It never does to forget that genealogical tables by their very nature are composed of women as well as men! Take Maud Clifford who was born sometime around 1442. Her parents were Thomas, 8th Baron Clifford and Elizabeth Percy , the daughter of Hotspur and Elizabeth Mortimer. It’s this Clifford who was killed at the First Battle of St Albans in 1455 – and as a consequence of his son’s desire for vengeance the new earl became one of Margaret of Anjou’s foremost supporters, the young Earl of Rutland was killed at the Battle of Wakefield and John Clifford gained the by-name “Black Face Clifford.” You can also see why the Cliffords would have joined in a feud against the Neville family thanks to their Percy mother.
Maud who was one of a large brood was married in the first instance to Sir John Harrington of Hornby – which was mildly unfortunate because the Harringtons supported the House of York. Sir Thomas, John’s father being a retainer of the Earl of Salisbury. Thomas and John were both at Wakefield and slain on the 30th December 1460. Maud’s daughters were just four and five but as co-heiresses they became wards of the Crown. In November 1461 Edward IV gave wardship to Thomas Lord Stanley but their uncle James refused to hand them or Hornby Castle over resulting in yet another regional fifteenth century feud.
Meanwhile Maud married Edmund Sutton in about 1465. He was the eldest son of John Sutton, Baron Dudley who changed sides after the Battle of Northampton from being a loyal supporter of Henry VI to being a loyal supporter of Edward IV. Edmund was at St Albans as a Lancastrian but at Towton as a Yorkist. The could had several children including Thomas, who did not become Baron Sutton of Dudley because Maud was a second wife and Edmund already had an heir. A suitable match was found with Grace Thelkeld who was one of three co-heiresses of Yanwath – and with that Thomas, effectively a younger son and confusing matters by taking the surname Dudley rather than Sutton as many of his kin chose to do, disappeared into the northern gentry when Yanwath Hall became his through right of his wife.
However, it always helps to maintain kinship ties and as it happens Thomas’s sons John and Thomas were able to find themselves a very powerful Tudor patron in the shape of their cousin Robert Dudley, Earl Leicester – which is of course why I have been reading about them. It’s also given me another challenge – to see if I can find my own photo of Yanwath Hall in the many out of sync files that I managed to retrieve.
On the 20th March 1470 the Battle of Nibley Green brought the so-called Berkeley Feud to a head. It was to become the last private battle on English soil.
Edward IV was in the north of England at the time tying up the loose ends of unrest there. The Earl of Warwick, increasingly unhappy with his cousin, had rebelled in 1469 and imprisoned Edward in Warwick Castle. In September Edward was released and in 1470 following the Battle of Losecoat which had been fought on the 12th March the Earl of Warwick had fled England for France along with Edward’s brother, George Duke of Clarence.
Meanwhile Thomas Talbot, Viscount Lisle and William, Lord Berkeley took the opportunity to get on with a spot of feuding. Both men believed that they were entitled to the Berkeley estate as well as title and castle. Margaret, Countess of Shrewsbury born Beauchamp was the granddaughter of Thomas, Lord Berkeley who died in 1417 (this is a long story). She and her sister were his co-heiresses via their mother Elizabeth. However, Berkeley’s estates and title passed to his brother’s son James, though it should be added that this wasn’t without dispute. In fact Thomas had enfeoffed Berkeley Castle and his lands to several trustees prior to his death because the line of inheritance was uncertain.
James died in 1463 and his son William inherited the title and the estates.
It wasn’t a straight forward sort of transfer across the family branches because Margaret was married to the Earl of Warwick – so one of the most powerful families in the land. Margaret had imprisoned James’ wife, Isabel, in 1452 when she attempted to appeal James’ claim to a council of Henry VI. Isabel died whilst still in captivity. Its probably didn’t help matters much.
In 1468 Margaret died and her claim was taken up by her eighteen year old grandson Thomas Talbot.
In 1470 William Berkeley attempted to conclude matters by issuing a personal challenge to Thomas. The pair’s heralds agreed a time and a place. The result was the Battle of Nibley Green. William had a substantial force of men which outnumbered Thomas’s. Thomas Talbot and some one hundred and fifty other men died. it probably didn’t help that Thomas forgot to lower his visor in the heat of the moment.
