The Search for Edward II’s Descendants 4) Joan of Acre’s lineage continues

Today, we’ll continue with Craig L. Foster’s geneological research. Craig, research consultant at the Family History Library, a division of FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, is tracing the direct female line of descent from Edward II’s mother, Eleanor of Castille, towards the present day, in the hopes of discovering a living carrier of Edward II’s mitochondrial DNA.

Last time, after our options following the de Clare lineage through generations 4 and 5 decreased, we were left with hopes that the de Ros daughters, (great-great granddaughters of Edward II’s sister Joan of Acre), had more daughters than sons. Remember, mitochondrial DNA is only transmitted by mothers to their children, so whilst both men and women bear it, we can only follow its passage through the female line.

The first daughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas de Clifford in 1373. Thomas was only aged around 10 at this time, and although we do not have a date of birth for Elizabeth, there cannot have been a notable age difference, given that she lived until 1424. Their marriage seems to have been a happy one; Elizabeth apparently referred to him after his death as “my most dear lord and husband”.1 Thomas was one of King Richard II’s chamber knights, attending court frequently, and succeeded to his father’s barony in 1390. He traveled far, present at jousting tournaments in Calais, according to Froissart2 and at a crusade in North Africa, according to another French chronicler.3 Nicolson and Burn claim that he died accompanying Thomas, duke of Gloucester, on his journey to “Spruce in Germany against the infidels, where he was slain 4 Oct. 1493”.4 Since the de Clifford’s owned extensive lands, Elizabeth, like the wives of many knights at the time, probably was responsible for overseeing them during her husband’s absence. In 1405, the famous French author Christine de Pizan wrote in A Medieval Woman’s Mirror of Honour: The Treasury of the City of Ladies: “these women spend most of their lives in households without husbands…so the ladies will have responsibilities for managing their property, their revenues, and their lands…she must manage it so well that by conferring with her husband, her gentle words and good counsel will lead to their agreement to follow a plan for the estate.”5 Women were seen as able to govern land on a practical basis, but only in their subservient role as wife.

Elizabeth and Thomas’s son John served Henry V at the Siege of Harfleur and the Battle of Agincourt, being made a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1421. He was slain at the Siege of Meaux in 1422.6 John’s grandson Henry de Clifford inspired William Wordsworth’s poem, Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle upon the Restoration of Lord Clifford, the Shepherd, to the Estates and Honours of his Ancestors. Elizabeth, as a daughter, wife, and mother of two influential knights, would have been part of the small elite sector of fourteenth and fifteenth century society.

However, it is Elizabeth’s daughter Matilda, also known as Maud, who interests us most here. Sadly, she seems to have been unlucky in terms of husband choice. Her first marriage to John de Neville, 6th Baron Latimer, ended in divorce (or more properly, annulment), before 1414 due to “causa frigidatis ejusdem”, or impotence.7 Her second marriage, to Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, ended in 1415 when he was beheaded for his participation in the Southampton Plot. After that, Matilda apparently lived in “great state” at Conisburgh Castle and elsewhere until her death in 1446.8 Perhaps this was a relief for her: a life of luxury and independence without the men in her life causing trouble! Unfortunately for us, it means that we need to turn elsewhere if we are to find a living carrier of Edward II’s mitochondrial DNA. Matilda seems to have died without issue, although some genealogy sites suggest that she may have had a daughter by Richard called Alice Plantagenet, who married Thomas Musgrave. However we have not yet been able to find any verifiable source for this – please get in touch if you can help!

So now we’re left with only one more branch of this line, Elizabeth’s sister Margaret de Ros. Let’s hope we have more luck there!

(The following information is courtesy of Craig L. Foster. Mr Foster is a research consultant at FamilySearch’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah ( FamilySearch collects digitized records and other information to assist people around the world searching after their ancestors. FamilySearch does not normally perform research on DNA and to search for living descendants.)

Generation 6

80. Elizabeth de Ros

Elizabeth de Ros was the daughter of Thomas de Ros, 4th Lord de Ros of Helmsley and Beatrice de Stafford.1,2 She married Thomas de Clifford, 6th Lord Clifford, son of Roger de Clifford, 5th Lord Clifford and Maud de Beauchamp.2 She died in March 1424.2  Her married name became de Clifford.2

Children of Elizabeth de Ros and Thomas de Clifford, 6th Lord Clifford

  1. Matilda de Clifford1 d. 26 Aug 1446 – Died without issue.
  2. Sir John de Clifford, 7th Lord Clifford+3 b. c 1388, d. 13 Mar 1421/22


Enrica Biasi


  1. [S11] Alison Weir, Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 112. Hereinafter cited as Britain’s Royal Families.
  2. [S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume III, page 292. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  3. [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume III, page 293.

1 Cumbria AS, WD/Hoth/Books of record, 2.329

2 J. Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, Spain, and the adjoining countries, trans. T. Johnes, 2 (1839), 436

3 H. Summerson, ‘Clifford, Thomas, sixth Baron Clifford (1362/3–1391)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 17 Sept 2014]

4 Whitaker, History of Westmoreland, i. 281, 31

5 E. Amt, Women’s Lives in Medieval Europe, (1993) p. 164

6 G. Cokayne, (1913). The Complete Peerage, edited by H.A. Doubleday III. London: St. Catherine Press. p. 293.

7C. Mosley, editor. Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes. Crans, Switzerland: Burke’s Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999. p. 14

8 G. Cokayne, (1932). The Complete Peerage, edited by H. A. Doubleday VIII. London: St. Catherine Press. p.495

One thought on “The Search for Edward II’s Descendants 4) Joan of Acre’s lineage continues

  1. You may be interested in my blog , as I believe (unable to be 100% certain that my research is accurate!) that Eleanor de Castille 1244 is my 23rd Great Grandmother, and have written a blog, and am in the process of writing a book based on this research. The blog makes reference to my ancestor Elizabeth de Clare 1295, who married John de Burgh. I believe Edward II to be my 22nd Great Grandfather.

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