Cecily of York – A banished Princess (Part two)

cecily york
Suki Waterhouse as Cecily of York in The White Princess (Screenshot/Fair use)

Read part one here.

A new contender now rose to the stage, and his name was Henry Tudor. It was decided that if he should invade and win, he would marry Cecily’s elder sister Elizabeth – uniting the houses of Lancaster and York. For Cecily, the loss of her status and knowing that her brothers were probably dead was devastating. On 1 March 1484, Cecily and her sisters finally left sanctuary after King Richard III offered them his protection. This may have seemed like an unwise decision, given what had likely happened to her brothers, but there really wasn’t any choice – she could not remain in sanctuary forever and this way she might still make some honourable marriage. The chronicler Edward Hall wrote of her mother’s decision to release them, “Putting into oblivion the murder of her innocent children, the infamy and dishonour spoken by the King her husband, the living in adultery laid to her charge, the bastardising of her daughters, forgetting also the faithful prayers and open oath made to the Countess of Richmond, mother of the earl Henry, blinded by avaricious affection and seduced by flatterings words, [she] delivered into King Richard’s hands her five daughters as lambs once again committed to the custody of the ravenous wolf.”1

The sisters were probably placed in Queen Anne’s household until their mother finally left sanctuary and they were able to join her. In early 1485, Richard arranged for Cecily to marry Ralph Scrope of Upsall, a far cry from the future King she was going to marry. He was the second son of Thomas, the 5th Baron Scrope of Masham. Upon the accession of Henry Tudor in August 1485, who became King Henry VII, he had Cecily’s marriage dissolved. Cecily was present and active in the christening of her nephew Prince Arthur – Henry and Elizabeth’s first son – and also in the following coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Sometime between 25 November and 31 December 1487, Cecily married for a second time – to the half-brother of King Henry VII’s mother Margaret Beaufort – John, Viscount Welles. Cecily reportedly got on well with Margaret Beaufort.

John and Cecily went on to have at least two daughters together, but both girls were to die young. Cecily was not present for the funeral arrangements of her mother in 1492, possibly because she was pregnant, but her sisters Anne, Catherine and Bridget were present. Anne was the chief mourner.

Cecily was widowed on 9 February 1499, when John died of pleurisy in London. In his will, he stated that all his property should go to Cecily for life and that his body should be interred where she deemed appropriate. He was interred in the old Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey. Cecily apparently returned to the household of her sister Elizabeth, where she had also served until her second wedding. In 1501, it was Cecily who carried the train of Catherine of Aragon as she married Arthur, Prince of Wales. During the festivities, she danced twice with her nephew.

Sometime after 13 May 1502, Cecily married for the third time. Her chosen husband was Thomas Kyme (or Kymbe or Keme). This third wedding apparently happened without the King’s consent as Henry had her banished from court, and he confiscated the lands she had inherited from her second husband. It was Margaret Beaufort who took an interest in the Welles lands, possibly to help Cecily as the two had been friendly. Margaret also offered Cecily and Thomas shelter at Collyweston. Margaret approached Henry on Cecily’s behalf and managed to negotiate a settlement with him, whereupon Cecily’s life interest in the Welles lands was partly reinstated in 1504. She was still in disgrace when her sister Elizabeth gave birth to her final child in 1503 and subsequently died. She was allowed to attend the ceremonies surrounding the funeral but, even though she was the elder sister, she was not allowed to act as chief mourner.

Cecily and Thomas moved to the Isle of Wight and had two children together, but they were never acknowledged by the royal family. Margaret Beaufort kept a room reserved for them at her Croydon manor. 2 Cecily died on 24 August 1507 and may have been buried at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight. If she was, her tomb was lost in the reformation. She may have also been buried at the friary at King’s Langley.3 In any case, Margaret Beaufort paid for part of the funeral expenses.

  1. Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir p.129
  2. Elizabeth of York by A. Okerlund p.96
  3. Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir p.457

About Moniek Bloks 2765 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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