Edward Courtenay had Yorkist blood flowing through his veins, his grandmother was Catherine of York, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Catherine had married William Courtenay, Earl of Devon by 1496.
In 1538, at the age of twelve, Edward joined his parents Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter and Gertrude Blount in the Tower of London. His father was suspected of being in cahoots with Reginald Pole and Gertrude was accused of encouraging the traitorous behaviour of her husband. Henry Courtenay was executed at the end of 1539 and his wife was released at the start of the following year, however, Edward was to remain a prisoner, he would remain in the Tower of London for fifteen years. He was finally released on the 3rd August 1553.
After his release his fortunes improved, he was considered as a possible husband for Henry VIII's daughter Mary and when she married Phillip of Spain he set his sights on Elizabeth who would later become Elizabeth I. Edward and Elizabeth were suspected of being involved in the rebellion of Thomas Wyatt and others who were fearing persecution under Mary's rule.
They were both imprisoned, but when no evidence was found they were both released and Courtenay fled the country.
I've always wondered why this family, as a possible threat to the Tudor dynasty, were not hunted down like that of the family
of George Duke of Clarance's for instance, Henry VIII had no qualms about seeing off the aged Margaret Pole and
Henry VII had executed Edward's grandfather.
Maybe, this new generation didn't consider the Yorkists as much of a treat anymore?
En! puer ac insons et adhuc juvenilibus annis,
Annos bis septem carcere clausus eram,
Me pater his tenuit vinclis quae filia solvit,
Sors mea sic tandem vertitur a superis.
Behold! a guiltless boy and still in his youthful years,
during twice-seven years had I been shut in prison,
the father held me in these chains which the daughter released,
thus at last is my fate being changed by the gods above."