Derby, Thomas Stanley, 1st earl of

Derby, Thomas Stanley, 1st earl of därˈbē [key], 1435?–1504, English nobleman. During the Wars of the Roses, Stanley was ostensibly a supporter of the Lancastrian Henry VI, but he had Yorkist sympathies, having married Eleanor, sister of the Yorkist Richard Neville, earl of Warwick. In the battle of Blore Heath (1459), Stanley did not use his troops on the king's behalf; and in 1461, after the Yorkist Edward IV had become king, he was appointed chief justice of Cheshire. He managed to hold office continuously under both Edward IV and Richard III, becoming lord steward, a privy councilor, and constable of England—this despite his support of the brief Lancastrian restoration in 1471 and his marriage (1482) to Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor, the Lancastrian claimant to the throne. In the battle of Bosworth (1485) he took the field nominally in support of Richard III but took no part in the fighting; after the battle he crowned his stepson Henry VII on the battlefield. He was created (1485) earl of Derby and remained powerful at court until his death.

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