Thomas’s manor at Wotton was then sacked.
Margaret had occupied Wotton which was part of the Berkeley estate so William Wotton regarded it as his anyway. Lord Berkeley in one of his legal petitions accuses the Countess of unjustly keeping possession of his manors of Wotton, Symondshall, Cowley, and some others; of plotting and corrupting his servants to get possession of Berkeley Castle, and finally of compassing his death by means of a hired assassin.
Margaret denied the charge of intended murder but held fast to her claim to the Castle and manors of Berkeley. She believed that as Thomas Berkeley’s granddaughter by a direct line of inheritance that her various attempts to gain possession were justified and she petitioned to have her rights restored to her. The first petition and reply were referred by the king, (Edward IV) to the Lord Chancellor, to whom the subsequent pleas and counter-pleas were addressed, and in these proceedings, varied by predatory incursions upon each others’ manors and frequent fights between their servants and tenants, five years had passed without any decision being pronounced when Thomas Talbot inherited the feud.
William Berkeley was a Yorkist and Edward IV needed his support so he suffered little punishment being made a viscount in 1481. In 1483 he became the Earl of Nottingham. Berkeley didn’t have any legitimate children so his brother Maurice inherited the estate by which time William had done a Lord Stanley at Bosworth i.e. sat and waited to see what the outcome was going to be before joining the battle. Even worse he’d sent men to Richard III and money to Henry Tudor.
“A Sketch of the History of Berkeley Its Castle, Church, and the Berkeley Family” by James Herbert Cooke, Land Steward to the Right Hon. Lord Fitzhardinge.
Wagner, John A. The Encyclopaedia of the Wars of the Roses
I’ve posted about Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe before. She is the mother of Margaret Beaufort – to the maternal grandmother of Henry VII. She was born in about 1410, the daughter of Sir John Beauchamp of Bletsoe in Bedfordshire.
In 1421 her brother John died and she became an heiress. She inherited the manors of Lydiard Tregoze in Wiltshire, Ashmore in Dorset as well as Bletsoe and Keysoe in Bedfordshire.
Four years later she married Sir Oliver St John. He died in 1437 in France. Margaret would marry again to John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset and have one child – Margaret Beaufort the mother of Henry Tudor. Margaret Beauchamp had effectively been elevated from the gentry to the aristocracy and her St John children became, at different times, more significant players upon the political chessboard as a consequence, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Sir John St John, Oliver St John, Edith St John, Mary St John, Elizabeth St John, Agnes St John and Margaret St John were Margaret Beaufort’s half-siblings. Where there was close contact to Margaret Beaufort and the Tudors elevation followed.
MargaretSt John became the prioress of Shaftesbury Abbey. She was elected in 1492 demonstrating that the nuns knew which sides their bread was buttered and were demonstrating their loyalty to the Tudor regime.
Edith St John married Geoffrey Pole a member of the Cheshire gentry and that would have been fine had not her son Richard then been married to Margaret the daughter of the Duke of Clarence (the one who drowned in a vat of wine). Henry VII regarded it as a safe marriage which would effectively remove Margaret from the political game of crowns. Unfortunately for Edith’s Pole grandchildren and at least one great grand child Henry VIII was less convinced – Henry, Reginald, Arthur and Geoffrey Pole came to represent the last of the Plantagenet line. Margaret, Countess of Salisbury was executed without trial. Henry Pole her eldest son was executed and his son who had been imprisoned in the tower with his grandmother Margaret never emerged. Geoffrey narrowly escaped execution and went into exile where he had a breakdown. He eventually died in 1558 a few days before his more famous brother Cardinal Reginald Pole who spoke out against Henry VIII’s divorce.
Two more of Margaret Beaufort’s half-siblings married into the Scrope family. The Scropes were an important North Yorkshire family who spent a lot of time on the borders fighting the Scots. Elizabeth St John was initially married to William la Zouche, the fifth baron. The Zouches were later attainted for their loyalty to Richard III but by then Elizabeth having been widowed in 1462 had married John Scrope, Baron Scrope of Bolton (Bolton Castle in Wensleydale) and another Yorkist.
