14 November, 2021

The Children of Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent (d. 1397) and Alice Arundel (d. 1416)

Thomas Holland, earl of Kent, grandson of Sir Robert Holland (d. 1328) and nephew of Isabelle Holland, was born in c. 1351 as the son and heir of Thomas Holland Sr (d. late 1360), and Edward I's granddaughter Joan of Kent, later princess of Wales and Richard II's mother. [1] Around 10 April 1364, Thomas married Alice Fitzalan or Arundel, third of the five children of Richard, earl of Arundel (d. 1376) and his second wife Eleanor of Lancaster (d. 1372). A papal dispensation for consanguinity had been issued the August before. [2] Alice was probably slightly older than her husband Thomas (d. 25 April 1397), though only by a couple of years. When she died on 17 March 1416, she had outlived at least six and perhaps seven of their eleven children. 

A psalter now held in the library of St John's College, Cambridge, gives the dates of birth (and death, in some cases) of some of Thomas Holland and Alice Arundel's children. All four of their sons and three of their seven daughters are assigned a date of birth, though frustratingly, four of their daughters are not mentioned: Joan, duchess of York, Margaret, duchess of Clarence, Elizabeth, daughter-in-law and mother of earls of Westmorland, and Bridget, a nun of Barking. Other than Alianore Holland, countess of March and Ulster, who was the eldest child, and Thomas Holland, earl of Kent and duke of Surrey, who was the second child and eldest son, it's hard to determine the exact birth order of all the siblings; we can determine the birth order of the boys, and the birth order of the girls, but putting them all together is tricky. Here's a list with my best guess at the correct order of all eleven children:

- Alianore or Eleanor Holland, countess of March and Ulster, b. 13 October 1370. She married her father's ward Roger Mortimer, fourth earl of March and earl of Ulster, who was b. 11 April 1374, and according to the annalist of Wigmore Abbey in Herefordshire, their eldest child Anne Mortimer, countess of Cambridge and the paternal grandmother of Edward IV and Richard III, was born on 27 December 1388. [3] Anne was probably conceived more or less exactly on Roger Mortimer's fourteenth birthday, which fell thirty-seven weeks before her birth, so Roger was a very young father, and as Alianore's father Thomas Holland was about thirty-seven in 1388, he was a young grandfather. Alianore had a younger daughter and two sons, Edmund (b. 1391) and Roger (b. 1393) Mortimer as well, and two daughters from her second marriage to Edward Charlton or Cherleton. She died in 1405.

- Thomas Holland, the eldest son, earl of Kent and duke of Surrey, b. 8 September 1372, beheaded in Cirencester during the Epiphany Rising on c. 7 January 1400, aged twenty-seven. He married the earl of Stafford's daughter Joan Stafford (d. 1442) shortly after 20 October 1392, but had no children. [4]

- John Holland, the second son, b. 2 November 1374, d. 5 November 1394. Probably named after his father's younger brother John Holland (b. c. 1353), later earl of Huntingdon and duke of Exeter, and perhaps his godson. He would have been his brother Thomas's heir in 1400 if he had lived longer, but died in his father's lifetime.

- Richard Holland, the third son, b. 3 April 1376, d. 21 May 1396. Richard went into the Church after graduating BA, but like his brother John, died at the age of twenty, also in their father's lifetime. He was surely named in honour of his half-uncle Richard of Bordeaux, who became king of England the year after Richard Holland's birth. [5]

- Joan Holland, the second daughter, duchess of York. Her date of birth is unknown, though I would imagine that she was the fifth Holland child after Alianore, Thomas, John and Richard, and was born in c. 1377 or 1378 (it's possible that one of the Holland children, perhaps Joan, was born between Thomas in September 1372 and John in November 1374, though the timing is a bit tight). Joan married the fifty-two-year-old widower Edmund of Langley, duke of York, in c. November 1393. Confusingly, he was Richard II's uncle while she was Richard II's half-niece. To make matters even more hilariously confusing, Joan's stepdaughter Constance of York, who was most probably some years her senior, had an illegitimate daughter with Joan's brother Edmund Holland, earl of Kent (see below). After Edmund of Langley, duke of York, died in 1402, Joan Holland embarked on another three marriages, though had no children.

