John Radcliffe, Lord Fitzwalter

RADCLIFFE or RATCLIFFE, JOHN, Lord Fitzwalter (1452?–1496), was son of Sir John Radcliffe of Attleborough in Norfolk, head of a younger branch of the Radcliffes of Radcliffe Tower, Lancashire. His mother was Elizabeth, baroness Fitzwalter in her own right, as the only child of Walter Fitzwalter (d. 1431), seventh baron Fitzwalter of Woodham Walter and Dunmow in Essex. Radcliffe’s father, who in right of his wife was styled Lord Fitzwalter, died a few days after the battle of Towton (6 April 1461) of wounds received in the preliminary skirmish at Ferrybridge, when his son and heir was nine years of age. The latter seems to have resided for a time at Calais or Guisnes, and to have returned to England, where he settled at Attleborough, about 1476 (Paston Letters, iii. 156, 160). He was a relative of the Paston family (ib. iii. 341–3). Until 1485 he was styled John Radcliffe of Attleborough, esq., or John Radcliffe Fitzwauter, but on 15 Sept. in that year he received a summons to parliament as Lord Fitzwalter, though his mother seems still to have been alive; he continued to be so summoned until 14 Oct. 1495 (Dugdale, i. 515; Testamenta Vetusta, p. 496; Paston Letters, iii. 83). Henry VII also made him steward of the household in the first year of his reign, and two years later (25 Nov. 1487) joint high steward of England with Jasper Tudor, duke of Bedford, and others at the coronation of his queen, Elizabeth of York. But on taking part in the conspiracy on behalf of Perkin Warbeck, Radcliffe was attainted in the parliament of October 1495, and sent prisoner to Calais, where, after a futile attempt to escape by bribing his keepers, he was beheaded in November 1496.

Radcliffe married, first (before 12 March 1476), Anne, sister of Sir Richard Whethill of Calais (Paston Letters, iii. 160); his second wife is usually supposed to have been Anne, daughter of Edward, lord Hastings, who in 1507, if not earlier, became the wife of Thomas Stanley, second earl of Derby (d. 1521), and died in 1550; but this supposition is not free from difficulties, and a Margaret, lady Fitzwalter, mentioned in 1518, is sometimes taken to be his widow. By his first wife Radcliffe had five daughters and one son. The attainder was removed in favour of this son Robert, afterwards first earl of Sussex [q. v.], by letters patent of 25 Jan. 1506, confirmed by an act of parliament in 1509.

[G. E. C[okayne]’s Complete Peerage, iii. 371; Dugdale’s Baronage; Bentley’s Excerpta Historica, pp. 101, 111; Rotuli Parliamentorum, vi. 504; Busch’s England under the Tudors, Engl. transl. pp. 95, 340.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 47
Radcliffe, John (1452?-1496) by James Tait

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