Elizabeth, despite her Lancastrian antecidents, was one of Edward V’s godparents. Perhaps this isn’t so surprising given that Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth’s half-sister, was herself godmother to one of Edward IV’s daughters. It reflects the fact that all parties thought that the battle for the throne was over and were settling down to winning power and influence under the Yorkist regime. There was no reason to suppose that Edward IV would die young and leave a minor on the throne.
John Scrope despite being Henry Tudor’s step-uncle supported Richard III at Bosworth so required a pardon, which was forthcoming. Unfortunately he then became involved with Lambert Simnel’s rebellion of 1487 and was forced to pay a large fine and stay in London. Ultimately his services as a northern lord were required for the traditional activity of fighting the Scots which he did in 1497 by which time Henry’s Aunt Elizabeth had died.
Elizabeth’s brother Oliver, the younger of the Margaret Beaufort’s two half-brothers married the twice widowed Elizabeth Scrope of Bolton, sister of John Scrope. He died in 1497 in Spain but his body was returned for burial to East Stoke.
And that just leaves John St John who for the purposes of this post married and had children – all related to the Tudor crown. What it takes is a little bit of digging to discover is that John’s grandson born in 1495- perhaps unsurprisingly another John – was raised by Margaret Beaufort and that he became a courtier. We know for instance that he went to Calais with Cardinal Wolsey in 1521 and that he began to take a key role in the administration of Bedfordshire and Huntingtonshire.
We know that John attended the coronation of Ann Boleyn in 1533. Much of the information comes from the inscription on his tomb. It describes him as ‘custos’ to Princess Mary. A letter of 7 Jan. 1536 sent to Cromwell by ‘John St. John’ request that the King excuse the writer’s wife from being a mourner at the ex-Queen’s funeral, both because she was recovering from a pregnancy and because the writer, ‘being in service with my Lady Princess’, could not furnish the horses and servants needed for the occasion. Although Princess Mary had been officially deprived of that title since 1533, this is who St John must have meant. History can continue to track St John at his royal cousin’s family occasions including the funeral of Jane Seymour and the baptism of Prince Edward. He was also on hand to help put down the rebels in the 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace. In 1547 he stood down from Parliament so that his eldest son – an Oliver- could take his place. He died in 1558.
John had positioned his son to advance in the Tudor court by obtaining a place for Oliver in Prince Edward’s household. It is perhaps not surprising therefore that when Elizabeth I was crowned in 1558 that Oliver became Lord St John of Bletsoe. The family continued its loyalty to the Crown into the Stuart period gaining titles on the accession of Charles I but siding with Parliament at Edge Hill.
So on one hand the St John family remained part of the gentry but on the other they were trusted by the Tudors because they were family and as a consequence their value on the political board rose…sometimes rather dangerously.
And why am I digging around the St John family? Well it turns out that Sir Robert Dudley the illegitimate son the Duke of Leicester was descended via his maternal grandmother from the St John family making him a someone distant member of the Tudor family circle, proving once again that in Tudor England everyone appears to be related to everyone else!
Having set a challenge about Royal Arms I thought I probably ought to post a little about the way in which arms and badges were used during the medieval period. Clearly a personal badge was originally designed so that people knew who was who on the battle field or tournament ground – either on a banner, a surcoat or a shield for instance but by the fourteenth century they had developed into something that was given out almost like a contract between a noble and the group of people who served him in a variety of capacities.
An affinity was a set of political and social connections – like an extended family- but with a nobleman at the centre of the web based on his links to royalty, personal patronage, family and territory. The noble would have a household and a set of retainers, or followers, who were sworn to provide the lord with help in terms of military service, political support etc in return for which they would receive protection; a leg up the social ladder and dating agency for their offspring; offices; land. As the fifteenth century progressed these retainers wore either his livery or someothe badge that associated them with their noble – the bear with the ragged staff is a well-known badge associated with the Earl of Warwick for instance.
