Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cecilia

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CECILIA or Cecily (1469–1507), the third daughter of Edward IV, was born towards the end of 1469. At the age of five she was betrothed by proxy to James, the eldest son of James III of Scotland, and arrangements were soon made by which her dowry of twenty thousand marks should be paid by yearly instalments (Rymer, xi. 827, 842, &c.), the repayment of which was afterwards secured on the sureties of the provost and burghers of Edinburgh (ib. xii. 161). When, however, James III, being at variance with his brother Alexander, duke of Albany, who was then staying at the English court, made an incursion into England, Edward transferred his daughter's engagement to his guest (June 1482), intending to make him king of Scotland (Hall, 21 Ed. IV; Rymer, xii. 156–7). After various delays all these Scotch proposals fell through. On the usurpation of Richard III, Cecilia, with her mother and sister, took refuge in the sanctuary at Westminster (Polydore Vergil, p. 175), and before long Edward IV's children were declared illegitimate by act of parliament (Comines, bk. v. c. 20, bk. vi. c. 8). In March 1484 Richard succeeded in inducing his sister-in-law to deliver her two daughters into his hands (Ellis, Letters; Hardyng, p. 536), and seems to have meditated marrying one or other of them himself. A rumour next sprang up that he had already married Cecilia to a man of a far inferior rank, and these reports had some effect upon the movements of the Earl of Richmond, who had sworn to wed the elder or the younger sister (Hardyng, p. 540; More, Rich. III, p. 93). On the accession of Henry VII she was received into favour, and carried her nephew, Prince Arthur, to the font on the day of his baptism (Fifteenth-century Chronicles, p. 104). Somewhere about 1487 Cecilia, ‘not so fortunate as fayre,’ married John, viscount Wells, who died in 1498 (Green, quoting Leland, Coll. iv. 253). In 1494 she appears as a legatee in the will of her grandmother and namesake, Cecilia, duchess of York (Wills from Doctors' Commons, 2). Somewhat later (1501) she was train-bearer at the wedding of her nephew Arthur and Catherine of Arragon (Green), and a few months after her sister's death seems to have been married a second time (1503–4) to one Thomas Kymbe, or Kyne, who, according to Mrs. Green, was a gentleman of the Isle of Wight (Hardyng, p. 472; Green). By him she had two children, a son and a daughter, but this marriage seems never to have been recognised by her royal kinsfolk, and in the writ diem clausit extremum issued on her death, she is styled, ‘late wife of John, late viscount Wells’ (Green). She died 24 Aug. 1507, and her descendants can be traced in the heralds' visitations for a hundred years later. She was buried at Quarr Abbey in the Isle of Wight, where her monument was destroyed at the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Her features are still preserved in the stained-glass windows of Little Malvern Church and the Martyrdom at Canterbury Cathedral.

[Mrs. Green's Lives of the English Princesses, iii. 404–36; Rymer's Fœdera, xi. xii.; Hardyng's Chronicle, ed. Ellis; Hall's Chronicle, ed. Ellis; More's Richard III, ed. Lumby, p. 93; Polydore Vergil's History, ed. Ellis (Camd. Soc.); Nicholls and Bruce's Wills from Doctors' Commons (Camd. Soc.); Three Fifteenth-century Chronicles, ed. James Gairdner (Camd. Soc.); Comines, ed. Chantelauze, Paris, 1881, pp. 410, 462, 470; Ellis's Letters, 2nd ser. i. 149.]

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