St Mary’s, Staindrop, County Durham

It was a visit to St Mary’s Church, Staindrop, County Durham, that sparked my passion for photographing church monuments combining history and sculpture.

Staindrop contains the tomb of Ralph, 1st Earl Westmoreland, and his two wives: Margaret Stafford and Joan Beaufort.

What I hadn’t known before my visit is that it also contained the tomb of William Harry Vane, 1st Duke Cleveland,  sculpted by Richard Westmacott; one of his finest works.

Tomb of William Harry Vane, 1st Duke Cleveland

William Harry Vane, 1746-182, a great great grandson of King Charles II. William Harry’s paternal grandfather Henry Vane, 1705-1758, married Grace Stewart, the daughter of Charles Stewart, 1st Duke Southampton, the illegitimate son of King Charles II and Barbara Villiers, 1st Duchess Cleveland, 1640-1709.

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Effigy of William Harry Vane, 1st Duke Cleveland, 1766-1842, at St Mary’s Church, Staindrop, County, Durham. Sculpted by Richard Westmacott.

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The arms of William Harry Vane being Vane: three gauntlets sinister (left) indicating either illegitimacy or attainder, and Charles, Duke of Grafton, illegitimate son of King Charles II England differenced by a baton sinister to indicate illegitimacy.

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Ralph Neville, 1st Earl Westmoreland

Ralph Neville, 1st Earl Westmoreland, 1364-1425, the progenitor of the Neville family as a result of his having 22 children, 73 grandchildren, 153 great grandchildren and 211 great great grandchildren. A number only exceeded by John of Gaunt.

Ralph’s first wife Margaret Stafford, 1364-1396, was his second cousin once removed and his fourth cousin. They had eight children together.

After Margaret’s death in 1396 he married Joan Beaufort, 1379-1440, granddaughter of Edward III. She and Ralph had fourteen children together.

Given the number of descendants it is not surprising that some were Lancastrians and some Yorkist during the Wars of the Roses:

John, Baron Neville, 1410-1461. Lancastrian. Killed at Battle of Towton.

Humphrey of Brancepeth, c 1439-1469. Lancastrian. Beheaded.

Charles -1449 brother of Humphrey). Lancastrian. Beheaded.

Ralph Dacre, 1st Baron Gilsland, 1412-1461. Lancastrian. Killed at Battle of Towton.

John “Butcher” Clifford, 9th Baron Clifford, 1435-1461. Lancastrian. Killed at Battle of Dintingdale.

Roger Clifford, 1447-1485. Beheaded.

Richard Neville, 5th Earl Salisbury, 1400-1460. Yorkist. Beheaded after Battle of Wakefield.

Richard “Kingmaker Neville, Earl Warwick and Salisbury, 1428-1471. Yorkist and Lancastrian. Killed Battle of Barnet.

His descendants also include King Edward IV, King Richard III, King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, Queens Mary and Elizabeth, and all of the English and British monarchs since James I King England.

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Memorial to Sophia Poulett

Sophia being the wife of William Harry’s son Henry, 2nd Duke Cleveland.

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The 191 Great Great Grandchildren of Edward III

 

 

Looking at the number of great great grand children of some key people in history …

Charles “Charlemagne aka Great” has 23 great great grand children.

William “Conqueror” has 53.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

The illustrious Eleanor of Aquitaine has some 133 great great grand children. Her descendants include:

  • Richard “Lionheart” I King England,
  • Eleanor Plantagenet Queen Castile,
  • Berengaria I Queen Castile,
  • Ferdinand III King Castile, III King Leon,
  • Sancho “Pious” II King Portugal,
  • Alfonso III King Portugal,
  • Blanche Ivrea Queen Consort France,
  • Louis IX King France,
  • Charles King Sicily, Henry I King Castile,
  • Joan Plantagenet Queen Consort Sicily,
  • John “Lackland” I King England,
  • Margaret Dunkeld Queen Consort Norway.

Edward III and his Descendants

Edward III King England has more, 191 great great grand children. His descendants, as we know, from Who Do You Think You Are, include Danny Dyer, as well as most people in Europe, if not now, then in a generation or two.

His son, John of Gaunt 1st Duke of Lancaster, is even more prodigious, having 214 great great grand children; the most I’ve found so far. His descendants include:

  • Edward “The Philospher” I King Portugal,
  • John II King Portugal,
  • Manuel I King Portugal,
  • John II King Castile,
  • Joanna Queen Castile,
  • Catherine of Aragon Trastámara of Aragon Queen Consort England,
  • Henry VII King England and Ireland,
  • James II King Scotland,
  • Edward IV King England,
  • Richard III King England.

As the son of Edward III King England all of John of Gaunt’s descendants are also Edward’s.

Ralph Neville, 1st Earl Westmoreland

Ralph Neville 1st Earl Westmoreland is a close second having 211 great great grand-children mainly as a result of his having twenty two children with his two wives: Margaret Stafford and Joan Beaufort. His descendants include:

  • Edward IV King England,
  • Margaret Tudor Queen Consort Scotland,
  • Henry VIII King England and Ireland,
  • Mary Tudor Queen Consort France, Richard III King England.

Later Kings and Queens of England

The later Kings and Queens of England are less prodigious:

Henry VII King Engand has 28 great great grand children.

James VI of Scotland and I of England has a meagre 35 great great grand children.

George II King England has 22 and Queen Victoria has 65 (despite having 87 great grand-children; I’ll check).

Summary

So in terms of the most great great grand children John of Gaunt 1st Duke of Lancaster is the clear ‘winner’ with Ralph Neville 1st Earl Westmoreland coming a close second.

Interesting to note John of Gaunt was the son of Edward III and Ralph’s second wife Joan Beaufort the daughter of John of Gaunt. A case of good genes perhaps?