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“ Also, where[as] the said Earl of Salisbury and his fellowship had distressed your said people at Bloreheath, the said Lord Stanley sent a letter to the said Earl to Drayton, the same night, thanking God of the good speed of the said Earl, rejoicing him greatly of the same, trusting to God that he should be with the said Earl in other place [s], to stand him in as good stead as he should have done if”—what a virtue in that “if!"_" he had been with them there : Which letter the said Earl sent to Sir Thomas Harrington, and he showed it openly, saying, “Sirs, be merry, for yet we have more friends : Also, whereas a Squire of the said Earl's, on the Monday next after the said distress, told to a Knight of your's "—the King's—"which was taken prisoner by the fellowship of the said Earl at Bloreheath, that a man of the Lord Stanley's had been with the said Earl at Drayton in the morning of the same day, and brought him word from the said Lord Stanley, that your Highness had sent for him, and that he would ride to you with his fellowship ; and if any man would resist or let”-hinder—“ the said Earl to come to your High Presence for his excuse”—to excuse himself, then a common plea and pretext of rebellious magnates in arms—"according to the intent of the said Earl, that then the said Lord Stanley and his fellowship should live and die with the said Earl, against his resisters : Also where[as] the said Prince" of Wales, “in fulfilling of your high commandment, sent as well for your people and his tenants in Wirrall Hundred as in Maxfield Hundred in Cheshire, the said people and tenants were let”-prevented—“ by the said Lord Stanley, so that they might not come to your Highness, nor to the presence of the said noble Prince : Also where[as] a servant and one of the cooks of the said Lord Stanley's, being with William Stanley in the fellowship of the said Earl of Salisbury, and left behind at Drayton, declared openly to divers gentlemen of the fellowship of the Earl of Shrewsbury, that he was sent
to the said Earl of Salisbury in the name of the said Lord Stanley, with more of his fellowship : Also, where[as] certain persons being of the livery and clothing of the said Lord Stanley were taken at the Forest of Morff in Shropshire, the day before their death(they]confessed that they were commanded in the name and behalf of the said Lord Stanley to attend and await upon the said William Stanley, to assist the said Earl of Salisbury in such matter[s] as he intended to execute :
“Of all which matters done and committed by the said Lord Stanley we, your said Commons, accuse and impeach him; and pray your most high Regalie"-Majesty --" that the same Lord be committed to prison, there to abide after form of law." 1
Certainly a cumulative indictment, the truth of which is rendered abundantly probable by Lord Stanley's subsequent
It is pretty clear from it that Sir William Stanley had openly joined Salisbury against the King, while his brother, Lord Stanley, amused both sides with promises of support and expressions of sympathy, though carefully forbearing to strike a blow for either his father-in-law or his sovereign. To the petition of the Commons praying for the punishment or trial of Lord Stanley, the King returned a negative answer in the once frequent and potent but now long-obsolete formula, Le roi s'avisera. This
have been the result of re-assurances of his loyalty given by Lord Stanley, or of a disinclination to exasperate and render permanently disaffected a powerful family, the head of which was evidently by no means disposed to commit himself. After all Lord Stanley had not actually and in person joined the rebels. Other nobles and his own brother, Sir William Stanley himself, were proclaimed traitors, and their estates declared to be confiscated by that parliament
1 Rotuli Parliamentorum, v. 369.
at Coventry, but then, as always, Lord Stanley escaped. On the 11th December, accordingly, “Dominus Stanley" figures in the list of the peers who took a solemn oath of allegiance to Henry. Nay, he is soon found employed by the King in an important commission, which included the safe custody and the delivery to Henry of two of his own brothers-in-law, among other persons. On the 13th of July 1460, less than a year after the battle of Bloreheath, he is ordered by the King to bring in safe to his presence “ John and Thomas Neville,'' sons of the Earl of Salisbury, “and Thomas Harrington, together with James Harrington and others, “ being in ward by the King's commandment for divers matters ministered against him in his late parliament holden at Coventry.
This Thomas Harrington was the owner, and his son, James, heir, of Hornby Castle in Lancashire, and its domains, which came into the possession of the Stanleys, as will be seen hereafter. Lord Stanley's luck in acquiring for himself or for his family began early in his career.
