Wulford, Ralph (DNB00)

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WULFORD or WILFORD, RALPH (1479?–1499), pretender, born about 1479, is described in ‘Fabyan's Chronicle’ as son of a cordwainer in London, and he was not improbably a member of the London and Kent family of Wilford [cf. art. Wilford, Sir James]. He resembles Lambert Simnel [q. v.] in the obscurity of his origin, and, like Simnel, he was one of the tools used by the Yorkists in their endeavours to overthrow Henry VII. Like Simnel, too, he was made to personate the Earl of Warwick, eldest son of Edward IV's brother, the Duke of Clarence [see Edward, 1475–1499], though, according to Fabyan, Wilford only ‘avaunced himself to be the son or heir to the Earl of Warwick's lands’ (Chronicle, p. 686)—an absurd statement in view of the fact that Warwick was not more than four years older than Wulford. Wulford was educated for the part by one Patrick, an Austin friar, and in 1498 rumours were spread abroad that that year was likely to be one of great danger for Henry VII (Cal. State Papers, Spanish, i. 206). Wulford began to confide to various persons in Kent—the scene of Warbeck's early attempts—that he was the real Earl of Warwick. Henry VII had, however, learnt to be prompt in dealing with pretenders, and before the conspirators could take definite action both Wulford and his preceptor were arrested. Wulford was executed on Shrove Tuesday, 22 Feb. 1498–9, and Patrick was imprisoned for life.

[Fabyan's Chron. pp. 685–6; Hall's Chron. p. 490; Polydore Vergil's Historia, p. 770; Bacon's Henry VII; Lingard's Hist. of England; Busch's England under the Tudors, i. 119–20.]

A. F. P.