06 July, 2020

6 July 1332: Birth of Elizabeth de Burgh, Duchess of Clarence

Elizabeth de Burgh, duchess of Clarence and countess of Ulster, a daughter-in-law of Edward III and Queen Philippa, was born on 6 July 1332. Her mother was Maud of Lancaster (c. 1310/12-1377), third of the six daughters of Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester and one of the sisters of Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster. Via her mother, Elizabeth de Burgh was a great-granddaughter of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence, and thus was a second cousin of Edward III. Elizabeth's father was William de Burgh, earl of Ulster (b. September 1312), whose mother Elizabeth de Clare (b. September 1295) was a granddaughter of Edward I and one of Edward II's nieces. Elizabeth de Burgh's grandmother was, therefore, a much older first cousin of Edward III, making Elizabeth the king's first cousin twice removed as well as his second cousin. As the daughter of Maud of Lancaster, Elizabeth had a large number of relatives among the higher English nobility: her first cousins included the great heiress Blanche, duchess of Lancaster, the Percy earls of Northumberland and Worcester, the earl of Arundel, the countesses of Kent and Hereford, and Lords Mowbray and Beaumont, and her younger half-sister was the countess of Oxford.

William's father, Elizabeth's grandfather John de Burgh, died in 1313 when William was a baby, and he succeeded his grandfather Richard de Burgh as earl of Ulster after Richard's death in July 1326. William de Burgh and Maud of Lancaster married sometime between 1 May and 16 November 1327 when William was fourteen or fifteen and Maud about the same age, perhaps a little older. William's marriage had been granted to Maud's father on 3 February 1327. [1] It's interesting to me that six of Henry, earl of Lancaster's seven children married (the exception was his second daughter Isabella, who became prioress of Amesbury Priory), and five of them became parents (his eldest daughter Blanche, Lady Wake had no children), and in all cases, there was a delay of a few years before they had children. Henry of Grosmont married Isabella Beaumont in 1330, and their first surviving child was born in April 1340, though another daughter is mentioned in 1338/39 who must have died young; Maud and William de Burgh's daughter was born five years after their wedding; Joan, the fourth daughter, married John Mowbray in 1328 and gave birth to her only son in 1340, though her two daughters were probably older; Eleanor the fifth daughter married John Beaumont in 1330 when they were both about twelve or thirteen, and had her only Beaumont son in late 1339; and Mary the youngest Lancaster child married Henry Percy in 1334 when they were also both about twelve or thirteen, and gave birth to her first child in 1341.

Elizabeth de Burgh was just eleven months old when her twenty-year-old father was murdered near Belfast on 6 June 1333, and she was his sole heir and, ultimately, also the sole heir of her grandmother Elizabeth de Clare, who lived until November 1360. As well the earldom of Ulster, she inherited the third of the earldom of Gloucester which passed to her grandmother Elizabeth after her brother Gilbert fell at Bannockburn in 1314. As for her mother, Maud of Lancaster remained a widow for ten years and married her second husband, the earl of Suffolk's younger brother Sir Ralph Ufford, in or before August 1343. Maud's only child from her second marriage, Maud Ufford, married Thomas de Vere, earl of Oxford and was the mother of Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford (1362-92), Richard II's favourite. After she was widowed from Ralph Ufford in 1346, Maud of Lancaster became a canoness in Suffolk for the remaining thirty years of her life.

Elizabeth was named as William de Burgh's sole heir in his inquisition post mortem of August/September 1332. The Buckinghamshire jurors gave her exact date of birth, whereas all the other jurors, in England and Ireland, merely estimated that she was a year old, or a year and a half, or even (wrongly) two years old. This might, emphasis on the might, mean that she was born in Buckinghamshire or at least spent time there in infancy. [2] Several years ago, I found possible references to one and perhaps even two further daughters of William de Burgh and Maud of Lancaster. On 16 July 1338, there is a reference on the Patent Roll to 'Isabella, daughter and heir of William, late earl of Ulster'. It's entirely possible that this means Elizabeth, as Isabella was a variant form of the name Elizabeth and they were sometimes used interchangably, though by this stage they seem to have been considered separate names, and Elizabeth de Burgh was otherwise always called 'Elizabeth'. And on 6 April 1340, Edward III granted the marriage of 'Margaret, daughter and heir of William de Burgo, earl of Ulster' to his sister Eleanor of Woodstock and her husband Reynald for the use of their second son Eduard of Guelders (b. 1336). [3]

Assuming William and Maud did have other daughters, they must have died young, as Elizabeth was certainly William's sole heir. This means that if Maud did give birth to two more daughters, she must have been pregnant with twins when William was killed and the IPM jurors did not know of her pregnancy. Possibly, though, 'Isabella' simply meant Elizabeth, and 'Margaret' was a clerical error and also referred to Elizabeth - and for some reason she did not marry into the county of Guelders.

Elizabeth de Burgh was related to Edward III and his children via both her parents, but they were not *that* closely related, and Edward snapped up the great heiress for one of his and Queen Philippa's sons. Lionel of Antwerp was the royal couple's third son after Edward of Woodstock (b. June 1330) and William of Hatfield (b. January 1337), but was their second eldest surviving son, as William died shortly after his birth. Born on 29 November 1338, Lionel was nearly six and a half years Elizabeth's junior.

Elizabeth and Lionel of Antwerp married on 15 August 1342 in the Tower of London; the date is recorded in the Plea and Memoranda Rolls of the city. [4] Lionel was still only three years old to her ten on their wedding day. Their only child, named Philippa after her paternal grandmother and godmother Philippa of Hainault, queen of England, was born on 16 August 1355 thirty-seven weeks after Lionel's sixteenth birthday, and thirteen years almost exactly to the day after Elizabeth and Lionel's wedding. [5] Elizabeth was twenty-three when her daughter was born, but was to have no more children. She came into her grandmother's large inheritance when Elizabeth de Clare died at the age of sixty-five in late 1360, but only outlived her by three years, and died in Ireland in December 1363 when she was only thirty-one years old, just over a year after Edward III celebrated his fiftieth birthday by making his second son duke of Clarence (and his third son John of Gaunt duke of Lancaster). Lionel held all her lands for the rest of his life - he himself died in October 1368 a few weeks before his thirtieth birthday - by the custom called the 'courtesy of England', and they then passed to Elizabeth and Lionel's only child Philippa of Clarence, countess of March and Ulster, and then to her son Roger Mortimer, earl of March (1374-98).


1) Kenneth Fowler, The King's Lieutenant: Henry of Grosmont, First Duke of Lancaster 1310-1361 (1969), p. 256 note 16; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1327-30, p. 8.
2) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem 1327-36, no. 537.
3) CPR 1338-40, pp. 115, 445.
4) Calendar of Plea and Memoranda Rolls of the City of London, vol. 1, p. 153.
5) CIPM 1365-69, no. 385.


MRats said...

It never fails to amaze me how easy your genealogy posts are to understand! And there's so much fascinating information to be found when all the interrelationships are sorted out. It would be utterly beyond me to dicypher it if left on my own or even if I tried to follow it in another source. Once again a splendid post! ��

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you! :)