Richard Woodville Rivers - Encyclopedia

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RICHARD WOODVILLE RIVERS, or Wydeville, Earl (d. 1469), was a member of a family of small importance long settled at Grafton in Northamptonshire. His father, Richard Woodville, was a squire to Henry V., and afterwards the trusted servant of John of Bedford, in whose interest he was constable of the Tower during the troubles with Humphrey of Gloucester in 1425. The younger Richard Woodville was knighted by Henry VI. at Leicester in 1426. He served under Bedford in France, and after his master's death married his widow Jacquetta of Luxemburg. The mesalliance caused some scandal, but Woodville enjoyed the king's favour and continued to serve with honour in subordinate positions in France. He also distinguished himself at jousts in London (Chronicles of London, 146, 148). On the 9th of May 1448 Henry VI. created him Baron Rivers. His associations made him a strong Lancastrian. For some years he was lieutenant of Calais in Henry's interests. In 1459, when stationed at Sandwich to prevent a Yorkist landing, he was surprised by Sir John Dinham, and taken prisoner with his son Anthony to the earl of Warwick at Calais. He was, however, released in time to fight for Henry VI. at Towton. Early in the reign of Edward IV. Rivers recognized that the Lancastrian cause was lost and made his peace with the new king. The marriage of his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, widow of Sir John Grey of Groby, to Edward on the 1st of May 1464, secured the fortunes of his family. Rivers was appointed treasurer on the 4th of March 1466, and a little later created earl. Elizabeth found great alliances for her younger brothers and sisters, and the Wood ville influence became all-powerful at court. The power of this new family was very distasteful to the old baronial party, and especially so to Warwick. Early in 1468 Rivers's estates were plundered by Warwick's partisans, and the open war of the following year was aimed to destroy the Woodvilles. After the king's defeat at Edgecot, Rivers and his second son, John, were taken prisoners at Chepstow and executed at Kenilworth on the 12th of August 1469. Rivers had a large family. His third son, Lionel (d. 1484), was bishop of Salisbury. All his daughters made great marriages: Catherine, the sixth, was wife of Henry Stafford, 2nd duke of Buckingham.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - The chief contemporary authorities are the Paston Letters, ed. Dr James Gairdner, The Chronicles of London, ed. C. L. Kingsford (1905), and the Chronicles of Commines and Waurin. See also some notices in Calendars of State Papers, Venetian, ed. Rawdon Browne. For modern accounts see Sir James Ramsay's Lancaster and York (1892),(1892), The Political History of England, vol. iv., by Professor C. Oman, and The Complete Peerage, by G. E. C[okaynej. For Earl Anthony's connexion with Caxton consult William Blades's Life of Caxton (1861-63). (C. L. K.)

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