A Strange Story – Did it Happen at All?

Thanks to Shakespeare, and virtually every other account we have, both ‘factual’ and ‘fiction’, most people are familiar with the tale of Lord Strange being held captive by Richard III at Bosworth as a hostage for his father’s good behaviour, and of Lord Stanley’s careless remark that he had ‘other sons’. As a result of which Richard ordered Strange’s execution – though Strange managed in the event to survive.

It seems to be much less well known that as far back as 1980, Peter Hammond, writing in The Ricardian published research findings of Brenda Lloyd which demonstrated that both Stanley and Strange witnessed a deed at Bewsey, Warrington, Lancashire, on 18 July 1485. Mrs Lloyd was able subsequently to trace this deed, which is still in existence. Her source referred to a similar deed, witnessed at Lathom some two or three weeks later, but unfortunately she was not able to trace the original in this case.

This evidence establishes that Strange was in Lancashire with his father in mid July 1485, and possibly some weeks later. So the usual impression we are given that either Stanley or Strange (his substitute) was with Richard the whole time is quite false.

Possibly Stanley sent Strange to Richard in early August, or thereabouts. If he did, then, considering his plans, it was a remarkably cold-blooded, not to say callous, thing to do if he had any reason to think Richard might order Strange’s death.

The other possibility is that the whole story of Strange and Richard is utter nonsense. Is there any source for it, independent of the Croyland Chronicle? Is it just another example of anti-Richard propaganda that has found its way into accepted history?

Source: Richard III, Crown and People, ed J Petrie, 1985.


  1. It may well be, although cold bloodedness and betrayal seemed to be rife in the Stanleys, probably even to their own if they deemed it necessary.. I think, if Richard had ordered the execution of Strange, well, he would have been dead, and not mysteriously come through alive at the end of the day. As with so many of these ‘stories,’ too, they change and mutate along the way–I have seen modern descriptions refering to Strange as a ‘boy’, going for the pathos factor I presume, when in fact he was an adult.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quite. He was only Lord Strange in jure uxoris, so he was married.
      We do know that the Parliamentarians besieging Colchester in 1648 took Arthur Capell with them in an attempt to persude his father (Lord Hadham) to surrender. Arthur was removed a week or so later but his father’s army still held out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve reminded me. Strange was the son of Stanley and his first wife, Warwick’s sister, and was thus first cousin to Anne Neville.

    The Strange title separated from the Stanley line when the main branch died out in the male line, as it is capable of descent to a female. The last time I heard, there was a Lady Strange, a Baroness in her own right.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wasn’t there a story…was it of William Marshal?…of someone besieging a castle, and the owner of the castle sent his son (a child) out to the besieger? The besieger threatened to kill the child (I think via catapulting him?), and the reply was along the same lines as Lord Stanley’s alleged reply? The boy wasn’t killed, and I think the besieger took a liking to him/raised him.

    What I’m getting at is perhaps the Croyland story is fictional and based on an earlier event that did happen, but not at Bosworth? Perhaps the two were muddled on purpose.

    I’m sorry to be so vague.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was William Marshall. Stephen took him as a hostage to ensure his father, who supported Matilda, surrendered Newbury Castle to him. John Marshall handed over his son (aged 5 or 6) but the refused to surrender declaring that “I still have the hammer and the anvil with which to forge still more and better sons!”. William was paraded in front of the castle and even had a noose put around his neck, but Stephen did not follow through on his threat and William survived to become a great knight and the most loyal supporter of the early Plantagenets. I may be wrong (& please correct me if I am) but I think the Richard was descended from William through the de Burgh line)

      Liked by 2 people

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