of fate, George, Duke of Clarence, the middle surviving brother of the House of York, who never managed to become King of England, or Duke of Burgundy, or even Duke of York, and who was put to death by Edward IV, has a very large number of living descendants today. The marriage of George and Isabel produced four children (though only two of these outlived their parents). Their four children were:

Anne of Clarence (16 April 1470 – c. 17 April 1470), who was born and died in a ship off Calais.

Margaret of Clarence (Pole), 8th Countess of Salisbury, born Farleigh Hungerford Castle, 14 August 1473,1 executed 27 May 1541, who married Sir Richard Pole. This couple had a number of children. Margaret was ultimately rather brutally killed by Henry VIII in the course of his religious and marital upheavals. Three and a half centuries later she was beatified as a Catholic martyr (‘Blessed Margaret Pole’) by Pope Leo XIII on 29 December 1886. Her feast day is celebrated annually by the Catholic Church on the day after her execution – 28 May – because 27 May was already the feast day of St Augustine of Canterbury. Today, all the known living descendants of the Duke and Duchess of Clarence are also descendants of Margaret.

Edward of Clarence, born Warwick Castle, 25 February 1475, godfathers: Edward IV and John Strensham, Abbot of Tewkesbury, created 17th Earl of Warwick,2 executed 28 November 1499. There are questions about his life (see below). According to the traditional account, he was cared for and promoted by Richard III, but subsequently permanently imprisoned in the Tower of London by Henry VII, since he had a far better claim to the throne than the ‘Tudor’ king. He was finally executed by Henry VII for allegedly attempting to escape from the Tower of London. Edward is reputed to have suffered from some kind of mental deficiency – possibly as a result of the kind of life he was forced to lead.

Richard of Clarence, born in the infirmary at Tewkesbury Abbey, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, 5 October 1476 and baptised in the parish church (nave of the abbey) on 7 October,3 died 1 January 1477 at Warwick Castle, Warwick, Warwickshire. Buried in Warwick. His father believed that he had been poisoned by John Thursby, acting on the instructions of Sir Roger Tocotes, and possibly at the behest of Elizabeth Woodville.

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George’s children, Edward of Clarence, Earl of Warwick, and Margaret, later Countess of Salisbury (after the Rous Roll).

George is generally considered to have been a faithful husband. His reaction to Isabel’s death could certainly be interpreted as implying that he had been close to her. Indeed, the bereavement may have unhinged his mind – though it is also possible that he saw what he interpreted as her murder as some kind of personal affront.

No records exist which refer unequivocally to George as having fathered any bastard children (unlike his brothers Edward IV and Richard III). It is true that, long after George’s death, in 1487, 1491 and 1493, there were widespread and persistent rumours relating to each of the two Yorkist pretenders which suggested that one or other of these was George’s son.4 However, these rumours seem not to have been meant to imply that the pretenders were Clarence bastards, but rather that one or other of them was George’slegitimate son and heir, the genuine Earl of Warwick. According to these rumours, Warwick had been secretly smuggled out of England to the Low Countries by the Duke of Clarence shortly before his death, and the young man of reputedly limited intelligence imprisoned by Henry VII in the Tower of London was an imposter. In fact, as we have seen, in 1477/8 the attempted smuggling abroad of his heir was one of the accusations levelled against George by Edward IV. Although the Act of Attainder against George claimed that this attempt had been unsuccessful, subsequent events do open certain questions about this.

The only independent evidence that the Duke might either have produced a bastard son, or have succeeded in smuggling his legitimate son, Edward, out of England, is to be found amongst the Malines household accounts of his sister, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. The record in question dates from 1486. In that year Margaret paid for eight flagons of wine for a person who is not named, but who is described as ‘the son of Clarence from England’.5 The terminology is frustratingly vague, but the date is interesting. Could this have been a visit from ‘Lambert Simnel’?6 The Earl of Warwick would have been only 11 years old in 1486 – about the same age as George himself when he had first visited the Low Countries. On the other hand, if George had fathered a bastard in the Calais region in the winter of 1467, such a boy could have been about 18 in 1486.7 Given the lack of any clear and firm evidence as to the age and identity of the young wine drinker, however, we are left guessing.

