Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe, Margaret Beaufort’s (pictured at the start of this paragraph) mother, was married in the first instance to Sir Oliver St John who died in 1437. From this union Margaret Beaufort had seven siblings; two brothers and five sisters.
The eldest of the five daughters was called Edith and she married Geoffrey Pole who owned land in Cheshire. Edith, about whom not much appears to be known, died in 1459. She had a daughter called Eleanor Pole who served as one of Katherine of Aragon’s ladies-in-waiting (double click on the link to open a new window with my post about Eleanor). And that might have been that apart from the fact that her son Sir Richard Pole, a loyal supporter of the Tudors married the daughter of the Duke of Clarence, the one who was allegedly drowned in a vat of Malmsey.
Just so we’re clear, Sir Richard Pole a Lancastrian of Welsh descent via his father Geoffrey was Henry VII’s cousin because Richard’s mother Edith was Henry VII’s aunt. Margaret Beaufort had fond memories of her all to short childhood growing up with her St John kin. She took an interest in her extended family and it is perhaps not surprising that they lurk in the background of Tudor history.
As family Sir Richard Pole was trusted by Henry VII. He was married off to Margaret Plantagent the niece of Edward IV and Richard III and whose brother the young Earl of Warwick was kept locked up in the Tower until he was executed –. Henry VII was satisfied with letting the blood of Margaret’s brother and marrying her to a minor member of his own family. Even Shakespeare, the Tudor spin doctor, said of this union; “His daughter (the Duke of Clarence’s) meanly have I match’d in marriage.” They went on to have five children and must have thought that they had weathered the Wars of the Roses storm.
It cannot, sadly, be said that Henry VIII trusted the Poles. The Poles were doubly his cousins – through their relationship to Margaret Beaufort and through the fact of their descent from George Duke of Clarence. Despite Sir Richard Pole’s loyal service to two generations of Tudors, his wife and sons were rounded up and executed on account of their Plantagenet blood and their Catholicism– an irony for the Pole children given their Lancastrian heritage and links to Margaret Beaufort.