Lady Eleanor de Arundel

Despite the fact that this woman produced Henry Percy's heir and therefore played rather an important role in the continuation of the Percy bloodline, hardly any specific written evidence survives about her. What information does exist is fairly ambiguous and misleading, and no pictorial records of her remain at all. Some light-fingered Georgian even removed her tomb brass, so her physical appearance (even though the plaque was mounted ten years after her death and would at best have been an approximation) shall remain a mystery.

Eleanor FITZALAN was born in the early 1270's in Arundel, Sussex. She married Henry De PERCY in about 1299 at Alnwick, in Northumberland.

Father: John FitzAlan married 1260
born: 14/09/1246 in Arundel, Sussex
died: 18/03/1272

Mother: Isabella de Mortimer
born: 1240's Wigmore, Herefordshire
died: before 10 August 1274

Amy FitzAlan born about 1273
Richard FitzAlan (k) born 3 February 1267
Maud FitzAlan born about 1263
John FitzAlan  born about 1271

The parentage of both Richard and Eleanor is obscure. Eleanor is called daughter of the Earl of Arundel in a Percy genealogy in the Whitby Chartulary, p. 692, and the Alnwick Chronicle, p. 38; and she has been usually affiliated to Richard, Earl of Arundel, born 3 Feb. 1266/7, which would make her sister to Earl Edmund, born 1 May 1285. As her son and heir Henry was born probably at the end of 1300 or early in 1301, this would be just possible chronologically; and Arundel was already being used as a family name by the FitzAlans. On the other hand, Richard and Eleanor are ignored in accounts of that family, and there is no evidence to connect either of them therewith.... However, there is no evidence to connect Richard and Eleanor with any other family of Arundel; but Percy's change of arms may support the belief that he had married a relation of the Earl of Arundel.

It was for a long time agreed by most scholars that John FitzAlan & Isabella de Mortimer were most likely to be Eleanor's parents, however Douglas Richardson, in August 2002, supplied evidence to support the identification of Eleanor as a daughter of Richard, Earl of Arundel (d. 1301/2), including a recognizance, dated 1300, of a debt of 2,000 marks owed to Henry de Percy by Earl Richard, presumably connected with the payment of Eleanor's dowry (cf. the birth of Henry, the son of Henry and Eleanor, in late 1300 or early 1301) [citing Calendar of Close Rolls, 1296-1302, p. 404]. If the marriage to Eleanor took place in 1300, the reference in 1294 to his not having satisfied the king for his marriage, may imply he had another wife before Eleanor.

Eleanor and Henry de Percy had two sons, Henry and William. Henry the Elder died in 1314, possibly at Bannockburn or otherwise at Alnwick in the aftermath of Bannockburn, and was buried at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. The widowed Eleanor, now a Dowager, died in 1328 aged approximately 50yrs and was buried in Beverley Minster where her obituary is celebrated. The famous Percy Tomb there is said to be the most splendid of British decorated funerary monuments, but the attribution is vague. Heraldry, however, makes a date after 1339 certain. No effigy remains but the top slab of the tomb chest (removed, after 500 years in situ, in 1825) bore the indent of a brass of a lady.

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