This Day in History: 1483-06-22

On 22nd June 1483, Dr Ralph Shaw (or Sha), a Cambridge doctor of divinity and brother of the Mayor of London, Edmund Shaw, delivered an ‘explosive’ sermon from the open-air pulpit at St Paul’s Cross in London. This was to vindicate Richard’s, Duke of Gloucester, lord of Sandal, claim to the crown. Shaw announced a ‘precontractual’ marriage/betrothal between Edward IV and Lady Eleanor Butler invalidating Edward’s later marriage to Elizabeth Woodville thereby rendering their children illegitimate and negating any rights to the throne. Shaw’s text from the fourth chapter of the Book of Wisdom quoted: ‘Bastard slips shall not take deep root.’ Bishop Stillington is later said to have confirmed this as he was present at Edward’s and Eleanor’s betrothal. Some sources even claim that Shaw questioned the legitimacy of Edward IV and his brother, George, Duke of Clarence, by reason of their mother’s Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, infidelity; citing Richard, Duke of Gloucester’s resemblance to his father, Richard, Duke of York, unlike his two brothers.