First of all apologies to all those of you who spotted the typo yesterday and thank you for your patience. I did, of course, mean that James II succeeded to the throne of his brother Charles II but rather unfortunately lost one of the ones in my text.
So, here we are – the 10th December. In 1520 Martin Luther was busy burning papal bulls. Twenty one years later Frances Dereham would pay for his life for the crime of seducing a girl who would one day be queen of England. His companion in death, Thomas Culpeper was paying for adultery with the queen – Katherine Howard. More positively the first Nobel Prize was awarded on the 10th December 1901.
Which leaves us with today’s face – Sir James Luttrell of Dunster Castle, in Somerset though the action takes place in Yorkshire. Sir James was born in approximately 1427. His father’s early death left James as a ward of the Crown. In this instance rather than being handed over to the highest bidder who would then strip the assets and marry the child off to best advantage the king and his privy council committed the lands of Dunster into the care of the Bishop of Bath and Wells (John Stafford) who was a family friend along with the bishop’s brother (Humphrey Stafford – eventually the duke of Buckingham) and also James’ cousin Sir Philip Courtney.
Inevitably marriage was on the mind of James’ guardians and it probably comes as no surprise that the family was careful to maximise its holdings over the lands that it held. James would marry Sir Philip’s daughter Elizabeth. Land was so important to the Luttrells that James would be involved in a wrangle that allegedly resolved itself into murder when he reached his majority though this was proved to be a device to bring the affair to the attention of the courts (I’ll post about this in the New Year).
On the national stage a larger wrangle for land and power was beginning to simmer. Richard of York returned from Ireland in the autumn of 1460. He thought that he would take the throne from his cousin Henry VI yet when he arrived in London and laid a hand upon the throne he was not met with popular acclaim but with silence. Negotiations followed. On the 24 october 1460 an agreement was reached. Henry VI effectively disinherited his own son allowing that following his death it would be Richard who was crowned rather than Prince Edward. Unsurprisingly his wife, the mother of Prince Edward, Margaret of Anjou was not amused. Richard had to settle for his role as protector but in Yorkshire the Yorkists began to harry the lands of York and the earl of Salisbury.
Richard of York went north with the earl of Salisbury on the 9th December. Their plan was to sort out the pesky Lancastrians and then carry on to the borders where the Scots were also being a bit of a nuisance.
Luttrell, a loyal Lancastrian, marched after Richard on the 10th. His forces skirmished with Richard of York prior to his arrival at Sandal. Richard settled into Sandal Castle for the festive season as his enemies gathered on his doorstep on the 21st December. On the 30th December in the aftermath of Wakefield James was knighted by the duke of Suffolk. Seven weeks later Sir James was badly wounded at the Second Battle of St Albans, dying five days later.
Within a week of Edward IV winning the throne the widow and children of Sir James felt the wrath of the House of York for Sir James’ involvement with the death of Richard of York. In simple terms, Edward had them kicked out of Dunster and seized all their possessions. Sir James was named as a rebel by the Parliament of 1461:
with grete despite and cruell violence, horrible and unmanly tyrannye murdered the late Duke of York at Wakefield, and who were consequently to " stand and be convycted and attainted of high treason, and forfett to the King and his heires all the castles, maners " and other lands of which they were or had been possessed.
This seems rather unfair given that Luttrell had served the House of Lancaster loyally as his family had all done since the days of John of Gaunt. Edward’s commissioners even seized Elizabeth’s dower lands which were hers rather than her husbands. The Luttrells were being made an example of. In 1463 Dunster was granted to Sir William Herbert, the same Sir William who would replace Jasper Tudor as earl of Pembroke and hold the wardship of young Henry Tudor.
http://www.archive.org/stream/historyofdunster01lyte/historyofdunster01lyte_djvu.txt (accessed 10 December 2016)