The Henrician succession to the Throne of England

by William Addams Reitwiesner

As described in fuller detail here, Henry VIII was authorized by Parliament to set the succession to the English Crown in his will. Henry did so, specifying that after his own descendants died out, the Crown was to go the descendants of his younger sister Mary, and leaving out the descendants of his older sister Margaret. Because of a poorly documented marriage of one of Mary's granddaughters, when the last descendant of Henry VIII died (on 24 March 1603), Mary's heir appears to have been the 22-year-old Lady Anne Stanley, oldest daughter of the 5th Earl of Derby, and great-great-granddaughter of Mary. Had Henry VIII's will been followed, this Lady Anne should have succeeded to the English Throne as Queen Anne I. Instead, Henry's will was ignored, and Margaret's descendant James VI, King of Scotland, succeeded to the Throne of England as James I. He is the ancestor of all English Monarchs since then.

Lady Anne's right to the English Throne, under the terms of the will of Henry VIII and accepting the illegitimacy of Lord Beauchamp, has long been recognized. See, for example, the note in the second edition of The Complete Peerage, vol. IV, p. 213, note (f), continued onto p. 214. Recently (in the first decade of the 21st Century), some alternate-history fantasists have gone further and constructed a parallel reality in which James I is a usurper, as are all of his heirs, and Lady Anne is regarded as Queen Anne I, the legitimate (i.e., de jure) English Monarch, as are all her heirs.

This alternate reality does not (currently) have a name. Because of its similarities with the Jacobite alternate reality, particularly with the claims by Jacobites about the post-1807 Jacobite succession, an appropriate name for this scenario (and its adherents) could be "Henrician", as the claims are based on a strict reading of the will of King Henry VIII. (Most of) the rest of this webpage will be written from a Henrician perspective.

The following chart illustrates the Henrician succession from 1603 to the present. More precise details on the descendants of Queen Anne I [in real life, Lady Anne Stanley, Countess of Castlehaven] can be found here,

