Pontefract Castle – March

6/3/1204On 6th March 1204, Chateau Gaillard, controlling shipping along the River Seine and commanded by Roger de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was overrun by Philip II’s French forces after a six months’ siege. Hundreds of local citizens (from a group of two thousand) initially admitted to the castle, but later forced out by Roger because of food shortages within, died due to starvation during the winter months. Roger de Lacy was captured and ransomed for £1000 (£2.1 million in today's money).
1/3/1307Only four months before Edward 1 died at Burgh-by-Sands in July 1307, he pardoned his nephew, Henry of Lancaster, brother to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, who was to succeed to Thomas’s lands and titles some years after Thomas’s execution. The pardon related to Henry having helped a man called John Harper to escape from prison in Gloucestershire and afterwards receive him.
1/3/1322In early March 1322, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and his remaining supporters held a council at Pontefract, where Lancaster was advised to retreat north to his castle at Dunstanburgh to evade capture by Edward II, in his rebellion against the king. Believing his royal status would secure him immunity from harm, it was only the 'ferocity' of Lord Clifford that persuaded Lancaster to flee to Northumberland. However, Edward's 4,000-strong second army moving up from the south, under the command of Sir Andrew Harclay, halted Thomas's forces at Boroughbridge (crossing the River Ure twenty miles north-east of York). Lancaster’s defeat and capture at the Battle of Boroughbridge resulted in his beheading and the drawing and hanging of six northern barons at Pontefract immediately. In addition to the northern barons, more than a dozen peers were killed or executed ( including Roger Clifford hanged in chains from the walls of York and possibly giving his name to Clifford's Tower) and many more knights were killed or died in prison with hundreds facing crippling fines.
1/3/1333During March 1333, Edward III was at Pontefract Castle preparing for his campaign in Scotland to avenge the Treaty of Northampton of 1328 which recognised Scotland’s independence after the humiliating defeat of the English by the Scots at the Battle of Stanhope Park in 1327. Despite an ‘English’ victory (by The Disinherited) at the Battle of Dupplin Moor in 1332, the situation in Scotland was complicated by the competing claims to the Scottish crown of David II and Edward Balliol who had been crowned at Scone in September 1332 but forced to flee to Carlisle three months later. It was at Pontefract that Edward ordered the building of two large siege engines to be shipped to Berwick along with gunpowder.
1/3/1353In early March 1353, Henry, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, along with the ex- Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Norwich, Keeper of the Privy Seal and others crossed the Channel to begin negotiations at Guines, overseen by Cardinal Guy of Boulogne. Initial discussions, signed and sealed on 10th March 1353 and ratified as a treaty on 4th April 1354, revolved around Edward III being given sovereignty of Gascony in exchange for his dropping the title King of France. Further follow-up negotiations were proposed for mid-May but John II of France regarded Guy of Boulogne’s compromises as unacceptable and the so-called Hundred Years’ War resumed in earnest in 1355.
2/3/1389On 2nd March 1389, Richard II bestowed the Duchy of Aquitaine on John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, as an appanage for his lifetime, a sign of his new favour for him. As the duchy was now separated from the English Crown, some Gascons complained that this violated the 1254 agreement that the duchy be held by the English king or at least on his behalf by his direct heir i.e. his son. Richard’s aim was to reassure Parliament that the sovereignty of the English king would not be compromised by his having to do homage to the King of France for his French domains, as Gaunt would do so instead.
3/3/1316On 3rd March 1316, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was made Chief of the Royal Council (curia regis) because of Edward II’s waning power after his humiliating defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn two years earlier. Lancaster promised to re-instigate the Ordinances of 1311 but disagreements with other barons effectively paralysed government for the next two years.
6/3/1340On 6th March 1340, John of Gaunt, later to have his northern ‘powerhouse’ at Pontefract Castle, was born in Ghent, Flanders (now Belgium), the third surviving son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault. Baptised at his birthplace, the Abbey of Saint Bavon, Gaunt was taken to England (Woodstock Palace, Oxfordshire) in November of that year along with his brother, Lionel, for fear of a French invasion of Flanders. Attended to by eleven servants, he even had his own cradle-rocker.
6/3/1351On 6th March 1351, Henry, 4th Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was made Duke of Lancaster by Edward III in honour of his achievements in Gascony.
8/3/1351On 8th March 1351, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was made Captain and Admiral of the West by Edward III.
10/3/1322In the bitter feuding between the king and some of his nobles, Edward II’s troops were able to cross the Trent at Walton on 10th March 1322 and advanced upon Burton from the south. Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was outflanked and moved from his positions at the bridge to a field outside of Burton, firing the town as he went. Once he realised how badly outnumbered his men were, and that Sir Robert Holland was not moving to his aid, Lancaster decided to withdraw and was pursued by Edward’s forces. The Chronicle of Lanercost records that: ‘When, therefore, the whole strength of the king's party south of Trent was assembled at Burton-upon-Trent, some 60,000 fighting men, in the second week of Lent, about the feast of the Forty Martyr Saints, the Earl of Lancaster and the Earl of Hereford (who had married the king's sister) attacked them with barons, knights and other cavalry, and with foot archers ; but the earl's forces were soon thrown into confusion and retired before the king's army, taking their way towards Pontefract, where the earl usually dwelt. The king followed him with his army at a leisurely pace, but there was no slaughter to speak of on either side ; and although the earl would have awaited the king there and given him battle, yet on the advice of his people he retired, with his army into the northern district.’
