Sir Walter Urswick – soldier, warrior, constable of Richmond Castle.

john of gauntBefore he became the duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt was the earl of Richmond. The title was confirmed on him by Edward III in 1351, prior to that date the income from the estates lay in Queen Philippa’s hands for the maintenance of the royal children.

Gaunt surrendered the title in June 1372 when he married Constance of Castile and took the title king of Castile. Many members of his retinue had joined with Gaunt as he started to build his train of retainers whilst earl of Richmond. Sir Walter Urswick was one such.

Sir Walter Urswick, who was Gaunt’s master of game amongst other things, joined John’s retinue in 1367 as Gaunt for £40.00 per year. Urswick died a decade later (approx) and was buried in the church at Catterick. Interestingly Urswick’s indenture doesn’t make any mention of serving Gaunt during time of war. Conditions are only attached to peacetime service and Urswick was a very busy man on John of Gaunt’s behalf from his base in the Manor of Catterick. In addition to being Gaunt’s master of game he was also the Forester for Swaledale and in 1371 became Constable of Richmond Castle.  In addition he was the Forester for the Forest of Bowland – Gaunt was the Lord of Bowland in addition to all his other titles. Walter held a property at Whitewell which is an inn today.

Despite not having agreed to serve in Gaunt’s retinue in times of war Urswick turns up in Navarre in 1366 where he was knighted and is mentioned in Froissart as serving with Gaunt in Bruges. Following the good service that Urswick performed in Navarre he attained all the other preferrements identified in the paragraphs above and is noted as one of Gaunt’s most trusted men. A letter recalls:

John, son of the noble King of England, Duke of Lancaster, &c., &c„
to all whom these letters may concern, greeting I Know you that for the
good and friendly service which our well-beloved Master Walter de Urswick
has done us in our expedition to Spain, and for others he will render in time
to come, and also to enable him the better to maintain the order of knight-
hood which he took of us on the day of the battle of Najara, we have given
and granted to him for the term of his. life £40 a year, to be taken, year by
year, in round sums, at the hands of our general Receiver for the time being
out of the issues of our Manors of Katterick and Forcet, in our county of
Richmond.’

https://archive.org/stream/recordsfamilyur01urwigoog/recordsfamilyur01urwigoog_djvu.txt (accessed 25/07/2017 21:24).

Sir Walter’s brother Robert was Gaunt’s receiver and other members of the family appear on the pay roll as well.  It should also be mentioned that he married into the Scrope family – as demonstrated by the impaling of the Urswick arms with those of the Scropes’ upon his monument in St Anne’s Catterick – demonstrating once again the growth of a network binding the Lancaster Affinity together.

Catterick - St Anne Walter Urswick 1375 77.jpg

The picture of Sir Walter’s monument originates from http://www.themcs.org/armour/14th%20century%20armour.htm

SaveSaveSaveSave

Leave a comment

Filed under Fourteenth Century, The Plantagenets

Sir Richard Scrope – 1st Baron Scrope of Bolton.

bolton castle.jpgBefore we start and at the risk of telling folk something they already know Scrope is pronounced “Scroop.” The Scrope family is one of the great northern families who arrived with the Conquest and gradually grew in power. They can be found in a number of official capacities down the centuries from the fourteenth century onwards  including as Lord Wardens of the Western March. It should be added that like everyone else I’m reading about at the moment Richard Scrope was decidedly chummy with John of Gaunt. Goodman describes him as a mentor to the duke – after all Scrope had campaigned with Edward III since the early days of the Hundred Years War as well as during various Scottish conflicts (p289).

Richard was the son of Edward III’s chief justice. Sir William de la Pole, the canny Hull merchant who I mentioned in my previous post was Edward III’s financier at about the same time. He arranged the marriage between Richard Scrope and his daughter Blanche de la Pole in 1344. The couple had four sons before Blanche’s death in 1378.

Sir Richard, like many men of his generation, fought during the early campaigns of the Hundred Years War. He served initially in the retinue of The Earl of Warwick in France and later with John of Gaunt where he was an experienced warrior in a war band led by Gaunt who at that stage in proceedings hadn’t seen so much conflict. He appears on Gaunt’s list of knights  from 1367 for the fee of £40 per annum.  He was still receiving that fee  when the duke died in 1399.

Scrope fought in every major campaign between 1346 and 1384 including at Crecy and the Siege of Calais.  We know this from the events that followed the Scottish campaign of 1385.  Goodman makes the point that soldiers of Scrope’s repute helped to recruit men who wished to serve in John of Gaunt’s retinue.  As time passed younger men wished to serve Gaunt not only for the patronage and prestige of being linked to the house of Lancaster but also to rub shoulders with their military heroes (p 217) including Scrope.

In the meantime as well as garbing himself in fortune and glory whilst in France Scrope proved to be a canny businessman.  He obtained the wardship of the three heiress daughters of Robert, Lord Tiptoft who died in April 1372.  Tiptoft was reputed to have salvaged King John’s treasure from ‘The Wash’. Sir Richard paid 230 marks for to become the girls’ guardian. The three girls were betrothed to Scropes’ sons and are all left legacies in Scrope’s will.  It should be added that by the time he died he was a wealthy man having purchased land all over the country including the Isle of Man.