A powerful lord like John of Gaunt would attract local gentry as well as family and tenants. The Gaunt affinity was particularly noticeable in Derbyshire for instance. This meant that men with a large affinity, such as the duke, effectively had an army that they could call upon whenever they needed one – something of increasing importance as the fifteenth century moved into the wars of the roses. Consider the impact of the Neville affinity in the escalation of feuding during the fifteenth century.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III’s personal livery badge was a white boar. Sometimes the badges were taken from a charge (an emblem from the shield) on a coat of arms but they might also be more personal than that – they could be to do with an event in the lord’s life or a play on the lord’s name. Richard II’s white hart is a pun on Rich hart.
Henry VII needed to stamp out the concept of the affinity as the bands of men that nobles could gather up as part of their affinity could be used for the king but also form armies that fought against him. The Statute of Liveries of 1506 forbade issuing livery badges to men of rank; they had to be domestic servants unless the livery was covered by a specific royal licence. Eventually livery badges were reserved only for those who were part of the monarch’s affinity and for household servants of the aristocracy. Henry made sure that everyone rocked the Tudor rose rather than their own personal livery. John of Gaunt’s livery chains of entwined “esses” ultimately became associated with chains of office rather than with the Lancastrian royal house.
The bear and ragged staff was associated with the Earl of Warwick during the Wars of Roses but in the reign of Elizabeth I it was associated with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who was the successor of the Earl of Warwick (via a circuitous route.)
The blue lion – or lion rampant azure- is associated with the Percy family.
The Prince of Wales feathers were first associated with the Black Prince when he chose them as a device on hearing about the bravery of the blind King of Bohemia.
The Stafford knot is associated with the Dukes of Buckingham.
The Talbot dog is associated with the Talbot Earls of Shrewsbury
The portcullis is associated with the Beaufort family and was used widely in Tudor iconography.
Livery badges issued by the livery companies of the City of London are of a later date.
The Black Prince, Edward of Woodstock, did not get married until 1361 when he was thirty. He chose to marry his first cousin once removed – Joan of Kent who was a few years older than him. She had already been married twice before, once bigamously. The pair married and had two children: Edward of Anglôume born in 1365 who died when he was five and Richard of Bordeaux born in 1367.
Richard of Bordeaux became Richard II when he was ten-years-old. He was married twice; first to Anne of Bohemia and secondly to Isabella of Valois. His second marriage was very unpopular as it was part of a long term truce with the French and his new queen was still a child so unable to fulfil the essential crate for a medieval queen – namely to provide an heir. Neither wife bore Richard a child. The legitimate line of the Black Prince comes to an end.
There is a theory that most of us are related somehow or other to Edward II. From the legitimate family tree it is clear that the Black Prince was not responsible for the proliferation of Plantagenets but he also had a number of illegitimate children. His mistress Edith of Willesford gave him a son Roger of Clarendon (1352-1402). Other women also gave birth to his sons: Edward and John.
Roger of Clarendon was regarded favourably, as many other illegitimate sons have been throughout royal history. He received an annuity of £100 from Edward III. He married the heiress of the Baron de la Roche which should have set him up rather nicely but unfortunately she died without children and her land was distributed between her cousins. Meanwhile Roger managed to get himself imprisoned in Wallingford Castle by his half-brother Richard II for killing someone in a duel. He escaped and was only recaptured once Henry IV was on the throne. Rather then being executed for murder he was executed for treason having attempted to depose the new monarch and reinstall Richard II (who popular rumour placed as being alive and well in Scotland) so was executed along with his squire, valet, eight Franciscan Friars and the prior of Laund in 1402. They are identified in Foxes Book of Martyrs and also in Holinshed’s Chronicle. Murreyandblue makes the point he might not have been actively attempting to depose Henry IV he might just have been rash enough to repeat rumour at a point when Henry IV was feeling a tad beleaguered.
Edward is listed by Weir as dying young. Weir along with the Journal of Medieval History identify Sir John Sounder who claimed to be the son of the Black Prince. France makes the point that Froissart isn’t confidant of Sir John’s surname and provides two alternatives leading him to wonder whether the figure is representative rather than actual.
Next Lionel of Antwerp’s descendant and things become slightly more complicated!