           HENRY VII King of England m. Elizabeth of England
   |                                  |              |
HENRY VIII, d. 1547                Margaret         Mary m2. Charles Brandon
   |                                  |                  |     Duke of Suffolk
  --------------------                |                  |
 |         |          |               V                  |
MARY   ELIZABETH   EDWARD VI      descendant             |
died    d. 1603    d. 1553      (James VI & I)           |
1558                            succeeded 1603           |
                               |                                 |
                       Frances Brandon                   Eleanor Brandon
                      m1. Henry Grey                   m. Henry Clifford
                      |   3 M Dorset                   |    2 E Cumberland
                      |                                |
      --------------------------------------            -----------
     |                  |                   |                      |
  Jane Grey       Katherine Grey        Mary Grey           Margaret Clifford
  m. Guilford    "m2" Edward Seymour   m. Thomas Keyes     m. Henry Stanley
     Dudley       |   1 E Hereford        no issue         |    4 E Derby
    no issue      |                                        |
                  |                        ------------------------------------------
                  |                       |                                          |
            Edward Seymour        Ferdinando Stanley                          William Stanley
           Lord Beauchamp            5 E Derby                                  6 E Derby
                 |                 m. Alice Spencer                                |
                 V                 |                                               V
           Baroness Kinloss        |                                           Earl of Derby
          |                                                                             |                                              |
       Anne Stanley                                                             Frances Stanley                               Elizabeth Stanley
      [ANNE I, r 1603-1647]                                                     m. John Egerton                               m. Henry Hastings
      m1. Grey Brydges, 5 B Chandos                                             |  1 E Bridgwater                             |  5 E Huntingdon
      |  m2. Mervyn Tuchet 2 E Castlehaven                                      |                                             |
      |                                                                         |                                              ----------
      |                                                                          ----------------------------------                      |
       ---------------------------------------------------------------------                                       |                     V
      |                                                  |                  |                                      |               Earl of Loudoun
   George Brydges                                 William Brydges       daughters                             John Egerton
   6 B Chandos                                    7 B Chandos           (known issue                          2 E Bridgwater
   [GEORGE I, r 1647-1655]                        issue apparently      extinct 1679)                         m. Elizabeth Cavendish
   m1. Susan Montagu                              extinct                                                     |
   |   m2. Jane Savage                                                                                         ---------------
   |   |                                                                                                                      |
   |    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                        |
   |                                                                        |                         |                       |
    --------------------------------------------------                      |                         |                       |
         |                                            |                     |                         |                       |
   Margaret Brydges                            Elizabeth Brydges      Lucy Brydges           Catherine Brydges           John Egerton
   [MARGARET I, r 1655-1732]                   m1. 3 B Herbert        m. Adam Loftus         m. Richard Parsons          3 E Bridgwater
   m1. William Brownlow                        m2. 2 E Inchiquin      |  1 V Lisburne           1 V Rosse                m. Jane Powlett
   |    m2. Sir Thomas Skipwith 2 Bt           m3. 4 B Howard         |                         no issue                 |
   |    |                                      m4. NN George          V                                                  |
   |    ---------------------------------      no issue          issue extinct 1761                                       -----
   |                                     |                                                                                     |
    ----                                 |                                                                                     |
        |                                |                                                                                     |
   Elizabeth Brownlow         Sir George Brydges Skipwith 3 Bt                                                           Scroop Egerton
   [possibly ELIZABETH II]    [GEORGE II, r 1732-1756]                                                                   1 D Bridgwater
   m. Philip Doughty          no issue                                                                                   m. Elizabeth Churchill
   |                                                                                                                     |
   |                                                                                                                      ----
    --------------------------------------------------------                                                                  |
                   |                                        |                                                                 |
           George Brownlow Doughty                   Elizabeth Doughty                                                   Ann Egerton
           d. 1743                                   m. Carrington Turville                                              m. William Villiers
           m. Frances Cicely Tichborne               Issue exinct 1735                                                   |  3 E Jersey
           |                                                                                                             |
           |                                                                                                              -------
         ----------------------------------                                                                                      |
        |                                  |                                                                                     |
   Henry Doughty                       other issue                                                                       George Bussy Villiers
   [HENRY IX, liv. 1760s]              apparently d. s.p.                                                                4 E Jersey
          m. Anna Maria Byrom                                                                                            m. Frances Twysden
          |                                                                                                              |
          |                                                                                                               -------
         ------------------------                                                                                                |
        |                        |                                                                                               |
   Henry Doughty          Elizabeth Doughty                                                                              George Child-Villiers
   [HENRY X, r -1796]     [ELIZABETH II/III, r 1796-1826]                                                                5 E Jersey
   unmarried              unmarried                                                                                      [GEORGE III, r 1826-1859]
                                                                                                                         m. Sarah Sophia Fane
                                                                   George Child-Villiers 6 E Jersey
                                                                   [GEORGE IV, r 1859]
                                                                   m. Julia Peel
                                                                   Victor Child-Villiers 7 E Jersey
                                                                   [VICTOR I, r 1859-1915]
                                                                   m. Margaret Leigh
                                                                   George Child-Villiers 8 E Jersey
                                                                   [GEORGE V, r 1915-1923]
                                                                   m. Cynthia Needham
                                                                   George Child-Villiers 9 E Jersey
                                                                   [GEORGE VI, r 1923-1998]
                                                                   m1. 1932 % 1937 Patricia Kenneth Richards
                                                                   |   m3. 1947 Bianca Mottironi
                                        ---------------------------    |
                                       |                                -----------------
                                       |                                                 |
                                       |                                                 |
                          Caroline Child-Villiers (b. 1934)                      George Child-Villiers Vct Villiers
                          m1. Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynymound 6 E Minto          (d. 1998)
                              m2. John Stuart                                    m. Sacha Valpy
                              m3. James Ogilvy                                   |
                                                                                 William Child-Villiers 10 E Jersey
                                                                                 [WILLIAM III, r 1998-]
                                                                                 (b. 1976)

Given what we currently know of dates and issue, the Henrician succession appears clear until 1998, the death of George VI [in real life, the 9th Earl of Jersey].

Ordinarily it would be supposed that he would be succeeded as the de jure (i.e., Henrician) monarch by William III [in real life, the 10th Earl of Jersey], the oldest son of his oldest son, but some Henricians point out that the 9th Earl of Jersey entered three marriages, and claim that only the first marriage would be valid for Henrician succession. The reason for this claim is that civil remarriage after a divorce did not become possible in England until the Marriage Act of 1836. These Henricians point out that the Parliament which passed this Act was summoned by one of the successors of the usurper James I, not by the rightful [Henrician] monarch, and that the rightful monarch did not assent to the Act, whereas one of the usurpers did. As a consequence, George VI was succeeded at his death in 1998 by the only child of his first (and only valid) marriage, Lady Caroline Ogilvy, who thus became de jure Queen Caroline I. Her heir would be her son, the Earl of Minto.

It's difficult to know how far to take an argument like this, as the Marriage Act of 1836 is just the tip of a very large iceberg -- not only the peerage titles of the Earls of Jersey and Minto but even their surnames were established by action of the usurpers, as were American Independence, the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, and so on.

In any case, the above is an introduction to the concept of Henrician succession to the English Throne.

My thanks to Michael Andrews for various helpful suggestions, including the name "Henrician".

William Addams Reitwiesner