Sir Francis Lovell, KG, 1st Viscount Lovell

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Francis Lovell, Viscount

Also Known As: "Sir Francis Lovell"
Birthplace: Titchmarsh, Northamptonshire, England
Death: Died
Place of Burial: Leicester, Leicester, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of John Lovell, 8th Baron Lovell and Joan de Beaumont, Baroness Lovell
Husband of Anne Fitzhugh
Father of William Lovell
Brother of Joan Lovell and Frideswide Norreys

Managed by: Private User
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About Sir Francis Lovell, KG, 1st Viscount Lovell

Francis Lovell, 9th Baron Lovell, 6th Baron Holand, later 1st Viscount Lovell (1454 - after 1488) was an English nobleman. He probably knew the later King Richard III of England from a young age, and was to become his lifelong friend and staunch ally.

Francis was the son of John Lovell, 8th Baron Lovell and Joan Beaumont, daughter of John Beaumont, 1st Viscount Beaumont. When his father died, the nine-year old Francis inherited the titles of Baron Lovell and Baron Holand. He became a ward of Edward IV of England, who gave him into the charge of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick,[1] where Edward's youngest brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester also spent some time. It was there that the two young men first formed their close association.[2]

In 1466, he married Anne FitzHugh, daughter of Henry FitzHugh, 5th Baron FitzHugh. Fitz Hugh had married the Earl of Warwick's sister Alice Neville and supported Warwick's rebellion against Edward IV in 1470. As the pardon issued to Henry, Lord Fitzhugh includes Francis Lovell it can be assumed that Francis lived with his father-in-law at this time.[3] When Edward IV had re-established his rule in 1471, he granted the wardship of Francis Lovell, who was still underage, to his sister Elizabeth and her husband John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk.[4]

Upon the death of his paternal grandmother Alice Deincourt in 1474 he inherited a large estate, including the lands of the baronies of Deincourt, Grey of Rotherfield, and the feudal barony of Bedale. He was now one of the wealthiest barons in England not holding an earldom or dukedom.[2]

Lovell became a follower of his friend, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to whom he was also linked through their respective marriages: his wife, Anne FitzHugh was the first cousin of Richard's wife Anne Neville. Lovell served under Richard in the expedition to Scotland in 1480, and was knighted by Richard for it, the same year. After the death of Edward IV on 9 April 1483 he became one of his patron’s strongest supporters. He had been created a viscount on 4 January 1483, and while still Lord Protector Richard made him Chief Butler and constable of Wallingford Castle.[5]

Richard acceded to the throne on 26 June 1483; at his coronation on 6 July 1483, Francis Lovell bore the third sword of state.[6] Lovell was promoted to the office of Lord Chamberlain, replacing the late William Hastings,[7] and was made a Knight of the Garter in 1483.[8] Lovell helped in the suppression of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion (1483).

In July 1484, William Collingbourne, a Tudor agent, tacked up a lampooning poem to St. Paul's Cathedral, which mentions Lovell, whose family's heraldic symbol was a silver wolf.,[9][10] among the three aides to King Richard, whose emblem was a white boar:

  • “The Catte, the Ratte and Lovell our dogge rulyth all Englande under a hogge.”

The poem was interpolated into Laurence Olivier's film Richard III, a screen adaptation of William Shakespeare's play.

In June 1485, Lovell was appointed to guard the south coast to prevent the landing of Henry Tudor.[11] However, Henry Tudor landed near Milford Haven avoiding the stronger defenses of the English south coast. While no chronicle account of the battle mentions Lovell, it seems certain that he fought for Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field (22 August 1485). Two reports written in the immediate aftermath of the battle list him as among the fallen.[12] In fact, he escaped. After the battle, Lovell fled to sanctuary at Colchester and from there escaped the following year to organise a revolt in Yorkshire that attempted to seize Henry VII. After the failure of this plot, Lovell first joined fellow rebels at Furness Falls and later fled to Margaret of York in Flanders.[13]

As a chief leader of the Yorkist party, Lovell took a prominent part in Lambert Simnel’s enterprise. With John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, he accompanied the pretender to Ireland and fought for him at the Battle of Stoke Field on 16 June 1487. He was seen escaping from the battle and seems to have eventually fled to Scotland, where on 19 June 1488 James IV issued a safe conduct to him.[11] There is no further information about Lovell's fate.

Francis Lovell's wife, Anne Fitzhugh, was granted an annuity of £20 in 1489.[14] She was still alive in 1495; the date of her death is not known.[15]

Francis Bacon relates that according to one report he lived long after in a cave or vault (History of Henry VII, p. 37, ed. Joseph Rawson Lumby).

More than 200 years later, in 1708, the skeleton of a man was found in a secret chamber in the family mansion at Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire and it was supposed that Lovell had hidden himself there and died of starvation.[16] While this story is very picturesque, it seems unlikely to be true. Francis Lovell had hardly spent any time at Minster Lovell and would not have a faithful servant there who would hide him for years. Additionally, the manor had been granted to Jasper Tudor, Henry Tudor's uncle,[17] and was therefore hardly an appropriate hiding place for Francis Lovell.


