Born 1427 Died 1470
John Tiptoft was the son of John Tiptoft (1375-1443), who was Speaker of the House of Commons in 1406, much employed in diplomacy by Henry V, a member of the council during the minority of Henry VI, and created Baron Tiptoft in 1426. The younger Tiptoft was educated at Oxford, where John Rous says that he was one of his fellow-students; he is stated to have been a member of Balliol College. He married Cicely, daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and widow of Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick (d. 1445). In 1449 he was created Earl of Worcester. His wife died in 1450, but he continued the association with the Yorkist party. During York's protectorate he was treasurer of the exchequer, and in 1456-1457 deputy of Ireland. In 1457 and again in 1459 he was sent on embassies to the pope. He was abroad three years, during which he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; the rest of the time he spent in Italy, at Padua, where he studied law and Latin; at Ferrara, where he made the acquaintance of Guarino of Verona; and at Florence, where he heard the lectures of John Argyropoulos, the teacher of Greek. He returned to England early in the reign of Edward IV, and on the 7th of February 1462 was made Constable of England. In this office he had at once to try the Earl of Oxford, and judged him by "lawe padoue" (sc. of Padua; Warkworth, 5). In 1463 he commanded at sea, without success. In the following year as constable he tried and condemned Sir Ralph Grey and other Lancastrians. In 1467 he was again appointed deputy of Ireland.
During a year's office there he had the Earl of Desmond attainted, and cruelly put to death the earl's two infant sons. In 1470, as constable, he condemned twenty of Warwick's adherents, and had them impaled, "for which ever afterwards the earl was greatly hated among the people, for their disordinate death that he used contrary to the law of the land" (Warkworth, 9). On the Lancastrian restoration Worcester fled into hiding, but was discovered and tried before the Earl of Oxford, son of the man whom he had condemned in 1462. He was executed on Tower Hill on the 18th of October 1470.
Worcester was detested for his brutality and abuse of the law, and was called "the butcher of England" (Fabyan, 659). More than any of his contemporaries in this country he represents the combination of culture and cruelty that was distinctive of the Italians of the Renaissance. Apart from his moral character he was an accomplished scholar, and a great purchaser of books in Italy, many of which he presented to the university of Oxford. He translated Cicero's De amicitia and Buonaccorso's Declaration of Nobleness, which were printed by Caxton in 1481. Caxton in his epilogue eulogized Worcester as superior to all the temporal lords of the kingdom in moral virtue as well as in science. Worcester is also credited with a translation of Caesar's ommentaries printed in 1530. His ordinances for justes and triumphes, made as constable in 1466, are printed in Harrington's Nugae antiquae. Worcester was a patron of the early English humanist John Free, and his Italian friends included, besides those already mentioned, Lodovico Carbo of Ferrara, and the famous Florentine bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci.
Authorities. - For Worcester's English career see especially the contemporary accounts in Three Fifteenth Century Chronicles, Collections of a London Citizen (Gregory's Chronicle), and Warkworth's Chronicle - all three published by the Camden Society. Vespasiano da Bisticci gave an account of him in his Vite di uomini illustri, i. 322-326, ap. Opere inedite o rare nella provincia dell' Emilia. See also Blades' Life of Caxton, i. 79, ii. 73. (C.L.K.)
Being the entry for JOHN TIPTOFT WORCESTER, EARL OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.