Margaret Woodville, Daughter of Anthony Woodville

Of Elizabeth Woodville’s five brothers who lived to adulthood, none left legitimate children. Indeed, only one brother is known to have left an out-of-wedlock child—and that brother was Anthony Woodville, usually thought of as the most straitlaced member of the family. He left a daughter, named Margaret.

Margaret’s mother has been identified as Gwenllian, daughter of William Stradling. Nothing more is known about Gwenllian or her relationship with Anthony, but Margaret’s name suggests that the child might have been born before the battle of Towton, after which Anthony changed his allegiance from the Lancastrian cause to the Yorkist one. Of course, Margaret need not have been named after Margaret of Anjou; she might have been named for one of her mother’s relatives, for a saint, for her godmother, or after Anthony’s sister Margaret. Nonetheless, on New Year’s Day of 1465, John Howard, who was at Edward IV’s Christmas court at Eltham with Anthony and his wife, gave “to my lord Scales child 12d.” Anthony was married to Elizabeth Scales at the time, so the entry could possibly refer to a legitimate child who died young, but it seems more likely that the child is Margaret, since Anthony’s will makes no mention of deceased children.

Nothing else is heard of Margaret until her marriage to Robert Poyntz of Iron Acton in Gloucestershire. According to E. L. Barnwell, who doesn’t cite a source, on September 12, 1479 (19 Edward IV), Anthony settled 800 marks on Margaret, with 200 to be paid on the sealing of the deed; he also settled on her lands worth 100 marks a year. Poyntz was probably born in the late 1440’s and thus was probably about thirty or so. Their first son, Anthony, was born around 1480. Like her paternal grandmother Jacquetta, Margaret was fertile: she gave Robert five sons and four daughters.

Anthony Woodville was executed by order of the future Richard III on June 25, 1483. He made his will on June 23, 1483. Lynda Pidgeon makes much of his failure to name Margaret in his will, of which she writes, “It showed awareness of some of the wrongs he had committed but it displayed no affection. Perhaps he simply did not have feelings for anyone else.” Anthony’s feelings, or lack thereof, cannot be determined by a single document, especially one written when he was under the extreme emotional stress of his impending execution for a crime he most likely had not committed. Much of his will is taken up with directions to pay his debts (for which all of his goods were to “goo to the paying”), to right any wrongs he had done, and to arrange for the welfare of his soul and those of his deceased family members. Knowing that his property would be seized by the crown, he may have thought it futile to leave any bequests to his daughter. Notably, Anthony named Margaret’s husband one of his executors. Lacking more complete records of Anthony’s, we have no way of knowing whether he was generous to his daughter during his life or whether he held her in his affection.

During Edward IV’s reign, Robert Poyntz had been made constable of Carisbroke Castle and of St. Briavel’s (holding the latter office along with his father-in-law) and sheriff of Hampshire. Soon after Anthony’s arrest, the future Richard III stripped Poyntz of these offices. Later, he was replaced as steward of Sodbury. Not surprisingly, Poyntz was among those who rebelled against Richard III in the fall of 1483. He ended up in sanctuary at Beaulieu, where Anthony’s younger brother Lionel, Bishop of Salisbury, had also taken shelter. Poyntz was later pardoned, but in 1485 he fought for Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field. Following the battle, he was knighted on the field. It was the beginning of a long career in Tudor service for Poyntz, who was present at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520, where he appeared as a member of Katharine of Aragon’s household. King Francis gave him a gift of plate.

Margaret predeceased Robert, who died on November 5, 1520. In his will, made in October 1520, he asked that a black gown of Margaret’s be made into vestments for the Chapel of Jesus at the “church of the Gaunts beside Bristol,” where he asked to be buried. The vestments were to contain Robert’s arms and those of his wife. Barker, writing in 1892, described the chapel thusly:

The Chapel is entered by a panelled doorway, the sides of which are splayed. The fan-traceried roof is arranged in two main divisions, and in the centre of each is a boss in the form of a carved shield of arms. That to the East contains the arms of Henry VIII. and Catharine of Arragon, and that to the West, those of Sir Robert Poyntz and his wife Margaret Woodville, daughter of Anthony, Earl Rivers.

The “church of the Gaunts” is now known as St. Mark’s or the Lord Mayor’s Chapel. Evidently Robert’s and Margaret’s arms can still be seen there in the Poyntz Chapel today. The remains of the couple’s home in Iron Acton—mainly a wing built by their grandson to impress the visiting Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn—are open to tourists (leave your high heels at home). On the premises is a sundial designed for Robert in 1520 by Nicholas Kratzer.


William Robert Barker, St. Mark’s, or the Mayor’s Chapel, Bristol (Formerly Called the Church of the Gaunts) (available on Google Books).

E. L. Barnwell, “Notes on the Perrot Family.” Archaeologia Cambrensis (January 1865), p. 32 (available on Google Books).

Anne Crawford, ed., Howard Household Books. Gloucestershire: Alan Sutton, 1992.

Frederick Arthur Crisp, Abstracts of Somerset Wills, 1890 (available on Google Books).

Louise Gill, Richard III and Buckingham’s Rebellion. Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2000 (paperback edition).

Alasdair Hawkyard, ‘Poyntz, Sir Robert (b. late 1440s, d. 1520)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 20 July 2009]

Rosemary Horrox, Richard III: A Study in Service. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991 (paperback edition).

John Maclean, ed., The Visitation of the County of Gloucester, Taken in the Year 1623 (available on Google Books).

