Execution of Richard Stairs, November 1468

14 November 1468, Execution of Richard Stairs

Plots and intrigue in 1468

November 1468 was a period of plotting. Many people were implicated as the machinations of the Earl of Warwick, and Duke of Clarence began to undermine the regime. Sir William Plumpton was:

‘committed to the Tower, and, it [was] said, kept in irons, and [had] confessed many things’

Sir William faced no further punishment. Others were less fortunate.

Execution of Richard Stairs

Richard Stairs, described as being ‘one of the cunningest players at tennis in England‘ was, on 14 November:

drawn through the city [of London] and beheaded at Tower Hill… And upon the morrow following were drawn through the city to Tyburn two gentlemen named [William] Alford and [John] Poynings to be executed. But then when they came thither, and the hangman had fastened the cords to the gallows, their pardon was shown, and they were saved…’ (Great Chronicle of London).

Historian Charles Ross suggests that Alford and Poynings were executed. Further to this, another source also claims that Alford and Poynings were executed, on a different date. There is a suggestion that their executions went ahead on 28 November.

The crime though, is not disputed. Each of the men was accused of passing treasonable correspondence. This was to the Lancastrians and to rebels in Calais. Others implicated in the plots, according to the Croyland Chronicle, were:

…many nobles and great men of the kingdom, as well as very many bishops and abbots, were accused before the King of treason.


The Ricardian. A Letter relating to the crisis of 1468. pdf file, journal article.

Image via DevisntArt

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