Richard Pole is perhaps most famous for being the husband of Margaret Plantagenet, later Countess of Salisbury. But who was he?
His maternal ancestry is relatively straightforward. He was the son of Edith St. John, who was the half-sister of Margaret Beaufort. So that makes him the (half-blood) first cousin of Henry VII.
Edith St. John was the heiress of Sir Oliver St. John, the St. Johns being a knightly family of some significant wealth and influence. (Her grandfather was that Sir John St. John who accidentally killed the Earl of Pembroke in a jousting accident, was Sheriff of Glamorgan for some years, and served as not only a Despenser retainer but also a royal one under Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V.)
Her mother (and Margaret Beaufort’s) was Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe. The Beauchamps of Bletsoe went back some way, although I have not yet been able to trace the point at which they diverged from the main Beauchamp (Warwick) line.
The paternal line is more difficult. His father was Geoffrey Pole, Esquire. Geoffrey Pole must have been of some substance (or he could scarcely have secured the St. John heiress) but no one seems to have established beyond doubt who his father was. He had at least a couple of manors and was Constable of Haverfordwest, but he was not exactly up there with the Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick, that’s sure.
The runners and riders for his ancestors:
- That he was a cadet of the de la Poles (as in Earls and Dukes of Suffolk.) If so, he does not fit easily into their family tree. One of the suggestions touted is impossible, as the de la Pole in question left only daughters. If Geoffrey had been of the lineage suggested, he would have been Earl of Suffolk!
- That he was in some way a cadet of the Poles or Pools of Powys. This is possible. Their main line had ended by the time he was born, and had become the Charltons or Cherletons. He might be from some junior branch. This would make him Welsh – as many people assume he was – or at least Anglo-Welsh. (This family was in the habit of marrying Englishwomen.) Note, some geneologists like to link this family to the de la Poles of Hull, but the evidence they were is wishful thinking. It is much more likely that they were distinct families.
- That he was actually descended from the Pools/Pooles/Pules/Pulles of the Wirral, Cheshire. Again, this is possible, but the evidence is lacking. This family was of local importance and were linked by blood to the Stanleys of Hooton. One Sir John Poole, like many men of Cheshire, was a retainer of Richard II, but that was about as good as it got for that family.
- That he was the illegitimate son of Dafydd Fawr. (Whoever he was.)
Really, your guess is as good as mine.