The standard account tells us that George’s only surviving legitimate son, Edward, Earl of Warwick, was put to death by Henry VII in 1499. But, of course, Henry VII had never seen the Earl of Warwick before seizing the throne in 1485, and would have had no independent means of verifying the authenticity of the boy presented to him under that title. According to George’s Act of Attainder, his attempt to send Warwick out of England, either to Ireland or to the Low Countries, was made in order to provide a future focus for rebellion. And there is no doubt that in 1487 precisely such a focus for rebellion did materialise in Ireland, in the form of the person generally known as ‘Lambert Simnel’, but who reputedly claimed to be Warwick. This boy’s identity remains uncertain, since, according to a contemporary herald, his real name was John,8 while Henry VII referred to him merely as ‘some illegitimate boy’.9

Henry VII’s historian, Polydore Vergil, tells us that the boy was an imposter who merely assumed the identity of the 12-year-old Edward of Clarence, Earl of Warwick. On the other hand, the contemporary French historian Jean de Molinet states equally firmly that the boy was the genuine Earl of Warwick and no imposter.1011 Interestingly, the boy in Dublin enjoyed the full support of key members of the House of York, the most prominent among them being Warwick’s first cousin, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln. Other things being equal, Lincoln, then aged about 27, probably had a superior claim to the English throne than the Earl of Warwick (owing to George’s Attainder, which had never been repealed). Yet Lincoln chose to give his backing to the boy in Ireland, attending that boy’s coronation, at Christ Church Cathedral on 24 May 1487. It is said that the boy crowned in Dublin took the royal title of ‘King Edward VI’, and that Irish coins were issued in his name. I shall say more on all these issues in my forthcoming sequel to the present volume: a new book entitled The Dublin King.

Henry VII later claimed to have established beyond doubt the pretender’s real identity. Moreover, according to Vergil’s account, Henry paraded through the streets of London a prisoner from the Tower of London whom he claimed was the real Earl of Warwick. Since it is highly questionable how many people in London would have been in a position to recognise the real Earl of Warwick if they saw him, in reality the latter ruse proves absolutely nothing. Moreover, the subsequent well-orchestrated ‘Tudor’ account of the pretender’s supposed real identity, and his employment in Henry VII’s kitchens, though it all sounds (and was intended to sound) believable, is undermined by confusion about the age of the alleged pretender. Also, Irish peers who had supported the pretender and who subsequently saw the kitchen boy apparently failed to recognise him.12 Then there is the intriguing fact that after the Battle of Stoke Henry VII expressed regret at the death of the Earl of Lincoln, who might otherwise have been able to explain to the king what had been going on.

So was the pretender of 1487 the real Earl of Warwick? Had his father actually succeeded in secretly sending him abroad in 1477? He certainly enjoyed the support of Gerald Mór Fitzgerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, who in 1477 had succeeded his father, the 7th Earl, as the Duke of Clarence’s Deputy Lieutenant of Ireland. Had Gerald received George in Ireland in February–March 1476/7, at the very time when the Duke is said to have been plotting to send his son to Ireland in secret? Did he therefore know that the pretender was probably genuine? There are no simple answers to these questions. But when studied carefully, the ‘Tudor’ accounts of this pretender do contain inconsistencies.13 Moreover, after George’s execution his (alleged) son was consigned to the guardianship of Elizabeth Woodville’s son, the Marquess of Dorset – who probably didn’t know the real Earl of Warwick from Adam. Yet, in 1483, Richard III (who might possibly have known the real Earl) took charge of this boy, promoted him as of noble and royal status, and apparently accepted his identity.

Possibly, then, the real Earl of Warwick remained in England from before his father’s death in 1477, until 1485. Whether he could then have escaped; whether the prisoner who reportedly suffered from mental deficiency, held (and later executed) by Henry VII, was or was not the real earl, is impossible to say for certain. It is also impossible to establish beyond question the true identity of the 1487 pretender. But if he was not the Earl of Warwick then the support accorded to him by the Earl of Lincoln is extraordinary and difficult to explain.

Assuming that the Earl of Warwick (whatever finally became of him) left no living heirs, all the known surviving lines of Clarence descent are via George’s daughter, Margaret, Countess of Salisbury. She was also executed eventually, by Henry VIII, but not before she had given birth to a number of children. Perhaps unfortunately, she is generally referred to by the Church under her married name, as ‘Blessed Margaret Pole’. One of her sons, Cardinal Reginald Pole, was the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, and came close to becoming the second English Pope.