France, John. Journal of Medieval Military History, Volume 10 (pp95-96)
Marchant, Alicia. The Revolt of Owain Glyndwr in Medieval English Chronicles
Weir, Alison. (1999) Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy London: The Bodley Head
An article by Mark Ormrod published in 2011 in the BBC History Magazine has always stuck in my mind. Essentially Edward was an indulgent father who made big plans for his dynasty that involved crowns for his children through adoption, marriage and conquest. His sons grew up believing that they might be kings of various countries if the odds were sufficiently stacked in their favour – and having created a series of royal dukes (Edward’s two younger sons were raised to dukedoms by their nephew Richard II) it is perhaps not surprising that there was disaffection within the family. Edward’s dynastic policy required a large family. He and his wife Philippa of Hainhault were fortunate in their love for one another – England was less fortunate in the size of the Plantagenet family all of whom thought themselves worthy of a crown at a time when the occupant of the throne, Richard II (Edward’s grandson) was unable to control his ambitious, conniving relations.
It seems as good a place to start as any. It also helps that popular history gives a degree of familiarity to Edward III’s sons.
Edward, the Black Prince, from the Bruges Garter Book
Edward – “The Black Prince.” He was born at Woodstock so can also be styled Edward of Woodstock after his place of birth. He was created Earl of Chester in 1333 and then Duke of Cornwall when he was seven-years-old. He became Prince of Wales in 1343 at the age of thirteen. The duchy was made out of the earldom of Cornwall by Edward III for his son. The title is reserved for the eldest son of the monarch. Although Edward was the Earl of Chester as soon as he became a duke he would have been known by that title as a duke trumps an earl. Edward married his first cousin once removed – Joan of Kent. He eventually succumbed having wasted away, it is thought, to dysentry, caught whilst on campaign in France. He only had one child who survived to adulthood – Richard of Bordeaux who became King Richard II. The complication for this member of the family tree comes from Joan of Kent who had been married to Sir Thomas Holland prior to her marriage to the Black Prince. There is a large Holland clan to add into the equation not to mention some back tracking up the Plantagenet family tree to King Edward I.
Lionel of Antwerp was betrothed to Elizabeth de Burgh Countess of Ulster when he was a child. He married her in 1352 but he had been styled Earl of Ulster from the age of nine. The earldom came to him through his wife. In 1362 he was created 1st Duke of Clarence. This was actually the third dukedom created within England but more of that shortly. Elizabeth de Burgh died in 1363 having produced one child in 1355 called Philippa who became the 5th Countess of Ulster in her own right. Philippa was Lionel’s only surviving legitimate child (hurrah!) He married for a second time to Violante Visconti the daughter of the Count of Pavia. Lionel went back to Italy with his new wife where his -in-laws poisoned him.
John of Gaunt. John’s wealth and title came from his marriage to the co-heiress Blanche of Lancaster. Her father had been the 1st Duke of Lancaster but on his death with no male heirs the title died out. When John married Blanche he was given the title earl and through Blanche half of the Lancaster wealth. Blanche’s sister died in 1362 without children – the Lancaster wealth now all came to John. On the same day that Lionel received his dukedom from his father the dukedom of Lancaster was resurrected for John. Because the dukedom had been dormant and Edward III resurrected it John of Gaunt was also known as the 1st Duke of Lancaster (why would you want things to be straight forward!). John married three times – firstly to Blanche who was descended from Henry III via his second son Edmund Crouchback; secondly to Constanza of Castile by whose right John would try to claim the crown of Castile and thirdly to his long time mistress Kathryn Swynford with whom he had four illegitimate children surnamed Beaufort who were ultimately legitimised by the Papacy and by King Richard II.
Edmund of Langley was born at King’s Langley. In 1362 when he was twenty-one he was created Earl of Cambridge. It was his nephew Richard II who elevated him to a dukedom in 1385 when he was created 1st Duke of York. Thankfully there is an example of a logical progression of the dukedom. When he died his son became the 2nd Duke of York. Edmund was married first to Isabella of Castile who was the sister of John of Gaunt’s wife Constance. He married for a second time to Joan Holland who was Joan of Kent’s daughter from her first marriage – so the step-daughter of the Black Prince. Joan had no children but there were three children from the first marriage – although there is a question mark over the parentage of the last child from the union with Isabella of Castile.