In the following year the Yorkist cause triumphed, and, of course, while the triumph lasted, Lord Stanley ceased to be a Lancastrian. Victorious in the bloody battle of Towton (29th-30th March 1461) Edward IV. was seated on the throne, and in the second year of the new King's reign Lord Stanley was appointed Justice of Chester. Eight years passed, and then, offended with Edward, whom he had placed on the throne, king-making Warwick was plotting the restoration of the same Henry VI. whom he had dethroned. A victory of Edward's at Stamford (12th March 1470) crushed Lord Willes's insurrection, which
1 Rotuli Parliamentorum, v. 348, &c. (Given in Baines's Lancashire i.414, &c., where it is said to refer to Thomas, first Lord Stanley, instead of his son, an error repeated in the second and recent editions of Baines, i. 135.
2 Rotuli Parliamentorum, v. 352.
3 Beamont's Notes on the Lancashire Stanleys, p. 5, a tract full of curious and original information.
Warwick had instigated, and the king-maker sped to Manchester, to ask for aid from his brother-in-law, Lord Stanley. It was refused. Yet when, a few months afterwards, Warwick was successful and Edward an exile we read of Lord Stanley as one of the nobles who accompanied the king-maker to the Tower (6th October 1470), whence Henry was brought “with great pomp, apparelled in a long gown of blue velvet, through the streets of London to St Paul's.” Scarcely seventeen months elapse and again all is changed. Edward has returned and defeated the Lancastrians at the battle of Barnet (14th April 1471), where, fighting with desperation on foot, Warwick himself is slain. At Tewkesbury (4th May 1471) the Lancastrian cause was finally overthrown. On the 22nd of the same month poor Henry VI. “ died,” a prisoner in the Tower, and once more Edward IV. reigned in his stead.
With the restored Edward the astute and fortunate Lord Stanley was soon in higher favour than before. Three years or so after the death of Henry in the Tower, he was appointed Steward of the Yorkist King's Household, a high and confidential office. It was in this capacity that, in the summer of 1475, he accompanied Edward on that invasion of France which the wiles of Louis XI. and the gold distributed by him among the chief English courtiers turned into an alliance between France and England. Seven years later, when Richard, Duke of Gloucester-so soon to become Richard III.—was sent on an expedition into Scotland, Lord Stanley commanded under him the right wing, some 4000 strong, of the invading army, and with it Stanley invested and stormed Berwick-upon-Tweed, which remained English ever afterwards. There is a tradition preserved in some doggrel lines 1 that, either in going or
1" Jack of Wigan he did take
The Duke of Gloucester's banner, And hung it up in Wigan church,
A monument of honour.”
returning, there were feuds and frays between Richard's and Stanley's men, a circumstance which might help to account for the nature of the relations between the two soon afterwards. However this may be, the Scottish expedition had not been long over and Richard was at York, when (April 9th 1483) Edward IV. died; of over-eating as was surmised. His death opened a strange, eventful, and obscure chapter of English history.
Meanwhile Lord Stanley had become a widower and taken a second wife—a match which gradually led him to play a principal part in the melodrama of the new time. A year or two, probably, before the death of Edward, Stanley married that memorable lady, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, mother of Henry VII. Daughter and sole heiress of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, Henry VI.'s Captain, she was the great-grand-daughter of John of Gaunt—"time-honoured Lancaster.” Her grandfather, John, Earl of Somerset, was the son of John of Gaunt by his mistress, Catherine Swynford, whom he after· wards married, and his offspring by whom an act of parliament legitimised. Thus, if the House of York were extinguished or set aside, Margaret had herself a shadowy claim to the crown. She was a girl of ten when she lost her father, and she grew up a pious, studious, and accomplished woman. At fourteen she married Edmund, Earl of Richmond, half-brother of Henry VI., his father having been that lucky Owen Tudor whose handsome person gained him the heart and hand of Katherine of Valois, the widow of Henry V., victor of Agincourt, Shakespeare's and Falstaff's Prince Hal. The eldest son of this singular marriage was the first husband of Margaret Beaufort, and father by her of Henry, Earl of Richmond, who became Henry VII. A few months after the birth of this their and her only child, her husband died,