Scrope’s links with John of Gaunt and the ties of the Lancaster Affinity are evidenced not only by his appearance of Lancaster’s list of retainers but is also evidenced through their shared patronage of the Franciscans at Richmond. Other donors also feature on Gaunt’s list of retainers. The men on the list, as might be expected given their lives working together also feature in other written records – namely wills and as witnesses on other legal documents.  Scrope, for example, was one of William Ufford, earl of Suffolk’s executors. (Just to clarify this particular earl died without male heirs, the title lapsed and was filled three years later by Michael de la Pole another of John of Gaunt’s retinue.

Yet more evidence  of the links between Scrope,  John of Gaunt and other members of the Lancaster Affinity can be found in the case of Sir Richard Scrope versus Sir Robert Grosvenor from Cheshire. All the magnates turned out for war against the Scots in 1385. Not only did the campaign not go well for the English but there was the small matter of both Scrope and Grosvenor turning up with arms described in heraldic terms as azure bend or (blue with a gold stripe running diagonally from top left to bottom right). A General Proclamation was promptly made throughout the army that all who were interested in the dispute should appear on 20th August at Newcastle on Tyne to state their views in the matter. Unsurprisingly it took rather longer than a day to resolve the issue. More than three hundred depositions exist taken from thirteen different locations on behalf of both men pertaining to their rights to bear those particular arms. The question that the depositions answered was had the person giving their deposition seen Scrope or Grosvenor bearing those arms, were they aware of any prior usage within the family and had they ever seen the arms used by anyone else. The case lasted four years.

3_scrope.jpg

The depositions provide the information that Scrope first bore his arms during the reign of Edward III in 1359. One of the depositors on Scrope’s behalf was a knight called Sir John de Sully of Crediton in Devon. He was allowed to give his information from the comfort ofhis home – he was over a hundred years old at the time! Testimony was provided by none other that Geoffrey Chaucer- it is from his deposition that we learn that Chaucer ended up as a French prisoner of war during his various adventures. Amongst the people giving evidence were John of Gaunt.

glendowerseal.gifTestifying for Sir Robert was a little known Welshman called Owen Glyndwr – possibly demonstrating that Fourteenth century Britain was a small place when all was said and done! The depositions were made to establish who used the arms and when – making them a gift for military historians wishing to piece together information about the specifics of a particular campaign. Judgement was eventually handed down in Westminster in Scrope’s favour and Grosvenor chose a new coat of arms which changed the bend or for the Chester wheat sheaf – that particular coat of arms is still used by the very unrural sounding dukes of Westminster. It should be added that the Grosvenor family remembered the loss of their coat of arms and in the 1880’s named a race horse “Bend Or.”  It won the Derby.

 

Between 1371 and 1375 Scrope served as Lord Treasurer and was made Lord Chancellor in 1378, which post he held until 1380, but he then served again from 1381 to 1382. One of his roles was to curb the extravagance of the young king who installed toilets in his palaces and followed the fashion for curly toed shoes.  Relations between Scrope and his king came to a rather sticky impasse as a result of the execution of  Edmund Mortimer, Third Earl of March.  Richard being a bit short of cash should made the most of Mortimer and his fellow conspirators having under age heirs.  The lands and the heirs immediately came into Crown hands – wards were valuable commodities in that the person holding the wardship of an heir could milk the estates for their own benefit until the ward came of age and if they were canny the guardian would ensure that the ward was married into the guardian’s family.  It was in a sense a way for Richard to make some quick cash by selling the various wardships to the highest bidder.  Scrope suggested that this wasn’t the most sensible thing that Richard had ever done. It would make far more economic sense for Richard to keep the wards under his own control as the estates would generate revenue and could still be farmed out a later date.  Richard II informed his Chancellor to do get on and do what he was told.   Scrope persisted in trying to persuade Richard to hold on to the lands in question.  Richard II did not like being told what to do and demanded the Great Seal back from Scrope.  Scrope refused to comply until he’d had it from the king’s mouth rather than a messenger’s that he’d been dismissed from his post.

It should be added that Scrope appears to have been regarded as an honest man in that he was appointed executor to Edmund Mortimer’s will – so to say he must have experienced a conflict of interest might be an understatement!

In between going to war, running the country and fulfilling various legal commitments from his friends and peer group Scrope found time to be the Warden of the West March – a post he was appointed to in 1381. The post became something of a hereditary one in that the name Scrope features frequently as warden from that time hence until the post was abolished during the reign of James I of England (VI of Scotland).

It was perhaps fortunate in the aftermath of  Richard II’s disagreement with Scrope that Scrope already had a licence to crenelate Castle Bolton.  The project took him twenty years and £12,000. In the meantime his son William took on the role of warrior and politician rising to become the earl of Wiltshire – and loyal member of the Lancaster affinity. Richard Scrope died on 30 May 1403.  He was buried at Easby Abbey.

 

https://archive.org/details/decontroversiai01scrogoog

http://www.boltoncastle.co.uk/what-to-do-yorkshire/medieval-castles-history/

MacFarlane, K.B. (1973). The Nobility of Late Medieval England. Oxford. Oxford University Press

Goodman, Anthony. (1992) John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth Century Europe. London: Longman

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Fourteenth Century, The Plantagenets

Michael de la Pole – Earl of Suffolk, Chancellor, traitor and retainer

john of gauntMichael De La Pole ( born circa 1331) was created Earl of Suffolk in 1385. It was a meteroric rise to power given that his father was a Hull wool merchant. Of course, there was money involved.  Edward III needed a financier and William de la Pole was the man for the job. Unsurprisingly, Michael benefitted from his father’s wealth and influence at the court of Edward III.

