Pontefract Castle – October

14/10/1066On 14th October 1066, at the Battle of Hastings, Ilbert de Lacy fought alongside William the Conqueror. Ilbert was later granted lands by King William (under the overlordship of Bishop Odo of Bayeux, half-brother of William), for his part in the conquest. When Odo was banished from England by William II in 1088, Ilbert held his lands in Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire and Surrey as tenant-in-chief, direct of the king. The castle he built at Pontefract was enclosed in a park 8 miles in circumference. After the conquest, Ilbert received over 150 manors in the west of Yorkshire including; Penistone, Thurlstone, Denby, Scissett, Skelmanthorpe, Clayton, Cawthorne, Silkstone, Chevet, Crofton, Snydale, Whitwood, Heath, Altofts, Newlands, Carlton, Methley, East Ardsley, Lofthouse, Middleton, Morley, Batley, Southowram, Elland, Greetland, Heckmondwike, Mirfield, Nether Midgley, Over Midgley, Middleton, Thornhill, Kirkheaton, Highburton [Birton], Deighton, Fixby, Bradley, Huddersfield, Almondbury, Honley and Thong and 10 in Nottinghamshire and 4 in Lincolnshire.
5/10/1190On 5th October 1190 (some sources have the 11th), John fitz Richard, eldest son and heir of Richard fitz Eustace and Albreda de Lisours and first cousin once removed of Robert de Lacy, was killed at Tyre in the Holy Land on the Third Crusade led by Richard I. His son, Roger fitz John/de Lacy inherited the Pontefract fee.
2/10/1295The auditing of the de Lacy (Henry, lord of Pontefract) accounts for 1295—6 was carried out between October and December, beginning at Pontefract on 2nd October and ending at Denbigh on 9th December. Between these dates, the auditors travelled to Bolingbroke, Wrangle and Swaton (Lincs.) in October, to Kingston Lacy (Dorset), Aldbourne (Wilts.), and Halton (Cheshire) in November, and then to Sedgebrook (Lincs.), and Kneesall (Notts.) in December.
3/10/1283On 3rd October 1283, the ‘rebel’ Welsh lord Dafydd ap Gruffud, Prince of Wales, was hanged, drawn and quartered in Shrewsbury on the orders of Edward I: the first prominent person recorded to have been executed in this manner. Dafydd and his younger son, Owain ap Dafydd, had been captured on 22nd June and his other son, Llywelyn ap Dafydd, on the 28th of that month. On 15th July 1283, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, had been issued with letters patent to have custody of, and deliver, as hostage, Llywelyn to Richard de Boys. Both of Dafydd’s sons were imprisoned at Bristol Castle; Llywelyn dying in mysterious circumstances in 1287 or 1288 whilst his brother lived at least until August 1325.
7/10/1282On 7th October 1282, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was with Edward I at Rhuddlan witnessing a grant of land to John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle.
13/10/1272On 13th October 1272, Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was knighted at Westminster and confirmed as Earl of Lincoln: his minority was now officially at an end. Henry had received formal relief for his mother and himself for payments due for wardship of his lands in February 1272 having paid £335 (£342,000 in today's money) to the keeper of the works at Westminster.
13/10/1289On 13th October 1289, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was given the role of one of the commissioners investigating alleged abuses of royal officials during Edward I’s three years’ absence on the continent.
16/10/1282On 16th October 1282, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was awarded the cantrefs (Welsh land division) of Ros and Rhufoniog and the commote (sub-division of a cantref) of Dinmael by Edward I as reward for loyal service and advice. These lands would form the lordship of Denbigh.
24/10/1252On 24th October 1252, as evidence of his favourable noble standing, Edmund de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was awarded a gift of six deer by Henry III from the forest of Rockingham.
25/10/1265On 25th October 1265, the Duchy of Lancaster, of which Pontefract Castle is now a part, was formally created. The inheritance was created in this year by Henry III for his youngest son, Edmund. The original grant was made from lands forfeited by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester (1265) and those forfeited by Robert Ferrers, Earl of Derby were later added in 1266 (arising from the Barons’ War). These lands are still held by the Duchy of Lancaster today. In 1267 further lands were added to the inheritance namely the Honour and County of Lancaster, and Edmund was created as the first Earl of Lancaster. The inheritance became known as the Duchy of Lancaster. Although the Duchy of Lancaster name itself stems from 1267, the inheritance of lands go back to 1265. Pontefract Castle was incorporated into the Duchy on the death of Henry de Lacy in 1311.
28/10/1294On 28th October 1294, Alice de Lacy and Thomas Earl of Lancaster married. Alice was 13 and Thomas about 16. The marriage was not successful and they lived quite separate lives. Whether they divorced or not (possibly in 1318) is debatable. During his lifetime Thomas had control of her inheritance from her father, Henry de Lacy. By the terms of their marriage settlement, the bulk of her great inheritance from her father, which included the earldom of Lincoln and many other estates, was to go to Thomas, with reversion to Thomas's heirs. Her father also came to an agreement with the king that should Alice have no children, her father's Earldom of Lincoln would pass into the royal family on her death.