10/3/1386On 10th March 1386, Thomas Elys and William de Baillay were appointed 'to take any masons lately at work upon the Duke of Lancaster's castle at Pontefract and make them remain thereon at the Duke's expense until the work shall be completed, with the power to imprison contrariants'.
11/3/1322On 11th March 1322, Edward II’s forces took Thomas of Lancaster’s (lord of Pontefract) Tutbury Castle in the Peak District and captured his ally Roger d’Amory who was mortally wounded, dying a few days later after being reprieved from execution by the king. Reputedly, written evidence was found of Lancaster’s treason with the Scots.
12/3/1322On 12th March 1322, with Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, declared a traitor by Edward II and all his lands forfeited, he fled north. Queen Isabella is said to have written to Andrew Harclay, 1st Earl of Carlisle and Sheriff of Westmorland, to move quickly south from Carlisle to trap Lancaster.
13/3/1322In the short interval between the abandonment of Tutbury Castle by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, and its occupation by Edward II and his forces, a large amount of money, jewellery and other goods was taken from the castle to the priory by some local inhabitants and deposited there with the connivance of the prior. This apparent conspiracy to defraud the king could not be kept secret and on 13th March 1322, three days before the Battle of Boroughbridge, an order was issued that all the jewels, goods and chattels of Earl Thomas and the other rebels, which were in the priory, were to be brought to the king. The following year, three officials of the late earl were charged with having conveyed £1,500 (£1.2 million in today’s money) from the castle to the priory.
13/3/1322On 13th March 1322, the Calendar of the Fine Rolls (Edward II) noted: ‘Appointment during pleasure of Simon de Driby to keep the castle of Pontefract, late of Thomas, earl of Lancaster, which ought to come to the king's hand by his forfeiture, together with the men and all goods and chattels found therein, when the castle shall have been taken into the king's hand by Edmund, earl of Kent, the king's brother, and John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, whom the king has appointed thereto ; so that he answer for the issues thereof and for the said goods and chattels in the chamber. Order to the said earls of Kent and Surrey, as soon as they have taken the said castle, to deliver the same with the said goods and chattels to the said Simon by indenture to be made thereon.’
13/3/1397In the early part of 1397, John of Gaunt arrayed for part of his inheritance to be held jointly with Katherine Swynford. With this settled, on the 13th March, John began his journey to Pontefract Castle.
14/3/1317Writs by Edward II to attend a meeting at Westminster on 11th April 1317 were sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract) and various nobles and justices (including Hereford, Holland, Bereford, the Despensers, Inge, and le Scrope), on 14th March 1317. Lancaster failed to appear and the absence of other magnates at a previous meeting may have made it impossible to take any decisions. Edward ordered that two household knights were sent to Lancaster on 16th March 1317 to ‘persuade’ him. However, their work was in vain, for Lancaster did not appear (this was hardly surprising, since his wife had been abducted by John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, four days before the opening of the meeting), and as a result he was publicly declared an enemy of king and kingdom.
15/3/1361On 15th March 1361, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and nephew of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, wrote his will, appointing his eldest sister Blanche, Lady Wake, and cousin-in-law Eleanor Walkington as two of his ten executors.
15/3/1399On 15th March 1399, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was interred ‘in the Cathedral Church of St Paul, of London, near the principal altar, beside my most dear late wife Blanch, who is there interred’ (from his will of 1397). His will had stipulated that his body be laid out for forty days – ten times the customary period – with ‘no cering or embalming’.
16/3/1322Battle_monument_BoroughbridgeThe Battle of Boroughbridge was fought on 16th March 1322. Thomas Earl of Lancaster with an army of approximately 1000 men met Andrew Harclay, Earl of Carlisle, at Boroughbridge on the River Ure. Outnumbered four-to-one, Lancaster quickly surrendered and was taken to Pontefract Castle. The photo is of a monument commemorating the Battle of Boroughbridge. The Chronicle of Lanercost records that: 'The Earl [of Lancaster's] cavalry, when they endeavoured to cross the water, could not enter it by reason of the number and density of arrows which the archers discharged upon them and their horses. This affair being thus quickly settled, the Earl of Lancaster and his people retired from the water, nor did they dare to approach it again, and so their whole array was thrown into disorder. Wherefore the earl sent messengers to Sir Andrew, requesting an armistice until the morning, when he would either give him battle or surrender to him. Andrew agreed to the earl's proposal ; nevertheless he kept his people at the bridge and the river all that day and throughout the night, so as to be ready for battle at any moment. But during that night the Earl of Hereford's men deserted and fled, because their lord had been killed, also many of the Earl of Lancaster's men and those of my Lord de Clifford and others deserted from them. When morning came, therefore, the Earl of Lancaster, my Lord de Clifford, my Lord de Mowbray and all who had remained with them, surrendered to Sir Andrew, who himself took them to York as captives, where they were confined in the castle to await there the pleasure of my lord the king.’
