LOVELL, FRANCIS, Viscount Lovell (1454–1487?), born in 1454, descended from the eldest brother of Philip Lovel [q. v.], was son of John, eighth baron Lovell of Tichmarsh, Northants (d. 1464), an adherent of Henry VI, by his wife Joane, daughter of John, first viscount Beaumont. One sister, Joane, married Sir Brian Stapleton, and another, Frideswide, Sir Edward Norris, having by him two sons: John, esquire of the body to Henry VIII, and Henry Norris [q. v.], the supposed paramour of Anne Boleyn. These ladies were coheiresses of their uncle, William, lord Beaumont, and between their children the barony fell into abeyance, until it was restored in favour of the descendants of the elder sister, Lady Stapleton, in 1840. Francis Lovell was knighted by the Duke of Gloucester, 22 Aug. 1480, while on an expedition against the Scots, and on 15 Nov. 1482 was summoned to parliament as thirteenth baron Lovell of Tichmarsh. After Edward’s death he was a strong supporter of Richard’s claims; he had been one of Richard’s companions at Middleham Castle, and 4 Jan. 1483 was created Viscount Lovell. He also held the baronies of Deincourt, Grey of Rotherfield, and Holand. The Holand barony had come into his family by the marriage of John, ninth lord Lovell, to Maud, granddaughter and heiress to Robert, lord Holand, who died in 1373, and in 1483 Francis Lovell had certain estates confirmed to him as heir of the Holands. In 1483 he received many small appointments under the crown. On 17 May he became constable of Wallingford Castle, on 19 May chief butler of England, on 21 May keeper of Thorpe Wakefield Castle. He also became a privy councillor and K.G., and from June 1483 to 22 Aug. 1485 he was lord chamberlain of the household. At the coronation of Richard III, 7 July 1483, he bore the third sword. On 23 Oct. 1483 he was commissioned to levy men against the Duke of Buckingham. In February 1483–4 he assisted to found the guild of the Holy Cross at Abendon. He was one of Richard’s most trusted friends, and was ‘Lovel that dog’ in the Lancastrian verse of the time which described Richard’s administration. The allusion is probably to his crest. He had further grants before the end of the reign, and in May 1485 was sent to Southampton to fit out a fleet against Henry Tudor. He failed, however, to prevent him from sailing round to Milford in August. Lovell fought at Bosworth, and after the battle fled to sanctuary at St. John’s, Colchester. Here he seems to have been intriguing, and perhaps contemplated submitting to Henry. Otherwise it is difficult to understand why he was nominated to bear the sceptre before the queen at her coronation.
Early in 1485–6, however, he escaped northwards, raised a dangerous revolt with the two Staffords in Worcestershire and Yorkshire, and nearly succeeded in capturing the king while he was at York [cf. art. Henry VII]. When the rising was put down Lovell fled to Lancashire, and passed some time in hiding with Sir Thomas Broughton. He then managed to reach Flanders. Early in May 1487, in company with John de la Pole, earl of Lincoln, and Martin Schwartz, he followed Lambert Simnel to Ireland, and in June crossed to Lancashire, taking part in the battles of Bramham Moor (10 June) and Stoke (16 June). He was reported to have been killed at Stoke, but was seen trying to swim the Trent on horseback, and seems to have escaped to his house at Minster Lovel, Oxfordshire, where he lived for some time in a vault, and probably died of starvation. In 1708, when a new chimney was built at Minster Lovell, a vault was discovered in which was the skeleton of a man (supposed to be the remains of Lord Lovell) who had died seated at a table whereon was a book, paper, and pen. All crumbled to dust when air was admitted. The uncertainty felt about the place and time of his death is shown by the ‘inquisitio post mortem’ (26 Henry VIII, No.110), in which the jurors found that he had escaped beyond sea and died abroad. He had been attainted in 1485, and most of his Northamptonshire estates were given to Henry’s mother, the Countess of Richmond. Lovell married in boyhood, before 14 Feb. 1466–7, Anne, daughter of Henry, thirteenth lord FitzHugh, but does not seem to have left issue. On 15 Dec. 1489 Henry granted his widow an annuity of 20l.
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 34
Lovell, Francis by William Arthur Jobson Archbold