Edward [Edward of Middleham], prince of Wales (1474x6–1484)
by A. J. Pollard

Edward [Edward of Middleham], prince of Wales (1474x6–1484), was the first-born and probably only son of Richard, duke of Gloucester (the future ), and his wife, . While the place of his birth is recorded by John Rous (d. 1492), its date is not. Although the latter is usually attributed to 1474, the Tewkesbury chronicle records the birth of an unnamed son at Middleham in 1476. While this might be a reference to a second son, also born at Middleham, who died at birth, it might be a reference to the birth of Edward himself. There is, indeed, no reliable firsthand authority for an earlier birth date. Edward's nurse, Isabel Burgh, was later rewarded by Richard with a generous annuity from the revenues of Middleham. In February 1478 Edward was created earl of Salisbury.

Nothing more is known of Edward until the momentous summer of 1483 when his father became king. He spent most of that summer at Middleham. A schedule of the receiver of the lordship's expenses, settled on 25 September, reveals visits to Coverham, Fountains, and Jervaulx abbeys, Tadcaster, Wetherby, and ‘Kyppes’ (probably Kippax), the purchase of a primer for him, and the payment of a fool for his entertainment. It would appear that he set off on 22 August to meet his father at Pontefract, travelling via York and riding in a chariot with two guards ‘rynning on fote by side’ (Horrox and Hammond, 2.25).

The child Edward was made nominal lieutenant of Ireland on 19 July, but more significantly was created prince of Wales on 24 August. It would seem that his father's decision to invest him at York on 8 September was made late, for only on 31 August, at the end of his progress to the north, did the king send to London for the regalia and robes for the occasion. The ceremony began with a solemn mass performed in York Minster, not by Archbishop Thomas Rotherham (d. 1500) but by Bishop William Dudley of Durham (d. 1483), after which the king, queen, and prince processed, crowned, through the streets of York to the archbishop's palace, where the king invested his son. After his investiture it seems that Edward returned to Middleham or to another of the king's Yorkshire castles. He was formally declared heir apparent to the throne in parliament in February 1484. More unusually, and a reflection of his father's sense of insecurity, the lords and principal members of the royal household were also called together in the palace of Westminster to swear an oath of allegiance to the prince, in the event of the king's demise.

But this precaution was in vain, for by the end of March 1484 the prince was dead. The news reached his father and mother at Nottingham, where, the author of the Crowland continuation wrote, ‘you might have seen [them] almost out of their minds for a long time when faced with sudden grief’ (Pronay and Cox, 171). The elaborate but badly worn alabaster effigy of a young man, in civilian dress, in the north chapel of St Helen's Church, Sheriff Hutton, might be his tomb. However, it has also been argued, from the heraldic detail recorded in the seventeenth century by Roger Dodsworth, that the effigy is more likely to represent a son of Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury (d. 1460). Moreover Rous records a report that he had been buried at Middleham. Edward's place of burial, like his date of birth, is uncertain. Apart from a conventional encomium in the charter of creation as prince of Wales, praising his noble character and singular gifts, nothing is known of his character. It is likely that, after his investiture, Richard III intended to establish the prince's household as the focus of the royal administration of the north, just as Edward IV had deployed the household of his heir for the same purpose in Wales. In July 1484, at the end of an extended visit to Yorkshire, the king formally established the first council of the north, styled the king's household, which appears to have been a continuation of the prince's household without the prince.

A. J. POLLARD

Sources  

R. Horrox and P. W. Hammond, eds., British Library Harleian manuscript 433, 2 (1980) · P. W. Hammond, Edward of Middleham, prince of Wales (1973) · N. Pronay and J. Cox, eds., The Crowland chronicle continuations, 1459–1486 (1986) · M. A. Hicks, ‘One prince or two? The family of Richard III’, The Ricardian, 9 (1991–3), 467–8 [incl. details of Tewkesbury Chronicle] · A. J. Pollard, North-eastern England during the Wars of the Roses: lay society, war and politics, 1450–1500 (1990)

Likenesses  

representation, BL, Beauchamp pageant · representation, BL, Rous roll


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Edward (1474x6–1484): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/38659