17/3/1397Katherine Swynford TombOn 17th March 1397, Katherine Swynford, third wife of John of Gaunt, arrived at Pontefract Castle having received a jointure to the estates of John of Gaunt that had been granted to him in 1372. The picture is Katherine's larger tomb, next to the tomb of her daughter, Joan Beaufort.
18/3/1346On 18th March 1346, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was made Inspector of Welsh Levies for the King’s Army by Edward III.
18/3/1399On 18th March 1399, (some sources say possibly the 20th March), whilst Henry Bolingbroke was exiled in France, his right to inherit and his possession of Pontefract Castle was annulled by Richard II. It was given to the Duke of Aumale, Normandy.
19/3/1322On 19th March 1322, Edward II arrived at Pontefract Castle following the capture of Thomas of Lancaster at Boroughbridge on the 16th. The constable of the castle immediately surrendered to Edward. The Chronicle of Lanercost records that: ‘The king, then, greatly delighted by the capture of these persons, sent for the earl to come to Pontefract, where he remained still in the castle of the same earl ; and there, in revenge for the death of Piers de Gaveston (whom the earl had caused to be beheaded), and at the instance of the earl's rivals (especially of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger), without holding a parliament or taking the advice of the majority, caused sentence to be pronounced that he should be drawn, hanged and beheaded. But, forasmuch as he was the queen's uncle and son of the king's uncle, the first two penalties were commuted, so that he was neither drawn nor hanged, only beheaded in like manner as this same Earl Thomas had caused Piers de Gaveston to be beheaded.’
20/3/1300On 20th March 1300, almost four years after his death, Edmund of Lancaster, the king’s brother, was finally buried at Westminster Abbey. He had stipulated that his body should not be interred until all his debts had been paid. His sons Thomas (future lord of Pontefract), Henry (over a quarter of a century later to inherit his elder brother’s lands and titles) and John and widow, Blanche were in attendance. Edmund’s remains were taken from the convent of the Minoresses to the Abbey via St Paul’s Cathedral and he was buried north of the high altar with his first wife, Aveline Forz.
20/3/1336By 20th March (possibly on 20th February) 1336, Alice de Lacy of Pontefract, suo jure Countess of Lincoln and suo jure Countess of Salisbury and widow of Thomas of Lancaster, was forcibly married, for the third and last time, to Sir Hugh de Freyne, steward at Cardigan Castle. Alice had been seemingly happily married to Eble le Strange (a member of Thomas of Lancaster’s household), her second husband, for eleven years until his death on campaign in Scotland with Edward III in 1335. Her third marriage was reputedly forced under canon law due to her being raped by de Freyne, with punishment for the rapist being marriage to the victim. De Freyne died at Perth, on campaign in Scotland, in January/February 1337.
21/3/1396On 21st March 1396, Richard II visited Pontefract Castle on his itinerary to Tadcaster the following day.
22/3/1303On 22nd March 1303, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was made Joint Procurator and Special Ambassador to France by Edward I.
22/3/1322Thomas of Lancaster SealFollowing the defeat of Thomas Earl of Lancaster,  lord of Pontefract, and his supporters at the Battle of Boroughbridge on March 16th 1322, Thomas was tried and condemned in the Great Hall at Pontefract Castle. He was denied the opportunity to speak in his defence and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The sentence was commuted to beheading because Thomas was the king’s cousin and, it is rumoured, due to the intercession of Queen Isabella. He was taken on a mule  to St. Thomas’s Hill – as it has since been known – and executed on 22nd March 1322 in sight of his castle and whilst facing Scotland  (symbolic of his alleged treasonable correspondence with the Scots).  His was the first execution of a royal prince since the Norman Conquest. After his execution, the Monks of the Cluniac Priory of St John interred his body on the right hand side of their high altar. The Priory was situated on what is now Box Lane. The image is the seal of Thomas of Lancaster. Some thirty of Lancaster's followers were also executed, among these Clifford and the baron John Mowbray. Clifford was hung from Clifford’s Tower in York, which is now named after him. The Chronicle of Lanercost records the events and aftermath in a more ‘poetic’ fashion: ‘This man, then, said to be of most eminent birth and noblest of Christians, as well as the wealthiest earl in the world, inasmuch as he owned five earldoms, to wit, Lancaster, Lincoln, Salisbury, Leycester and Ferrers, was taken on the morrow of S. Benedict Abbot ' in Lent and beheaded like any thief or vilest rascal upon a certain hillock outside the town, where now, because of the miracles which it is said God works in his honour, there is a great concourse of pilgrims, and a chapel has been built.’
23/3/1322ThomasLancasterLedtoExecutionOn 23rd March 1322, after Thomas Earl of Lancaster was executed in March 1322 at Pontefract Castle, his widow Alice de Lacy was imprisoned in York Castle along with her stepmother. The Despensers, who were favourites of King Edward II, threatened both women with burning if they did not surrender their estates in exchange for empty honorific titles and a small cash pension.
