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Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby

Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby (1459-1504), the second Baron Stanley, was born in 1459 and inherited his father's titles, including that of king of the Isle of Man, in 1459. Stanley was a shrewd man, who managed to remain in favour with successive kings throughout the Wars of the Roses, right up until his death in 1504. His marriage to Eleanor, sister of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, did him no harm, even after Warwick was toppled from power, and he proceeded to take as his second wife, Margaret Beaufort, whose son, Henry Tudor, was the leading Lancastrian claimant to the throne.

Richard III of England unwisely continued to trust Thomas Stanley and his brother, William, even after he had briefly imprisoned Thomas in 1483 on suspicion of conspiracy. At the Battle of Bosworth Field, the Stanleys betrayed him, coming in on the side of the Lancastrians at a crucial moment. It is Thomas who is alleged to have retrieved Richard's lost crown from the battlefield and placed it on the head of his own stepson. In gratitude, he was created Earl of Derby on October 27, 1485, and never looked back. His brother, William, did not fare so well. In 1495, William made the mistake of supporting the pretender Perkin Warbeck, and was executed for treason.

Preceded by:
New Creation
Earl of Derby Followed by:
Thomas Stanley