Southern Anthology

Families on the Frontiers of the Old South

Sir Richard Wydeville, 1st Earl Rivers, KG

Sir Richard Wydeville, 1st Earl Rivers, KG[1]

Male 1405 - 1469  (~ 64 years)

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  • Name Richard Wydeville  [2
    Title Sir 
    Suffix 1st Earl Rivers, KG 
    Born ca. 1405  Maidstone, Kent Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Gender Male 
    Political 09 May 1448  [4
    Created Baron Rivers by Henry VI 
    Political 1450 
    Knight of the Garter 
    Order of the Garter
    Order of the Garter
    "The Order of the Garter is the most senior and the oldest British Order of Chivalry and was founded by Edward III in 1348." The official website of the British Monarchy.
    Arms of Richard Wydeville, KG
    Arms of Richard Wydeville, KG
    Political 1459 
    Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports 
    Political Before 1461 
    Lancastrian 
    Lancastrian
    Lancastrian
    Military 29 Mar 1461  Towton, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Battle of Towton (Yorkist victory) 
    Political After 1461 
    Yorkist 
    Yorkist
    Yorkist
    Political 1466 
    Created Earl Rivers 
    Political Mar 1466 
    Lord Treasurer 
    Political 24 Aug 1467 
    Constable of England 
    Residence Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 12 Aug 1469  Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, Warwickshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    • After the marriage of Clarence to his daughter, Earl Warwick instigated a rebellion against Edward. His antipathy for his cousin found its root in the Wydville influence at court. (Warwick had been instrumental in securing the throne for Edward and was piqued when Wydville, a noted Lancastrian, came to prominence by the propitious and scandalous marriage of his daughter to the king. The marriage waylaid Warwick's negotiations to secure a royal marriage within the French court and cementing an alliance with Louis XI. Edward's preference for the Burgundians worked to further estrange the two, finally driving Warwick to Margaret of Anjou- who blamed Warwick for the deposition of her husband, Henry VI, and hated Warwick with near pathological zeal. After the defeat of Edward at Edgecote, Northamptonshire, Rivers and his son John were summarily executed and Jacquetta was accused of witchcraft. The coup collapsed, however.
    Notes 
    • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 62, "Woodville, Richard" by James Tait.

      WOODVILLE or WYDVILLE, RICHARD, first Earl Rivers (d. 1469), was son of Richard Woodville of the Mote, near Maidstone in Kent, and (after the death of his elder brother Thomas) of Grafton, Northamptonshire. The Woodvilles had been settled at Grafton as early as the reign of Henry II, but the manorial rights were first acquired by Woodville's uncle Thomas. His mother was Joan Beauchamp, heiress of a Somersetshire family (Baker, ii. 166; Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. p. 113; but cf. Genealogist, vi. 199). Richard Woodville the elder, whom Dugdale failed to distinguish from his son, was a trusted servant of Henry V and the regent Bedford in the French wars. He held a command in the expeditions of 1415 and 1417, and in 1420 became esquire of the body to Henry V and seneschal of Normandy (Gesta Henrici V, pp. 9, 277; Dugdale, ii. 230). The king bestowed upon him in 1418 the Norman seigniories of Préaux and Dangu (Longnon, p. 106). Bedford, on becoming regent for Henry VI in France, made Woodville his chamberlain, and rewarded his "grans notables et aggreables services" with further grants of confiscated estates (ib. pp. 105?6; Monstrelet, iv. 138). His connection with Bedford induced Beaufort and the council to entrust the Tower to his keeping when Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, attempted a coup d'état with the help of the Londoners in 1425 (Ord. Privy Council, iii. 167; Ramsay, i. 361). He returned with the regent to France in the spring of 1427 to take up in July 1429 the post of lieutenant of Calais, where the marriage arranged between his daughter Joan and William Haute, an esquire of Kent, was apparently solemnised (Dugdale, ii. 230; Ord. Privy Council, iii. 245, 329; Excerpta Historica, p. 249). He still held this position in 1435, though in 1431 he seems to have been detached for a time to serve on the council of Henry VI while in France (F?dera, x. 605; Doyle; Ord. Privy Council, iv. 82). There is some difficulty, however, during these years in distinguishing him from his son. He probably settled down at Grafton after the death of his elder brother (who made his will on 12 Oct. 1434), was sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1438, and died between 1440 and 1442 (Baker, ii. 166).