23/3/1323On the 23rd March 1323, Edward II was at Pontefract and gave the following order: ‘To the justiciary of Ireland, or to him who supplies his place. Order to restore to Henry de Mortimer his lands and goods, notwithstanding the king’s late order to take his goods into his hands.’
23/3/1357On 23rd March 1357, (after the heavy defeat of the French at Poitiers six months before) and whilst Edward, the Black Prince, was agreeing a truce with France, Henry, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was besieging Rennes in Brittany. Already having been there for almost six months and having sworn an oath to place his standard on the town’s battlements, he reluctantly returned to England in July: he had entered Rennes alone and placed his banner on the battlements for a few minutes.
23/3/1361On 23rd March 1361, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster died at Leicester Castle, possibly of the plague. Henry was the eventual heir of his executed uncle Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, who had been married to Alice de Lacy, of Pontefract, daughter and heiress of Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln. Henry’s dukedom was the first one created since the Norman Conquest, with the exception of the Black Prince in 1337.  Not only had he won several major battles, skirmishes and sieges, he had been chief negotiator in Edward's desire for peace since 1353. Literate and speaking English as well as French, his work 'The Book of Holy Medicines' recounted how his five senses had become infected with the Seven Deadly Sins. John of Gaunt, third surviving son of Edward III, received half of his father-in-law’s (the Duke of Lancaster) lands and the title ‘Earl of Lancaster’ on the duke’s death.
24/3/1344On 24th March 1344, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and later lord of Pontefract, was made Joint Lieutenant of Aquitaine by Edward III.
24/3/1375On 24th March 1375, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, arrived with his delegation at Bruges for papally-sponsored peace talks with France. The truce was extended for a year in June resulting in the English expedition in Brittany trying to secure the surrender of Quimperlé being stopped.
24/3/1394On 24th March 1394, Constance of Castile, the second wife of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract,  died at Leicester Castle.
25/3/1322On the 25th March 1322, Edward II, who was then at Pontefract, directed the following writ’ to William de la Beche: ‘Edward by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine, to his very dear and faithful William de la Beche, greeting. Whereas amongst other things which by our charter we gave and granted to our very dear and faithful cousin Edmund Earl of Arundel, to have under a certain form, we gave and granted to him the castle and manor of Doluoreyn and the lands of Kery and Kedewy, with the appurtenances, in the Marches of Wales, which were Roger de Mortimer’s, of Wyggemor, and which by the forfeiture of the same Roger came to our hands; to have in form aforesaid, as in our charter aforesaid more fully is contained. We command you that you deliver to the same Earl or to his attorney in that behalf the aforesaid castle, manor and lands, with the appurtenances, which are in your custody by our commission. To hold according to the tenor of our charter abovesaid. For we wish you to be exonerated thereof towards us from this time. Witness ourself at Pontefract, on the 25th day of March, in the 15th year of our reign [A.D. 1322].’
25/3/1342On 25th March 1342, Blanche of Lancaster was born at Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire. She was the future wife of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, whom she married on the 19th May 1359 at Reading Abbey.
25/3/1361On 25th March 1361, John of Gaunt, son-in-law of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was assigned temporary custody of all Henry’s lands in thirty-four of the thirty-nine English counties.
26/3/1322On 26th March 1322, Edward II was at Pontefract and gave the following order: ‘To Robert de Sapy, keeper of Pevenese castle, co. Sussex, and of the manor of Esthalesham in Holdernesse. Order to repair the said castle and the houses therein, the costs whereof the king will cause to be allowed to him in his account of the issues of the said manor. ‘
26/3/1323On 26th March 1323, Edward II was at Pontefract to witness the following: ‘The King has committed to Robert Lewer the custody of the manor of Hichille with appurtenances, in the county of Southampton, which belonged to John Giffard, his enemy and rebel, and which, by the forfeiture of the same, is in the King's hands. To be held as long as it shall please the King, so that he shall answer to the King, in the King's chamber, for the issues arising therefrom. In testimony whereof, etc. Witnessed by the King at Pontefract, on the 26th of March. By the King himself announced to Master Robert Baldock, And it was ordered, that the Sheriff of Southampton should deliver to the said Robert, the aforesaid manor with appurtenances, to be kept in the form aforesaid. Witnessed by the King as above.'
26/3/1386On Easter Day, 26th March 1386, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, with his wife Constance and three daughters (Philippa, Elizabeth and Catherine), said his goodbyes to Richard II and his Queen, Anne of Bohemia, to set out to claim Castile by right of his wife (jure uxoris). He would set sail from Plymouth with a fleet supplied by King Joao of Portugal.
29/3/1322On 29th March 1322, Edward II was at Pontefract and gave the following order: ‘To John de Kilvynton. Order not to intermeddle with the castle and lands in Pickering, co. York, although the king committed the custody thereof to him amongst other lands that belonged to Thomas, earl of Lancaster, and other rebels between the waters of Ouse, Teise, and Ned in the said county, as the king had previously committed the custody of the aforesaid castle and lands to Thomas de Ughtred.’
