On 5th June 1341, the founder of the House of York, Edmund of Langley, was born, younger brother to John of Gaunt (born 6th March 1340), later lord of Pontefract. Edmund’s godfathers included John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey and lord of Sandal Castle.
On 10th May 1326, John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle, was made Chief Commissioner of Array in the North by Edward II. Later Commissions were made for de Warenne by Edward III to treat with Scotland (1327) and France (1331).
On 1st April 1325, John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle, was made Captain and Leader of the Forces for Aquitaine by Edward II.
On 1st March 1301, John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle, was made Joint Envoy and Commissioner to treat with French Ambassadors by Edward I.
On 10th June 1314, John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey, was at Sandal Castle. John had been told the previous month that he could not be legally separated from his wife Joan of Bar; since 1311, John had been living openly with his mistress, Maud de Nerford. It was on this date that John de Warenne wrote from Sandal Castle to Walter Reynolds, Archbishop of Canterbury, as follows;
“To the honourable Father in God and our dear friend Walter by the grace of God Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England, his son John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, greeting and due honour. Sire, in respect to that which we have learnt by your order, be pleased to understand that we are and shall be ready to do everything that Holy Church can demand by law and in reason, and upon divers other points we shall answer you in time, in such a manner that no man shall be able to blame us rightfully or with reason: and, Sire, if you wish us to do anything that we can, be pleased confidently to command us, and we will do it to the utmost of our power. Adieu, Sire, and may God preserve you. Given at our castle of Sandale the 10th day of June.”
On 12th June 1334, John de Warenne – 7th and last Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle – was in Newcastle, to witness his cousin, Edward Balliol, cede much of Scotland south of the Firth of Forth, to King Edward III. It was in 1334 that John finally recovered ownership of Sandal Castle from royal hands. He would continue in ownership of Sandal Castle until his death in June 1347.
On 31st October 1321, John de Warenne – 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle – was with King Edward II, at the fall of Leeds Castle in Kent. The castle had been besieged following Queen Isabella coming under attack from the battlements when she sought shelter on her pilgrimage to Canterbury. John was now clearly back in the king’s favour, but his lands in Yorkshire – including Sandal Castle – which had been given up when he had been forced to come to terms with Thomas Earl of Lancaster in 1319, would for the time being, remain in the king’s hands, even after John would be one of the lords that would pass the death sentence on Lancaster in March 1322 at his trial in the Great Hall at Pontefract Castle. John would spend the summers of 1322 and 1323 campaigning in Scotland.
On 7th August 1318, with Thomas of Lancaster , lord of Pontefract, and King Edward II having temporarily resolved their differences, somewhere between Loughborough and Leicester, those barons that had opposed Lancaster presented themselves before him and were ‘received into his grace’; a notable exception being John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle. It would appear that King Edward II abandoned John de Warenne in the interests of peace, leaving Lancaster to pursue his private feud with John. This had seen Lancaster’s wife, Alice, abducted by one St Richard de St Martin, a knight in de Warennes’s retinue, whilst Lancaster was opposed to John’s divorce from his wife Joan. The feud, which had seen Lancaster capture de Warenne’s castles at Sandal and Conisbrough, would culminate in Lancaster hunting down John and imprisoning him at Pontefract Castle. De Warenne was forced to come to terms with Lancaster in 1319, which meant giving up most of his Yorkshire estates, including Sandal. King Edward II stated that Lancaster could hold the estates during de Warenne’s lifetime, but they would revert to John’s heirs on his death. De Warenne also acknowledged that he owed Lancaster a debt of £50000 (over£43 million today), although none was ever collected.
By late March 1309 – the exact date is unclear from any source – Edward II was in a stronger position than the year previously and may have been advocating the return of Piers Galveston from Ireland. The earls were still not fully behind the king and met at Dunstable in late March, under the auspices of a tournament, to discuss the situation. This gathering was probably led by Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster – the owner of Pontefract Castle and the most powerful nobleman in England. Thomas was now becoming the most vocal of Piers Gaveston’s opponents, and at this meeting in Dunstable, John de Warenne – 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle – agreed to serve Lancaster with eighty men-at-arms.
On 1st March 1322, Edward II at Tutbury issued a writ of aid to his brother, Edmund of Kent, and to John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and last of the Warennes to own Sandal Castle, to besiege Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, at his castle at Pontefract. John was also given the task of arresting Lancaster. Thomas would flee Pontefract only to be defeated and surrender on the 17th March after the Battle of Boroughbridge the day before.