Elizabeth Hopton, Countess of Worcester, died 1498.

Elizabeth Hopton happens to be the present author’s 14th Great Grandmother, which prompted an interest in her. I think it is fair to say she is little-known. Of course, she did not (to our knowledge) involve herself in national politics, become the King’s mistress, murder the Princes in the Tower or get in trouble for witchcraft so perhaps this is not entirely surprising, No one has ever bothered to write a romantic novel about her, either.

Elizabeth’s parents were Sir Thomas Hopton and Eleanor Lucy of Shropshire. She is believed to have been born about 1427. Her ancestors, if you went back far enough, included the inevitable Rannulf, Earl of Chester and the even more inevitable King Henry I. She was also descended from Henry III via the Mowbrays, to say nothing of the French and Spanish royal houses. Her more recent ancestors included several leading Shropshire families.

Her first husband (married before 1448) was Sir Roger Corbet of Moreton Corbet near Wem. He was about 10 or 12 years her elder. Between them they had two sons and four daughters altogether. However, Sir Roger died in June 1467.

Her next marriage was more distinguished in rank – not that Sir Roger Corbet was insignificant in Shropshire society. It was to the rather notorious Sir John Tiptoft KG, Earl of Worcester and Constable of England. Tiptoft was of a similar age to Elizabeth, but had had two previous wives. Elizabeth seems to have married him soon after Corbet’s death, but of course the marriage did not last long as Warwick had Tiptoft executed in October 1470. During that brief time Elizabeth bore Tiptoft a son, Edward, who became 2nd Earl of Worcester but sadly died in 1485, unmarried.

Elizabeth did not long remain a widow. Before December 1471 she married Sir William Stanley, at this point a loyal Yorkist and one of the victors of Tewkesbury. She had a daughter, Jane, with Stanley, and also a son, William Stanley Esquire, who died about 1498. Both had children in their turn.

However, as is well-known, after a period of great prosperity, gained (in part) by first supporting Richard III and then betraying him at Bosworth, Stanley fell from grace and Henry VII had him beheaded in 1495.

To have one husband beheaded might be a misfortune. but to lose two in this way looks like carelessness.

Some sources claim that Elizabeth married again, to one William Brews. If she did, it was right at the end of her life, as she died on 22 June 1498, no doubt reflecting on an “interesting” time on earth and, one can hope, surrounded by at least a proportion of the children she had brought into the world.

 

 

 

 

3 comments

  1. Sighthound6, I certainly hope she found life with Stanley less corrosive than it would appear to most of us. Oddly enough I was researching the Lovells of Titchmarsh for a friend (its where Francis was actually born, rather than Minster Hall which I was expecting) and whaddya know, Francis’ mother, Joan de Beaumont married William Stanley on the heels of Baron Lovell’s death in 1465, surely Stanley was anticipating a plum ward like Francis falling into his lap but it was not to be; Baroness Lovell died in 1466! Sigh, not to be down long William must have found your ancestress equally to his liking and snapped her up as soon as Worcester was out of the way! Matrimony 15thc style! And to think Richard has been tutted for his practical matrimonial sensibility!
    Among the MANY enigma’s I find in the WoTR William Stanley is in my top ten, was he merely an arch opportunist, a crass and grasping younger brother? His portrait shows quite the dashing courtier/ soldier of his age (appears to be painted c 1490-1500), and like Ralph Hastings he may have been guilty of not much more than an unfettered tongue; I came across a reference to Richard III, in a letter by Stanley, where he complains that “olde Dyk” was keeping him so busy he would miss the hunting invite being extended! Keep in mind R was several years younger than Stanley! The tenor of his letter tho, leads me to think he may well have been a amusing companion, so perhaps your ancestress did well enough? Just not someone you want at your back in battle?

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  2. According to Elizabeth Norton’s Margaret Beaufort book, Buckingham and Margaret met on the road around the first week of August, when “Margaret was travelling to the residence of Countess of Worcester” (and thus discussed joining forces in their rebellions, whichever you want to read that one). So, looking for the connection, Elizabeth Hopton Corbet Tiptoft Stanley, Countess of Worcester would have been Margaret’s sister-in-law. Do you think she would have been known as the Countess of Worcester (from her marriage to Sir John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester) even though she married William Stanley in c. 1470? And, do you happen to know where their home was that Margaret was travelling to? Thank you!

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  3. I’m afraid I don’t know where ‘home’ was without further research. I suspect there might be more than one possibility. Medieval women almost always used their highest title, even after remarriage, so I would expect her to be referred to as the Countess of Worcester just as Margaret Beaufort was usually known as the Countess of Richmond, not Lady Stanley.

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