When I was reading about the War of the Roses, I became fascinated with Thomas Stanley. Born in 1435 to Thomas Stanley, Knight Lord of Lathom and Joan Goushill, he was a direct descendant of Edward I King of England. In 1457 Stanley married Elizabeth Neville the sister of the Earl of Warwick, a powerful English noble commonly referred to as the kingmaker. In 1459 when his father died, Thomas Stanley inherited the title the King of Mann.
Stanley’s lineage, title, and marriage placed him in the middle of the English War of the Roses, the battle for the English crown between two branches of the royal family. Crafty and ambitious, he successfully played the Lancastrian faction against the Yorkist against during the reigns of Edward IV, Henry VI, and Richard III.
In 1482, he married Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and the mother of Henry Tudor. While his wife actively conspired to place her son, heir of the Lancastrian line, on the thrown and topple Richard III, Stanley managed to escape the label of traitor under Richard III.
Even though Stanley had promised to support Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field 1485, he delayed committing his army until Richard decided to charge Henry Tudor’s position. When Richard III’s horse bogged down in a marsh, Stanley committed his forces to Henry Tudor, his stepson. Richard III was killed, and Henry Tudor became King of England.
As a reward for Stanley’s actions at Bosworth Field, Henry VII created a new earldom of Derby and made Stanley the first Earl of Derby. Later on Henry VII’s coronation day, Stanley was appointed Lord High Steward of England.
It was in Stanley’s fortuitous marriages and his connection to the Kings of England at I found the seed for my story. Stanley’s history suggested the possibility of a romantic suspense filled with family strife. Of course, I played with historical fact a tad. In Wanted Ghostbusting Bride, Godfrey Markham, the first Earl of Ryne, is the ancestor of the hero. Godfrey’s actions and marriages have caused a ghostly war – one that plagues the hero five hundred years later.