Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (3 October 1390February 23, 1447) was the fourth son of King Henry IV of England by his first wife, Mary de Bohun.

The place of his birth is unknown, but he was named after his maternal grandfather, Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford. He was created Duke of Gloucester in 1414, and upon the death of his brother, King Henry V of England in 1422, became regent of the Kingdom and Protector to his young nephew, the heir to the throne, King Henry VI.

Following his wife's conviction for witchcraft, Gloucester himself was arrested on a charge of treason. He died at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk a few days later and was buried at St Albans Abbey, adjacent to St Alban's shrine. At the time, some suspected that he had been assassinated, though it is more probable that he died of a stroke.

Marriages and children

In about 1422 he married Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut and Holland, daughter of William VI, Count of Hainaut. Through this marriage Gloucester assumed the title "Count of Holland, Zeeland and Hainault", and briefly fought to retain these titles when they were contested by Jacqueline's cousin Philip III, Duke of Burgundy (see: War of Succession in Holland). They had a stillborn child in 1424.

The marriage was annulled in 1428, and Jacqueline died (disinherited) in 1436.

Meanwhile, Gloucester remarried, his second wife being his former mistress, Eleanor Cobham. In 1441, Eleanor was tried and convicted of practising witchcraft against the King in an attempt to retain power for her husband. She was exiled and imprisoned for life.

Gloucester had at least one illegitimate child (Antigone). It is unlikely that he had any surviving offspring by Eleanor Cobham, as they would have had a superior Lancastrian claim to the throne - after the extinguishing of the main line (in Henry VI and his son) in 1471 - to that of Margaret Beaufort and her son (Henry VII).

* (Possibly) Arthur d.1447
* Antigone, who married Henry Grey, 2nd Earl of Tankerville, Lord of Powys (c. 1419-1450) and then John d'Amancier.


After inheriting the manor of Greenwich, Gloucester enclosed Greenwich Park and from 1428 had a palace built there on the banks of the Thames, known as "Bella Court" and later as the Palace of Placentia. The "Duke Humphrey Tower" surmounting Greenwich Park was demolished in the 1660s and the site was chosen for building the Royal Observatory. [Jennings, C. (2001). "Greenwich: the place where days begin and end", Abacus. ISBN 0349112304. pp. 8-9; 171] His name lives on in "Duke Humphrey's Library", part of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, to which the Duke donated the nucleus of its collection. He was also a patron of literature, notably of the poet John Lydgate.

Another legacy is the phrase "to dine with Duke Humphrey". This Elizabethan saying was used by poor people to avoid mentioning that they did not have the money to pay for food. At dinnertime they would excuse themselves by saying they would be eating with the Duke: Duke Humphrey's Walk being the name of an aisle in Old St Paul's Cathedral near Duke Humphrey's tomb (which, according to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, in reality was John of Gaunt's [] ), an area frequented by thieves and beggars. [ [,_Duke_Of_Gloucester Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica] ] In fact, Gloucester's tomb is in St Albans Abbey and was restored by Hertfordshire Freemasons in 2000 to celebrate the millennium. [ [ Freemasonry Today, Issue 43, Winter 2007/8] ]

Titles, styles, honours and arms


As a son of the sovereign, Humphrey bore the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a "bordure argent". [ [ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family] ]


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1= 1. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
2= 2. Henry IV of England
3= 3. Mary de Bohun
4= 4. John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
5= 5. Blanche of Lancaster
6= 6. Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford
7= 7. Joan FitzAlan
8= 8. Edward III of England
9= 9. Philippa of Hainault
10= 10. Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster
11= 11. Isabel de Beaumont
12= 12. William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton
13= 13. Elizabeth de Badlesmere
14= 14. Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel
15= 15. Eleanor of Lancaster
16= 16. Edward II of England
17= 17. Isabella of France
18= 18. William I, Count of Hainaut
19= 19. Joan of Valois
20= 20. Henry Plantagenet, 3rd Earl of Lancaster
21= 21. Maud Chaworth
22= 22. Henry de Beaumont
23= 23. Alice Comyn
24= 24. Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford
25= 25. Elizabeth of Rhuddlan
26= 26. Bartholomew de Badlesmere, 1st Baron Badlesmere
27= 27. Margaret de Clare
28= 28. Edmund FitzAlan, 9th Earl of Arundel
29= 29. Alice de Warenne
30= 30. Henry Plantagenet, 3rd Earl of Lancaster (= 20)
31= 31. Maud Chaworth (= 21)



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