      Richard Woodville the younger was knighted by Henry VI at Leicester on 19 May 1426 (Leland, ii. 491). It was probably he who commanded a troop in France in 1429 and conveyed the wages of the Duke of Burgundy's forces to Lille in the following year (Doyle; F?dera, x. 454). He is said to have been taken prisoner in the attack upon Gerberoi in May 1435, but must have soon obtained his release, as he served under Suffolk in 1435?6 (Wavrin, p. 64; Dugdale, ii. 230). The foundation of his fortunes was his surreptitious marriage, apparently in 1436, with Jacquetta of Luxemburg, the young widowed Duchess of Bedford. She had to pay (23 March 1437) a fine of 1,000l. for marrying without the royal license (Rot. Parl. iv. 498; Devon, p. 436). Woodville received a pardon on 24 Oct. following (Foedera, x. 677). The mésalliance gave great offence to Jacquetta's relatives (Wavrin, p. 207). The statement afterwards made (ib. p. 455) that Woodville and Jacquetta had two children before marriage is doubtless a mere calumny.

      Woodville served under Somerset and Talbot in the attempt to relieve Meaux in 1439 (ib. p. 257; Doyle). His reputation as an accomplished knight caused him to be selected to "deliver" the redoubtable Pedro Vasque de Saavedra, chamberlain of the Duke of Burgundy, who came to London in 1440 to "run a course with a sharp spear for his sovereign lady's sake: (Foedera, x. 828; Paston Letters, i. 41; Chastellain, iii. 455). They met in lists at Westminster on 26 Nov., but the king stopped the combat after the third stroke (Stow). In June 1441 Woodville once more went to France, in the train of the Duke of York, and helped to relieve Pontoise (Ramsay, ii. 37). He became a knight banneret and captain of Alençon (25 Sept. 1442). On 9 May (Dugdale gives 29th) 1448 he was raised to the peerage by letters patent as Baron Rivers. His choice of title is puzzling. Dugdale thought he took the name of the old family of Redvers or De Ripariis, earls of Devon; and his addition to his arms of an inescutcheon bearing a griffin segreant, which was part at least of their device, has been held to confirm this hypothesis (Complete Peerage, vi. 371). But the inclusion among the seigniories granted him in support of his new dignity of a barony of Rivers and a casual reference (in a letter of 1475) to his son under the name of Lord Anthony Angre suggest a connection with the barony of Rivers or De Ripariis of Aungre (Ongar) in Essex, which had been for some time in abeyance (ib. v. 398; Dugdale, ii. 230; Cal. State Papers, Ven. i. 136). No connection with either family seems to have been discovered by genealogists.

