William Stanley (Battle of Bosworth)

Last updated

Arms of Sir William Stanley, KG Coat of arms of Sir William Stanley, KG.png
Arms of Sir William Stanley, KG

Sir William Stanley KG (c. 1435 [1] – 16 February 1495) was an English soldier and the younger brother of Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby. Stanley fought with his troops in several battles of the Wars of the Roses.


Private life

Born at Lytham, Lancashire, Sir William was the younger son of Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley. [2] In 1465 he married Joan, daughter of John Beaumont, 1st Viscount Beaumont, and widow of John, Lord Lovel. Following the execution of her second husband the Earl of Worcester, Sir William married secondly, c.1471, Elizabeth Hopton, daughter of Thomas Hopton with whom he had a daughter, Jane Stanley. They lived at Holt, Wrexham. [3]


William Stanley fought on the Yorkist side at the Battle of Blore Heath in 1459, [2] whereas his elder brother Thomas, Lord Stanley had raised troops by the commission of the Lancastrian Crown but refrained from committing his forces on either side. Attainted in 1459, he fled into exile, but returned to fight for the Yorkists at Towton. [2] In 1465 he was granted the Skipton lands and castle of the dispossessed Lancastrian Cliffords. [2] Following the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, it was he who captured Queen Margaret of Anjou, who led the Lancastrian faction, and he was made a Knight Banneret by the king. In 1483 he was made Chief Justice of North Wales. Richard III, shortly after becoming king, rewarded Sir William by granting him land in North Wales. [4]

Having been loyal to Richard, Stanley nevertheless changed sides in 1485, and suddenly supported the Lancastrian Henry Tudor's bid for the throne. Stanley is best known for his action at the Battle of Bosworth, where he decisively attacked the Yorkists under Richard, helping to secure Henry VII's victory. [2] This was in contrast to the non-committal attitude of his elder brother, Henry's stepfather, who was inhibited by the fact that Richard held his son hostage. In gratitude for his timely intervention, the new king bestowed many favours on Sir William, including the post of Lord Chamberlain and Chamberlain of the Exchequer. [2]

However, in 1495 Stanley was convicted of treason and executed for his support of the pretender Perkin Warbeck. Though the evidence was circumstantial, he admitted the offence in the hope that through a full confession he would escape execution. [5] Indeed, the King, partly to avoid antagonizing his mother and stepfather, was at first inclined to spare Sir William's life. Yet ultimately the King feared that by showing clemency, he would be endangering himself through encouraging other potential conspirators. As a consequence, Sir William was condemned to death, and a few days later, beheaded.


  1. ODNB
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wagner 2001, p. 257.
  3. "Thepeerage.com" . Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  4. "William Stanley – A Yorkist". Archived from the original on 3 July 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  5. Seaacome, John. The History of the House of Stanley. p. 55. Retrieved 4 December 2011.

Related Research Articles

Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby English nobleman, titular King of Mann and stepfather to King Henry VII of England

Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, KG was an English nobleman and politician. He was a titular King of Mann, and stepfather to King Henry VII of England. He was the eldest son of Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley and Joan Goushill.

Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury 15th-century English noble

Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury was an English nobleman and magnate based in northern England who became a key supporter of the House of York during the early years of the Wars of the Roses. He was the father of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, the "Kingmaker".

John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu was a major magnate of fifteenth-century England. He was a younger son of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, and the younger brother of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the 'Kingmaker'.

Battle of Northampton (1460) Major battle of the Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Northampton was fought on 10 July 1460 near the River Nene, Northamptonshire. It was a major battle of the Wars of the Roses. The opposing forces were an army led by nobles loyal to King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster, his Queen Margaret of Anjou and their seven-year-old son Edward, Prince of Wales on one side, and the army of Edward, Earl of March and Warwick the Kingmaker on the other. The battle was the first in which artillery was used in England.

Sir Thomas Tresham was a British politician, soldier and administrator. He was the son of Sir William Tresham and his wife Isabel de Vaux, daughter of Sir William Vaux of Harrowden. Thomas's early advancement was due to his father's influence. In 1443 he and his father were appointed as stewards to the Duchy of Lancaster's estates in Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, and by 1446 Thomas was serving as an esquire for Henry VI, being made an usher of the king's chamber in 1455. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Huntingdonshire in 1446, a position he held until 1459, and was returned to Parliament for Buckinghamshire in 1447 and Huntingdonshire in 1449. Despite the Tresham family's close links with the royal court they were also on good terms with Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and when he returned from Ireland in 1450 Tresham and his father went to greet him. Shortly after leaving home on 23 September they were attacked by a group of men involved in a property dispute with his father; William Tresham was killed, and Thomas was injured.

