Richard Empson

Sir Richard Empson
Sir Richard Empson (left), with Henry VII and Sir Edmund Dudley.
Born c. 1450
Died 17 August 1510 (aged 59–60)
Tower Hill
Buried Whitefriars, London
Spouse(s) Jane
Thomas Empson
John Empson
Elizabeth Empson
Joan Empson
Anne Empson
Mary Empson
Father Peter Empson
Mother Elizabeth Joseph

Sir Richard Empson (c. 1450 – 17 August 1510), minister of Henry VII, was a son of Peter Empson. Educated as a lawyer, he soon attained considerable success in his profession, and in 1491 was a Knight of the shire for Northamptonshire in Parliament, and Speaker of the House of Commons.


Richard Empson, born about 1450, was the son of Peter Empson (d.1473) and Elizabeth Joseph. John Stow claimed that his father was a sieve maker, but there is no evidence of this. His father, Peter Empson, held property at Towcester and Easton Neston in Northamptonshire.[1]

Early in the reign of Henry VII he became associated with Edmund Dudley in carrying out the King's rigorous and arbitrary system of taxation, and in consequence he became very unpopular. Retaining the royal favour, however, he was knighted at the creation of the future Henry VIII as Prince of Wales on 18 February 1504,[1] and was soon High Steward of the University of Cambridge,[2] and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, but his official career ended with Henry VII's death in April 1509.

Thrown into prison by order of the new King, Henry VIII, he was charged, like Dudley, with the crime of constructive treason, and was convicted at Northampton in October 1509. His attainder by Parliament followed,[3] and he was beheaded on 17 August 1510.[1] In 1512 his elder son, Thomas, was "restored in blood", meaning that his father's attainder was reversed so far as it affected him, by Act of Parliament.[1]

Marriage and issue

Empson married a woman named Jane whose surname is unknown, by whom he had at least two sons and four daughters, including:[1]

  • Thomas Empson, eldest son and heir, who married Audrey or Etheldreda, one of the daughters of Sir Guy Wolston.[1][4][5]
  • John Empson, who married Agnes Lovell, daughter of Henry Lovell and Constance Hussey,[6] and a ward of Edmund Dudley.[1][7][8]
  • Elizabeth Empson,[9] who married firstly George Catesby, son of William Catesby, counsellor to Richard III, and secondly, in August 1509, Thomas Lucy, with grandson, Sir Thomas Lucy.[1][10]
  • Joan Empson, who married firstly Henry Sothill, esquire, of Stoke Faston, Leicestershire, Attorney General to Henry VII, by whom she had twin daughters, Joan Sothill (b. 1505), who married Sir John Constable (son of Sir Marmaduke Constable),[11][12][13] and Elizabeth Sothill, (1505–1575) who married Sir William Drury, M.P., P.C., (c.1500–1558), a son of Sir Richard Empson's successor as Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Robert Drury of Hawstead, Suffolk. She married secondly Sir William Pierrepont of Holme Pierrepont, Nottinghamshire.[14][1]
  • Anne Empson, who married firstly Robert Ingleton (d.1503), a ward of her father, by whom she had a daughter who married Humphrey Tyrrell. She married secondly John Higford, who in 1504 was pardoned for her rape as well as burglary, and other offences.[1][clarification needed]
  • Mary Empson, who married Edward Bulstrode, son of Richard Bulstrode.[1]