      Rivers took part in the suppression of Cade's rising in June 1450, and, though the rumour that he was to succeed the murdered Suffolk as constable of England had proved baseless, he was admitted to the order of the Garter (4 Aug.) and the privy council (Doyle; Paston Letters, i. 128; Ord. Privy Council, vi. 101). The French having now begun the conquest of Aquitaine, Rivers received a commission as seneschal of the province on 18 Oct. 1450, and was to take out a strong force; but the transports remained idle at Plymouth for nine months, and the expedition was abandoned on the news of the fall of Bordeaux (ib. vi. 105, 115; Ramsay, ii. 146). He seems to have spent the following years at Calais as one of the lieutenants of the Duke of Somerset, who had been appointed its captain in September 1451, and was thus unable to support the duke and the king at the battle of St. Albans (Ord. Privy Council, vi. 276; Doyle; Beaumont, vi. 46). He was summoned to the great council in January 1458 which arranged a temporary reconciliation between the two parties, the unreality of which was illustrated in the following July by his appointment to inquire into the Earl of Warwick's piratical attack upon the Lübeck salt fleet (Ord. Privy Council, vi. 292; F?dera, xi. 415). When hostilities were resumed in 1459 and Warwick and the Earl of March were driven out of the country and took refuge at Calais, Rivers was stationed at Sandwich to guard against a landing. He was surprised in his bed, however, one morning shortly after the New Year 1460 by Sir John Dynham with a small party from Calais, and carried across the Channel with his son Anthony (Will. Worc. , p. 771). On their arrival at Calais the captives were bitterly "rated" by the Yorkist leaders for having joined in stigmatising them as traitors. Warwick reminded him that his father was but a squire brought up with Henry V, and that he himself had been ?made by marriage and also made lord,? and "that it was not his part to have such language of lords, being of the King's blood" (Paston Letters, i. 506).

      When and how they escaped from their captors does not appear, but they fought at Towton on the side of King Henry, whom Rivers accompanied in his flight to Newcastle (Cal. State Papers, Ven. i. 105?6). On 30 Aug. 1461, however, Count Ludovico Dallugo reported to the Duke of Milan that the earl had quitted Henry and tendered his allegiance to Edward IV. "I held several conversations," he wrote, "with this lord de Rivers about King Henry's cause, and he assured me that it was lost irremediably" (ib. i. 111). Edward's secret marriage with Rivers's daughter Elizabeth on 1 May 1464 more than re-established his fortunes, and gave him a sweet revenge upon Warwick for the treatment he had received four years before. The Woodville influence soon became paramount at court, "to the exaltation of the queen and displeasure of the whole realm" (Will. Worc. p. 785). Rivers was appointed treasurer on 4 March 1466, and on 25 May at Windsor he was made Earl Rivers. His numerous sons and daughters were married into the richest and noblest baronial families. John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester [q. v.], had to resign the position of high constable of England in favour of the king's father-in-law, who took up the staff on 24 Aug. 1467 (Foedera, xi. 581). Warwick and the Neville clan, who found themselves ousted from the predominance at court they had enjoyed in the first years of the reign, became more and more estranged from the king and hostile to the Woodvilles. Overt hostilities began with the pillage of Rivers's Kentish estate by a mob of Warwick's partisans on New Year's day 1468 (Wavrin, ed. Dupont, iii. 192). But Warwick thought the movement here and the similar one in Yorkshire under Robin of Redesdale [q. v.] premature, and an interview between Rivers and Archbishop Neville at Nottingham ended in Warwick's visiting the king at Coventry towards the end of January (Will. Worc. p. 789). But the reconciliation was merely temporary, and the marriage of Clarence and Isabel Neville in July 1469 was followed by an open outbreak. The proclamation issued by Warwick and his friends laid most stress upon the king's estrangement of the ?great lords of his blood? for the Woodvilles and other ?seducious persones? (Warkworth, pp. 46?51). Rivers and others of the family were at that moment with the king, who was making a progress through the eastern counties; but when the news came in that the country was rising in the Neville interest they left him, or he thought it prudent to dismiss them (Wavrin, v. 580). After Edward's defeat at Edgecot (26 July), Rivers and his son Sir John Woodville were taken at Chepstow, conveyed to Kenilworth, and executed on 12 Aug. (Warkworth, pp. 7, 46; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 183; Wavrin, ed. Dupont, ii. 406; Report on the Dignity of a Peer, v. 398).