He can be found amongst the retinues of the Black Prince and later John of Gaunt. It appears that when he first took arms in 1359 he served in the retinue of Henry of Grosmont a.k.a. the first duke of Lancaster. In 1366 he served under the banner of John of Gaunt and continued in the duke’s service in successive campaigns. This suggests that joining with the Black Prince was something that all men wanted to do irrelevant of where their loyalty would normally lay – don’t forget the Black Prince was the military commander who led the English to their early victories during the Hundred Years War.

It was as a consequence of his affiliation with Lancaster that de la Pole began to rise in position. In 1376 he was made admiral of the fleet north of the Thames (Roscell: 129). He was reappointed to the post when Richard II became king in 1377.  Pole was also appointed to be one of Richard II’s advisers. He worked alongside the earl of Arundel who would go on to become Pole’s arch rival and Richard’s bitter enemy.

In 1378 de la Pole was back in France with a commission to take over the castle at Brest – at the behest of Gaunt. During his years as a soldier de la Pole was made a prisoner of war at least once on the second occasion he was part of an embassy negotiating with Wenzel for the hand of Anne of Bohemia. Quite how John of Gaunt must have felt when his former captain managed to get himself captured by brigands in Germany having gone off to negotiate a bride for Richard II can only be imagined. Gaunt agreed to pay 7,000 florins in January 1380 for the return of the embassy that included de la Pole. The ransom would come up at de la Pole’s trial – apparently the ransom constituted rather a waste of money and it hadn’t helped that on his return to England the exchequer was ordered to pay de la Pole his salary as well, inclusive of the time when he was twiddling his fingers in a cell in Germany. As is the way of these things the penpushers dragged their heels and it was only when de la Pole became chancellor that he got his back pay, which ultimately was turned, into a charge of embezzlement.

Richard II made de la Pole chancellor in 1385 but his role as Richard’s man made him a target for an increasingly hostile parliament who regarded Richard’s wish for peace as the result of poor advice. So whose man was de la Pole at this point? He was the king’s friend and adviser  and the king wanted peace.  It looks like Pole leaned in that direction as well.  However Gaunt was for a continuation of the continental conflict – so was Pole still gaunt’s man or not? Possibly not but it was probably just as well that popular opinion had placed Pole in a league of his own because  the Hundred Years War took a turn for the worse and even the Scots seemed to have the upper hand. Once again it was the king’s advisers who were to blame – and who better to blame than the jumped-up son of a merchant? In October 1386, just a year after being made an earl the Commons charged him with the crimes of embezzlement and negligence. This did not deter nineteen-year-old Richard who was forced to accept the impeachment of his adviser and friend. De la Pole continued to maintain his place at Richard’s side but Richard’s loyalty to his friend would ultimately see him removed from power. Consequentially, the following year Michael found himself on the wrong side of the Lords Appellants in November 1387. Pole had the sense to flee England in the aftermath of the Appellants’ victory at the Battle of Radcot Bridge so avoided the punishments meted out by the Merciless Parliament. Sentenced for treason he was stripped of his titles.   He died in Paris the following year but at least avoided the fates of Robert Tresilian (chief justice, Richard Bembre (former mayor of London) and Sir Simon Burley (Richard’s tutor) who amongst others were executed on the orders of the so-called Merciless Parliament. Richard remained powerless whilst John of Gaunt was overseas trying to secure the throne of Castile. It was only on Gaunt’s return in 1389 that Richard was able to regain the ascendency.

 

Froissart is not one of de la Pole’s fans. He described him as a man who gave bad advice and who caused trouble for John of Gaunt by making Richard II increasingly suspicious of his uncle. This is usually the evidence that is used to identify the fact that de la Pole was no longer of the Lancastrian Affinity.

And yet, it is clear that once upon a time de la Pole was very much part of Gaunt’s retinue and he is often used as an example of the way in which the Lancaster Affinity found itself in some very important places – which might well account for the duke of Gloucester’s antipathy to his brother and certainly Gaunt benefited from having retainers in high places. In October 1383, by which time de la Pole was chancellor, Michael spoke about the Anglo-Scottish situation in a way favourable to Gaunt who according to Goodman (p98) wanted to go to war in France rather than on England’s northern borders. By the following year Richard’s hostility to his uncle would taint their relationship (again) and the politics of the realm not to mention the way in which Scottish campaigning would be conducted. However, it was the last time that Michael de la Pole took to the field. When the English army marched into Scotland de la Pole arrived with one hundred and forty men and took his place as a retainer to John of Gaunt demonstrating de la Pole’s loyalty to the duke of Lancaster. During the campaign there were accusations of plots and disloyalty which Froissart interpreted as being de la Pole’s fault – a typical example of blaming the poor decisions of a monarch on his bad advisors. There is some  circumstantial evidence that suggests that de la Pole maintained some loyalty to the duke of Lancaster throughout his life. When the earl of Oxford, one of Richard’s favourites, plotted to rid the political scene of John of Gaunt’s influence in February 1385 it is possible that it was de la Pole who warned the duke of the plot which would have seen him arrested at a council meeting in Walham.

