Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the throne of England in the reign of Henry VII., born in London, hanged at Tyburn, Nov. 23, 1499. He is said to have been the son of a Jew of Tournay, to which place he went in boyhood. In 1490 he appeared at the court of Margaret, dowager duchess of Burgundy, and there impressed every one with his extraordinary resemblance to Edward IV.; and it has been thought that he was really the illegitimate son of that monarch. At this court he was taught to represent Richard, duke of York, younger brother of Edward V., generally supposed to have been murdered by his uncle Richard in the tower. In 1492, when there was prospect of a war between France and England, the pretender landed at Cork, and was joined by numerous partisans. Charles VIII. invited him to the court of France, acknowledged him as duke of York, and gave him a pension and a body guard. At the peace of Etaples he was dismissed from France and went to Flanders, where the duchess of Burgundy received him as her nephew. The populace of England believed in him, and some of the nobility openly declared for him. Henry VII. learned his true history and published it, putting to death or otherwise punishing many of the domestic conspirators.
Warbeck, twice driven from English territory, which with 600 men he had invaded in 1495, went to Scotland, where he was acknowledged by James IV. and received in marriage Lady Catharine Gordon, daughter of the earl of Huntly. Going soon after to Bodmin, Cornwall, he was joined by 3,000 of the inhabitants and began the siege of Exeter, taking on himself for the first time the title of Richard IV., king of England, Sept. 7, 1497. But he was forced to retire to Taunton, though at the head of 7,000 men, and took refuge in the sanctuary of Beaulieu in the New forest. He was taken prisoner, and on the promise of pardon made a confession of his life and adventures; but being kept in custody, he broke from it and fled to the sanctuary of Sheene. He was retaken, put in the stocks at Westminster and Cheapside, forced to read aloud his previous confession, and then confined in the tower. Being detected in a plot for escaping with the earl of Warwick, then in prison, Warbeck was tried and executed.