Nicholas Vaux, 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden

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Nicholas Vaux, 1st Baron Vaux of Harrowden (c. 1460 – 14 May 1523) was a soldier and courtier in England and an early member of the House of Commons. He was the son of Lancastrian loyalists, Sir William Vaux of Harrowden and Katherine Peniston, daughter of George Peniston of Corticella (then part of Provence, now in Piedmont in northern Italy).[1][2] He grew up during the years of Yorkist rule, and served under Henry VII when he recovered the throne in 1485.


Nicholas Vaux's mother, Katherine, an attendant on Margaret of Anjou, remained constant to her mistress when others forsook the Lancastrian cause. Katherine's husband, Sir William Vaux, whom she had married not long before she obtained her letters of denization, was attainted in 1461[3] and later slain at the Battle of Tewkesbury.[4] Despite her husband's misfortune, Katherine Vaux remained loyal to her mistress: she stayed by the Queen during her imprisonment in the Tower of London, and on Margaret's release in 1476 went with her into exile (as she had done earlier in the 1460s), living with her until her death six years later. Katherine's two children did not share either her confinement or her travels abroad; instead, Nicholas Vaux and his sister Joan, were brought up in the household of Lady Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII), without charge, even though Edward IV restored two manors to the family for the maintenance of him and his sister.

Katherine's devotion was rewarded after the triumph of Henry VII at Bosworth, where Nicholas Vaux, as a protégé of Margaret Beaufort, probably fought under her husband Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby; the petition for the reversal of the attainder on Vaux's father and the forfeiture of his property was accepted by the King in the Parliament of 1485, and not long after Vaux was named to the commission of the peace for his home county.


He fought for Henry VII at Stoke and Blackheath, being knighted on the field for his service in both battles. Not only was he active and diligent in local government but he was also frequently at court attending all the great state occasions at home and abroad until his death; in 1511 he entertained Henry VIII at Harrowden. It was as a soldier and diplomat, however, that he made his mark. Given the important command at Guisnes, he distinguished himself during the Tournai campaign in 1513 and then in the missions (he had had some earlier experiences in negotiating, chiefly with Burgundy) to the French King about the English withdrawal and the several royal marriage treaties. Later, he was one of the devisers of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. His sister, Jane or "Joan", had also benefited from the change of dynasty: she entered the royal household, became governess to Henry VII's daughters and married successively Sir Richard Guildford and the father of Sir Nicholas Poyntz, Sir Anthony Poyntz.

Vaux was a natural candidate for election to Parliament, although in the absence of so many returns for the early Tudor period he is known to have been a Member only in 1515 when he and Sir John Hussey took a memorandum on certain Acts from the Commons up to the Lords. Presumably, he sat for his own shire on this occasion as he was after wards appointed to the Northamptonshire commission for the subsidy which he had helped to grant.

Family and Succession[edit]

Vaux married firstly Lady Elizabeth FitzHugh, widow of Sir William Parr of Kendal, daughter of Henry, 5th Baron FitzHugh, and Lady Alice Neville.[5][6] By her he had three daughters; Katherine, Alice, and Anne.

Lord Vaux married secondly, shortly before 29 Jan 1507/8, Anne Green, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Green of Boughton and Green's Norton, Northamptonshire, and Jane Fogge, by whom he had two sons and three daughters. Anne was the sister of Maud Green, mother of Henry VIII's sixth wife, Catherine Parr.[7][8]

He was succeeded by his son by his second marriage, the poet Thomas Vaux.


By Lady Elizabeth FitzHugh he had three daughters:

  • Katherine Vaux (c. 1490-c. 1571), married Sir George Throckmorton of Coughton and had issue.[9]
  • Alice Vaux (d. 1543), married Sir Richard Sapcote c. 1501. No issue.[9]
  • Anne Vaux, married Sir Thomas Le Strange (1493–1545) and had issue.[9]

By Anne Green he had two sons and three daughters:

