Sunday, 18 November 2012
Cecily of York
Princess Cecily of York was born on the 20th March 1469, the third child of King Edward IV of England and his wife Elizabeth Woodville. Among her contemporaries, Cecily was said to be the most beautiful of Elizabeth Woodville's daughters.
After two unsuccessful betrothals to Scottish nobles; the future James IV of Scotland in 1474 and to Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany in 1482, Cecily was married at age sixteen to Ralph Scrope of Upsall who was a supporter of her uncle Richard. After Richard was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth and his supporters were disbanded and ousted from royal favour, the marriage between Cecily and Ralph was annulled after less than a year in 1486. They had no children.
Cecily was a prominent figure at court and among the royal family; she carried Prince Arthur at his christening and also Catherine of Aragon's train at her wedding to Prince Arthur in 1502.
In 1487, Cecily was married again to John Welles (born 1450), 1st Viscount Welles, who was the half brother of Margaret Beaufort, the new king's mother with whom she became close friends. The couple had two daughters; Elizabeth in 1492 and Anne in 1494. However, tragedy struck the family and within a year in 1498-9 John Welles and the two daughters all died and Cecily was left alone.
Three years after being widowed Cecily married again to a Thomas Kyme (born 1465), who was a Lincolnshire squire, in 1502. This marriage however was not for political alignment, it was a love match; "rather for comfort than credit"(Fuller's Worthies, vol 2, pg 165). The king was neither aware of or approved of the marriage beforehand; Cecily may have believed that by marrying someone of relatively low political standing and of little ambition to power that the king would be forgiving and accepting of the marriage. However, King Henry VII reacted to the news by banishing the couple from court and confiscating Cecily's estates; Welles' lands which she inherited upon his death.
The king's mother Margaret Beaufort, who had for a time been Cecily's sister in law, was the only person who spoke up for her to the king and fought for her estates to be reinstated. During this time Cecily and her new husband were living on a country estate belonging to Margaret Beaufort.
Eventually, Cecily's lands were restored to her but they would only be for her use during her lifetime; in that her husband and children of the marriage would inherit nothing.
The couple had two children; Richard and Margaret, however they did not enjoy royal titles or favour.
Cecily died in 1507, aged 38 on the Isle of Wight without the luxuries that being of royal blood would have afforded her so that she could marry for love.