 

And as you might expect the more closely that you look at the extended families of Gaunt’s retinue the more it becomes apparent that there was a web of relationships building on Lancastrian links. Blanche de la Pole, Michael’s sister was married to a son of Lord Scrope – another of Gaunt’s prominent retainers. Michael’s other sister, Margaret, was married to Sir Robert Neville of Hornby. Sir William de la Pole – the Hull merchant had successfully married all his children into some of the north’s leading families – and they all happened to have some loyalty to the duchy of Lancaster. It’ll come as no surprise to know that Michael’s brother Edmund was also in the retinue of John of Gaunt – Edmund was also one of the people who was called upon to pay Michael’s ransom.

 

 

Armitage-Smith, Sydney. (1876) John of Gaunt: King of Castile and Leon, Duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster

Goodman, Anthony. (1992) John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-Century Europe. London: Longman

Roskell, John Smith. (1984)The Impeachment of Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk in 1386: In the Context of the Reign of Richard II. Manchester: Manchester University Press

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Anglo-Scottish history, Fourteenth Century, The Plantagenets

John of Gaunt’s retinue

john of gaunt.jpgThe Katherine Swynford Society runs two quarterly writing competitions – one biographical the other fictional.  Their website states that:

The main characters may be a mixture of the following: ancestors, contemporaries or descendants of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his three wives; Blanche of Lancaster, Constance of Castile and Katherine Swynford. Minor characters may include any members of John of Gaunt’s entourage in the Duchy of Lancaster. The aim of the competitions is to promote and stimulate interest and research into the life of Katherine Swynford and the late Medieval period.

http://www.katherineswynfordsociety.org.uk/short-story-competition.html

There certainly isn’t a shortage of ancestors or descendants to write about.  I shall peruse them in due course.  In the meantime I’ve become intrigued by the “minor characters.” The English Historical Review Vol. 45, No. 180 (Oct., 1930) contains an article about the way that John of Gaunt packed the Good Parliament of 1376 with his supporters.  The writers goes on to make analysis of the number of paid Lancastrians in the twelve parliaments between 1372 and 1382 (pp. 623-625.)  It turns out that from the one hundred and twenty-five knights  he identifies on John of Gaunt’s payroll that thirty did a stint as a member of parliament during the decade identified.

The reason that the article could be written and the Katherine Swynford Society are able to include individuals from John’s retinue so specifically is that amongst Gaunt’s documents is a list of his retainers. He is the only medieval magnate where such a list exists (although of course it doesn’t mean that other lists won’t be discovered languishing in archives or being reused for backings to other documents).  The list covers the period 1379 to 1383 – although it appears to be an amalgamation of knights from a more wide ranging span that’s been collated and filed at this point.  It exists because  many of the knights and squires in John’s service were required to sign a contract or as it was then called an “indenture of service.”  The indenture identified behaviours, duties and rights for times of peace and for times of war. These documents were then enrolled in chancery where they were confirmed by the king: in this case Richard II.  Bean contains a detailed analysis of the list.  He notes that ten knights have “cancelled” by their name.  Three of them were dead so I’m left wondering about the other seven! In total there were eight-five knights and eighty-five squires – some of them were cancelled as well but rather more cheerfully this appears to have been because they were promoted.

Other sources of information about John’s retinue come from his account books which is the main source for identifying Philippa Chaucer and other women including Katherine Swynford who were in the pay of Lancaster at one time or another. By chance several of Gaunt’s accounts survived as backing to a cartulary belonging to the Waley family, The problem is that the various accounts from the household rolls have been rather badly damaged when they were reused. The National Archives explains that the accounts list members of the household and their daily allowance, expenses for various departments and cost of equine care.  Bean uses figures from Gaunt’s financial returns to calculate that at the time of his death there were approximately two hundred knights and squires in his retinue.  Apparently squires were paid 10 marks a year whilst a basic knight’s salary was £20.  Bean goes on to provide a handy appendices listing all of Gaunt’s knights. John Neville of Raby is the first one of the list as was Lord Welles and Sir John Marmion.  The Camden Society also have a list of Gaunt’s retainers written by Lodge and Sommerville and Walker’s Lancaster Affinity is a useful text.

The more I read though, the more it became clear that the indentures were a business arrangement and whilst a number of men are consistently in Gaunt’s household many of them appear for a brief time only.  This is best explained as a military arrangement rather than a matter of feudal duty.  The men who fought for John during one season might re-enlist  in another magnate’s retinue for the next season’s fighting in France.  The idea of the retinue is much more complicated than it first appears. It is not just about feudal links and tenure of land. There are political and financial considerations to be taken on board as well as gaining a foothold in the household of England’s wealthiest magnate.  Sir John Saville of West Yorkshire is a relatively straightforward example of fealty. He fought for Henry Duke of Lancaster (Blanche of Lancaster’s father) and then turns up in Gaunt’s retinue in Spain.  He’s also one of those parliamentarians with a Lancastrian affinity mentioned at the start of this post.  Saville’s loyalty to the house of Lancaster is confirmed by the fact that the chantry at Elland built at the end of the fourteenth century was for prayers not just for the Saville family but also for the dukes of Lancaster. However, just to throw a small spanner in the wheel, Sir John also turns up in the records as doing service in the retinue of the Black Prince in the mid 1350’s demonstrating that membership of a martial retinue was not always about feudal duty or loyalty to a particular family.

