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Anne de Mortimer

Anne de Mortimer
Countess of Cambridge
Coat of arms of the Countess of Cambridge.[1]
Born (1390-12-27)27 December 1390
New Forest, Westmeath, Ireland
Died c. 22 September 1411(1411-09-22) (aged 20)
Burial Kings Langley, Hertfordshire
Spouse Richard, 3rd Earl of Cambridge
(m. 1408–11; her death)
Issue Isabel of Cambridge, Countess of Essex
Henry of York
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York
Father Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March
Mother Eleanor Holland
Arms of Anne Mortimer before her marriage to Richard of Conisburgh

Anne de Mortimer, Countess of Cambridge (27 December 1390 – c. 22 September 1411), was the mother of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and the grandmother of King Edward IV and King Richard III.


  • Early life 1
  • Marriage and issue 2
  • The Southampton Plot 3
  • Shakespeare and Richard, Earl of Cambridge 4
  • Ancestry 5
  • Footnotes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Anne Mortimer was born at New Forest, Westmeath, one of her family's Irish estates,[2] on 27 December 1390, the eldest of the four children of Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, and Lady Eleanor Holland. She had two brothers, Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, and Roger (born 23 April 1393, died c.1413), and a sister Eleanor, who married Sir Edward de Courtenay (d. 5 December 1419), but had no issue.[3]

Anne Mortimer's mother was the daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent, and Lady Alice FitzAlan, the daughter of Richard Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel, and his second wife, Eleanor, daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, grandson of King Henry III.[4] Thomas Holland was the grandson and senior heir to Joan of Kent.

Anne Mortimer was not only a descendant of Henry III and earlier English monarchs through her mother, but more importantly, a descendant of King Edward III through her grandparents, Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, and Philippa of Clarence, daughter of King Edward III's second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp.[5] King Richard II, the grandson of Edward III through his eldest son, had no issue, thus Anne's father, Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, was considered Richard's heir presumptive during his lifetime, and at his death in Ireland on 20 July 1398, his claim to the crown passed to his eldest son, Edmund.

On 30 September 1399, the fortunes of Anne Mortimer and her brothers and sister changed entirely. Richard II was deposed by the House of Lancaster led by Henry Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV and had his own son, the future King Henry V, recognised as heir apparent at his first Parliament. Anne's brothers, Edmund and Roger, were kept in custody by the new king at Windsor Castle and Berkhampstead Castle, but were treated honourably, and for part of the time brought up with the king's own children John and Philippa.[6]

According to R. A. Griffiths, Edmund Mortimer's sisters, Anne and Eleanor, who were in the care of their mother until her death in 1405, were not well treated by Henry IV and were described as 'destitute' after her death.[7]

Marriage and issue

Conisbrough Castle, home of the family of Anne Mortimer's husband.

In May 1406, Anne married Richard of Conisburgh, the second son of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, and his first wife Isabel of Castile, the daughter and coheir of Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile and Leon. The marriage took place without parental consent[8] and was validated on 23 May 1408 by papal dispensation.[9]

Anne Mortimer and Richard, Earl of Cambridge, had two sons and a daughter:[10]

  • Isabel of York (1409 – 2 October 1484), who in 1412, at three years of age, was betrothed to Sir Thomas Grey (1404 – d. before 1426), son and heir of Sir Thomas Grey (c.1385 – 1415) of Heaton in Norham, Northumberland, and his wife, Alice Neville, the daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, by whom she had one son.[11] Isabel married secondly, before 25 April 1426, the marriage being later validated by papal dispensation, Henry Bourchier, 1st Earl of Essex, by whom she had seven sons, William, Sir Henry, Humphrey Bourchier (d.1471), John Bourchier, Lord Ferrers of Groby (d.1495), Sir Thomas, Edward and Fulk, and one daughter, Isabel.
  • Henry of York.
  • Richard III of England; and Ursula.

Anne Mortimer died soon after the birth of her son Richard on 22 September 1411. She was buried at Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, once the site of Kings Langley Palace, perhaps in the conventual church that houses the tombs of her husband's parents Edmund of Langley and Isabella of Castile.[9]

After Anne Mortimer's death, Richard, Earl of Cambridge, married Maud Clifford, divorced wife of John Neville, 6th Baron Latimer, and daughter of Thomas de Clifford, 6th Baron de Clifford, but had no issue by her.[12]

The Southampton Plot

In 1415, Cambridge conspired with Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham, and Sir Thomas Grey to depose King Henry V and place his late wife Anne's brother Edmund Mortimer on the throne. Mortimer revealed the plot to the king and served on the commission that condemned Cambridge to death. Although Cambridge pleaded with the king for clemency, he was beheaded on 5 August 1415 and buried in the chapel of God's House at Southampton.

Although Cambridge's title was forfeited, he was not attainted, and his and Anne Mortimer's four-year-old son Richard was his heir. Within three months, Cambridge's elder brother, Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York, was slain at the Battle of Agincourt, and Cambridge and Anne's four-year-old son was eventually able to inherit his uncle's titles and estates as well.[13]

In the Parliament of 1461, King Edward IV annulled the sentence that had been passed on his grandfather, Richard, Earl of Cambridge.[13]

Shakespeare and Richard, Earl of Cambridge

The Southampton Plot is dramatised in Shakespeare's Henry V, and in the anonymous play, The History of Sir John Oldcastle.



  1. ^ Pinches, John Harvey; Pinches, Rosemary (1974), The Royal Heraldry of England, Heraldry Today, Slough, Buckinghamshire: Hollen Street Press, ISBN 0-900455-25-X
  2. ^ Keenan 2010, p. 509.
  3. ^ Cokayne 1932, p. 450; Richardson III 2011, p. 195; Richardson I 2011, p. 547.
  4. ^ Richardson III 2011, p. 195; Richardson II 2011, pp. 496–8.
  5. ^ Richardson III 2011, pp. 193–5.
  6. ^ Tout 1885–90, pp. 123–5.
  7. ^ Griffiths 2004.
  8. ^ Cokayne 1912, p. 494
  9. ^ a b Richardson III 2011, p. 400; Harriss 2004.
  10. ^ Richardson IV 2011, pp. 400–11.
  11. ^ Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, 1999 Page: 15, 1222
  12. ^ Richardson III 2011, pp. 400–1.
  13. ^ a b Harriss 2004.


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External links

  • The History of Sir John OldcastleThe Cambridge conspiracy in
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