Petition of the Countess of Warwick

On 17 November 1485 a petition from the Countess of Warwick heard in Parliament. The Dowager Countess of Warwick had been the wife of Warwick the Kingmaker. Upon his death, there was a period in which there was fiery debate over what should happen to this inheritance: complicated by the Kingmakers daughters’ marriages to George Duke of Clarence and Richard Duke of Gloucester.

The Neville-Beauchamp Inheritance

An Act of Parliament settled the matter in 1474, granting the lands not to the Countess but to the two Dukes by right of their wives. On 17th November 1485, she sought to overturn the 1474 Act of Parliament that had formalised that forfeiture.

The Countess of Warwick’s petition to Parliament

The Countess’s argument was:

And that the same Isabell and Anne, the doughters, shuld be heires of blode to the seid countesse, and so be reputed and taken frothensforth, and to have, sue and take all maner of accions, sutes, entres, particions, avauntegez, profites and commodites as heires of the seid countesse, and to all other their auncestres, in like wyse and forme as yf the seid countesse had ben then naturally ded. Source: Parliamentary Roll, Henry VII, November 1485 Parliament.

Response of Parliament to Anne Beauchamp (Neville)

In effect, the argument is that the inheritance was unlawfully passed to the two Yorkist princes. Given that Richard had been the King whom Henry VII had defeated in battle, you may think that there would be a sympathetic ear. There was not. Richard’s lands had become forfeit to Henry VII upon Tudor’s accession to the throne; restoring the lands would cost him personally dearly.


Instead, Henry agreed to pay the Countess an annuity of 500 marks a year. At Henry’s next Parliament, the 1474 Act was repealed as part of a settlement that saw the Countess hand back all lands except one manor, which she retained for her own upkeep.

Featured Image

Drawing of Anne from the Rous Roll, c. 1483. Via Wikipedia

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