- Margaret Holland, the third daughter, duchess of Clarence and countess of Somerset, probably born after Joan and before Edmund, placing her date of birth around 1380. Before 28 September 1397, she married John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford's eldest child John Beaufort (b. c. 1373), earl of Somerset, and they were the grandparents of Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII's mother. After Margaret Holland was widowed in 1410, she married her late husband's half-nephew Thomas of Lancaster, duke of Clarence (b. 1387), Henry V's brother. She died in late 1439 and was the last surviving of the Holland children, and was named as one of the co-heirs of her sister Joan, dowager duchess of York, the second last survivor, in 1434. [6]

- Edmund Holland, the fourth and youngest son and his brother Thomas's heir, earl of Kent, was born on 9 January 1382 according to the psalter, or on 6 January 1382 in Brockenhurst, Hampshire, according to his proof of age, or on 6 January 1383 according to his brother Thomas's inquisition post mortem. Confusingly, the proof of age was taken in Winchester on 22 May 1404 and states that Edmund was 'born on 6 Jan. 1382...and is therefore twenty-one years of age' (this discrepancy might be a result of the confusing medieval habit of dating the new year from 25 March). Edmund married Lucia Visconti of Milan in January 1407, and though he had no children with her during their twenty-month marriage, he had an illegitimate daughter with Edward III's granddaughter Constance of York (c. 1375-1416), dowager Lady Despenser: Alianore Holland, Lady Tuchet, born sometime in the early 1400s. Edmund was killed fighting in Brittany in September 1408, and his heirs were his four surviving sisters, Joan, Margaret, Eleanor and Elizabeth, and Edmund Mortimer, earl of March (b. 1391), son of his late eldest sister Alianore (1370-1405). Edmund Holland's inquisition post mortem and numerous entries in the chancery rolls make the birth order of the five eldest Holland sisters absolutely certain. [7] After Edmund's death, there were no fewer than four dowager countesses of Kent: his widow Lucia Visconti, his sister-in-law Joan Stafford, his mother Alice Arundel, and his elderly German great-aunt Elisabeth of Jülich (d. 1411), widow of John, earl of Kent (1330-52), the younger brother of Joan of Kent, princess of Wales.

- Alianore or Eleanor Holland the younger, the fourth daughter, countess of Salisbury, was born on 29 November 1384, and was almost certainly the eighth Holland child. As was the case with her namesake eldest sister the countess of March, she married a man several years younger than she was: Thomas Montacute or Montagu was born on 25 March 1388 in Shenley, Hertfordshire, and was named after his royal godfather Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester. [8] Thomas Montacute's father John Montacute, earl of Salisbury, was beheaded in Cirencester in January 1400 alongside Eleanor's eldest brother Thomas Holland, earl of Kent. Eleanor was the mother of Thomas's daughter and heir Alice (b. 1407), countess of Salisbury, who married Richard Neville (d. 1460), eldest son of Joan Beaufort and Ralph Neville, first earl of Westmorland.

- Elizabeth Holland, the fifth daughter, date of birth unknown, but presumably around 1386/87. She married John Neville (c. 1387-1420), eldest son of Ralph Neville, first earl of Westmorland, from his first marriage to Margaret Stafford, and had a son also named Ralph Neville, second earl of Westmorland, born in Cockermouth, Cumberland on or a little before 4 April 1406. Elizabeth was said to be twenty years old in her brother Edmund's inquisition post mortem of November 1408 and twenty-two years old in her mother Alice's inquisition post mortem of May 1416, which is a neat trick. Her sister Duchess Joan, meanwhile, had supposedly aged twelve years, from twenty-four to thirty-six, in those seven and a half years. [9]

- Bridget Holland, date of birth unknown, who became a nun at the prestigious abbey of Barking in Essex. Either Bridget or her sister Anne, below, was the seventh daughter and the eleventh and youngest Holland child.

- Anne Holland, born 4 December 1389 and just under a year younger than her namesake niece Anne Mortimer, countess of Cambridge. I don't know anything about Anne Holland or what became of her. She wasn't named in the inquisitions post mortem of her brother Edmund in 1408 or her mother Alice in 1416, so either she was dead by then or she had, like Bridget, joined a convent. It's rather curious to me that the psalter gives Anne's exact date of birth but not those of several of her older sisters who lived into adulthood, though at least we know of her existence as a result.


1) CIPM 1352-60, no. 657; Thomas was either nine or ten years old in January/February 1361.

2) CPR 1361-64, p. 480; CFR 1413-22, pp. 166-67; Petitions to the Pope 1342-1419, p. 453.

3) Monasticon Anglicanum, ed. Dugdale, vol. 6, p. 355.

4) CPR 1391-96, p. 211.

5) Calendar of Papal Letters 1362-1404, p. 397; CPR 1391-96, pp. 119, 130.

6) CPR 1396-99, p. 211; CIPM 1432-37, nos. 245-62.

7) CIPM 1399-1405, nos. 974-79; CIPM 1405-13, nos. 622-39; CFR 1405-13, p. 135.

8) CIPM 1405-13, no. 655.

9) CIPM 1405-13, nos. 622-39; CIPM 1413-18, nos. 608-20; CIPM 1427-32, no. 314.


Bill Ticknor said...

Thank you, interesting as alway.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, Bill!

sami parkkonen said...

I am more and more convinced that this blog will be a one of the most important resources in any study of medieval England if it is not yet that. Years from now, perhaps decade or two from now, there will be books in which there will be references to this blog, academic studies which will use this as a source materiel etc. I am convinced of that.

Kathryn Warner said...

Awww, thank you so much!