Sir William de Beaumont, 2nd Viscount Beaumont was a soldier and landowner who was a leading supporter of the Lancastrian faction during the Wars of the Roses.

John Clifford, 9th Baron Clifford, 9th Lord of Skipton was a Lancastrian military leader during the Wars of the Roses in England. The Clifford family was one of the most prominent families among the northern English nobility of the fifteenth century, and by the marriages of his sisters John Clifford had links to some very important families of the time, including the earls of Devon. He was orphaned at twenty years of age when his father was slain by partisans of the House of York at the first battle of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of St Albans in 1455. It was probably as a result of his father's death there that Clifford became one of the strongest supporters of Queen Margaret of Anjou, consort of King Henry VI, who ended up as effective leader of the Lancastrian faction.

John Wenlock, 1st Baron Wenlock English politician and Baron

John Wenlock, 1st Baron Wenlock KG was an English politician, diplomat, soldier and courtier. He fought on the sides of both the Yorkists and the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses. He has been called "the prince of turncoats", although some historians suggest the label may not be fair. Others contend that even when Wenlock was not actually changing sides, he was engaged in "fence sitting par excellence."

Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley English peer and King of Mann

Sir Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley, titular King of Mann, KG, of Lathom and Knowsley, Lancashire, was a Privy Councillor, Comptroller of the Royal Household, Lieutenant-Governor of Ireland (1431–36), Chief Steward of the Duchy of Lancaster, Knight of the Shire for Lancashire, Constable & Justice of Chester, Chamberlain of North Wales, Lord Chamberlain (1455), and from 15 January 1456 was summoned by Writ to Parliament as Lord Stanley.

Events from the year 1459 in England.

Events from the 1460s in England.

Thomas Charlton (1417?–1465) was a speaker for House of Commons of England in 1454.

James Strangeways Speaker of the House of Commons of England

Sir James Strangeways (1415—1480) was Speaker of the House of Commons of England between 1461–1462. and a close political ally of Edward IV's Yorkist faction.

Katherine Neville, Baroness Hastings, was a noblewoman and a member of the powerful Neville family of northern England. She was one of the six daughters of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, and the sister of military commander Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known to history as Warwick the Kingmaker.

Richard Grey, 3rd Earl of Tankerville, 8th Lord of Powys fought on the side of the House of York in the War of the Roses.

Robert Hungerford, 3rd Baron Hungerford English nobleman

Robert Hungerford, 3rd Baron Hungerford (c.1429–1464) was an English nobleman. He supported the Lancastrian cause in the War of the Roses. In the late 1440s and early 1450s he was a member of successive parliaments. He was a prisoner of the French for much of the 1450s until his mother arranged a payment of a 7,966l ransom. In 1460 after successive defeats on the battlefield he fled with Henry VI to Scotland. In 1461 he was attainted in Edward IV's first parliament, and executed in Newcastle soon after he was captured at the Battle of Hexham.

Richard Welles, 7th Baron Welles (c.1428–1470), was an English nobleman and soldier. From a Lancastrian family, he came to be on good terms with the Yorkist King Edward IV, but was later executed after being associated with a plot against Edward known as the "Welles Uprising".

Wars of the Roses Dynastic civil war in England during the 15th-century

The Wars of the Roses were a series of English civil wars for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster, represented by a red rose, and the House of York, represented by a white rose. Eventually, the wars eliminated the male lines of both families. The conflict lasted through many sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1487, but there was related fighting before and after this period between the parties. The power struggle ignited around social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years' War, unfolding the structural problems of bastard feudalism, combined with the mental infirmity and weak rule of King Henry VI which revived interest in the House of York's claim to the throne by Richard of York. Historians disagree on which of these factors was the main reason for the wars.

Sir Richard Hastings, Baron Welles, was the son of Sir Leonard Hastings and a younger brother of William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings. He was a favourite of Edward IV, who granted him the lands of the baronies of Willoughby and Welles after he had married the heiress, Joan Welles. He fought at Tewkesbury. He died in 1503, and was buried at the Greyfriars, London.

Ralph Greystoke, 5th Baron Greystoke English medieval baron

Ralph Greystoke, 5th Baron Greystoke was a member of the English nobility in the early 15th century, and a protagonist during the Wars of the Roses in the north. By his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of William, Lord FitzHugh he formalized the long-standing alliance that had existed between the two families for some time.


Political offices
Preceded by
Francis Lovell, 1st Viscount Lovell
Lord Chamberlain
Succeeded by
Giles Daubeney, 1st Baron Daubeney