Friday, September 9, 2016

Who was Richard Pole?

Sir Richard Pole
Coat of Arms
If Margaret Pole is unfortunately remembered more for the circumstances of her death than the events of her life, her husband is left out of historical accounts to an even greater extent. Sir Richard Pole was a Knight of the Garter, while Margaret was the daughter of a York prince. However, under the Tudor regime, this marriage became a possibility due to Richard's family ties to Margaret Beaufort and his loyalty to Henry Tudor.

Richard was the son of Geoffrey Pole, a Welshman who married an Englishwoman and settled in Buckinghamshire. Edith St John was a half-sister of Margaret Beaufort, mother of the man who would become the unexpected first Tudor king. Their common parent, Margaret Beauchamp, is responsible for creating several ties between the displaced Yorkists and newly risen Tudors. Richard Pole was a son of her daughter, Edith, by Margaret's first husband, Sir Oliver St John. When he died, Margaret went on to marry John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. The two of them had one child, Margaret Beaufort, who became the mother of Henry Tudor. Margaret Beauchamp's third husband was Lionel de Welles, and together they had John Welles, who later married Cecily of York.

These family ties were important to establish in the new dynasty to create peace and connections of loyalty. Richard's marriage to Margaret appears to have been a successful one. However, before he was awarded the hand of a noble wife, Richard had served Henry Tudor with enough enthusiasm to earn his trust with a wife of such royal bloodlines.

For a man known to be suspicious, Henry Tudor placed great trust in Richard Pole. Not only was he given a wife, whose royal bloodline was enough to keep her brother imprisoned for life before the king decided to execute him, but Richard was given the position of Chamberlain for Prince Arthur Tudor at Ludlow. This was a role of great importance, but also one that kept Margaret from the center of power in London.

Richard served Arthur along with Jasper Tudor, Henry's uncle and most trusted adviser. Since Arthur was viewed as the future king of great promise and proof of God's blessing on his parents' union, being given authority over him was a sign of great value. Richard held this position until Arthur's untimely death in April 1502.

For the brief remainder of his life, Richard continued to serve the king through positions in Wales that included Chamberlain of Chester and member of the Council of Wales. At various times he had served as constables of multiple castles in the Welsh Marches. He also commanded troops when necessary to defend Henry VII's realm.

Unfortunately, Richard left his family of five young children behind when he died sometime in late 1504. The exact date and cause of his death is unknown, indicating a swift but fatal illness. He likely never held his youngest son, Geoffrey, who was born around this same time. Margaret never remarried.

Sir Richard Pole's Coat of Arms: By Rs-nourse - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29476452


  1. Most sources have his son Geoffrey being born circa 1502 or 1501, with Ursula being his youngest child, born circa 1504.

    1. These are dates frequently repeated online, probably because that's what Wikipedia has listed. I have taken my information from research by Hazel Pierce in her biography of Margaret Pole. You can find it here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5414258-margaret-pole-countess-of-salisbury-1473-1541.

  2. Thanks for the information. I've been trying to find an answer to how he died or why there was no mention of it.

    1. The best information I've found is in Hazel Pierce's biography of Margaret, but I've not discovered anything more specific about his death either.