Walker demonstrates throughout his book that during the fourteenth century feudalism was not always what is taught in school – even taking the effects of the Black Death into consideration. Knights and lords were not necessarily obedient to the will of their overlords. Independent action occurs as demonstrated by the number of men shifting from one retinue to another during campaigns in France. Walker also gives examples of men at the heart of Lancastrian territories acting contrary to Gaunt’s will – suggesting that society was much more complicated in the fourteenth century than text books often credit.

Armitage-Smith, Sydney. (1937)  John of Gaunt’s Register Camden Society, 3rd series, LVI-LVII https://archive.org/details/gauntsregister01smituoft (accessed 22.00 16/07/2017)

Bean, John Malcolm William. (1989) From Lord to Patron: Lordship in Late Medieval England. Manchester: Manchester University Press

E.C. Lodge and R. Somerville (ed) John of Gaunt’s Register, 1372–1376

Walker, Simon. (1990) The Lancaster Affinity: 1361-1399. Oxford: Oxford Historical Monographs

SaveSave

2 Comments

Filed under Fourteenth Century, The Plantagenets

Sir Hugh Swynford

william bell scott john of gaunt.jpgSir Hugh Swynford of Kettlethorpe and Coleby in Lincolnshire married Katherine de Roet in about 1366, although Alison Weir suggests the earlier date of 1362 based on the possible ages of the couple’s three children.  Weir also suggests that the union was arranged by Blanche of Lancaster and her husband John of Gaunt.

The Swynfords themselves were proud of their Saxon heritage and Hugh was part of Gaunt’s retinue.  Hugh’s father Thomas held Coleby for John of Gaunt – a reminder that the Lancaster inheritance was a far reaching one.  When he married Katherine de Roet he’d been a soldier fighting in the Hundred Years War for about ten years (if we take the traditional 1366 date).  He was also born in about 1340 making him a decade older than his  barely teenage bride (she was about twelve) when they married in the church of St Clement Dane.

Weir reveals that he’d fought first for the Black Prince and then transferred into the retinue of John of Gaunt, who was after all, his  feudal overlord.  Hugh wasn’t particularly wealthy, the rents from Kettlethorpe and Coleby appear to have been irregular, although he’d inherited his father’s estates in 1361.  It probably didn’t help that it wasn’t the most fertile of ground and even the mill lay in ruins.  Realistically his income came from his pay in Lancaster’s service and any loot or ransoms he could acquire whilst in France.  He was, however, a knight so the match between him and Katherine who held some lands in Hainault was considered a good one because she didn’t have much in the way of a dowry- though what Katherine, having been raised in the court of Philippa of Hainault, must have thought is not recorded.  Not that it would have mattered; marriage was not about love it was a business arrangement that would secure Katherine and Hugh’s future as vassals of the Lancaster family.  Realistically we don’t know much about the marriage – the portrayal of Swynford as rough and uncouth is based entirely on Anna Seyton’s book Katherine which has Katherine married off to Sir Hugh against her will.

The marriage took place, it is often stated, on In November 1366 Sir Hugh took himself off to Guienne to continue his duties as a knight in Gaunt’s service.  Katherine was pregnant.  Their son Thomas was born on 24 February 1367.  His arrival is often the reason that the marriage is dated to the previous year but the dates of his sisters’ births are not recorded  Weir argues that Blanche who was Gaunt’s godchild and named after the Duchess of Lancaster could have been the older of the siblings but that because she was a girl and because she wasn’t born whilst Katherine was in the company of the Duchess of Lancaster that the dates was not recorded. It is possible to argue the case both ways.

Swynford returned from France in 1369 but was summoned once more for military service the following year.  Katherine would not see him again.  He died on the Gironde in Aquitaine on the 13th November 1371. Katherine was only twenty-one when she was widowed.  Her story was about to take a dramatic turn as portrayed by the image at the start of this post.  It’s one of those Victorian History paintings that they loved so much.  Its by William Bell Scott and depicts John of Gaunt being read to by Chaucer.  The two women are Katherine Swynford and her sister Philippa Chaucer.

When John of Gaunt and Katherine petitioned the pope to legitimise their Beaufort children they stated that the affair had not begun during Hugh’s lifetime.  Froissart believed otherwise and when it came to Sir Hugh’s son Thomas inheriting his mother’s Hainault lands there were some problems on account of the rumour that he was actually the illegitimate son of John of Gaunt.  In the end King Henry IV wrote a letter stating that Thomas, who had been four when his father died in France, was legitimate.  Whatever the truth of the matter Hugh is for the most part a footnote in one of English History’s great love stories or a fictional counterfoil to the heroic personage of John of Gaunt – neither of which seems particularly fair- but without any other evidence its impossible to flesh him out any further.

Lucraft, Jeannette, (2010) Katherine Swynford: The History of a Medieval Mistress. Stroud: The History Press

Weir, Alison. (2007) Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and his Scandalous Duchess. London: Jonathan Cape

1 Comment

Filed under Fourteenth Century, The Plantagenets

The end of Carlisle’s Jacobites

archibald primrose.jpgIn the aftermath of the 1745 uprising many Jacobite prisoners found themselves in Carlisle once more. Legend tells that “the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lommand” was composed by a man destined for the gallows at this time.  The castle cells were so full that prisoners were kept in the Cathedral; troops were billeted. Court officials arrived. Friends and families arrived to try and save the lives of their loved ones. There were so many prisoners that it was decided that it was an impossible task to try them all. The Jacobites were made to draw lots. Nineteen out of twenty men were to be transported to the colonies. The twentieth man was to be put on trial for treason which usually meant execution. A Special Commission of Goal Delivery was held. The Grand Jury convened in August 1746 with the trials beginning on Tuesday, 9th September the same year. To have worn the white cockade was enough to confirm a man’s guilt.