The senior living line of descent from George and Isabel, Duke and Duchess of Clarence, leads to the Earl of Loudoun. His lineage, and that of the other Clarence descendants who are mentioned here, is outlined below. All of the many living Clarence descendants have their first two generations in common, since all of them share George, Duke of Clarence and his daughter, Margaret, Countess of Salisbury as the sources of their royal descent. A small selection of living Clarence descendants kindly agreed to briefly introduce themselves and their families, and to say a little about the stories they have heard about George, and how they view this Plantagenet royal ancestor whom they share. In order of seniority of descent, these living Clarence descendants are Hon. Pericles Plantagenet Wyatt (whose half-sister, the well-known journalist, Hon. Petronella Wyatt, has contributed her thoughts on the family and its ancestry), Carole Latimer, Elizabeth Drake (Colsell), Nicholas Hyde Duder and Vanessa Roe.


I come from a family of eccentrics. I was born in 1969, and christened Petronella Aspasia. My father was a well-known Labour politician, broadcaster and writer, Woodrow Wyatt, who was later elevated to the Lords by Margaret Thatcher. I was christened in the crypt at the Palace of Westminster. My father had chosen Aspasia as my middle name because my brother, who was born in 1963, was named Pericles after Pericles of Athens. Aspasia had been Pericles’ favourite mistress. History was a topic of conversation at our dinner table. Many of the Wyatts had been celebrated architects, including James Wyatt, whose houses are still some of the finest in England, despite his being drunk a good deal of the time, and Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, who designed all of Windsor Castle that can be seen from the skyline and who is the only commoner to be buried in the Chapel Royal.

Then there were the Plantagenets. I was 14 when my father told me that my brother was the rightful heir to the English throne. I burst out laughing. Somewhat irate, he explained that Pericles was the male descendent of George, Duke of Clarence, brother to Edward IV and Richard III. From that moment, I became an ardent supporter of both those kings, much to the surprise of my teachers. When I became a journalist, at first on the Daily Telegraph, I wrote a stinging attack on the Dictionary of National Biographyfor its entry on Richard III, saying it was a piece of blatant Tudor propaganda. My brother, though, took less of an interest in history, absconding from Harrow when he was 17. He now lives in Arizona where he owns a highly successful RV Park.

Like most people, the only thing I knew about George, Duke of Clarence was the manner of his death – allegedly drowned in a butt of Malmsey after being convicted of treason. I began reading. To my annoyance, I discovered that the Attainder passed against him barred his heirs from the succession – though Richard III considered reversing the act and might have done so had he survived Bosworth. Clarence must have been a difficult man to resist. Handsome, likeable and charming, he seems an extreme example of younger brother syndrome. His mother, Cecily, Duchess of York appeared to encourage his resentment, favouring him above her eldest living son. Edward’s surprise marriage to the widowed commoner Elizabeth Woodville incensed them both. For George, the elevation of the new queen’s no-account relatives to the highest positions in the land was a direct affront. He may even have believed the absurd rumour that Edward was the son of an archer, and not the Duke of York. At any rate, when the equally irate Warwick dangled the prospect of a crown in front of the impressionable and frustrated young man, it must have been hard to resist. Sadly, he failed to learn his lesson and after Warwick’s fall continued to campaign against the queen. I think he thought Edward would forgive him anything, but Elizabeth Woodville was made of harder stuff. She and her family appear to have driven the king to finally execute his brother. Largely amiable, faithful to his wife Isabel and a loving father, I cannot help but be sorry for him. I am also sorry for my brother Pericles, who, but for the Attainder, would not have been barred from the throne!


My link to George, Duke of Clarence comes through my father’s mother, who was the daughter of Florence Lee and Rev. Charles Eden. The story goes that Florence married against her parents’ wishes and was cut off without a shilling. The Lees had substantial homes in both Yorkshire – Grove Hall, Knottingley – and another in Kent. (I have a painting of Grove Hall, Knottingley in Yorkshire where my great grandmother, Florence, was brought up.) They spent the winters in Yorkshire and the summers in Kent. My great great grandfather, Richard Thomas Lee, is the last of our direct family to be listed in the Peerage.

My grandmother married Hugh Latimer, who was a descendant of Bishop Hugh Latimer burnt at the stake by Mary I with Cranmer and Ridley. She was a good sculptress, but was unable to sell her work as ladies did not work in her day. My father, Hugh Latimer, was a leading actor in the theatre and then designed objects and jewellery in silver and gold. I am a professional portrait photographer. It was my step-grandfather, Sir Alexander Anderson, who had the family tree traced at Somerset House.

