|Sir James Tyrrell|
Sir Thomas Tyrrell
|Died||6 May 1502|
|Buried||Austin Friars, London|
Sir James Tyrrell (c.1455 – 6 May 1502) was an English knight, a trusted servant of King Richard III of England. He is known for confessing to the murders of the Princes in the Tower under Richard's orders. However, his statement may have been taken under torture, so the confession might not be genuine. William Shakespeare portrays Tyrrell as the man who organises the princes' murder in Richard III.
Tyrrell's father was beheaded on Tower Hill on 23 February 1462, together with Sir Thomas Tuddenham and John Montgomery. John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford, and his eldest son and heir, Aubrey, were beheaded on 26 February and 20 February, respectively, after the discovery of an alleged plot to murder Edward IV. No records of the trials of the alleged conspirators have survived to shed light on what part, if any, Tyrrell's father played in the alleged conspiracy. He was not attainted, and his eldest son and heir's wardship and the custody of his lands were granted to Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, who sold them to William Tyrrell's widow in March 1463 for £50.
James Tyrrell fought on the Yorkist side at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471, and was knighted there by Edward IV. A few months later he entered the service of the future Richard III, then Duke of Gloucester. After Richard III assumed power, he was appointed High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1484. He was in France in 1485, and played no part in the Battle of Bosworth Field which signalled the end of the Yorkists and the start of the Tudor dynasty.
In the following year, he returned to England and was pardoned by King Henry VII, who reappointed him governor of Guînes (in the English possession of Calais). However, in 1501, Tyrrell lent his support to Edmund de la Pole, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, now the leading Yorkist claimant to the English throne, who was in voluntary exile. In the spring of 1501 Henry VII sent Thomas Lovell to Guînes to arrest Tyrrell and others, including Tyrrell's son, Thomas.
Tyrrell was charged with treason and tortured. Sir Thomas More wrote that during his examination Tyrrell confessed to the murders of King Edward V of England and his brother Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York. He also implicated two other men. Despite further questioning, however, he was unable to say where the bodies were, claiming that they had been moved.
Tyrrell was tried and convicted of treason at the Guildhall in London on 2 May 1502 and executed four days later, on 6 May, together with one of his accomplices in aiding Suffolk, Sir John Wyndham. In a television programme first broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK on 21st March 2015, the historian David Starkey announced his discovery in royal records that both Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth, the sister of Edward V and Richard Duke of York, were present throughout Tyrrell's trial. It was extraordinary that the King should do this, but of even greater significance is the Queen's presence. Starkey presents this as validating More's account of Tyrrell's confession "99.9%" and argues that it finally confirms him as the man who oversaw the murder of the Queen's brothers. And that this, in turn, places the guilt for ordering their murder squarely at the feet of Richard III, Tyrrell's overlord.
Marriage and issue
In 1469 Tyrrell married Anne Arundel, the daughter of John Arundel of Lanherne, Cornwall, by his first wife, Elizabeth Morley, daughter of Thomas, Lord Morley, by whom he had three sons and a daughter:
- Sir Thomas Tyrrell (d.1551) of Gipping, Suffolk, who married firstly Margaret Willoughby, daughter of Christopher Willoughby, 10th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, by whom he had a son, Sir John Tyrrell (d.1574), who married Elizabeth Munday, the daughter of Sir John Munday (d.1537), Lord Mayor of London, and a daughter, Anne Tyrrell, who married Sir John Clere of Ormesby, Norfolk.
- William Tyrrell.
- Anne Tyrrell, who married Sir Richard Wentworth (d.1528) of Nettlestead, Suffolk, by whom she was the mother of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Baron Wentworth.
- Horrox 2004.
- Shakespeare and History: James Tyrrell
- Horrox 2008.
- Ross 2011, pp. 39, 42.
- Richardson III 2011, pp. 183-4.
- Metcalfe 1882, p. 74.
- Richardson III 2011, pp. 183-5.
- Richardson IV 2011, p. 340.
- Burke 1835, p. 25.
- Richardson III 2011, p. 184.
- Bright 1858, p. 228.
- Richardson III 2011, pp. 184-5.
- Bright, J.B. (1858). The Brights of Suffolk, England. Boston: John Wilson and Son. p. 228. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Burke, John (1835). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland I. London: Henry Colburn. p. 25. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Horrox, Rosemary (2008). "Tyrell family (per. c.1304–c.1510)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/52799. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Horrox, Rosemary (2004). "Tyrell, Sir James (c.1455–1502)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27952. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Metcalfe, Walter C., ed. (1882). The Visitations of Suffolk. Exeter: William Pollard. p. 74. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families III (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. pp. 183–4. ISBN 144996639X.
- Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1460992709.
- Ross, James (2011). John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford (1442–1513); 'The Foremost Man of the Kingdom'. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press. ISBN 978 1 84383 614 8.
- Wagner, John A. (2001), "Tyrell, Sir James (1445–1502)", Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses (illustrated ed.), ABC-CLIO, pp. 279–280, ISBN 9781851093588
- Sir James Tyrrell: Hero or Villain?
- James Tyrell
- Will of Sir Thomas Tyrrell of Gipping, Suffolk, proved 25 August 1551, PROB 11/34/309, National Archives Retrieved 16 July 2013
- Will of Sir John Tyrrell of Gipping, Suffolk, proved 22 June 1574, PROB 11/56/322, National Archives Retrieved 16 July 2013