29/3/1324On 29th March 1324, two years after Thomas, Earl of Lancaster’s and lord of Pontefract, execution, Edward II granted the earldom of Leicester, but not Lancaster, to his brother, Henry, noting Thomas ‘having gone the way of all flesh without heir of his body’. The royal council formally agreed this on the 10th May with Henry receiving the lands of the earldom on 4th June.
30/3/1322On 30th March 1322, the Calendar of the Fine Rolls (Edward II) noted: ‘The like of Richard de Mosley, parson of the church of Friston, as receiver of the issues of the castle and honour of Pontefract and all castles and lands late of Thomas, late earl of Lancaster, and other the king’s enemies and rebels and others in the county of York on this side the water of Use. in the king’s hand, except the castle of Skipton in Craven, late of Roger de Clifford.’
31/3/1360On 31st March 1360, whilst John of Gaunt, future lord of Pontefract, was marching on Paris, his wife Blanche gave birth to their first daughter, Philippa, named after the queen. Philippa was later to be Queen of Portugal by marriage to King John I, effectively extending Gaunt’s dynastic ambitions.
31/3/1371On 31st March 1371, in Hertford Castle, Constance, second wife of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, gave birth to a girl, Catherine,  who was to become Queen Consort and later Regent of Castile by marriage to King Henry III of Castile. Although failing to secure his continued rule of Castile and Leon through his wife, Gaunt’s daughter’s marriage in some way realised his dynastic ambitions.
1/3/1474On 1st March 1474, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was at Pontefract where he granted an annuity of twenty pounds (nearly £26,000 in today's money) to Alice Burgh, possibly the mother of his illegitimate son, John of Pontefract (or Gloucester).
1/3/1486On 1st March 1486, John of Pontefract (or Gloucester), illegitimate son of Richard III, was granted an annual income of twenty pounds sterling (nearly £24,000 in today's money) by Henry VII. This was ‘issuing from the revenues of the lordship or manor of Kyngestonlacy, parcel of the duchy of Lancaster, in co. Dorset’. Kingston Lacy had once belonged to Henry de Lacy.
4/3/1461King Henry VIOn 4th March 1461, Henry VI's reign ended with his formal deposition by  Edward IV, who was proclaimed King in Westminster Hall. There were now two kings of England, but for Edward, a formal coronation would have to wait, for he was determined to finally, decisively beat Henry VI and his Lancastrian supporters. Edward would begin to march north to Pontefract arriving on the 27th March 1461. He gathered his troops at Pontefract in readiness for the Battle of Towton on March 29th 1461.
6/3/1400On 6th March 1400, having journeyed slowly from Pontefract to allow the body to be displayed and witnessed in the major towns, a requiem mass was celebrated in St Paul’s Cathedral for Richard (II) of Bordeaux, attended by Henry IV. The royal almoner distributed 25 marks (over £19,000 in today's money) to various priests to say a thousand masses for the king’s soul while a confessor doled out pennies to the poor.
7/3/1400On 7th March 1400, Richard II’s body was laid to rest at the Dominican friary at King’s Langley, later being re-interred in 1413 at Westminster Abbey on the accession of Henry V. Richard's remains joined those of his first wife Anne of Bohemia in the tomb Richard had erected for them in the chapel of St Edward the Confessor, next to that of Edward III. The bodies lie in the tomb chest below the effigies. The tomb was made in 1396-1399 by London masons Henry Yevele and Stephen Lote, and coppersmiths Nicholas Broker and Godfrey Prest cast the gilt bronze effigies. The total cost was £933, 6 shillings and 8 pence (£588,000 in today's money) . Richard and Anne were originally depicted holding hands (as Richard had specified), but they have been broken off. This was the first double royal tomb and the effigies were cast in two sections rather than a single piece like Eleanor of Castile's effigy.
9/3/1416On 9th March 1416, Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle, was made guardian for the four-year-old Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, whose father, the Earl of Cambridge, had been executed in August 1415 for his part in the Southampton Plot against Henry V. Richard’s paternal uncle, Edward, second Duke of York, had been killed at Agincourt two months later. The king awarded Waterton £100 pa (£107,000 in today's money) for the duke’s expenses,who remained with his household in Methley until December 1423 when his guardianship was transferred to the Earl of Westmorland.
9/3/1455On 9th March 1455, Lord Salisbury, chancellor and constable of the castle was relieved of his chancellorship for ignoring the order of Henry VI, on 3rd February 1455, to release the Duke of Exeter from Pontefract Castle. Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, had been imprisoned for involving himself in the northern war between the Nevilles and the Percys, which was in direct disobedience to an oath all lords had taken to keep and respect royal authority during the illness of Henry VI.
9/3/1485On 9th March 1485, a warrant was made to deliver clothing to ‘the Lord Bastard’, John of Pountfreit/Pontefract (sometimes called ‘of Gloucester’), known illegitimate son of Richard III (or Duke of Gloucester at the child’s conception). It has been surmised that Richard’s mistress was Alice Burgh, a nurse, who was also given an allowance to look after Edward of Warwick, Richard III’s nephew by his murdered brother, George, Duke of Clarence.