Thomas of Woodstock: London, British Library Cotton MS Nero D.VIII, f. 0
Thomas of Woodstock married an heiress Eleanor de Bohun in 1374. In 1377 he was created Earl of Buckingham and in 1380 he became the Earl of Essex by right of his wife. In 1385 his nephew Richard II created him Duke of Aumale and Duke of Gloucester. Thomas’s nephew, Henry of Bolingbroke (John of Gaunt’s son) would marry Eleanor de Bohun’s sister Mary – making Thomas both uncle and brother-in-law to Henry of Bolingbroke…demonstrating that sorting out the Plantagenet relationships is not necessarily a straightforward undertaking.
Nor for that matter is sorting out their titles a linear progression. Thomas of Langley’s dukedom of Aumale was given to him by Richard II in 1385 but was then passed on by Richard to Edmund of Langley’s son Edward of Norwich in 1397 when Thomas was marched off to Calais and murdered. However, Edward of Norwich was himself stripped of the title in 1399 when his cousin became Henry IV having usurped Richard II. It’s something of a relief to report that there were no more dukes of Aumale. Henry IV recreated the title as an earldom and gave it to his son Thomas at the same time as creating him Duke of Clarence and as a duke trumps an ear, Thomas is usually known as Duke of Clarence rather than Earl of Aumale. Thomas died without children and the title became dormant (though rather like indigestion an Aumale title does return at a later date.)
The Black Prince died from dysentery and is buried in Canterbury Cathedral where his effigy and shield can still be seen. Lionel of Antwerp was murdered by his Italian in-laws in 1368. I should add that it was never proven that he was poisoned. He was buried in Milan but eventually disinterred and transported home for burial in Clare Priory, Suffolk alongside his first wife. John of Gaunt died of old age at Leicester Castle on 3rd February 1399 and was buried beside Blanche of Lancaster in St Paul’s Cathedral. Edmund of Langley died in 1402 and was buried at King’s Langley in Hertfordshire. Thomas of Woodstock was arrested on the orders of his nephew Richard II and placed in the custody of Thomas Mowbray (Duke of Norfolk), transported to Calais where he was murdered in 1397. He was eventually buried in Westminster Abbey.
Ormrod, W. Mark. (2011) Edward III. Yale: Yale University Press
Anne was the fifth daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV, born in 1475 had her father not died in April 1483 she would have found herself married to Philip of Burgundy. However, Edward IV died unexpectedly and the treaty with Burgundy was never ratified. Had she married Philip she would have gone to live in the court of her aunt Margaret of Burgundy.
Instead, Anne’s uncle Richard arranged a betrothal to Thomas Howard who would one day become the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Once Richard III was overthrown in 1485 Howard petitioned for the betrothal to stand – meanwhile Anne served her sister Elizabeth of York as a lady-in-waiting. She featured during the baptism of both Arthur and Margaret. The problem was that the Howards were not supporters of the house of Lancaster.
John Howard, Thomas’s grandfather, served Edward IV and was knighted by him. Richard ennobled John making him the Duke of Norfolk on 28th June 1483 with Thomas’s father another Thomas, becoming the Earl of Surrey at the same time thus ensuring their continued loyalty. In fact John, the 1st Howard Duke of Norfolk was killed at the Battle of Bosworth as he commanded the vanguard of Richard’s army by an arrow which struck him in the face. The Earl of Surrey spent the next three years in the Tower until he convinced Henry VII of his loyalty.
Meanwhile Anne married Thomas junior on 3rd February 1495. She was never the Duchess of Norfolk Anne died in 1510 or 11 depending on the source. It was only in 1514 that the Earl of Surrey was allowed to inherit his father’s title which had been made forfeit by his attainder following Bosworth.
As for Anne’s widower depicted above -Thomas junior- he would remarry Lady Elizabeth Stafford but would go down in history as the rather brutal third Duke of Norfolk, uncle of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard and arch-Tudor politician. Anne had a son who died young but the Howard heirs came from the third duke’s marriage to Elizabeth Stafford (the eldest daughter of the Duke of Buckingham who revolted against Richard III and Eleanor Percy the eldest daughter of the Duke of Northumberland – and thus having more sound Lancastrian credentials.)