  • Thomas Vaux, 2nd Baron Vaux of Harrowdon (1510 – Oct 1556). Married Elizabeth Cheney (1505 – 20 November 1556) c. 1523, daughter of Sir Thomas Cheney, of Irtlingburgh and Anne Parr, daughter from his father's first wife, Lady Elizabeth FitzHugh, by her first husband William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Kendal. Had issue.[9]
  • William Vaux[9] (d. May 1523), never married, no issue.
  • Margaret Vaux, married Sir Francis Pulteney of Misterton[9] (1502 – c. 17 May 1548). Had issue. Their son, Sir Gabriel Pulteney of Knowle Hall (d. 31 August 1599) married Hon. Dorothy Spencer, daughter of Sir William Spencer of Althorp.[10]
  • Bridget Vaux, married Maurice Welsh c. 1538.[9]
  • Maud Vaux (d. 14 April 1569), married Sir John Fermor of Easton Neston.[9] Had issue. Their daughter, Katherine Fermor m.2 Sir Henry Darcy, son of Sir Arthur Darcy and Mary Carew. Sir Arthur Darcy was a descendant of the Barons Darcy of Knaith.



Sir Nicholas Vaux is an important character in William Shakespeare's Henry VIII.


  1. ^ Richardson III 2011, pp. 289–90.
  2. ^ Niebrzydowski 2011, p. 89.
  3. ^ CPR, 6 E4 Part II, pg 551, 29 Nov 1466 "Licence for Roger Corbet of Moreton, knight, and Elizabeth, his wife, kinswoman and one of the heirs of William Lucy, knight, viz., daughter of Eleanor, one of his sisters and heirs, to enter freely into a moiety of all the lordships, manors, lands and other possessions which Margaret, late the wife of the said William, held on the day of her death for life or in fee tail or in dower or otherwise, and a moiety of all the lordships manors, lands and other possessions which the said William held on the day of his death in fee tail within England and the marches of Wales and which on their death came into the King's hands and ought to descend to her, to hold from 4 November last although the other moieties of the same belong to the King by the forfeiture of William Vaux, knight, attainted of high treason by an Act in Parliament at Westminster 4 November 1 Edward IV, who was the other heir of the said William Lucy, viz., son of Matilda, late his other sister, By privy seal.
  4. ^ Collen 1811, p. 737.
  5. ^ The Peerage of England, A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe.
  6. ^ Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, page 17. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition.
  7. ^ Tudor Place, Nicholas Vaux, Baron Vaux of Harrowden. The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.
  8. ^ History of Parliament, The volumes either published or in preparation cover the House of Commons from 1386 to 1868 and the House of Lords from 1660 to 1832.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Douglas Richardson, Kimball G. Everingham. Magna Carta ancestry: a study in colonial and medieval families pg 639.
  10. ^ [1], Chapter: Duke of Marlborough pg. 383.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Douglas Richardson, Kimball G. Everingham. Plantagenet Ancestry, Genealogical Publishing Com, 2004. pg 561-62.


  • Collen, George William (1811). Debrett's Peerage of Great Britain and Ireland. London: William Pickering. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  • Niebrzydowski, Sue, ed. (2011). Middle-Aged Women in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  • Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families III (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 144996639X. 
  • Throckmorton family history: being the records of the Throckmortons in the United States of America with cognate branches, emigrant ancestors located at Salem, Massachusetts, 1630, and in Gloucester county, Virginia, 1660
  • Ancestral roots of certain American colonists who came to America by Frederick Lewis Weis, Walter Lee Sheppard, David Faris.
  • Catholic gentry in English society: the Throckmortons of Coughton by Peter Marshall
  • Women and politics in early modern England, 1450–1700 By James Daybell
  • The Magna Charta sureties, 1215: the barons named in the Magna Charta, 1215 by Frederick Lewis Weis
  • The Family Forest Descendants of Lady Joan Beaufort by Bruce Harrison
  • The House of Commons: 1509 – 1558 ; 1, Appendices, constituencies, members A – C, Volume 4
  •  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1899). "Vaux, Nicholas". Dictionary of National Biography 58. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  • Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey
  • Katherine, the Queen by Linda Porter
  • Kateryn Parr: the making of a queen by Susan James
Peerage of England
Vacant Baron Vaux of Harrowden
27 April 1523 – 14 May 1523
Succeeded by
Thomas Vaux