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 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/70796, 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 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/22689, accessed 20 July 2009]
Lynda Pidgeon, “Antony Wydevile, Lord Scales and Earl Rivers: Family, Friends and Affinity. Part 2,” The Ricardian, 2006.