Catherine of York

Catherine or Katherine of York (14 August 1479 – 15 November 1527) was the ninth child and sixth daughter of King Edward IV by his wife Elizabeth Woodville. From birth to death, she was daughter to Edward IV, sister to Edward V, niece to Richard III, sister-in-law to Henry VII and aunt to Henry VIII.

Catherine of York
Countess of Devon
Born14 August 1479
Eltham Palace, Greenwich, England
Died15 November 1527(1527-11-15) (aged 48)
Tiverton Castle, Devon, England
Burial3 December 1527
SpouseWilliam Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon
IssueHenry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter
Edward Courtenay
Margaret Courtenay
FatherEdward IV
MotherElizabeth Woodville
English Royalty
House of York
Edward IV
Arms of William Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon (died 1511), above the south porch of St Peter's Church, Tiverton (detail). The arms are Courtenay impaling the paternal arms of his wife, Katherine of York. They are thus the arms of King Edward IV, emphasising his descent from Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence (1338–1368), third son of King Edward III (on which basis the House of York claimed the throne), who married Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster (1332–1363). Their daughter Philippa de Burgh married Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, whose son Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, was the great-grandfather of King Edward IV; (Quarterly 1st: Arms of Edward IV; 2nd & 3rd: Or a cross gules (de Burgh), 4th: Barry or and azure, on a chief of the first two pallets between two base esquires of the second over all an inescutcheon argent (Mortimer))[1] These arms were also borne, with baton sinister, by Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, KG, (died 1542), the illegitimate son of Edward IV

Early life

The daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Catherine of York was born at Eltham Palace in 1479.[2]

During her early years, one potential husband for Catherine was John, Prince of Asturias, eldest son of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile.[3]

According to an agreement drawn up in 1487, Catherine would marry James Stewart, Duke of Ross, second son of James III.[4] This agreement was nullified with the death of James III in 1488.[4]


In October 1495, Henry VII arranged a marriage between Catherine and William Courtenay.[2] They were parents to three children:

In 1500, Catherine and William Courtenay moved to their home on Warwick Lane.[3] After this point, the couple was regularly at court.[3]

Catherine was the chief mourner at the funeral of her sister, Elizabeth of York, in 1503.[3]

In 1504, William Courtenay was charged with treason in relation to his dealings with Edmund de la Pole.[2] Catherine remained at court.[2] William Courtenay was pardoned in 1509[5] and restored by Henry VIII in 1511.[2]

Later life

After William Courtenay's death in 1511, Henry VIII gave Catherine control of the earldom.[2] The title went to the couple's son Henry.[2]

On 13 July 1511, Catherine took a vow of celibacy in the presence of Richard FitzJames, Bishop of London.[6]

For the rest of her life, Catherine remained in the favour of Henry VIII. She was godmother to his daughter Mary.[2]

Catherine outlived all of her siblings by over a decade, dying in 1527.[5] She died at Tiverton Castle and was buried next door at St Peter's Church following an elaborate funeral.[7]


The arms of Catherine were her husband's arms impaling her own paternal arms: Baron: Quarterly, first and fourth: or, three torteaux (Courtenay); second and third: or, a lion rampant azure (de Redverd); Femme: quarterly, first: France modern and England, second and third: or, a cross gules (de Burgh), fourth (Mortimer).[1] These arms may be seen, exposed to the elements and thus very worn, sculpted above the south porch of St Peter's Church, Tiverton, Devon.



  1. "The House of York". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  2. Levin, Carole; Bertolet, Anna Riehl; Carney, Jo Eldridge (3 November 2016). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Early Modern Englishwomen: Exemplary Lives and Memorable Acts, 1500–1650. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781315440712.
  3. Weir, Alison (3 December 2013). Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 9780345521385.
  4. Stevenson, Katie (30 May 2014). Power and Propaganda: Scotland 1306–1488. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748694198.
  5. Panton, James (24 February 2011). Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810874978.
  6. England), Cambridge Antiquarian Society (Cambridge (1859). Antiquarian Communications. Macmillan.
  7. Edited by Todd Gray, Margery Rowe and Audrey Erskine (1992). Tudor and Stuart Devon: The Common Estate and Government. Published by University of Exeter Press. p. 13.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)


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