Robert RADCLIFFE

(1st E. Sussex)

Born: ABT 1483

Died: 27 Nov 1542, Chelsea, Middlesex, England

Buried: 4 Dec 1542, Boreham

Notes: Knight of the Garter. The Complete Peerage vol.XIIp1,p.517-520.

Father: John RADCLIFFE (1 B. Fitzwalter)

Mother: Margaret WHETEHILL

Married 1: Elizabeth STAFFORD (C. Sussex) 23 Jul 1505

Children:

1. Henry RADCLIFFE (2 E. Sussex)

2. George RADCLIFFE

3. Humphrey RADCLIFFE (Sir)

4. Thomas RADCLIFFE

Married 2: Margaret STANLEY (C. Sussex) BEF 1 Sep 1532

Children:

4. Jane RADCLIFFE

5. Son RADCLIFFE

6. Anne RADCLIFFE

Married 3: Mary ARUNDELL (C. Sussex/C. Arundel) 14 Jan 1536

Children:

7. Henry RADCLIFFE (b. Mar 1538 - d. young)

8. John RADCLIFFE (Sir)


Robert Radcliffe, also spelled Radclyffe, Ratcliffe, Ratcliff, etc., was 10th Baron Fitzwalter, 1st Earl of Sussex, KG, KB, PC. Born about 1483, was the only son of John Radcliffe, 9th Baron FitzWalter, and Margaret Whetehill, widow of Thomas Walden, gentleman, and daughter of Robert Whetehill, esquire, by his wife, Joan. Radcliffe had five sisters, Mary, the wife of Sir Edward Darrell; Bridget; Ursula; Jane, a nun; and Anne, wife of Sir Walter Hobart. A powerful, ambitious and ruthless man, prominent courtier and soldier during the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII.

In Oct 1495 Robert Radcliffe's father was attainted of high treason for confederacy with the pretender, Perkin Warbeck, by which all his honours were forfeited. His life was spared, and he was imprisoned at Guisnes. After he unsuccessfully attempted to escape, he was beheaded at Calais about 24 Nov 1496. Radcliffe's mother was living on 6 Jul 1518. The date of her death is unknown.

In his youth Radcliffe was in the service of Henry VII and his then elder son and heir, Arthur, Prince of Wales, and was present at Arthur's marriage to Catalina of Aragon on 14 Nov 1501.

Firstly shortly after 23 Jul 1505, Sussex married to a first cousin of Henry VIIIs mother, Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Stafford, the elder daughter of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and Catherine Woodville. The couple had four children, Henry, George, Humphrey and Thomas.

Radcliffe's father's attainder was reversed by letters patent dated 3 Nov 1505, and later by Act of Parliament in 1509, by which Radcliffe became Baron FitzWalter.

He was appointed as a Knight of the Order of the Bath on 23 Jun 1509, and acted as lord sewer at the coronation of Henry VIII the following day. In 1515 he was at Westminster Abbey when Thomas Wolsey received his cardinal's hat.

Radcliffe served in the vanguard under George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, in the invasion of France in 1513, and was at the sieges of Therouanne and Tournai. In Jun 1520 he attended Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold and at his meetings with the Emperor Carlos V in Jul 1520 and May 1522. In 1521 he served at sea as admiral of a squadron, and was chief captain of the vanguard under his brother-in-law, the Earl of Surrey when the English forces landed at Morlaix on 1 Jul and campaigned in Picardy from 30 Aug to 14 Oct.

On 7 May 1524 he was installed as a Knight of the Order of the Garter, and on 18 Jul 1525, at the creation of Henry VIII's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, as Duke of Richmond, Radcliffe was created Viscount Fitzwalter. Further honours followed. Radcliffe was a member of the Privy Council before 2 Feb 1526, was created Earl of Sussex on 8 Dec 1529, appointed Lieutenant of the Order of the Garter on 7 May 1531, and appointed as a Chamberlain of the Exchequer for life on 3 Jun 1532.

By 1 Sep 1532, Sussex married his second wife, Margaret Stanley, the only daughter of Thomas Stanley, 2nd Earl of Derby, and Anne Hastings, the daughter of Edward Hastings, 2nd Baron Hastings, by whom he had two daughters: Jane Radcliffe, who married Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montague; and Anne Radcliffe, who married Thomas Wharton, 2nd Baron Wharton. Some sources says that Anne Hastings would have been married to John Fitzwalter, Sussex's father, before becoming Countess of Derby.

Sussex was for a long period in very confidential relations with Henry VIII, and is of the view that it was with the King's knowledge that Sussex proposed to the Privy Council on 6 Jun 1536 that the King should advance his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, to the crown ahead of Princess Mary, the King's daughter by Catalina of Aragon. Sussex also took the King's part on the divorce issue. He served as Lord Sewer at the coronation of Queen Anne Boleyn on 1 Jun 1533, and on 2 Dec 1533 was among the commissioners who took Henry VIII's demands concerning the divorce to Catalina of Aragon.

After the Pilgrimage of Grace, Sussex was commissioned, together with Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, to restore order in Lancashire, and as a reward for his services was granted the manor of Cleeve in Somerset.

On 14 Jan 1537 Sussex married his third wife, Mary Arundell, daughter of Sir John Arundell of Lanherne St. Mawgan-in-Pyder, Cornwall, by his second wife, Catherine Grenville. Sussex had by Mary Arundell two sons: a first-born son baptized 22 Mar 1538 who died in infancy; and Sir John Radcliffe (bap. 31 Dec 1539 d. 9 Nov 1568) of Cleeve, Somerset, younger son.

On 23 Jun 1537 (LP, xii(2), 191 (36); ibid. xiii(2), 5);  he was granted the reversion of the office of Lord Steward of the Royal Household, although when the current holder, George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, died in the following year he was succeeded, not by Sussex, but by the King's brother-in-law, Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk.

In 1539 Sussex was one of the commissioners appointed to defend the Thames and the coast of Essex. He was active in the spoilation of the Church and received many grants of land after the Suppression of the monasteries.

On 3 Jan 1540 he attended Henry VIII at the reception of Anne of Cleves at Blackheath. On 9 Mar of the same year he was appointed to inquire into the situation in Calais, and after the disgrace and recall to England of Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, had charge of Calais from 17 Apr until Jul. On 3 Aug 1540 he was granted a lifetime appointment as Lord Great Chamberlain.

Robert Radcliffe died 27 Nov 1542. After Sussex's death, his widow Mary married, on 19 Dec 1545, as his second wife, Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel. There were no issue of the marriage.

Sources:

Archbold, William Arthur Jobson (1896). "Radcliffe, Robert" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 47. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 135.

Bindoff, S.T. (1982). The House of Commons 1509-1558. III. London: Secker & Warburg.

Cokayne, George Edward (1953). The Complete Peerage edited by Geoffrey H. White. XII (Part I). London: St Catherine Press.

Grummitt, David (2004). "Radcliffe, Robert, first earl of Sussex (1482/31542)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22991.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

to Bios Page to Family Page
to Peerage Page to Home Page