  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Archbold, W.A.J. (1893). "Francis Lovell, Viscount Lovell (1454-1487?)". Dictionary of National Biography 34: 172–173.
  • Ross, Charles (1981). Richard III.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:,_1st_Viscount_Lovel

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(1454-1487?), born in 1454, descended from the eldest brother of Philip Lovel, was son of John, eighth Baron Lovell of Techmarsh, Northants (d. 1464), an adherent of Henry VI, by his wife Joan, daughter of John, first viscount Beaumont. One sister, Joane, married Sir Brian Stapleton, and another, Frideswide, Sir Edward Norris, having by him two sons: John, Esquire of the Body to Henry VIII, and Henry Norris, the supposed paramour of Anne Boleyn. These ladies were coheiresses of their uncle, William, Lord Beaumont, and between their children the barony fell into abeyance, until it was restored in favour of the descendants of the elder sister, Lady Stapleton, in 1840. 

Francis Lovell was knighted by the Duke of Gloucester, 22 Aug, 1480, while on an expedition against the Scots, and on 15 Nov. 1482 was summoned to parliament as thirteenth Baron Lovell of Tichmarsh. After Edward's death he was a strong supporter of Richard's claims; he had been one of Richard's companions at Middleham Castle, and 4 Jan. 1483 was created Viscount Lovell. He also held the baronies of Deincourt, Grey of Rotherfield, and Holand. The Holand barony had come into his family by the marriage of John, ninth Lord Lovell, to Maud, granddaughter and heiress to Robert, Lord Holand, who died in 1373, and in 1483 Francis Lovell had certain estates confirmed to him as heir of the Holands.

In 1483 he received many small appointments under the crown. On 17 May he became Constable of Wallingford Castle, on 19 May Chief Butler of England, on 21 May Keeper of Thorpe Wakefield Castle. He also became a Privy Councillor and K.G. [Knight of the Garter], and from June 1483 to 22 Aug. 1485 he was Lord Chamberlain of the Household. At the coronation of Richard III, 7 July 1483, he bore the third sword. On 23 Oct. 1483 he was commissioned to levy men against the Duke of Buckingham. In February 1483-4 he assisted to found the guild of the Holy Cross at Abendon.

He was one of Richard's most trusted friends, and was 'Lovel that dog' in the Lancastrian verse of the time which described Richard's administration. The allusion is probably to his crest. He had further grants before the end of the reign, and in May 1485 was sent to Southampton to fit out a fleet against Henry Tudor. He failed, however, to prevent him from sailing round to Milford in August. Lovell fought at Bosworth, and after the battle fled to sanctuary at St. John's, Colchester. Here he seems to have been intriguing, and perhaps contemplated submitting to Henry. Otherwise it is difficult to understand why he was nominated to bear the sceptre before the queen at her coronation.

Early in 1485-6, however, he escaped northwards, raised a dangerous revolt with the two Staffords in Worcestershire and Yorkshire, and nearly succeeded in capturing the king while he was at York. When the rising was put down Lovell fled to Lancashire, and passed some time in hiding with Sir Thomas Broughton. He then managed to reach Flanders. Early in May 1487, his company with John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, and Martin Schwartz, he followed Lambert Simnel to Ireland, and in June crossed to Lancashire, taking part in the battles of Bramham Moor (10 June) and Stoke (16 June).

He was reported to have been killed at Stoke, but was seen trying to swim the Trent on horseback, and seems to have escaped to his house at Minster Lovel, Oxfordshire, where he lived for some time in a vault, and probably died of starvation. In 1709, when a new chimney was built at Minster Lovell, a vault was discovered in which was the skeleton of a man (supposed to be the remains of Lord Lovell) who had died seated at a table whereon was a book, paper, and pen. All crumbled to dust when air was admitted. The uncertainty felt about the place and time of his death is shown by the 'inquisition post mortem' (26 Henry VIII, No. 110), in which the jurors found that he had escaped beyond sea and died abroad. He had been attainted in 1485, and most of his Northamptonshire estates were given to Henry's mother, the Countess of Richmond.

Lovell married in boyhood, before 14 Feb. 1466-7, Anne, daughter of Henry, thirteenth Lord FitzHugh, but does not seem to have left issue'. On 15 Dec. 1489 Henry granted his widow an annuity of £20.


Archbold, W. A. J. "Francis Lovell, Viscount Lovell." The Dictionary of National Biography. Vol XII. Sidney Lee, Ed. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1909. 172-3.

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Sir Francis Lovell, KG, 1st Viscount Lovell's Timeline

September 1454
Titchmarsh, Northamptonshire, England
February 14, 1466
Age 11
Age 30
Age 31
Middlesex, England
Leicester, Leicester, England, United Kingdom