Sunday, October 30, 2011

Black Sheep Sunday: Joan Beaufort

My “Black Sheep Ancestor” is Joan Beaufort. She led a very interesting life!

I am a descendant of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (6 March 1340—3 February 1399). John was the third son of Edward III, King of England (13 November 1312—21 June 1377).

John first married Blanche of Lancaster in 1359; she died in 1369. He next married Infanta Constance of Castile in 1371. In the meantime John had a mistress, Katherine Swynford, with whom he had four illegitimate issue: three sons and a daughter, Joan Beaufort. The children were given the surname of Beaufort after a former French possession of the Duke.

After Constance died in 1394, John married Katherine in 1396 and obtained both royal (by Parliament) and papal decrees of legitimization of their four children. Thereafter, the now legitimate Joan Beaufort became Countess of Westmorland, and later grandmother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III.

Joan Beaufort, my direct ancestor and having been born illegitimate, allowed me to qualify for membership in the Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Kings of Britain (known as the “Royal Bastards”) as well as qualifying me for membership in the following royal societies (requiring legitimate descent):
  • Order of the Crown in America
  • National Society of Americans of Royal Descent
  • Friends of St. George/Association of Descendants of the Knight of the Garter
  • Society of Descendants of Knights of the Most Noble Order of the Garter
Submitted by Jack Willoughby, Vice President, Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society

Black Sheep Sunday is just one of the blogging themes suggested on GeneaBloggers.  Get your ancestors noticed here, send a short story, image and/or document to

Posted by Ron Setzer


  1. Great story. There's something rather amusing about being deemed a bastard, officially. Congratulations!

  2. Thanks for your comment Wendy. I agree! --Denise

  3. I was interested in your family story, as one of my favourite historical novels is Anya Seton's "Katherine" which follows Katherine's relationship with John of Gaunt. It's great that you can trace and portray such an ancestry.


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