Anne was buried originally in Thetford Priory but upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries she was reinterred in Framingham Church. Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Norfolk managed to survive both his nieces’ downfalls, topple Thomas Cromwell from power and generally demonstrated more political wiliness than a cat with nine lives but he was ultimately charged with treason and was sent to the Tower to await his execution. Henry VIII died the night before he was due to be executed. He eventually died in 1554 having been freed by Mary Tudor.
His tomb is in Framingham next to Anne who lays on his righthand-side because she, as a princess, is more important than a mere duke.
In 1415 there were about 78 peel or pele towers in Northumberland. These towers were essentially private fortifications for protection in the event of Scottish raids – or neighbours you didn’t necessarily agree with. The idea was that you could secure your family and portable valuables until it was safe to emerge or help arrived – beacons were kept on the top of the towers which could be lit to summon help and to worn the surrounding countryside of danger.
Peel towers were an architecture that resulted from the Scottish Wars of Independence. Some of the peel towers were not ordinarily used as dwellings – rather they should be considered refuges in times of trouble whilst at the other end of the spectrum places like Aydon Castle near Hexham resemble castles.
Preston Tower was built by Sir Robert Harbottle at the end of the fourteenth century. Sir Robert was a man of his time. He was part of the affinity of Sir Mathew Radmayne of Levens and rose in Redmayne’s service. When Harbottle murdered a man in Methley in Yorkshire in 1392 it was Redmayne and his successor who secured Harbottle’s pardon.
You’d have thought that Harbottle would have kept his head down but it wasn’t long before he came to the attention of the law once again when he took part in a raid on the Yorkshire property of Isabel Fauconberg stealing her property as well as the property of her tenants. A commission was set up to investigate but somehow or other Harbottle escaped the consequence of his crimes once more.
Henry IV, having taken the crown from his cousin Richard II, made him constable of Dunstanburgh Castle in 1399 – clearly not having read his cv beforehand. He even managed to acquire one of the wardenship of the east march – essentially turning Harbottle into the law. Perhaps it’s not surprising that since he did so well from the Red Rose monarchs that Harbottle was loyal to both Henry IV and Henry V even when the Percy family rebelled against them. Having bagged himself an heiress in the form of Isabel Monbourcher, Harbottle had risen from henchman to man of wealth and influence. When Hotspur rebelled against Henry IV, Harbottle was able to claim a better share of his wife’s inheritance – so it would appear that luck was on his side as well.
In between times Harbottle had served in Henry IV’s army in 1400 against the Scots and became a member for parliament. In short he had become part of the gentry in the north and had a good stout peel tower to prove it.
Preston Tower has walls which are over two metres thick, is three storeys high and has rooms off the main chamber at each level. It was described by Pevsner as one of the best bits of medieval architecture in the country.
Thomas Beresford died some ten years after his wife, Agnes. They were buried in St Edmund’s Church, Fenny Bentley opposite their home in Fenny Bentley Old Hall. Their tomb tells us quite a bit about the couple – they had sixteen sons and five daughters – all of them in their shrouds, as indeed are Thomas and Agnes.
The Beresfords provided a troop of horsemen for Henry V and Thomas’s sons took part in the Wars of the Roses fighting on the side of Lancaster. This is perhaps not unexpected as the Beresfords are listed as part of the Lancaster Affinity. Having said that John Beresford managed to get on the wrong side of Henry IV when he refused to go to France. The screen in the church was given by the Beresfords in the aftermath of the Wars of the Roses – presumably in grateful thanks for surviving.
Interesting as that may be it doesn’t explain why Thomas and his wife are chiselled as top knotted bundles. The reason that is often given is that Thomas, who fought at Agincourt, and his wife died in 1473 and 1463 respectively but that the tomb was carved during the Tudor period meaning that no one knew what Thomas and Agnes looked like so the mason was forced to come up with his own solution to the problem of how they might have appeared.
A more plausible alternative is that the shroud tomb is a cheaper alternative to the cadaver tomb – this was a late fifteenth century fad to have your life like “before” effigy on the top of the tomb and a cadaver “after” effigy directly underneath complete with bones, worms, rigor mortis and a spot of light torment depending on the mason’s preferences. As if the fact that the monument wasn’t enough of a reminder of death the so called “trans” of cadaver tombs were designed to remind folk how transient life and its achievements really are. The shroud tomb is the model down from the full on skeleton. If you couldn’t afford a full length alabaster likeness of your loved one in their shroud – or even your own likeness- there was always a shroud brass.
