Facts and Events
Thanks to that excellent historian, John Ashdown-Hill, we have a much more accurate picture of Elizabeth Wayte Lucy; who is one of those well-known people whose life if wrapped in complete obscurity and whom nobody seems to able to identify”. Such, at any rate, was the somewhat depressing conclusion of one recent writer. It is certainly true that less information seems currently to be readily available about Elizabeth Lucy and her family background that is the case with most of Edward IV’s other sexual partners; Elizabeth Talbot, Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth (Jane) Shore. Nevertheless, while it is true that many details of her life are obscure, some facts and Elizabeth Lucy and her family are well established. Despite this, published accounts of her have been contradictory. Scholfield called her “Lady Elizabeth Lucy” as though she had been the daughter of an Earl or a Duke, although there has never been evidence to suggest this was the case. Potter wrote of her rather as though she was a common trollop – with an equal lack of evidence. It is perhaps appropriate, therefore, to re-examine what is known about Elizabeth Lucy and, at the same time, to present for consideration some new evidence relating to her and her family.
In fact she seems to have been Lady Lucy, not Lady Elizabeth; the wife of a knight rather than the daughter of a peer. We shall return to the problem of her husband’s identity later. Buck, however, supplies her maiden name, referring to her as “Elizabeth Wayte (alias Lucy)”, and specifying elsewhere that “Elizabeth Lucy” was the daughter of one Wayte of Southampton, a mean gentleman, if he were one”. He also tells us that the king had a child by her and that child was the bastard Arthur, and commonly called (but unduly) Arthur Plantagenet. And he was afterwards made Viscount Lisle by Henry VII. Lord Lisle was known, in his early life, by the name of Arthur Wayte, in fact. Buck does not mention, and perhaps did not known the first name of Elizabeth’s father, but his contention regarding the surname was confirmed and supplement, early in the 18th century, by Antis, who wrote that Lord Lisle was Edward’s natural son by “Elizabeth the daughter of Thomas Wayte of Hampshire, the widow of Lucy”. The Lisle correspondence confirms that Arthur Plantagenet recognised and had contact with numerous relatives called Wayte, from one of whom, his second cousin, John Wayte “the fool”, or the “innocent” (who was mentally retarded) he first leased and subsequently purchased the manors of Lee Marks and Segenworth, in the hundred of Titchfield, in Hampshire, in return for taking care of John for the rest of his life.
Although Buck characterises Thomas Wayte as a “mean gentleman”, the Wayte family was in fact well established in Hampshire, where is first appears in the records about the beginning of the 14th century, at which time members of the family already held lands and possessions in the county. It is not certain whether the Wayte’s were established first at the manor of Segenworth in the parish of Titchfield, or at the manor of Wayte’s Court (which bore their family name) at Brighstone on the Isle of Wight. Both manor, however, were early and long standing possessions of the family. On four occasions in the 14th and 15th centuries, member of the Wayte family held the office of escheator for the county and the family bore a cost of arms.