The pretend Duchess of York – Lady Catherine Gordon

catherine gordon
Catherine Gordon as portrayed by Elizabeth MacLennan in The Shadow of the Tower (Screenshot/fair use)

During Henry VII of England’s reign, there were quite a few pretenders. With the mysterious disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, many pretended to be either Edward V or his brother Richard, Duke of York. One of the most famous pretenders is Perkin Warbeck, who pretended to be Richard, Duke of York. This Perkin Warbeck even received recognition from the Duchess of Burgundy, Margaret of York who was his supposed aunt as the sister of Edward IV. Her recognition probably stemmed from the fact that she wanted nothing more than to overthrow the Tudor reign. Perkin Warbeck landed twice in England to invade but attempts were unsuccessful, and his last attempt caused him to surrender. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He tried to escape after 18 months but was quickly captured. A second escape attempt, together with Edward, the Earl of Warwick, sealed his fate. He was hanged on 23 November 1499.

Surprisingly, Perkin was married to a member of the Scottish nobility, a daughter of George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly, Lady Catherine Gordon. They were married sometime before 4 March 1497 for political reasons. Apparently, James IV of Scotland favoured the match. She was styled as the Duchess of York after the wedding. They were not married long before she was taken prisoner during Perkin’s first attempt at invading. She was taken into the household of Elizabeth of York and became a favourite lady-in-waiting of her, even after Perkin’s execution. In January 1503 she attended the proxy wedding of Margaret Tudor and James IV of Scotland at Richmond Palace. She was the chief mourner at the funeral of Elizabeth of York in February 1503, so it would appear she did not suffer much her husband’s status as a traitor, but she was still to remain in England and was not allowed to leave without a license.

She would marry again, sometime before 13 February 1512 to James Strangeways of Fyfield and again in 1517 to Matthew Craddock of Swansea. Her fourth and last husband was Christopher Ashton of Fyfield. It appears she did not have any children by any of her husbands. She remained in favour with the Tudors and was even head of the future Mary I’s Privy Chamber until 1530.

Catherine’s will is dated 12 October 1537, and she died a short while later. She was buried in the Church of St. Nicholas in Fyfield. Her original monument was destroyed in 1941.

About Moniek 1960 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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