      Rivers married Jacquetta, daughter of Peter de Luxemburg, count of St. Pol, by Marguerite, daughter of Francois de Baux, duke of Andria in the kingdom of Naples. She was the widow of John of Lancaster, duke of Bedford [q. v.], brother of Henry V, and she survived her second husband, dying on 30 May 1472. She bore Rivers fourteen or fifteen children, seven sons and seven or eight daughters. Five sons survived infancy: 1. Anthony, second Earl Rivers [q. v.] 2. John, who at twenty was married in January 1465 to a "juvencula" of nearly eighty, Catherine Neville, dowager duchess of Norfolk, aunt of Warwick "the kingmaker." "Maritagium diabolicum"* comments William of Worcester (p. 783), and adds obscurely, "Vindicta Bernardi inter eosdem postea patuit"** (cf. Rot. Parl. v. 607). He was knighted at his sister's coronation two months later, and shared his father's fate in 1469. 3. Lionel, bishop of Salisbury [q. v.] 4. Sir Edward, erroneously called Lord Woodville in ?Paston Letters? (iii. 344). He commanded the Woodville fleet in 1483, and shared Henry of Richmond's exile in Brittany. In 1486?7 he joined in Spain the armies of Ferdinand and Isabella and fought in Granada against the Moors. In 1488 he greatly embarrassed Henry by taking over a small force to help the Bretons against the French, and fell in the battle of St. Aubin du Cormier on 28 July (ib.; Busch, i. 43; R. B. Merriman's Edward Woodville, Knight-Errant in Proc. Amer. Antiq. Soc. 1904). 5. Richard, attainted in 1483, restored in 1485; he succeeded his brother Anthony as third and last Earl Rivers, and died without issue in 1491. Rivers's daughters were: 1. Elizabeth, who is separately noticed as Queen Elizabeth (1437??1492). 2. Margaret (d. before 1491), who married (Oct. 1464) Thomas Fitzalan, earl of Arundel (d. 1524). 3. Anne (d. before 1491), who married, first (in 1466), William, viscount Bourchier, and, secondly (before 1481), George Grey, second earl of Kent (d. 1503). 4. Jacquetta, who married John, lord Strange of Knockin (d. 1477), and died before 1481. 5. Mary (d. in or before 1481), who married (1466) William Herbert, earl of Huntingdon [see under Herbert, Sir William, Earl of Pembroke, d. 1469]. 6. Catherine (b. about 1457), who married, first (1466), Henry Stafford, second duke of Buckingham [q. v.]; secondly, Jasper Tudor, duke of Bedford [q. v.], and, thirdly, Sir Richard Wingfield [q. v.] 7. A daughter who is said to have married Sir John Bromley (Dugdale, ii. 231). 8. William of Worcester (p. 785) mentions still another daughter, who was married (February 1466) to (Anthony) Lord Grey de Ruthin, son and heir of the Earl of Kent, but he does not give her name. She does not appear in the pedigrees, but the chronicler can hardly be guilty of a confusion caused by the second marriage of Anne Woodville to Anthony Grey's younger brother George, who succeeded him in the style of Lord Grey de Ruthin.

      [Rotuli Parliamentorum; Rymer's F?dera, orig. edit.; Issues of the Exchequer, ed. Devon; Ordinances of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas; Cal. State Papers, Venetian, ed. Rawdon Brown; Wavrin's Chronicle, ed. by Hardy in the Rolls Series and by Dupont for the Société de l'Histoire de France; William of Worcester, ed. by Stevenson in the second volume of the Wars of the English in France (Rolls Ser.); Warkworth's Chronicle, ed. Camden Soc.; Gesta Henrici V, ed. English Historical Society; Monstrelet's Chronicle, ed. Douët d'Arcq for Société de l'Histoire de France; Longnon's Paris pendant la Domination Anglaise (Soc. de l'Histoire de Paris); Chastellain, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove; Leland's Collectanea, ed. Hearne; Excerpta Historica, 1831; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner; Doyle's Official Baronage; Dugdale's Baronage; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Beaucourt's Histoire de Charles VII; Ramsay's Lancaster and York; Busch's England under the Tudors, vol. i. (Engl. transl.); Baker's History of Northamptonshire.]

