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Derby, Thomas Stanley, 1st earl of

Thomas Stanley Derby, 1st earl of (där´bē), 1435?–1504, English nobleman. During the Wars of the Roses, Stanley was ostensibly a supporter of the Lancastrian Henry VI, but he had Yorkist sympathies, having married Eleanor, sister of the Yorkist Richard Neville, earl of Warwick. In the battle of Blore Heath (1459), Stanley did not use his troops on the king's behalf; and in 1461, after the Yorkist Edward IV had become king, he was appointed chief justice of Cheshire. He managed to hold office continuously under both Edward IV and Richard III, becoming lord steward, a privy councilor, and constable of England—this despite his support of the brief Lancastrian restoration in 1471 and his marriage (1482) to Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor, the Lancastrian claimant to the throne. In the battle of Bosworth (1485) he took the field nominally in support of Richard III but took no part in the fighting; after the battle he crowned his stepson Henry VII on the battlefield. He was created (1485) earl of Derby and remained powerful at court until his death.

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Stanley, Thomas, 1st earl of Derby

Stanley, Thomas, 1st earl of Derby (c.1435–1504). Thomas Stanley succeeded his father in 1459 as Baron Stanley and lord of the Isle of Man. He served as steward of the household to Edward IV and then to Richard III, who gave him the Garter. In December 1483 he was appointed constable of England for life. But his second wife, whom he married about 1482, was the widow of the earl of Richmond and mother of the future Henry VII. Before Bosworth, Richard suspected Stanley's fidelity and took his son Lord Strange as hostage. Stanley took no part in the battle and his younger brother Sir William Stanley intervened against Richard at a critical stage. Stanley is said to have placed the crown of England on Henry's head. His reward was speedy. He was made steward of the duchy of Lancaster and created earl. His brother's execution for treason in 1495 does not appear to have shaken his position.

J. A. Cannon

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