Richard Edgcumbe (died 1489)
Sir Richard Edgcumbe or Edgecombe (ca. 1443 – 8 September 1489) was an English courtier and politician.
He was the son of Piers Edgecumbe, of Cotehele, Calstock, Cornwall, and Elizabeth Holland. From 1467 to 1468, he was the Member of Parliament for Tavistock. He was a Lancastrian and had his lands confiscated in 1471 by the Yorkist Edward IV, although these were returned to him the next year.
Angered by Richard of Gloucester’s usurpation of the throne in 1483 and the rumours of the murder of Edward V and his brother in the Tower of London, Edgcumbe joined the rebellion led by Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham to dethrone the Yorkist Richard III and replace him with the Lancastrian Henry Tudor. When the rebellion collapsed and Henry’s ships fled, Edgcumbe’s arrest was ordered and a troop of soldiers commanded by the notoriously brutal Sir Henry Trenowth of Bodrugan were sent to arrest him. He hid himself on the wooded hillside of his Tamarside home, Cotehele, and when his hiding-place was discovered, threw his pursuers off the scent by filling his cap with stones and throwing it into the river, fooling his pursuers into thinking he had drowned and thus escaping certain death. After his escape he fled to Brittany and joined Henry Tudor with whom he returned to England in 1485. He was knighted later that year after the Battle of Bosworth Field, where Henry Tudor and the Lancastrians were victorious.
He held important offices in the new reign: MP for Tavistock once again in 1485, Privy Councillor, Chamberlain of the Exchequer, Comptroller of the Royal Household, High Sheriff of Devon, 1487 and Ambassador to Scotland.
He carried out a number of important assignments for the new King. In 1488, following the crushing of the Lambert Simnel rebellion at the Battle of Stoke Field, he was charged the administering of the oaths of allegiance in Ireland to the Anglo-Irish nobles who had supported Simnel's claim to the throne. He showed his shrewd political judgment in accepting the assurances of loyalty given by Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, the most powerful of the Anglo-Irish magnates, whose influence made him an indispensable ally of the Crown: at the same time he showed his independence by refusing, even at Kildare's instigation, to pardon a number of the more notorious rebels, notably Sir James Keating, the Prior of Kilmainham.
During his last mission, a diplomatic one to negotiate a truce with Anne, Duchess of Brittany, he died at Morlaix on 8 September 1489 and was buried there. His tomb was destroyed during the French Revolution.
Marriage and children
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Edgcumbe [Edgecombe], Sir Richard (c. 1443–1489), administrator by J. L. Kirby
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Edgcumbe [Edgecombe], Sir Richard (c.1443–1489), administrator by J. L. Kirby
- Voyage of Sir Richard Edgcumbe into Ireland in 1488, printed by Harris Hibernia Dublin 1747 p.29