Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers

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Richard Woodville
Earl Rivers
Baron Rivers
Coat of Arms of Sir Richard Wydeville, 1st Earl Rivers, KG.png
Quartered arms of Sir Richard Wydeville, 1st Earl Rivers, KG
Born 1405
Maidstone, Kent
Died 12 August 1469 (aged 63–64)
Kenilworth, Warwickshire
Spouse Jacquetta of Luxembourg
Issue Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England
Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers
Margaret Woodville, Countess of Arundel
John Woodville
Catherine Woodville, Duchess of Buckingham
Anne Woodville, Viscountess Bourchier
Eleanor Woodville, Lady Grey
Jacquetta Woodville, Lady Strange
Mary Woodville, Countess of Pembroke
Edward Woodville
Lionel Woodvile, Bishop of Salisbury
Richard Woodville, 3rd Earl Rivers
John Woodville
Lewis Woodville
Father Sir Richard Wydeville
Mother Joan Bittelsgate
Religion Catholic
Arms of Woodville: Argent, a fesse and a canton conjoined gules

Richard Woodville (or Wydeville), 1st Earl Rivers, KG (1405 – 12 August 1469) was an English nobleman, best remembered as the father of Queen consort 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 Sir Richard Wydeville (Woodville), chamberlain to the Duke of Bedford, and Joan Bittlesgate (or Bedlisgate), the daughter of Thomas Bittlesgate of Knighteston, Devon.[1][2] He was also grandson to John Wydeville who was Sheriff of Northamptonshire (in 1380, 1385, 1390).[2]

Following the duke's death, 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 Gerberoy 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. Two years later, as Sir Richard, he was 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. Rivers was regarded as a social upstart, and in an ironical episode, his future son-in-law in 1459, while accepting his submission, had rebuked him for daring, given his lowly birth, to fight against the House of York. The Privy Council, in its horrified response to the King's marriage, said bluntly that her father's low social standing in itself meant that the King must surely know "that Elizabeth was not the wife for him". 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 the Yorkist 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, his eighth daughter, was the wife of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham.

It is worth noting that "Woodville" is the modern 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".

Children of Richard Woodville and Jacquetta of Luxembourg

They had at least 13 children:[3]

Robert Glover, Somerset Herald, noted another 'Richard' who would seem to have been born before Richard the 3rd Earl and died young, but no other evidence for this child exists. [6]

In fiction

Woodville is a primary character in Philippa Gregory's 2011 novel about Jacquetta of Luxembourg, The Lady of the Rivers.



  1. The Complete Peerage, Volume XIV. St Catherine's Press. p. 549.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Woodville Family", Accessed on 10-4-2015.
  3. Michael Hicks, 'Woodville , Richard, first Earl Rivers (d. 1469)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, édition en ligne, septembre 2011.
  4. Her brother Richard's 1492 postmortem inquisition names her as being “34 or more”. Calendar of Inquisitions Post-Mortem, Henry VII, vol. I, No. 681 (Richard, Earl of Ryvers)
  5. Pugh, T.B, ed., 1963, The Marcher Lordships of South Wales, 1415–1536. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, p.241
  6. Blair, C. H. Hunter, ed. Visitation of the North, Part III: A Visitation of the North of England Circa 1480-1500, p.58.


Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Buckingham
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Succeeded by
The Earl of Warwick
Preceded by
John Tiptoft, 1st Earl of Worcester
Lord High Constable
Succeeded by
Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Preceded by
The Lord Mountjoy
Lord High Treasurer
Succeeded by
Sir John Langstrother
Peerage of England
New creation Earl Rivers
Succeeded by
Anthony Woodville