One hundred and thirty people were taken forward for trial. Two men were too sick to stand trial and one man, Lord Mordington, pleaded his peerage so could not legally be tried by the judges in Carlisle as they were not his equals. Of the remaining defendants forty-two pleaded guilty and a further forty-nine were found guilty at their trials including Sir Archibald Primrose, the nephew of the Earl of Rosebery. Thirty-three of the convicted Jacobites were executed while one man died in prison.

Sir Archibald Primrose  of Dunipace having first been imprisoned in Aberdeen was moved to Carlisle for trial and went to his death on Harraby Hill leaving only a letter for his sister in Edinburgh which he handed over to a friend at the foot of the scaffold.  In it he assured her that he was meeting his death as a Christian. He had hoped for a pardon having pleaded guilty and thrown himself on the mercy of the court believing that this was the course that would preserve his life. No messenger arrived in time to save him. There is a story that reprieve arrived half an hour after Sir Archibald’s execution. He is buried in St Cuthbert’s Churchyard along with many of the other executed Jacobites in an unmarked grave. Mourners at the funerals of the executed men would not recognize the St Cuthbert’s Church today as the current building was erected in 1779. Primrose’s family must have been horrified by his decision to join with the Jacobites, although it would have to be said that keeping track of the Primrose family’s loyalties isn’t always straight forward.  They’d shifted from loyalty to James II to William of Orange and risen through Scottish society by telling tales on Jacobites. Primrose’s near ancestor  was a commissioner for the 1707 Act of Union – an event that didn’t go down terribly well in Scotland at the time – having risen to the rank of earl on 1703 on the strength of his political affiliations – so quite why our Archibald had opted to affiliate himself to his princeliness is a matter for some speculation and one which he only hints at in his final letter.

Archibald’s letter reveals the extent to which Hanoverian prosecutors were determined to make an example of the Jacobites. He says that William Gray one of his prosecutors “suborned witnesses” and “threatened some.”  He went on to say that one man was to be hanged alongside him who had been offered his life on the proviso that he incriminate Primrose.  The man had refused:

I have endeavoured to take some small time, from a much more immediate concern, to offer you a few lines, and to let you know that this day I am to suffer, I think,
for my religion, my prince, and my country. For each of these I wish I had a thousand lives to spend. The shortness of the intimation will not allow me much time to write to you so fully in my vindication for what I did that I know concerns you. But I heartily repent of the bad advice I got even from men of judgment and sense. And what I did by their advice in my own opinion was no more than acknowledging I bore arms
against the present government, for my lawful, undoubted prince, my religion, and country; and I thought by my plea to procure some time longer life only to do service to my poor family, not doubting but yet in a short time that glorious cause will succeed, which God of His infinite mercy grant.

I repent most heartily for what I did, and I merit this death as my punishment, and I trust in the Almighty for mercy for my poor soul. As I am very soon to leave this world, I pray God to forgive all my enemies, particularly Mr. Gray, he who did me all the injury he could by suborning witnesses, and threatening some which was my terror. Particularly there is one poor man is to suffer with me that had an offer of his life tobe an evidence against me, which he rejccted.

Much more I could say, but as my time is short, I now bid my last adieu to my dear mother and you, my dear sister, and I intreat you’ll be kind to my dear wife and children; and may all the blessings of Heaven attend you all. Live together comfortably and you may expect God’s favour. My grateful acknowledgments for all your favours done and designed.

Remember me kindly to my Lady Caithness, Sauchie, and his sisters, and all my friends and acquaintances. May the Almighty grant you all happiness here, and eternal bliss hereafter, to which bliss, I trust, in His mcrcy soon to retire; and am for ever, dear sistcr, your affectionate brothcr, A.P.
PS:–My blessing for your dear boy, my son. 

Transcript of letter from The Lyon in Mourning which may be accessed from http://digital.nls.uk/print/transcriptions/lyon/vol1/search/index.html

Twenty Guineas and the usual hangman’s prerequisites of clothes and personal belongings convinced William Stout of Hexham that he was the man to execute the Jacobites for their treason. It was not a pleasant job. Thirty-three men had to be hung, cut down, revived, cut open and disemboweled. The executioner was supposed to be sufficiently adept at knotting off vital tubes and arteries so that the dying man could see their bowels being burned in front of them. The last step in the process was to chop the condemned man’s head off and put an end to any lingering misery.

The first nine rebels were hung on Harraby Hill on Saturday 18th October 1746 amongst their number was the gallant highlander who’d presented his white cockade to a new born baby at Rose Castle as a guarantee of safety less than a year previously.  Executions continued throughout October in Brampton and Penrith and concluded on Saturday 15th November with a final batch of condemned men being executed on Harraby Hill.

An entry in the Carlisle Patriot of 10 October 1829 recalls the memories of John Graham who had “gone upon Harraby Hill to witness the melancholy ceremony.” In the years that followed he came into the ownership of the land where the gallows had once stood and it was he who unearthed its remains and the pile of ash that burned the entrails of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s men.