In Thomas Beresford’s case there is also the promise of salvation because there’s a painted ceiling above the tomb showing the Beresford coat of arms and winged angels. Except if course that the ceiling is rather later – being made from aluminium and being added in 1895.
There is always the third option, if the first two don’t appeal, that the sculptor wasn’t much good at faces which accounts for why the whole family are decked out like sacks of spuds.
And yes for regular followers of the History Jar – this means that the season of ecclesiastical peregrinations has commenced!
The Babington family of Dethick arrived in Derbyshire in 1420 when Sir Thomas Babington, who was born in the mid 1370s, married Isabel Dethick the daughter of Robert Dethick, heiress to the Manor of Dethick. Prior to that time the Babingtons were a Nottinghamshire family who had moved south sometime before from Babington in Northumberland. There are records of thirteenth century Babingtons in Northumberland during the reign of Henry III. By the reign of Edward III there are records of Babingtons in East Bridgeford.
It was from this family that the Babingtons of Dethick descended. Sir John Babington of East Bridgeford had five sons and a daughter called Sidonia who was born in 1374. Thomas was John’s eldest son and therefore his heir. There were also Sir William Babington of Chilwell; Arnold Babington who moved to Norwich and became a Merchant of the Staple; Norman who remained in East Bridgeford and who can be found in the records as the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in 1428. Norman did rather well for himself because he married a daughter of the Duke of Norfolk.The fifth son was called John and he settled in Devon.
Sir Thomas Babington who married Isabel should, of course, have inherited the East Bridgeford property but it appears that he sold his inheritance to William prior to going on campaign to France. When Thomas returned from the Hundred Years War having fought at Agincourt in 1415, he purchased the manor of Kingston-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire. He did the things required of fifteenth century gentlemen. He became a member of parliament, was appointed to administrative jobs and produced sons and married into the Derbyshire landed gentry.
He was also a pious man and spent money on the church at Ashover. The tower was built to mark his safe return from the Hundred Years War. He died in 1464 and he was buried at Ashover rather than Kingston.
Sir John Babington, Thomas’s son married Isabel Bradbourne, ensuring links with another local family. He was the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests in 1480 – demonstrating that public roles were semi-inherited, in this case from his Uncle William. He was a Yorkist supporter and had fought for Edward IV at the Battle of Barnet in 1471. On 22ndAugust 1485 he fought for Richard III and died at Bosworth a the hands of Sir John Blount who was Henry Tudor’s Provost Marshal. Isabel seems to have died the following year.
Evidently Henry Tudor didn’t harbour a grudge against the Babingtons because the records show that Thomas’s grandson, another Thomas pictured at the start of this post, inherited the estates and the job of Sheriff despite the fact that in 1498 he married Editha or Edith Fitzherbert of Norbury. One of the interesting things about the Norbury FitzHerberts’ is that their effigies bear the insignia of the white boar – Richard III’s personal symbol.
Thomas died in 1518 and was buried in Ashover where his grandparents were buried. It was the first thing he identified in his will. His wife had already died and the monument already built. The figures around the tomb included members of his family. He did not want it broken so that he could be interred. He stipulated where he wished to be interred, that candles were to be burned around his body and alms given to the poor. He asked that his debts be paid and that if he had offended anyone that they should have restitution. He asked for masses and prayers to be said. In short it was a good pre-Reformation will with attention being paid for departing purgatory for Heaven as soon as possible.
He left behind him a family of nine sons and six daughters. His oldest son was called Anthony. His grandson was also called Anthony and whereas Sir Anthony Babington senior is remembered for building the church tower at Dethick, his grandson is remembered for the so-called Babington Plot which saw him attainted and executed for treason in 1586.
Antony Babington having been attainted a traitor and executed in 1586 didn’t lose the Babingtons all their property. His brother Francis inherited Kingston-on-Soar but he sold it to Gilbert Talbot – the Earl of Shrewsbury and so the manor passed from the hands of the Babington family. Anthony’s other brother George sold the Manor of Dethick into the hands of the Blackwall family.