      J. T-t.

      *diabolical marriage
      **Revenge Bernard afterwards appeared between
      [6]
    Person ID I9438  Dickinson
    Last Modified 13 Jul 2015 

    Father Richard Wydeville, Constable of the Tower, Sheriff of Kent,   b. ca. 1387, Maidstone, Kent Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Relationship Birth 
    Mother Joan Bedlisgate,   d. Aft 17 Jul 1448 
    Relationship Birth 
    Family ID F3759  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Dower Duchess of Bedford, Countess Rivers,   b. Abt 1416, Luxembourg Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 May 1472, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 56 years) 
    Married ca. 1436  [7, 8
    Children 
    +1. Elizabeth Wydeville, Queen Consort of England,   b. Abt 1437, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Jun 1492, Bermondsey Abbey, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 55 years)  [Birth]
     2. Lewis Wydeville,   b. Abt 1438, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1450, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 12 years)  [Birth]
    +3. Anne Wydeville, Viscountess Bourchier,   b. ca. 1438, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Jul 1489, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 51 years)  [Birth]
    +4. Margaret Wydeville, Countess of Arundel,   b. ca. 1439, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 6 Mar 1491, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 52 years)  [Birth]
    +5. Anthony Wydeville, 2nd Earl Rivers, Baron Scales, KG,   b. ca. 1440, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Jun 1483, Pontefract Castle, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 43 years)  [Birth]
    +6. Mary Wydeville, Countess Pembroke,   b. ca. 1443, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. bef. 1481, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 37 years)  [Birth]
    +7. Jacquetta Wydeville,   b. Abt 1444, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1509, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 65 years)  [Birth]
     8. John Wydeville,   b. Abt 1445, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Aug 1469, Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, Warwickshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 24 years)  [Birth]
     9. Lionel Wydeville, Bishop of Salisbury,   b. Abt 1446, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 23 Jun 1484, Brittany, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 38 years)  [Birth]
     10. Richard Wydeville, 3d Earl Rivers,   b. Abt 1453, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 06 Mar 1491, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 38 years)  [Birth]
     11. Edward Wydeville, KG,   b. ca. 1455, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Jul 1488, St. Aubin-du-Cormier, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 33 years)  [Birth]
    +12. Katherine Wydeville, Duchess of Buckingham and Bedford,   b. Abt 1458, Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 May 1497, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 39 years)  [Birth]
     13. Joan Wydeville,   d. by 1492, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [Birth]
    Last Modified 14 Sep 2016 
    Family ID F2559  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - ca. 1405 - Maidstone, Kent Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - Battle of Towton (Yorkist victory) - 29 Mar 1461 - Towton, Yorkshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 12 Aug 1469 - Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, Warwickshire Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S336463] Medieval Lands: A prosopography of medieval European noble and royal families, Charles Cawley, (The Foundation for Medieval Genealogy), http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/., http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/ENGLISH%20NOBILITY%20MEDIEVAL2.htm#RichardWydevilleRiversdied1469B.

    2. [S336428] Susan Higginbotham: Author of Historical Fiction and Biography, Susan Higginbotham, (Online), http://susanhigginbotham.com., SusanHigginbotham.com.
      http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/subpages/richardwoodville.html

    3. [S336429] Britain's Royal Families: A Complete Genealogy, Alison Weir, (London: Vintage Books, 2008), 124.

    4. [S155] Richard III: England's Black Legend, Desmond Seward, (New York: Pegasus Books, 2014), 38.

    5. [S165] The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors, Dan Jones, (New York: Viking, 2014), 200.

    6. [S336351] Dictionary of National Biography, 63 volumes, Sir Sidney Lee, ed., (New York: McMillan and Company, 1885-1900), Public Domain., vol. 62, 414-417.

    7. [S37] Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses, Sarah Gristwood, (New York: Basic Books, 2013), 62.

    8. [S165] The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors, Dan Jones, (New York: Viking, 2014), 199.
      Jones gives the date as 1437.