Saturday, August 30, 2008

Question from Paula Fullilove - Possible bastard of Henry VII

I recently read that the very first Tudor was a bastard child of Henry Vll, a son borne by Henry's mother's courtier who went by the name of Bess Fullilove. My interest is obvious as I have the same surname which I have found in the past to be surrounded in a lot of ambiguity. Can you give me any real info on this obscure bit of history?

5 comments:

Kathy said...

Paula, I checked all my sources on Henry VII and Margaret Beaufort and I can't find any reference at all in scholarly or contemporary works to anybody named Bess Fullilove.

Henry seems to have been separated from his mother at a fairly young age and raised by his uncle, Jasper Tudor. (Lara is the expert on Jasper, so maybe she can help on this part.) I don't think he saw his mother very much at all during this time.

Then he was in exile in France for 14 years until he came back to beat Richard III at Bosworth.

There is a story that he fathered a bastard child in France named Roland de Velville. That story was accepted for a long time, but seems to be discounted among the latest round of historians of the period.

The only references I can find at all to a Bess Fullilove is on the internet and they all date from the past year or so, material along the lines of " He later produced seven children and many more bastards with no mention of the forgotten son! His first "accidental" son. Actual sole male air to the throne. Its believed that Bess Fullilove and her Royal bastard were banished, paid off and she was removed from all royal service." (I haven't figured out if I can post a link here or not, but just google Bess Fullilove and it will come up near the top.)

Most of that is not true. He did not go on to father "many more bastards". Only the one I mentioned above is attributed to him. And, in any case, since he had legitimate sons, an illegitimate one would not have inherited except possibly in the absense of legitimate heirs which wasn't the case.

I'm wondering if there might not have been some confusion here with Henry VIII who had an illegitimate son with Bessie Blount. Henry did consider making him the heir to the throne, but he died young and Henry went on to have a legitimate heir with Jane Seymour.

You might be able to get more information on the existence of Bess Fullilove through genealogical channels rather than historical ones.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Lara said...

Hehe... well, I don't think I can qualify as an expert on Jasper yet, but it is something I aspire to!

I also checked my various books on the early Tudors and couldn't find any mention of a Fullilove. The only discussion of a bastard in association with Henry VII I've ever come across was the Roland which Kathy mentioned.

I also did a search in the Oxford Dic. of Nat. Bio without any luck. If I had to take a guess, I would say there was a typo somewhere along the way attributing this possible bastard to Henry VII when it should have been Henry VIII (a VERY common typo, even in big newspapers). And even then though, I would probably have to put this in with a lot of other family stories of a lady having a bastard by Henry VIII, of which there is little or no evidence. (Beyond Henry Fitzroy and the possible child/children with Mary Boleyn.)

Paula Fullilove said...

Just want to acknowledge my thanks to Katy and Lara for confirming my suspicions about this rather dubious entry in the shall we say, "wicked"encyclopedia resource. Glad to know that there are websites such as yours to dispell all the misinformed individuals of revisionist history. Guess I'm back to the drawing board about my surname...maybe I should stick to my maiden name...Burns. Its not as fun but easier to research from a practical perspective.

Liz Evans said...

Yes, Henry VII had an illegitimate son named Roland de Veleville, but the name of his mother is unknown. He was born c. 1474 in Brittany, came to England when Henry became King, and was treated to great royal favor though he was not acknowledged. He was knighted at Blackheath but spent his life living in the royal apartments with Westminster listed as his residence, and was allowed to joust and handle the royal falcons prior to being knighted (and even after, he should have never been allowed to touch them). He was given 40 pounds a year in allowance, though he was not given an official position at court, not even being listed as "royal companion" though he fits that job best. In 1509 he was made into the Constable of Beaumaris Castle by Henry VIII (though it may have originated in Henry VII), who continued to treat him with very, very marked favor, even having him as a principal mourner in the funeral of one of his infants with Katherine of Aragon. Roland died in 1535, leaving his wife, Agnes Griffith, and at least one daughter named Jane, who married Robert ap Tudor Fychan and had a living daughter, Katherine Tudor of Berain (there are references to a daughter Grace, but as far as I know, we do not know what happened to her).
Part of the issue here is the S.B. Chrimes paper of 1967 where he uses bad information and personal opinion to claim that Roland was "just another knight who fought at Bosworth Field and Henry felt he owed favoritism to, just like Charles Brandon," which is faulty on many, many levels. As much as Chrimes was a very dedicated historian, this is one of his major blunders. If you take a moment to read the 3-page paper, the errors and problems with it become clear immediately. He may not have been able to see many sources, or did not understand the sources he did have access to. The problem is that, since that paper was published, he used it as a source for his books and the later editions of earlier books. Therefore, many historians took this for factual information until the late 1980s, when historians began to fight over the accuracy of it. The debate is still going on, and many of those who write about Henry VII now ignore it completely or give it a slight mention. However, he appears in Alison Weir's "Britain's Royal Families" on p. 152.
The descendants of Roland de Veleville (spelled many different ways and all are correct) are still alive today by the hundreds, all over the world.

Anonymous said...

Really interested if anyone knows any more about Rowland's daughter Grace?
My father has some information about her being born in 1526 and dying in 1581, also that she had a son called William Spackman.

Simon