Clarence and Clare

The Duke of Clarence is a peerage dignity that has been awarded a total five times; Clarence being simply another variant on the name Clare and refers to the Honour of Clare in Suffolk, from which the de Clare family drew their name. The main line of de Clares who held the titles of Earl of Hertford and Earl of Gloucester were alternatively known under the title Earl of Clare, and Lionel of Antwerp, the very first Duke of Clarence, married an Elizabeth de Burgh who was a direct descendant of these de Clares, and the Honour of Clare was part of the estates which she brought to her husband.

The Dukes of Clarence

As noted above the very first duke of Clarence was Lionel of Antwerp, third son of Edward III, who was created duke in 1362 and died in Italy in 1368. Lionel had no sons and thus the title became extinct on his death.

In 1412 the title was revived in favour of Thomas Plantagenet, the second son of Henry IV. Thomas however died at the battle of Baugé in 1421 when the title once more became extinct due to the lack of heirs.

The third and last of the Plantagenet creations took place in 1461, and was in favour of George, Duke of Clarence, a younger brother of Edward IV. George was later executed for treason in 1478 by the rather novel method of being drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine, and his estates and titles including that of Clarence were declared forfeit to the crown.

There appears to have been no further creations of the title for three centuries until 1789 when the dignity was awarded to William, third son of George III as the Duke of Clarence and St Andrews. William subsequently became king William IV of Great Britain and Ireland in 1830 at which point the title merged in the crown.

The title of duke of Clarence was again revived sixty years later in 1890 (as the Duke of Clarence and Avondale) in favour of Albert Victor Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the Prince of Wales and eldest son of Edward VII, only to become extinct for the fifth time on his death in 1892.

As we can see the title of Duke of Clarence has a somewhat unfortunate history and has never been successfully transmitted beyond the first generation. (Even in the case of William IV the title would have become extinct on his death as he failed to produce any sons.)

The Duke of Clarence is also the brand name adopted by Blandy's for one of their variants of Madeira wine. Described as "Rich, full bodied and soft textured. A splendid after dinner drink." it is obviously named in honour of George, Duke of Clarence who met his end drowned in a barrel of the stuff.



Creation of 1362

Creation of 1412

Creation of 1461


As Duke of Clarence and St Andrews

  • William Hanover, Duke of Clarence later William IV (1789-1830)


As Duke of Clarence and Avondale


  • The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for CLARENCE, DUKES OF
  • The Peerages of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom at
  • Charles Arnold Baker The Companion to British History (Longcross Press, 1996)
  • THE ENGLISH PEERAGE or, a view of the ANCIENT and PRESENT STATE of the ENGLISH NOBILITY London: (1790)
  • Madeira Wine at

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