I see George as an extremely handsome, tall, blonde young man similar in looks to Edward. The sibling rivalry would be quite normal in any time between siblings in their twenties when George was at the height of his power; he died at 28. In defence of George, they had no paternal guidance as their father was executed when George was young. He appears to have been witty, charming, stylish, all qualities that he shared with Edward. I think that the three brothers were like pawns on a chessboard; the real schemers were the Woodvilles and the Earl of Warwick, who was an older man and a genius at manipulating others to suit his own ends.

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Some living descendants of the Duke and Duchess of Clarence.

George shared the opinion of his mother, brother Richard, and the entire court in their dislike of the Woodvilles. He merely voiced his opinion strongly, which rather dispels the notion that he was weak. He was ambitious and duplicitous and easily led by Warwick, but it is easy to judge in retrospect. Edward was weak when it came to women. Richard, vilified by Shakespeare (we have to remember that he was writing under a Tudor queen), ironically, appears to have been the purest soul of the three brothers, always trying to keep the peace between them.

If it is true that the Woodvilles schemed the death by poisoning of George’s wife, Isobel, then I think he showed courage in continuing to vilify them publicly. There is no evidence to support the belief that Ankarette Twynyho poisoned his wife, but George, having acted above the law, was certainly hot-headed and it cost him his life. The fact that Richard visited him frequently in prison and retired to the north of England after his death merely makes me feel that George was not all a sinner.


My family began to migrate from England to the Virginia colony when Jamestown was young – in 1609. John Rolfe of Heacham in Norfolk was shipwrecked on Bermuda, providing Shakespeare with inspiration for The Tempest. Rolfe survived and continued to Virginia where, in 1618, he married the princess Pocahontas, from whom I am directly descended. Their great granddaughter married into the Isham/Randolph family of Virginia and added another inheritance line, that of Lady Godiva and Earl Leofric of Mercia. In the next century, Sir Richard Everard of Langleys in Essex came to the New World to be governor of North Carolina. He was a direct descendant of George, Duke of Clarence, and Isabel Neville. Sir Richard’s daughter Susannah remained in America when his governorship ended. She married David Meade and their offspring married the Randolphs, thus combining three very interesting family lines. This is my inheritance: Pocahontas, Lady Godiva and Plantagenet royalty. I returned to England after 361 years, have married here and taken British citizenship. My husband Paul and I live in Old Windsor and in our retirement we enjoy visiting places significant in the lives of my ancestors.

In terms of George, Duke of Clarence, I know only what I read, but gather that the whole of the cousins in the ‘cousins’ war’ were fatherless, unstable, self-aggrandising, acquisitive people. The time was marked by interference in dynastic lines, in marriage choices, in land and property inheritance. Changes of allegiance might look treasonous but could be considered principled as there were so many claims and counter-claims of Richard of York, Henry VI and Edward IV, with the Earl of Warwick meddling at all points, changing sides, raising hopes and breaking promises. Warwick even said that Edward IV was not the son of Richard of York – which would have made George the rightful heir to the throne. George was certainly tossed about by bad influences and confused in loyalty between his own family and his wife’s family. I read that he was a likeable man and fond of his brothers, but inclined to avarice and drunkenness. Poor man. He was dead by age 29.


I was born in Kenya in 1960, the younger brother to Michael and son of Alexander Hyde Duder and Jean Violet Barrington-Kennett. I was educated initially in Kenya and then the United Kingdom. I started my working career in Kenya and then proceeded to join the Royal Hong Kong Police in 1983, eventually resigning in 1992 to help establish a security and risk mitigation consultancy. In 2004, I married my wife Nolita and we have two sons: Alexander Barrington C. Duder and Adam Kennett A. Duder. I currently reside and work in Indonesia.

George, Duke of Clarence is my 14th great-grandfather, connected through my mothers’ line, the Barringtons, Poles and Margaret, Countess of Salisbury. My perception of George is that he was probably easily swayed and by Richard Neville, the ‘Kingmaker’, in particular, who showed exceptional determination to do what he thought was right. George’s desire to see himself on the throne, coupled with his disapproval of King Edward’s private marriage to Elizabeth and subsequent marriage of his other brother Richard to Anne Neville, thereby threatening his own livelihood and status, may have resulted in him becoming increasingly disenchanted, despite efforts by others including Edward to appease him.