Luke MacMahon, ‘Poyntz, Sir Anthony (c.1480–1532/3)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 [, accessed 20 July 2009]

Lynda Pidgeon, “Antony Wydevile, Lord Scales and Earl Rivers: Family, Friends and Affinity. Part 2,” The Ricardian, 2006.

14 thoughts on “Margaret Woodville, Daughter of Anthony Woodville”

  1. 800 marks plus 100 marks a year for life doesn't seem too unreasonable a provision. Wasn't that a respectable income for a knight at the time?

  2. Susan Higginbotham

    It seems reasonable enough to me. Michael Hicks writes that in 1464 Warwick the Kingmaker gave his own illegitimate daughter, another Margaret, a portion of 200 pounds, a manor, and property in Richmondshire when she married Richard Huddleston, but Warwick was, of course, a lot wealthier than Anthony Woodville.

  3. Antonia Woodville

    further to my earlier comment, I now know the truth about Margaret and it has been written into Antony Woodville's book. Incidentally he was very wealthy once he married Elizabeth Scales and it just got better from then on out. He never reached Warwick's level (few did) but he had more than enough money, or he could not have paid for the tournament, for a start!
    FYI, the child was born before his marriage, his wife knew of the child and they visited her together. The marriage being childless, the one living child was important and cared for. I hope that satisfies Ms Pidgeon. She can find me if she wishes to know more.

  4. Susan, you wrote: "…Anthony was married to Elizabeth Scales at the time, so the entry could possibly refer to a legitimate child who died young, but it seems more likely that the child is Margaret, since Anthony’s will makes no mention of deceased children…." Enlighten me please, what sort of mention would there be for a child who predeceased him?

  5. Susan Higginbotham

    He might have mentioned such a child in his will in the list of people whose souls were to be prayed for–he specifically mentions his father, his mother, and his brother John, as well as himself and "all Christian souls." Earlier in the will, he also arranges for prayers to be said for the soul of his first wife and for her brother and for the "soules of all the Scales blood"–one would think that if he had a child by that wife, he might have mentioned him or her there, but it's all sheer conjecture on my part. His will doesn't have a particularly orderly feel to it–it reads as if Anthony is just remembering things as they pop into his head.

  6. Ah, now I understand. That makes sense in that culture. Considering the conditions under which he wrote the will, I agree that he'd had a daughter that died in infancy, he could well have forgotten to mention her.

    Thanks for the explanation.

  7. I wouldn't mind a bet that if you checked a selection of 15th century wills there'd be plenty where maried, settled daughters were not mentioned, let alone married, settled, illegitimate daughters.

    The paternal duty was to get his daughters married or placed in a nunnery. If he hadn't at the time of his death it was customary to leave a dowry. Anything more, like keepsakes or extra money was optional.

    My guess is that (reasonably) Anthony was mainly concerned with his own soul. His daughter had been set up for life with what looks to me like a very generous settlement.

  8. Susan Higginbotham

    Good point, Brian!

    Pidgeon plainly doesn't think much of Anthony–one hopes she doesn't expand her research into a biography, because she seems to have nothing but contempt for him. She's never willing to give him (or any member of his family) the benefit of the doubt on any subject. She makes much of Edward IV's accusation of cowardice, for instance, but never considers why Edward IV would place his son in the care of a man he genuinely thought was a coward.

  9. If Anthony was a coward I doubt he'd have been so keen to take part in jousting. Jousting 15th C style makes rugby football look like netball – and for the record I always regarded rugby as too hazardous for the prudent.

    I suspect Edward said that in the heat of the moment.

  10. Anthony's mother Jacquette was related to both King Henry VI and Queen Margaret by marriage so the daughter could have been named after the Queen.

    Equally so she could have been named after Jacquette's mother Margherita del Balzo aka Marguerite de Baux.

    Sorry guys but Wydeville is he correct spelling – you can blame Shakespeare for the typo.

    More Wydeville titbits later.

  11. Antonia Woodville

    I beg to differ, sorry: Wydeville is not the correct spelling. But remember, Antony is, minus the H. (These are Antony's words): 'Our name was written in a variety of ways: Wydeville, Wydvill, Wodeville, Wouldwithe, Oudeville and Woodville.'
    When researching his book, I had google alerts for all those variations. Wydeville is far from being 'correct'. Just another of the many, many misapprehensions the family continues to suffer from.
    For me, Antonia Woodville pretty well sums up the way I feel about him.
    Incidentally, on the 28th July I am unveiling a memorial plaque in Carisbrooke Castle Museum commemorating Sir Edward Woodville's death and that of the 440 Isle of Wight men at the battle of St Aubin in Brittany, 1488. At last, a memorial to a Woodville, with the kind permission of English Heritage, no less! I am extremely pleased to have been able to do this. Next goal, a memorial for Antony Woodville, Wydeville, Wodevillm whatever he decides he wishes to us when the time comes. That will be after his book comes out.

  12. Dear Antonia

    I'm not one for splitting hairs but how would you feel it if I were to say |I'v even better wised up on your family history than Arlene Okerlund?

    A matter which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that as two bloggers already know that I just happen to live in Woodville Road, Barnet.


  13. Antonia Woodville

    I have to say my comments on Arlene Unkerland's book are best left in my mind … I have masses and masses of information on Antony Woodville. Like you would not believe and then the final touch, the man himself who is giving me his life story. As Henry VIII says in his book (due out any time soon, I am told)
    there are three sources for historians, secondary, primary and the source. Which one would you trust?

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top