Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers
d.12 Aug 1469 Coventry, Warwickshire, England
m. bet 6 Feb 1435/6 and 23 Mar 1436/7
Facts and Events
Richard Woodville (or Wydeville), 1st Earl Rivers, KG (1405 – 12 August 1469) was an English nobleman, best remembered as the father of Elizabeth Woodville and the maternal grandfather of Edward V and the maternal great-grandfather of Henry VIII.
Born at Maidstone in Kent, he was the son of another Richard Wydeville, chamberlain to the Duke of Bedford. After the duke died, the younger Richard married the widowed duchess, Jacquetta of Luxembourg (1416–1472). This was initially a secret marriage, for which the couple were fined when it came to public notice.
He was a captain in 1429, served in France in 1433 and was a knight of the regent Duke of Bedford in 1435. He was at Gerberoi in 1435 and served under William de la Pole, duke of Suffolk, in 1435–6. He then fought under Somerset and Shrewsbury in 1439 and the Duke of York in 1441–2, when he was made captain of Alençon and knight-banneret. He was appointed seneschal of Gascony in 1450 (but failed to reach it before its fall), lieutenant of Calais in 1454–5, and to defend Kent against invasion by the Yorkist earls in 1459–60 (but was captured at Sandwich). He was created Baron Rivers by Henry VI on 9 May 1448 and invested as a Knight of the Garter in 1450. He was appointed Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1459.
In the Wars of the Roses, he was initially a Lancastrian, but he became a Yorkist when he thought that the Lancastrian cause was lost. He reconciled himself to the victorious Edward IV, his future son-in-law. On 1 May 1464, Edward married his daughter Elizabeth, widow of Sir John Grey of Groby. Richard was created Earl Rivers in 1466, appointed Lord Treasurer in March 1466 and Constable of England on 24 August 1467.
The power of this new family was very distasteful to the old baronial party, and especially so to the Earl of Warwick. Early in 1468, the Rivers estates were plundered by Warwick's partisans, and the open war of the following year was aimed at destroying the Woodvilles. After Edward's defeat at the Battle of Edgecote Moor on 26 July 1469, Rivers and his second son John were taken prisoners at Chepstow. Following a hasty show trial, they were beheaded at Kenilworth on 12 August 1469. His eldest son Anthony succeeded him in the earldom.
Lord Rivers had a large family. His third son, Lionel (d. 1484) became the Bishop of Salisbury. All his daughters made great marriages: Catherine Woodville, the fifth child, was wife of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham.
It is worth noting that "Woodville" is the contemporary spelling of the name and was not so spelled at the time, even though uniform spelling was not established for almost two centuries. The spelling used at the time was "Wydeville" or "Wydville".