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Sir Richard Empson (left), along with Henry VII of England and Sir Edmund Dudley.

Sir Richard Empson (died 17 August 1510), minister of Henry VII, king of England, was a son of Peter Empson, an influential inhabitant of Towcester.

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.

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 by sword at the creation of Prince Henry as Prince of Wales, on the 18th February, 1504 and was soon High Steward of the University of Cambridge,[1] and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; but his official career ended with Henry’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,[2] and he was beheaded on the 17th or 18th of August 1510. Empson left by his wife, Jane, so far as is known, a family of two sons and four daughters, and about 1513 his estates were restored to his elder son, Thomas.

One of his granddaughters, Elizabeth Sothill, (1505 - 1575) married Sir William Drury, Kt., M.P., P.C., (c1500 - 1558), a son of Sir Richard Empson's successor as Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Robert Drury, Kt., of Hawstead.


  1. ^ Richard Empson in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  2. ^ According to Hargrave's note in 1 State Trials no. 26, there was no act of attainder, but only an act to prevent the forfeiture of some property held by Empson and Dudley in trust.
  • "The Visitation of Warwickshire 1619", London, 1877, p.284.
  • "The Extinct & Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland, and Scotland" by Messrs,John and John Bernard Burke, 2nd edition, London, 1841, p.498.
  • "History of Henry VII", by Francis Bacon, edited by Joseph Rawson Lumby (Cambridge, 1881).
  • "The Reign of Henry VIII" by J.S.Brewer, edited by James Gairdner (London, 1884).
  • "The Knights of England" by William A. Shaw, Litt.D.,&c., London, 1906, volume II, p.34.
  • "Plantagenet Ancestry" by Douglas Richardson, Baltimore, Md., 2004, p.276. Extremely well sourced.
  • "Magna Carta Ancestry" by Douglas Richardson, Baltimore, Md.,2005, p.668.
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Drury
Preceded by
Sir John Mordaunt
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Henry Marney

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.



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