The marriage in 1723 of Andrew Roe of Grantstown and Mount Bruis, Tipperary, to Frances Westropp of Ballysteen, Limerick, brought the direct descendant of George Plantagenet, the Duke of Clarence, into the Roe family. Andrew’s grandfather, James Roe, who came to Ireland in 1645 was a cavalier in Lord Inchiquin’s Regiment of the Horse. The regiment were originally fighting for Charles I, but, fortunately, switched sides to Cromwell. Cromwell rewarded James Roe with a fine estate called Ballymacdonofin in Co. Wexford.

The Roes were an ancient merchanting family from Kent and James was descended from Sir Thomas Roe, Lord Mayor of London (1568) they were also early dissenters. James’ eldest son, Andrew, became a very wealthy merchant in Dublin and purchased many properties there; he also gave each of his four sons a large estate in Tipperary, purchased from the Duke of Ormonde. Andrew, who married Frances Westropp, was his third son. Frances Westropp was directly descended through her mother, Elizabeth Bury, from George, the Duke of Clarence.

My father, a direct descendant of Andrew Roe and Frances Westropp, grew up in Calcutta, India. His great-great-grandfather, Captain Richard Andrew James Roe, went to India with the East India Company in 1810 from Ireland. Our family subsequently resided in India until 1957, when my father came back to Britain.

I live in York, North Yorkshire, while my parents, sister, and two nieces live in Sandal, Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

George, Duke of Clarence seems in my mind to be rebellious, ambitious, jealous, and generally unstable: a very tragic figure in the War of the Roses. He had a very volatile nature, and was probably prone to being a drunkard. He made a lot of wrong choices in his life for which he was to pay dearly. I do not think that his brothers disliked him, but they could not control his incorrigible nature. After a final rebellion against his brother, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London and came to a grisly end, reputedly, drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. This may be true as when his body was exhumed he was not headless – beheading was the normal execution form for those of noble birth. After his death, his children were cared for by their aunt Anne Neville. His wife Isabella having died of maybe consumption or childbed fever in 1476, her lady in waiting was believed by Clarence to have poisoned her and she was judicially murdered (she was given a posthumous pardon by Edward IV).

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Albert I ruled Belgium from 1909 to 1934. He was a king, the ruler of territory which George once hoped would be his – and a descendant of George and Isabel on his mother’s side.

I am very grateful to Petronella, Carole, Betty, Nick and Vanessa for having helped me conclude my history of the Duke of Clarence by revealing something of the history of George and Isabel’s descendants, and by explaining how they see George. If the Duke’s own life was not a success, his posterity offered his unlucky genes a chance to try again – and, curiously, through one line of his descendants, George has, in a way, attained two of the goals which eluded him during his own lifetime. In person, he never obtained the royal crown he longed for. Nor did he attain those lands in the Low Countries to which he aspired. Yet George’s living descendants today include HM the King of the Belgians!14


1. Bodleian Library, MS. Top. Glouc. d.2, Founders’ and benefectors’ book of Tewkesbury Abbey, fol. 39r.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Gairdner, Richard the Third, pp.267, 272, 275–6. See also A. Wroe, Perkin, a Story of Deception (London, 2003).

5. Wroe, Perkin, p.81.

6. The ‘Tudor’ historian Bernard André stated that ‘Lambert Simnel’ visited Margaret: see G. Smith ‘Lambert Simnel and the King from Dublin’, Ric., 10 (December 1996), p.510.

7. Interestingly, it may have been in the summer of 1467 that Richard III, then Duke of Gloucester, fathered his first known illegitimate child – John of Gloucester. See Ashdown-Hill, The Last Days of Richard III, pp.25–6.

8. M. Bennett, Lambert Simnel and the Battle of Stoke (New York, 1987), pp.44–5.

9. Henry VII called the pretender ‘spurium quemdam puerum’. See Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores – Letters and Papers Illustrative of the Reigns of Richard III and Henry VII (London, 1857), p.95, citing BL, MS Add. 15385, fol. 315.

10. Smith, ‘Lambert Simnel and the King from Dublin’, p.498.

11. J. Ashdown-Hill, ‘Coins Attributed to the Yorkist Pretenders’, Ric. 19 (2009), pp.63–83.

12. Smith, ‘Lambert Simnel and the King from Dublin’, pp.515–16.

13. There are two different ‘Tudor’ versions of who the pretender claimed to be, and apparent inconsistencies about his age.

14. Marquis de Ruvigny, The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal, Clarence volume (1905; reprinted Baltimore, 1994), p.644.

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