Executed on Saturday 18 October 1746 at Harraby Hill

James Brand

Francis Buchanan

Hugh Cameron

Thomas Coppoch (the so-called Jacobite Bishop of Carlisle)

John Henderson

Donald Macdonald of Teirnardreish

Donald Macdonald of Kinloch Moidart

John Macnaughton

 

Executed on Saturday, 15 November 1746 at Harraby Hill

Molineaux Eaton

Charles Gordon

Thomas Hayes

Patrick Keir

Barnambus Matthew

James Mitchell

Patrick Murray

Sir Archibald Primrose

Robert Reid

Alexander Stevenson

John Wallace

 

Hickey, Julia (2014) High Road to Harraby Hill.  Carlisle:Bookcase

 

2 Comments

Filed under Anglo-Scottish history, Carlisle, Eighteenth Century, The Stuarts

General Wade – Jacobites, walls and Yorkshire.

Fleece Inn Image sml.jpgI first heard of General George Wade as the man who built the Military Road from Newcastle to Carlisle by using some conveniently placed worked stone – Hadrian’s Wall.  It didn’t endear him to me.  Across on the Continent he’d served in the Nine Years War and the Wars of the Spanish Succession. In 1724 Wade was sent off to inspect Scotland having done a stint as an MP for Bath and having foiled various Jacobite plots in the SouthWest in 1719.  It was he who orchestrated barracks, bridges, roads and fortifications by which the north and Scotland could be controlled – he was made a field marshall for his pains. But it wasn’t until 1746 that he vandalised Hadrian’s Wall. His Military Road is the B6318.  It used masonry from the wall and near Brampton simply ploughs along its path.

Marshall Wade was in Newcastle in October 1745. Essentially he hung around in Newcastle in case his Princeliness and his Jacobites followed after Sir John Cope to Berwick and then down the east coast.  Meanwhile the east coast all the way down to Norfolk prepared to repel invading French-persons – unfortunately Louis XV hadn’t got his act together at that point.  There was supposed to have been a Jacobite uprising with shiploads of French the previous year – and it hadn’t happened due to a February storm that had scattered the French invasion fleet- in addition to which it wasn’t because Louis felt strongly about supporting the house of Stuart it was more to do with the War of Austrian Succession that saw Britain and France squaring off without actually declaring war.  The Jacobites were a handy method of disrupting the English.  Anyway, in 1745 Louis waited to see what would happen and left concrete support far too late but hindsight is a wonderful thing and in the autumn of 1745 everyone on the east coast was feeling decidedly nervous.

Meanwhile the inhabitants of the Cumbria and Lancashire were remembering that in 1715 the Jacobites had headed in their direction.  Letters were exchanged. Wade waited to see what the Jacobites would do.  George Murray was a canny lad and kept Wade guessing about which direction the Jacobites would choose. When it was finally clear which direction Charlie-boy and his cohorts were heading in it was too late for Wade’s forces to deploy in time. Wade discovered that bad weather and bad roads would prevent him from heading the Jacobites off before they made too much progress into England.

He and his men headed south after the Jacobites – using what we know as the A1 and what they thought of as the Great North Road. Meanwhile the duke of Cumberland was summoned from playing soldiers in Europe.  He and his men were based in Lichfield. A third army was hurriedly assembled to defend London although there were rumours that the Scottish contingent of the London based army would defect to the Jacobites if they got within twenty miles.  Realistically, Lord George Murray had every reason to be concerned about being out manoeuvred when Prince Charles held his meeting in Exeter House in Derby on the 5th December.

Wade and his troops had arrived in Ferrybridge on the 8th December. They made it to Wakefield by the 10th December.  Cumberland had sent a letter demanding that Wade’s men cut off the prince’s retreat. Wade realising that his men weren’t going to get to Preston or Manchester in time to cut off the Jacobites sent his cavalry commanded by Olgethorpe, on the 11th, to do what they could.  They hurried from Wakefield to Elland via Westgate where they stopped so that Lady Oglethorpe could admire the view. According to https://lowercalderlegends.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/the-fleece-inn-elland/ the tenant of the Fleece Inn, George Readyhough, provided ale for three thousand troops.

 

Wade, meanwhile turned his men around and head back to Newcastle. Oglethorpe arrived in Preston more or less at the same time as Cumberland – the 13th December.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Anglo-Scottish history, Eighteenth Century, The Stuarts

Derbyshire Monastic houses

In Yorkshire prior to the dissolution of the monasteries there was approximately one monastic house in every one hundred and nine miles. In North Yorkshire that dropped to one in every eighty-two miles. It’s impossible not to think of the great Cistercian establishments and the ruins that still dominate the landscape.

It’s a bit of a different story in Derbyshire.  There were no Cistercian foundations swelling in the area.  Of the seven houses, not counting Bradbourne which was a cell of Dunstable Priory in Bedfordshire, five were Augustinian and two were Premonstratsensian.

Here’s a map. Click on the map to change its size and on the bullet points for further information about each of the monastic foundations in the region:

The pattern of their dissolution followed the national pattern with visitation followed by surrender and suppression.  In addition to which thirty monastic houses held land, manors and benefices in Derbyshire.  Whilst Henry VIII’s change of “ownership” didn’t leave dramatic ruins in its wake it did change land ownership and the balance of power in the area.  Francis Leake and Sir William Cavendish both pocketing valuable estates.  The former’s descendants would become the earls of Scarsdale whilst the latter’s decedents would become the dukes of Devonshire.

