Richard Pole (courtier)

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Richard Pole

Coat of arms of Sir Richard Pole, KG.png
Arms of Sir Richard Pole, KG: Per pale or and sable, a saltire engrailed counterchanged
Spouse(s)Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury
Parent(s)Sir Geoffrey Pole of Worrell and of Wythurn
Edith St John

Sir Richard Pole, KG (1462 – before 18 December 1505) was a supporter and first cousin of King Henry VII of England. He was created a Knight of the Garter and was married to Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury, a member of the Plantagenet dynasty: a marriage which reinforced the Tudor alliance between the houses of Lancaster and York.


A descendant of an ancient Welsh family, Sir Richard was a landed gentleman of Buckinghamshire, the son of Geoffrey Pole, Esquire[1] of Worrell, Cheshire, and of Wythurn in Medmenham, Buckinghamshire (1431 – 1474 / 4 January 1479[clarification needed], interred in Bisham Abbey).[2] His mother was Edith St John, daughter of Sir Oliver St John of Bletso, Bedfordshire (d. 1437) and the half-sister of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. They shared the same mother, Margaret Beauchamp of Bletso, who had married three times; this made Richard a first cousin of the half blood to Henry VII.[3] Sir Richard was thus first cousin of Alice St John, wife of Henry Parker, 10th Baron Morley and mother of Jane Parker, wife of George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford.

His sister Eleanor married Ralph Verney and was a lady in waiting to Elizabeth of York and Margaret Tudor.[4]

Tudor rule[edit]

Henry VII gave him various offices in Wales: he was Constable of Harlech and Montgomery Castles and the High Sheriff of Merionethshire. In 1495 Pole raised men against the rebellion of Perkin Warbeck.

Sir Richard Pole was "a valiant and expert commander" first retained to serve Henry VII in the wars of Scotland in 1497 with five demi-lancers and 200 archers, and shortly afterwards with 600 men-at-arms, 60 demi-lancers, and 540 bows and bills.[5]

King Henry later made him Chief Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Arthur, Prince of Wales. Pole was invested as a Knight of the Garter on April 1499. After Prince Arthur married Catherine of Aragon in 1501 Pole accompanied them to Ludlow Castle where Arthur took his role as President of the Council of Wales and the Marches. Pole was later given responsibility for the Welsh Marches. He also had the daunting task of meeting with the Council of Wales and the Marches on how best to inform the king of his much-loved eldest son's death on 2 April 1502.


He married Margaret Plantagenet, daughter of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence and Isabel Neville, Duchess of Clarence, between 1491 and 1494, perhaps on 22 September 1494.[6] However, their eldest son Henry was born in 1492, making 1491 the likely date of marriage. On the topic of the marriage, William Shakespeare wrote "His [The Duke of Clarence's] daughter meanly have I match'd in marriage."[7] and Horace Walpole wrote in his correspondence, "Henry had married her to the insignificant Sir Richard Pole who is called a Welsh Knight".[8] Sir Richard Pole may have been chosen by King Henry VII as husband for his wife's cousin Margaret on the basis that he was "safe" because his mother was a half-sister of Henry's own mother, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond—that is, one of the St Johns—and her mother in turn was a Beauchamp.

He died before 18 December 1505.


He and his wife had five children:[9]



  1. ^ Complete Peerage vol XIV, p. 567, note (a), line 1, his will on The national Archives where he is Esquire, his IPM where too he is described as Esquire
  2. ^ Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), p. 103.
  3. ^ Complete Peerage, Vol XIV, p. 567, note (a), line 5
  4. ^ Michelle Beer, Queenship at the Renaissance Courts of Britain (Woodbridge, 2018), p. 43.
  5. ^ Gairdner, James (1896). "Pole, Margaret" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 28–29.
  6. ^[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Shak., Rich. III., iv. 3. 37.
  8. ^ The Yale edition of Horace Walpole's correspondence, Volume 2 By Horace Walpole, Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis
  9. ^ Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), p. 136.