11/3/1461Edward IVOn 11th March 1461, the Yorkist army began leaving London heading north; the first to leave being Lord Fauconberg at the head of Edward IV's vanguard. Edward himself left on the 13th. They followed the same route that his father, Richard Duke of York, had taken the previous year in his campaign against the Lancastrians. York had planned to use Pontefract as his base in 1460 only to be side-tracked to Sandal when he realised the Lancastrians were there before him. Edward realised in 1461 that Pontefract Castle would still make an ideal base from which  to launch his war in Yorkshire and beyond against the Lancastrians.
11/3/1468On 11th March 1468 (as far as can be ascertained), John of Gloucester (or John of Pontefract) was probably born at Pontefract Castle. He was the illegitimate son of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and was knighted in September 1483 at York Minster and made Captain of Calais in March 1485; a position later revoked by Henry VII. Richard’s letter of appointment for Captain of Calais referred to him as ‘our dear bastard son’ and an order referring to his appointment calls him ‘John de Pountfreit Bastard’. Although’ tolerated’ by Henry VII, it seems likely he was executed in 1499.
11/3/1485On 11th March 1485, John of Pontefract (or Gloucester), an illegitimate child of Richard III, was officially appointed Captain of Calais. An order relating to this appointment calls him ‘John de Pountfreit Bastard’ and Richard’s letter of appointment refers to him as ‘our dear bastard son.’ The patent appointing John gave him all the requisite powers of his position except of appointing officers, reserving these until he was twenty-one. In addition, John received the fortresses of Rysbank, Guisnes, Hammes and Lieutenant of the Marches of Picardy for life. After the Battle of Bosworth Field, Henry VII removed John from the position of Captain of Calais but, as far as is known, did not persecute him further. John’s fate is not known for certain but a 17th century historian, George Buck, surmised that he was executed by Henry VII in 1499 to prevent his becoming a focus for Irish rebellion.
13/3/1471On 13th March 1471, Lord Montagu was at Pontefract when Edward of York landed at Ravenspur on the Humber on returning from exile, but he made no attempt to intercept Edward’s small force as he headed south to Nottingham. Edward, at this stage, declared himself only interested in reclaiming his title as Duke of York.
15/3/1455In mid-March 1455, Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, ordered his son, the Earl of Warwick, to release the scheming Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, from his place of imprisonment at Pontefract Castle. Henry had been imprisoned for involving himself in the Northern war between the Neville and the Percy families, which was in direct disobedience to an oath all lords had taken to keep and respect royal authority during the illness of Henry VI.
16/3/1410On 16th March 1410, John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset and first son of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and his mistress (at the time), Katherine Swynford, died. He had been born (sources quote 1371-73) whilst Gaunt was married to his second wife, Constance, and given the surname Beaufort after Gaunt’s French lands, Montmorency-Beaufort. Beaufort was created Earl of Somerset on 10th February 1397, only days after Parliament ‘legitimised’’ the four Beaufort children (John, Henry, Thomas and Joan) of John of Gaunt. Pope Boniface IX acceded to Parliament’s actions. Beaufort was the great grandfather of Henry VII.
27/3/1461On 27th March 1461, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and his uncle, William, Lord Fauconberg, arrived in the vanguard of Edward IV’s army at Pontefract Castle. The castle was in Yorkist hands at this time; either the constable of the castle had changed sides since the Battle of Wakefield or the castle had been abandoned. Warwick’s father, Lord Salisbury, had been beheaded here months earlier after the Battle of Wakefield with Robert, Bastard of Exeter, the older half-brother of the Duke of Exeter, held personally responsible for this act. Warwick had overseen the summary execution of Robert around 8th March in Coventry. Late on 27th March 1461, Edward, heir to  Richard Duke of York reached Pontefract, having travelled north collecting men in their thousands, ahead of the Battle of Towton. He camped his army (reputedly nearly 40,700 strong) on the triangular piece of land below the castle known locally as Bubwith Heath. On the afternoon and evening of that date the Battle of Ferrybridge took place, which was little more than a skirmish. When the Yorkist force, under Lord Fitzwalter, drove the defending Lancastrian forces off the bridge,  Fitzwalter camped there for the night as it was too late to return to Pontefract.  
28/3/1461Earl of Warwick, Richard NevilleOn the morning 28th March 1461, the second attack on Ferrybridge took place by the Lancastrian forces, under Lord Clifford and John, Lord Neville , (a younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Westmorland) with 500 men. The Yorkists were routed and fled to Pontefract Castle causing fear to spread through the Yorkist ranks assuming the Lancastrians were in close proximity. The Lancastrians were not following, however, but were defending the bridge. According to legend, in trying to dispel panic in the Yorkist ranks, the Earl Of Warwick , despite an arrow wound to the leg, slew his horse in front of the Yorkist army stating 'let him fly that will, for surely I will tarrry with him that will tarry with me'. In the afternoon, Warwick led the Yorkist men back to Ferrybridge and with Lord Fauconberg outflanking the defending Lancastrians, by crossing the river at Castleford, the Lancastrian forces were defeated and Lords Clifford (by an arrow in the throat) and Neville killed.
