Earl Rivers arrested at Stony Stratford

When Edward IV died several things happened quite quickly. The king’s funeral was arranged. A date for the coronation of his son, Edward V, was proposed. An escort was sent to Ludlow to escort the young king to London to prepare for his enthroning. Also, lord Hastings sent word to Richard duke of Gloucester. Suspicion was raised that the Queen’s family were intending to assume power for themselves in the king’s name.¬†

Evidence bore this out to Hastings, the duke of Gloucester and the duke of Buckingham. An extraordinarily large armed escort had been dispatched to the young king. Edward Woodville had taken himself to the fleet that he commanded, and the treasury was in the hands of the Woodville Family. So the dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham decided to act. They made their way to join with the young king and his escort.

With the king and the escort at Stony Stratford, the dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham arrested Earl Rivers, Sir Richard Grey and Sir Thomas Vaughan. These guardians of the young king were sent to Pontefract Castle. The escort was disbanded and replaced by one from Edward IV’s household. If there was a plot, it appeared to have been foiled at the first opportunity as the king was now in the hands of Richard, who was to assume the role of Protector, Buckingham who was a senior noble, and Hastings who had been the effective head of King Edward IV‘s household.

Earl Rivers, Sir Richard Grey and Sir Thomas Vaughan arrested

In the meantime, the duke of Gloucester wrote the most soothing letters in order to console the queen, with promises that he would shortly arrive, and assurances of all duty, fealty, and due obedience to his king and lord Edward the Fifth, the eldest son of the deceased king, his brother, and of the queen. Accordingly, on his arrival at York with a becoming retinue, each person being arrayed in mourning, he performed a solemn funeral service for the king, the same being accompanied with plenteous tears. Constraining all the nobility of those parts to take the oath of fealty to the late king’s son, he himself was the first of all to take the oath. On reaching Northampton, where the duke of Buckingham joined him, there came thither for the purpose of paying their respects to him, Antony, earl of Eivers, the king’s unr^le, and Kichard Grey, a most noble knight, and uterine brother to the king, together with several others who had been sent by the king, his nephew, to submit the conduct of everything to the will and discretion of his uncle, the duke of Gloucester. On their first arrival, they were received with an especially cheerful and joyous countenance, and, sitting at supper at the duke’s table, passed the whole time in very pleasant conversation. At last, Henry, duke of Buckingham, also arrived there, and, as it was now late, they all retired to their respective lodgings.

When the morning, and as it afterwards turned out, a most disastrous one, had come, having taken counsel during the night, all the lords took their departure together, in order to present themselves before the new king at Stony Stratford, a town a few miles distant from Northampton; and now, lo and behold ! when the two dukes had nearly arrived at the entrance of that town, they arrested the said earl of Rivers and his nephew Richard, the king’s brother, together with some others who had come with them, and commanded them to be led prisoners into the north of England. Immediately after, this circumstance being not yet known in the neighbouring town, where the king was understood to be, they suddenly rushed into the place where the youthful king was stajang, and in like manner made prisoners of certain others of his servants who were in attendance on his person. One was Thomas Vaughan, an aged knight and chamberlain
of the prince before-named.

The duke of Gloucester, however, who was the ringleader in this outbreak, did not omit or refuse to pay every mark of respect to the king, his nephew, in the way of uncovering the head, bending”* the knee, or other posture of the body required in a subject. He asserted that his only care was for the protection of his own j)orson, as he knew for certain that there were men in attendance upon the king who had conspired against both his own honor and his very existence. Thus saying, he caused proclamation to be made, that all the king’s attendants should instantly withdraw from the town, and not approach any place to which the king might chance to come, under penalty of death. These events took place at Stony Stratford on Wednesday, on the last day of April, in the year above-mentioned, being the same in which his father died.

(3rd Continuation of the Croyland Chronicle)

Plaque in Stony Stratford noting the arrest of Earl Rivers by Richard duke of Gloucester in 1483
Plaque in Stony Stratford noting the arrest of Earl Rivers by Richard duke of Gloucester in 1483

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Image Credits

Pontefract Castle, own photograph.

Plaque in Stony Stratford. MK Heritage

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