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Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter, (August 10, 1439 – 14 January 1476), was the first child of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville.

Cecily Neville was the youngest of the 22 children of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, in this case born to his second wife Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. Her paternal grandparents were John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby, and Maud Percy, daughter of Henry de Percy, 2nd Baron Percy.

Her maternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and his third wife Katherine Swynford. John of Gaunt was the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault.

This meant that Anne of York, Duchess of Exeter was descendant of King Edward III of England through both of her parents.

Anne of York was thus the eldest sister of kings Edward IV (1461–1483) and Richard III (1483–1485).

Her other siblings were:

Edmund, Earl of Rutland (1443 – 1460). He was killed at the age of 17 either during or shortly after the Battle of Wakefield, during the Wars of the Roses.

Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk (1444 – c.1503). She was married to John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk. John was the eldest son of William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Alice Chaucer. His maternal grandparents were Thomas Chaucer and Maud Burghersh.

Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy (1446 – 1503)—also by marriage known as Margaret of Burgundy—was Duchess of Burgundy as the third wife of Charles I the Bold and acted as a protector of the Burgundian State after his death.

George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence (1449 — 1478). He played an important role in the dynastic struggle between rival factions of the Plantagenets now known as the Wars of the Roses.

Though a member of the House of York, he switched sides to support the Lancastrians, before reverting to the Yorkists. He was later convicted of treason against his brother, Edward IV, and was executed.

First Marriage

In 1447, aged eight years old, Anne was married to Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter (1430–1475). During the Wars of the Roses, Exeter sided with the House of Lancaster against his wife’s family the House of York.

Exeter was a commander at the great Lancastrian victories at the Battle of Wakefield and Second Battle of St Albans. He was also a commander at the Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton. He fled to the Kingdom of Scotland after the battle, then joined Margaret of Anjou, queen consort of the Lancastrian King Henry VI, in her exile to France.

On March 4, 1461, Anne’s younger brother Edward, Duke of York, was declared in London as King Edward IV. Exeter was attainted but the new king gave his estates to Anne, with remainder to their daughter Anne Holland.

Anne and Exeter separated in 1464 and divorced in 1472. During the restoration of Henry VI, Anne remained loyal to her brother Edward, and, in what seems to have been her only intervention in politics, worked hard to persuade her brother George, Duke of Clarence, to abandon the Lancastrian cause. If not decisive, her arguments certainly had some effect and thus she played some part in Edward’s restoration.

By the Duke of Exeter, Anne had one daughter, Anne Holland (1461 – 1474), who was married in October 1466 at Greenwich Palace to Thomas Grey, Lord Astley, son of Edward IV’s queen Elizabeth Woodville by her first husband.

Lady Astley died sometime between August 26, 1467 and June 6, 1474 without children. Grey subsequently married Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington, another rich young heiress, by whom he had issue.

Second Marriage

Anne married secondly in about 1474 to Thomas St. Leger (c. 1440 – 1483), a loyal follower of her brother, King Edward IV (1461–1483). He took part in the Duke of Buckingham’s attempted rebellion against King Edward’s younger brother and eventual successor King Richard III (1483–1485), on the failure of which he was executed in 1483.

In 1476, King Edward IV had, however, extended the remainder of most of the former Duke of Exeter’s lands to the King’s sister, Anne, and to any heirs of her body. Thus, if she remarried, any future children could inherit them.

Anne died giving birth to her only daughter by Thomas, Anne St. Leger (1476 – 1526), who due to the special remainder was heiress to the estates of her mother’s first husband Henry Holland. She married George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros, and was mother of the royal favourite Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland.

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