29/3/1424On 29th March 1424, Henry VI ordered Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle, to deliver David, son and heir of the Earl of Athol, and nine other hostages, to Robert Scot, Lieutenant of the Constable of the Tower of London. Similar letters were sent to Sir Richard Hastynges, the Constable of Knaresborough Castle for certain hostages’ handover and to Sir Thomas Burton to deliver seven hostages to the Constable of Dover Castle.
29/3/1461The_Battle_of_Towton_by_John_QuartleyAfter having assembled at Pontefract days before, on Palm Sunday, 29th March 1461, the Yorkist forces under Edward IV, the Earl of  Warwick and Lord Fauconberg met with the Lancastrian forces under the Dukes of Northumberland, Somerset, Exeter at the Battle of Towton. Upwards of 50,000 men clashed at what would become England's bloodiest battle. It was fought in a snowstorm, and many of the fleeing Lancastrians drowned in the rivers Cock and Wharfe. Reputedly, the pursuing Yorkists could cross the water using dead bodies as 'stepping stones'. The Yorkist victory was overwhelming and led to Edward being officially pronounced the only King of England. Following the battle, the Wars of the Roses would continue for over 20 years. The picture is of the Battle of Towton by John Quartley in 1878. On this date also, Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles, died at the Battle of Towton fighting on the Lancastrian side. He had helped Queen Margaret win the second Battle of St Albans in February 1461. Inheriting his baronetcy on the death of his grandfather in 1421, Lionel’s wardship was granted to his future father-in-law, Robert Waterton, ex-Constable of Pontefract Castle (he was to be re-appointed to this position by Henry VI in 1422). Lionel married Waterton’s daughter Jane (some say Joan or Cecily) and, secondly, Margaret Beauchamp, mother of Margaret Beaufort. By this marriage he became the step-grandfather of Henry VII. He was buried with his first wife in St Oswald’s Church, Methley.
30/3/1461St Richards FriaryOn 30th March 1461, Edward IV arrived at York following the Battle of Towton and had the rotting heads of his father Richard and brother Edmund and the Earl of Salisbury removed from Micklegate Bar and taken to be interred reverently at St Richard's Friary in Pontefract with the rest of their bodies. The friary was situated in the present day Valley Gardens.
15/3/1587On 15th March 1587, Thomas Austwick was baptized at Pontefract. He was Mayor of Pontefract in 1621 and 1640 and was one of the volunteer defenders of the castle during its sieges. He died in March 1648. His son, Alan, was a lieutenant of horse for Charles I and one of the persons excepted for life at the surrender of the castle.
22/3/1537On 22nd March 1537, Lord Darcy wrote to Henry VIII from Pontefract suggesting that as the disturbances of the Pilgrimage of Grace and its aftermath were no more, it would be advised not to keep a full garrison at the castle. He would like to visit the King at Easter albeit only being able to travel ‘but six miles a day’.
1/3/1645Marmaduke LangdaleOn 1st March 1645, the first siege of Pontefract Castle ended when Sir Marmaduke Langdale defeated the Parliamentarian army at the Battle of Chequerfield. During this siege, both mining and artillery fire damaged the Piper Tower, resulting in its collapse.
2/3/1605On 2nd March 1605, James I confirmed the corporate charter of Pontefract. This charter sought to remove the uncertainties and disturbances around Henry VII’s charter’s means of electing the town’s mayor by acclamation (by the burgesses). A form of secret ballot of the burgesses was enacted resulting in the annual election of the town’s mayor on the 14th September.
2/3/1644On 2nd March 1644, Ferdinando, 2nd Lord Fairfax of Cameron, a commander in the Parliamentary army during the English Civil War and father to Thomas Fairfax (commander of the New Model Army) wrote to Hugh Lord Montgomery: 'I hath pleased God to suffer the enemy to give my forces a verie great defeat at Pontefract. About three thousand horse and one thousand dragoons under the command of Sir Marmaduke Langdale and Sir Thomas Blackwell, came so verie fast upp, as that I could not get my forces from the several places they were to come from to resist them……..I am afraid wee have lost verie many foot…..I intreat your lordship to draw upp your regement…..and give notice to others which are neare you to draw theirs with all convenient speed towards Burrow Briggs, whether I shall rally and advise with your lordship what may best be done for annoying the enemy, and securing this city and the passage to Scarbrough.’
2/3/1648Race Horse Painting by StubbsThe earliest evidence of racing in the Pontefract area was in March 1648 when races took place near Pontefract Castle. Captain Baines, in charge of Cromwell's soldiers which had besieged the Castle, questioned whether he should ride his brother's grey mare in one of the races.
11/3/1645Pontefract castle RuinOn 11th March 1645, the second siege of Pontefract Castle began. The Parliamentary besiegers had a starvation policy and, on 19th July 1645, the Royalist garrison made an honourable surrender to Parliament's Colonel General Poyntz and was allowed to march away to Newark.
