Edward IV’s marriage and the small matter of the supposed pre-contract – new and explosive evidence

There continues to be much controversy and speculation about the marital status of King Edward IV, with arguments flowing back and forth like indecisive armies across a battlefield. I believe, however, that I may have stumbled across evidence that could settle the debate once and for all.

While following a family history lead in a little-known archive in the Midlands (I am not at liberty yet to say exactly where), I came upon a letter tucked inside the folds of another document, which apparently had not been opened or looked at for centuries.

I have not published this exciting finding anywhere else yet, as I am not entirely sure of it contents, but I wished you, gentle readers of Double History, to have first sight of the new evidence and perhaps help in its decipherment.

The evidence in question is a hitherto unknown letter from one of the Paston family who appears to have been present at Grafton around the time of the wedding of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.

Here is an illicit photograph of the letter in question:


The writing would appear to be a typical c15th cursive hand as used in many familiar documents of the period. What I think I can make out so far is as follows:

Righte [?worshipfull Syr],
As yt hath pleased Godde thys day, my Ladye Elizabethe Grey, daughter of Syr Richard [?Woodville] and ye duchesse of Gloucester hath [?marryed] the Kynge. He was asked by ye priest was he not marryed before, then quoth he “No, by my trothe.”
And then ??? did the priest asked my lorde the Kynge “Not even unto Eleanor Butler?” and Hys Majestye [?replyed straightway] ?? not to Eleanor Butler, for she is an [???]. And all presente there ?? ??.
God send you good speede yn alle matters. Written at Grafton the morn next after [?Anthony and ??.Your ?? cousin
?? Paston

Any help deciphering the remaining parts would be gratefully received.

The Paston Letters (collectable magazine edition, in weekly installments from Patel’s newsagents on the corner, missing No 3, 7, 15, 18-23 and the deluxe binder)
Palaeography for Dummies


Jeff de Cuisine is a scion of the Northamptonshire de Cuisines. He has traced his Cuisine ancestry back to the Roman writer Apicius. His favourite cheese is Blue Stillington.


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One thought on “Edward IV’s marriage and the small matter of the supposed pre-contract – new and explosive evidence

  1. At the King’s second denial the rest of the statement reads “And all present there did laugh.” Can’t make out the last two words of the the King’s comment on Eleanor Butler.

    Liked by 1 person

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