William Brandon (standard-bearer)

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For other people with the same name, see William Brandon (disambiguation).
Sir William Brandon
Born 1456
Died 22 August 1485(1485-08-22)
Near Ambion Hill, Market Bosworth, England
Allegiance Henry Tudor
Rank Standard-bearer
Unit House of Lancaster
Battles/wars War of the Roses: Battle of Bosworth

Sir William Brandon (1456 – 22 August 1485) of Soham, Cambridgeshire was Henry Tudor's standard-bearer at the Battle of Bosworth, where he was killed by King Richard III.[1] He was the father of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk.[2]


William was the son of Sir William Brandon of Wangford, Suffolk, and Soham, Cambridgeshire, Knight Marshal of Marshalsea (1425 - 4 March 1491) and wife (married 1462) Elizabeth Wingfield (died 28 April 1496/1497).[3] He had numerous siblings, including Sir Thomas Brandon, who fought with him at the Battle of Bosworth and later became a leading courtier and Master of the Horse of Henry VII.

In 1478 Sir John Paston wrote that Brandon had been arrested for an attempted rape: "yonge William Brandon is in warde and arestyd ffor thatt he scholde have fforce ravysshyd and swyvyd an olde jentylwoman ..."[4] By that time he was already married to Elizabeth Bruyn, a widow with two sons, and according to Paston there were rumours he would be hanged for his offence. Brandon apparently escaped prosecution however, because a few years later he was one of the key London connections behind the Buckingham Revolt of 1483, along with his brother Thomas and brother-in-law, Wingfield. Pardoned in March 1484, he boarded a ship at Mersea in November and sailed for France, where he was supposedly joined by his wife, who gave birth to their eldest son in Paris. He joined his brother Thomas in the relief of the Hammes fortress.

Battle of Bosworth[edit]

At the Battle of Bosworth, William formed part of Henry Tudor's personal entourage, performing the role of royal standard bearer. When Richard III launched his final charge, he personally unhorsed Sir John Cheney, a well-known jousting champion. Brandon was the other notable victim of the charge, killed by Richard while defending the standard. As such he appears in stanzas 155 and 156 in The Ballad of Bosworth:[5]

amongst all other Knights, remember
which were hardy, & therto wight;
Sir william Brandon was one of those,
King Heneryes Standard he kept on height,

& vanted itt with manhood & might
vntill with dints hee was dr(i)uen downe,
& dyed like an ancyent Knight,
with HENERY of England that ware the crowne.
—Bosworth Ffeilde, anonymous author

According to popular myth William and his brother were both knighted by Henry Tudor when he landed at Milford in 1485, however Thomas was only knighted after the Battle of Blackheath in 1497 and William was presumably only called "Sir William" out of courtesy after his death, or out of confusion with his father, the elder Sir William.[6]


Before 4 November 1475 Brandon married Elizabeth Bruyn, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Henry Bruyn of South Ockendon, Essex, himself the son of Sir Maurice Bruyn. She was the widow of Thomas Tyrrell of Heron, Essex, whom she had married before 17 February 1462, and who died after 3 July 1471. After William Brandon's death at the Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485, she married William Mallory, whom she survived. She died 7 March 1494.[7]

By Elizabeth Bruyn, William Brandon had two sons and a daughter (the actual order of birth is not known):

  • William Brandon (d. before 1500).
  • Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk (ca. 1484 - 24 August 1545).
  • Anne Brandon, married firstly Sir John Shilston, and secondly Sir Gawain Carew.

Brandon also had two illegitimate daughters named Elizabeth and Katherine.[8]


  1. ^ Chrimes, S.B. (1999). Henry VII. Yale University Press. p. 49. 
  2. ^ Cokayne, George (1982). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant. XII/1. Gloucester England: A. Sutton. p. 454. ISBN 0-904387-82-8. 
  3. ^ Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage. 1 (107th, 3 volumes ed.). Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd,. p. 682. 
  4. ^ Gairdner, James (1904). "John Paston's letter". The Paston Letters, A. D. 1422-1509. 6. London: Chatto $ Wundis. 
  5. ^ Hales, J.W.; Furnivall, F.J., eds. (1868). "Thomas Percy". Bishop Percy's Folio Manuscript. Ballads and Romances. 3. London. p. 258. 
  6. ^ Gunn, S. J. (January 2008) [2004]. "Brandon, Sir Thomas (d. 1510)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3268.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ Cokayne 1912, pp. 357–8.
  8. ^ Gunn, Steven J. (1988). "The Brandons". Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, c. 1484-1545. Williston: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 46–47. 


  • Cokayne, George Edward (1912). The Complete Peerage, edited by Vicary Gibbs. II. London: St Catherine Press. pp. 357–8. 

Further reading[edit]