16/3/1684On 16th March 1684 (some say May 1684 or 1685), burial records testify that William (or John)) Nevison was hanged at the Knavesmire and interred at St Mary’s Church, Castlegate, York after being captured at the Three Houses Inn in Sandal Magna. His crime was the murder of a constable who had tried to arrest him near Howley Hall, Soothill, Batley. Born in 1639, in 1676 he supposedly rode his horse 200 miles from Rochester to York in a day to establish an alibi for a robbery; citing York’s Lord Mayor as a witness. It was rumoured Charles II nicknamed him Swift Nick on account of this alleged feat, later attributed to Dick Turpin in the 1834 novel Rookwood. Nevison’s Leap, a cutting through Ferrybridge Road, Pontefract, is the legendary place William Nevison spurred his horse to jump over to escape pursuing constables.
21/3/1645On 21st March 1645, the Parliamentary forces besieging Pontefract Castle captured the upper town at Pontefract and entrenched at Baghill, Monkhill and New Hall. The Royalist forces sallied forth to attack these entrenchments.
24/3/1649Pontefract Castle was the last Royalist stronghold and fell on 24th March 1649 when Major General Lambert took possession of the castle.  Ironically, Lambert became the Member of Parliament for Pontefract in early 1659.
24/3/1660On 24th March 1660, the Registers of North Luffenham, Rutland recorded: ‘Collected then at North Luffenham (Rutland) towards the building of ye Church at Pontefract Yorkeshire sume of fowreteene shillings (£144 in today’s money) and five Collector. Ri : Clerke’
27/3/1649After the surrender of Pontefract Castle to Major General Lambert of the Parliamentarian forces, a meeting of the townsfolk of Pontefract was held in the Moot Hall, under the presidency of Edward Field, the Mayor. A petition was drawn up and addressed ''To the supreme authority of England, the Commons assembled in Parliament." It set forth that since the beginning of the wars the town had been greatly impoverished and depopulated. Two hundred dwelling- houses had been '’utterly ruinated." Many persons and families had been totally undone and the place of public worship had been sadly devastated. Altogether, the borough had suffered damage to the extent of over £40,000 (£7.5 million today) . Therefore, so that the true cause of all these troubles might be removed, the petitioners prayed that the castle should be ''wholly razed down and demolished" ; that a certain amount of its lead and timber should be devoted to the repairs of the church and the re-edifying of a house for the minister, and that a sum of £1000 (£187,000 today) should be handed over to the town. This petition was consigned to Major General Lambert at the Parliamentarian headquarters at Knottingley and by him duly sent forward to Westminster. On the 27th March 1649 the assembled Commons resolved "That the Castle of Pontefract be forthwith totally demolished" The formal order for the demolition was made a week later by the West Riding Justices sitting at Wakefield, and its execution was entrusted to Edward Field, the Mayor, and certain other prominent townsmen.
18/3/1746On 18th March 1746, John Wesley, Methodist leader, made his first visit to Pontefract as mentioned in his journal. The ‘Stations’ of the Methodist Preachers were first published in 1765 with Pontefract included in the Leeds Circuit. He also preached in the town in March two years later.
29/3/1728A will dated 29th March 1728 by Mrs Dorothy Frank declared that her executors, within twelve months of her death : ‘…should lay out and dispose of the said £100 (nearly £18500 in today’s money) in a purchase of lands, and that they and their heirs should employ thirty shillings (nearly £280 today) per annum out of the said rent for the benefit and advantage of the poor children of the Charity School in Pontefract..the rest and residue of the issues and profits to be employed and bestowed yearly about the time of Christmas among such aged and sick persons of the said town of Pontefract, as her trustees and their heirs shall think fit.’
6/3/1896On 6th March 1896, ‘The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review’ noted: ‘Pontefract. —March 6th. The Guardians are inviting estimates for fitting up the new infirmary with electric bells. Particulars on application to Messrs. J. Holmes Greaves & Co., architects, 38, Albion Street, Leeds, and Corn Market, Pontefract.’
10/3/1842On 10th March 1842, Robert Gully, son of John Gully of Ackworth Park (MP for Pontefract 1832-37), was shipwrecked on the island of Formosa (now Taiwan) in the brig ‘Ann’. He was taken prisoner by the Chinese authorities and along with 300 other British subjects was executed around the 15th August in the town of Ty-wan-foo.
25/3/1825On 25th March 1825, the remains of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, executed in March 1322, were presumed to have been unearthed by two labourers in Paper Mill Field near St Thomas’s Hill in Pontefract. In 1942, it was reported that some of Thomas’s bones had been found in a box at Paskell’s auctioneers in Colchester, having been taken from Pontefract Castle in 1885.
6/3/1905It was reported by ‘The Chemist and Druggist’ that on 6th March 1905: ‘two soldiers and a shoemaker were sent to prison for one month each for being concerned in larceny at the warehouse of Mr. Alfred Collins, chemist and druggist, Corn Market, Pontefract, and stealing several bottles of wine and some soaps, pills, and Pontefract cakes.’