Mary of York

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Mary of York
File:Mary of York.JPG
Born (1467-08-11)11 August 1467
Windsor Castle, Berkshire
Died 23 May 1482(1482-05-23) (aged 14)
Greenwich Palace, London
Burial St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle
House York
Father Edward IV
Mother Elizabeth Woodville

Mary of York (11 August 1467 – 23 May 1482) was the second daughter of Edward IV of England and his queen consort Elizabeth Woodville.


She was a younger sister of Elizabeth of York and an older sister of Cecily of York, Edward V of England, Margaret of York, Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, Anne of York, George Plantagenet, Duke of Bedford, Catherine of York and Bridget of York.

Marriage proposals

Little is known about the second York princess except that she was born in Windsor Castle, and one of her sponsors was Cardinal Bourchier. There were reportedly plans to marry her to John, King of Denmark but nothing came of them; John married Christina of Saxony in 1478.

Lady of the Garter

In 1480, Mary was named a Lady of the Garter along with her younger sister Cecily of York. Their older sister Elizabeth had already been a Lady of the Garter since 1477.

Death and burial

Mary died at Greenwich on 23 May 1482, and was buried in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. In 1789, workmen carrying out repairs in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, rediscovered and accidentally broke into the vault of Edward IV and Queen Elizabeth Woodville, discovering in the process what appeared to be a small adjoining vault. This vault was found to contain the coffins of two mysterious, unidentified children. However, no inspection or examination was carried out and the tomb was resealed and the tomb was inscribed with the names of two of Edward IV's children George, 1st Duke of Bedford died at the age of 2 & Mary of York died age 14 that had predeceased the King. [16] During the excavation for the royal tomb house for King George III under the Wolsey tomb-house in 1810-1813 two lead coffins clearly labelled as George Plantagenet & Mary Plantagenet were discovered and moved into the adjoining vault of Edward IV's but at the time no effort was made to identify the two lead coffins already in the vault. [17] The coffin of Mary was opened, the beautiful girl of fourteen who had died a year before her father; a shock of her pale gold hair had insinuated itself through the chinks of the coffin; the eyes were pale blue and open, but turned to dust however soon after the admission of air. Some of the hair was cut off by Henry Halford who in turn passed it to Agnes Strickland.

In the late 1990s, work was being carried out near and around Edward IV's tomb in St George's Chapel, the floor area was excavated to replace an old boiler and also to add a new repository for the remains of future Deans and Canons of Windsor. A request was forwarded to the Dean and Canons of Windsor to consider a possible examination of the two vaults either by fibre-optic camera or, if possible, a reexamination of the two unidentified lead coffins in the tomb also housing the lead coffins of two of Edward IV's children that were discovered during the building of the Royal Tomb for King George III (1810–1813) and placed in the adjoining vault at that time. With modern scientific testing methods it might be possible to determine who else is buried next to Edward IV's tomb. Royal consent would be necessary to open any royal tomb, so it was felt best to leave the medieval mystery unsolved for at least the next few generations [18]



  • Nicolas, Harris, Nicholas., Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York

^ 1..Chapter Records XXIII to XXVI, The Chapter Library, St. George's Chapel, Windsor (Permission required) 2..William St. John Hope: "Windsor Castle: An Architectural History", pages 418-419. (1913). 3..Vetusta Monumenta, Volume III, page 4 (1789). ^ Lysons & Lysons, Magna Britannia, 1812 supplement p. 471. Also in Britton's Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain, 1812 page 45. The move to Edward IV's crypt mentioned in Samuel Lewis, "A Topographical Dictionary of Great Britain" 1831. ^ Art Ramirez, "A Medieval Mystery", Ricardian Bulletin, September 2001.

  • Strickland, Agnes., Lives of the queens of England from the Norman conquest, p. 372

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