Richard Wydeville (died 1441)

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Richard Wydeville (also written contemporaneously as Wydville and Woodville) (died 1441) was an English landowner, soldier, diplomat, administrator and politician. His son married an aunt of King Henry VI and they were the parents of the wife of the next king, Edward IV.[1]

Arms of Woodville: Argent, a fesse and a canton conjoined gules


He was the younger son of John Wydeville (died before 1401), a Northamptonshire landowner with a long career as administrator and politician,[1] and his second wife Isabel, widow of Robert Passelow, of Drayton Parslow.[2] The heir to the family lands was his elder brother from his father's first marriage, Thomas Wydeville (died about 1435), who followed his father as an administrator and politician.[1]

From at least 1268, the Wydeville family had been tenants in the village of Grafton Regis, where they occupied the manor house next to the church, and had acquired lands in neighbouring parishes.[3] According to Hasted, it was John Wydeville who acquired the manor of Mote at Maidstone in Kent,[4] which eventually came to Richard.


By 1411 he was serving in France in the garrison of Guînes, then part of the English territory of the Pale of Calais, under the Duke of Clarence, King Henry V's brother. In 1415 and 1417, he was a captain in Henry Vs forces fighting in France, later coming under the command of another brother of the King, the Duke of Bedford.[1]

In 1419 and 1420 he was granted various domains, lordships and bailiwicks in Normandy,[2] culminating in 1421 with appointment as Seneschal of the province of Normandy.[1][5] In 1423 he was Chamberlain to the Duke of Bedford, Treasurer of Normandy, and Captain of the city of Caen.[1][2] After disturbances in London in 1425, he was ordered there to safeguard the Tower,[6] followed in 1426 by being one of a mission sent to negotiate with Philip III, Duke of Burgundy.[2] In that year, his son Richard was knighted by the Duke of Bedford.[1] In 1427 he was made Lieutenant of Calais,[1] and in 1431 was appointed to safeguard the young king Henry VI while in France.[2]

In 1433 he was elected Member of Parliament for Kent,[1] and was named a justice of the peace for the county.[2] In the spring of 1434 he attended the meeting of the Great Council at Westminster, during which the Duke of Bedford and his brother Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester fell out over the handling of the English war effort in France, following which he was called back to active service there.[2] While he was a member of the council, his son Richard would have met the Duke of Bedford's French wife Jacquetta, whom he married after the Duke's death.[1][2]

In 1435 he was made Lieutenant of Calais again,[1] and was named as chief commissioner to negotiate for England with the Duchy of Burgundy, the Teutonic Order and the Hanse.[2] In that year his brother Thomas died without children and left nearly everything to his sisters Elizabeth and Agnes, apart from the ancestral manor of Grafton which went to Richard.[1] He disputed the will, and legal argument went on for the rest of his life.[3]

In 1437 he was appointed Constable of Rochester Castle,[1][2] but later that year was chosen as sheriff of Northamptonshire,[1][2] where he also served on a commission in 1439.[2]

He made his will on 29 November 1441 and died shortly after,[1][2] being buried at Maidstone.[4][2] Despite his career of public service and his close connections to the royal family, he was never knighted.[1]


His wife was Joan, daughter of Thomas (or John) Bedlisgate, of Knightstone[7][8][9] in the parish of Ottery St Mary in Devon, and his wife Joan Beauchamp.[2] He had two known children:

Richard (died 1469), who married Jacquetta, widow of the Duke of Bedford, and was created Earl Rivers. Their daughter Elizabeth was the queen consort of King Edward IV,[1][2] becoming the ancestor of all ruling monarchs of England from 1509 on and of Scotland from 1513 on.
Joan (died 1462), who married the Kent MP William Haute, of Bishopsbourne.[10]

His widow died some time after 17 July 1448, when she had property in Ireland, and was probably buried at Maidstone.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Hicks, Michael (22 September 2011). "Woodville [Wydeville], Richard, first Earl Rivers (d. 1469)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Subscription or UK public library membership required). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29939. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Geoffrey H. White, ed. (1949), "Rivers", The Complete Peerage, XI, London: The St Catherine Press, pp. 16–19, retrieved 5 May 2018
  3. ^ a b Philip Riden; Charles Insley, eds. (2002), "Grafton Regis", A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 5, the Hundred of Cleley, London, pp. 142–176, retrieved 5 May 2018
  4. ^ a b Hasted, Edward (1798), "The town and parish of Maidstone: Town and manors", The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4, Canterbury, pp. 260–307, retrieved 5 May 2018
  5. ^ His accounts as Seneschal of Normandy, and Captain of Gisors and La Tour de Chaumont in The National Archives (UK) Discovery catalogue, items E 101/49/37-38 (1420-1422).
  6. ^ His accounts for custody of the Tower in The National Archives (UK) Discovery catalogue, item E 101/51/22 (1424-1426).
  7. ^ "Knighteston" in the hundred of Ottery St Mary: Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p.148; Modern "Knightstone", per Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 2004, pp.528-9
  8. ^ The Complete Peerage, Volume XIV. St Catherine's Press. p. 549.
  9. ^ "Woodville Family", Accessed on 10-4-2015.
  10. ^ Woodger, L.S. (1993), "Haute, William (d.1462), of Bishopsbourne, Kent", in J.S. Roskell; L. Clark; C. Rawcliffe (eds.), 'The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421