1 Comment

Filed under Monasteries, Sixteenth Century

Bonnie Prince Charlie demands new shoes.

bonnie prince charlieHaving waved farewell to Colonel Francis Townley the Mancunian newly made Governor of Carlisle and the 380/390 men who remained with him Bonnie Prince Charlie exited Carlisle via Scotch Gate and crossed the bridge over the River Eden. Lord George Murray’s men awaited him at Stanwix.

From there the Jacobites marched eight miles to the Scottish border – into what had been the Debatable Lands.  At Longtown they needed to cross the River Esk.  It should have been a shallow crossing place.  As it was the river was if not in full spate very close to it.  Cavalry were sent down river to rescue anyone that got swept away and then the soldiers formed up into lines of twelve, locked arms and made their way across with suitable gaps between the parties of twelve men.  Apparently they all made it, although Hanoverian press claimed that several camp followers and jacobite women drowned as they  made the attempt – this it appears was propaganda.

Once the army had made dry land the pipers struck up and the whole army danced – from joy at being back on home soil and more practically because they needed to dry out.

This event spawned yet another heroic ballad entitled The Hundred Pipers.  It was written by Lady Nairn and she seems to have become slightly confused about the chronology  as in the ballad the Scots danced their way into England rather than out of it.

The army now split into two columns.  One led by Lord George Murray headed in the direction of Ecclefechan whilst the other containing his princeliness headed off in the direction of Dumfries via Annan.  This was perhaps to make it seem as though there was a bigger army than there actually was.

The people of Annandale weren’t terribly happy to see the Jacobites not least because they’d stolen from them when the army was heading south. In Dumfries Charlie levied a fine of £2000 and demanded 1,000 pairs of shoes within twenty-four hours.  Highlanders were actually stopping people in the streets and taking their shoes from them.  To make matters worse there weren’t 1,000 pairs of shoes in the district.  The best they could manage having raided all the cobblers in the area was 255 pairs. Andrew Crosbie of Holm and Walter Riddell of Glenriddell were carried away the next morning as hostages to ensure that the full £2000 was paid.  It was only when the Jacobites reached Glasgow – anther place that wasn’t overly pleased to see them- that the money was forthcoming and they were allowed to go home.

 

Johnson Beattie, David. (1928) Prince Charlie and the Borderland. Carlisle: Charles Thurnam and Sons

3 Comments

Filed under Anglo-Scottish history, Carlisle, The Stuarts

The Jacobite defence of Carlisle

castleIt would have to be said that the Jacobites were not as gentlemanly on their way home as they had been on their journey south and the prince was starting to look a bit grim round the edges.  They’d left Carlisle confident that Stuart supporters would flock to their cause but Lancashire with its pro-Jacobite sympathies hadn’t yielded the manpower that Charles’ Scottish generals had hoped for.  Lord George Murray had only agreed to continue to Derby to test the waters.

Prince Charles reached Carlisle on the 19th of December.  He bedded down for the night in Mr Highmore’s house – it’s long gone, replaced by marks and Spencer. He and his army marched back into Scotland on the 21st December. He left behind him a garrison of some three hundred and eighty men.  Many of them were from the Manchester Regiment as the prospect of entering Scotland was not one which some found appealing.  Colonel Townley commanded those men whilst Captain Hamilton was made governor of the city. This had the unlooked for effect of dividing command.

The rationale for leaving Carlisle in Jacobite hands was two-fold.  It would slow Cumberland’s pursuit and it would send the message that Charles intended to return and raise the siege which would no doubt follow.

Sure enough Cumberland arrived and found the city gates locked against him.  Carlisle was besieged once again – the last time in its long history: in fact the last time any English town was besieged. It was Cumberland who said that the castle was no better than an old hen coop.  He had a point. A messenger was sent to Whitehaven to demand canon.  IN order to break the walls the duke needed artillery.

A battery was set up on Primrose Bank whilst the Scots took pot shots from the castle.  It’s said that the duke only narrowly missed a bullet.Things started to deteriorate from the Scottish point of view when Dutch troops under the command of General Wade arrived and set up their own batteries at Stanwix.  The Scots fired their own artillery.  They don’t seem to have been particularly good shots.

As soon as the guns arrived from Whitehaven and were mounted on the batteries the siege was over. It took two days.  The Scots surrounded on the 29th of December. As the walls started to topple Hamilton asked for his men to be treated as prisoners of war.  His request was rejected.  The Jacobites found themselves incarcerated for a time in Carlisle Cathedral where they carved their names into the woodwork before they were eventually moved, tried and then many were returned to Carlisle to be executed; their leaders for treason, the ordinary jacobites for having the misfortune to have their names drawn by lot irrelevant of their role in proceedings.  Those who weren’t executed or didn’t die due to poor treatment could look forward to being transported to the Americas…more of that anon.

They weren’t the only ones for the high jump.  The Hanoverians had been scared by the fact that the Jacobites had got so far as Derby and now set about making an example of their foes and those who were deemed to be accomplices.  Carlisle’s mayor and town clerk found themselves under arrest along with eight other citizens of Carlisle.

Mr Highmore’s house now became home to the duke of Cumberland whilst he remained in Carlisle.

6 Comments

Filed under Anglo-Scottish history, Carlisle, Eighteenth Century, The Stuarts