1/10/1317In early October 1317, as Edward II passed through Pontefract on his way from York to London, the Earl of Lancaster’s forces jeered at him from the battlements of the castle. This was a ‘treasonous’ charge later levelled at Lancaster at his trial at the castle five years afterwards.
1/10/1330On 1st October 1330, Edward III was at Pontefract and ordered that: ‘To the justices of the Bench. Order not to put John de Insula Vectra, knight, in default for not appearing on Monday the morrow of three weeks from Easter last in a suit before the justices between him and Walter, abbot of Hyde near Winchester, and Richard le Cornmangere concerning the unjust taking and detinue of John’s cattle, as he was in the king’s service by his order on that day.’
1/10/1359On 1st October 1359, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, arrived at Calais with an advance party to meet German mercenaries and raid the Somme. Lancaster was spearheading Edward III’s invasion of France intended to have himself crowned at Rheims after a devastating ‘chevauchee’ of the local regions thereby putting pressure on the Dauphin.
1/10/1397On 1st October 1397, on the orders of Richard II, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, led a party to exhume the body of the executed Earl of Arundel and bury it in an unknown location to prevent his grave being used as a site of political martyrdom. Gaunt was awarded some of Arundel’s Norfolk lands in recompense.
1/10/1399On 1st October 1399, Sir Richard of Bordeaux (formerly Richard II) was informed, in the Tower of London, of the Parliamentary approval of his renunciation of the crown. Sir Richard William Thirning, chief justice, speaking ‘in the name of the estates and the people’ declared the end of their homage and allegiance. Within five months he would be dead, having reputedly starved (unlike Shakespeare's more gory version) in his prison at Pontefract Castle.
2/10/1348On 2nd October 1348, Alice de Lacy, wife of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, died, aged 66, at Barlings Abbey in Lincolnshire. During her life, Alice was married three times, widowed twice, abducted, imprisoned and had her inheritance taken from her. Yet throughout her life she remained generous and respected by her subordinates and those who were dependent upon her.
5/10/1318The wardrobe account for 1318-19, gives the names, seven hundred and fifty in all, of those to whom Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, sent letters during the year. Especially large numbers of letters were issued between 5th and 8th October 1318, presumably to summon his followers to attend him at the parliament which had been called for 20th October at York. The on-going ill-feelings between the king and Lancaster made both parties extremely wary of the other. On this occasion, Lancaster wrote to twenty-five knights who were members of his retinue. Counting the different knights who received various letters, the maximum number of knights that can be shown to have served him during the year was forty two.
6/10/1319After Edward II’s retreat from the siege of Berwick, York was reached on 5th October 1319 and on the following day the king wrote to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, by this time probably at Pontefract again. The crushing English defeat at the Battle of Myton the previous month had shown too clearly the need for an urgent overhaul of the country’s defence system, and this was the main subject discussed at a council meeting on 13th October.
7/10/1322On 7th October 1322, The Register of William Melton, Archbishop of York, noted the prohibition of the worship of the executed (at Pontefract in March of that year) Thomas, Earl of Lancaster: ‘…… none shall come publicquely through veneration or devotion to the Tombe of Thomas, late Earl of Lancaster at Pontefract”.
7/10/1323On 7th October 1323, William Melton, Archbishop of York, mandated the Archdeacon of York to prevent any veneration of Thomas of Lancaster (executed at Pontefract the previous year) as a saint, pointing out that this had not been sanctioned by the Apostolic See.
10/10/1326On 10th October 1326, Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger, had reached Gloucester from the Tower of London attempting to reach the safety of Despenser’s strongholds in south Wales. They were fleeing from Queen Isabella’s and her lover Roger Mortimer’s, invasion from Dordrecht, aided by mercenaries from the Low Countries and Germany, soldiers from the Count of Hainault and financial guarantees by the king of France. Unfortunately, for Edward, news came that Thomas of Lancaster’s (lord of Pontefract) brother, Henry who had not supported his brother’s revolt four years earlier and had been allowed to inherit some of his estates, now had turned to Isabella’s cause.
13/10/1321On 13th October 1321, Queen Isabella had wanted to stay at Leeds Castle in Kent while travelling to Canterbury, but was refused entry by the owner’s wife. The owner of the castle, who was not there at the time, was Lord Badlesmere, a supporter of Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract. When Isabella's men tried to gain access to the castle, some of them were killed. On hearing of the problem, Edward II took an army to the castle. Several of the Marcher Lords began to march into England in support of Lord Badlesmere. On 27th October, the Marchers and Badlesmere assembled at Kingston in order to raise the siege of Leeds Castle. Lancaster forbade them to help and wrote to the King to ask him to stop persecuting his liege men. At the same time, the Marchers wrote to the king asking him to abandon the siege, promising to surrender the castle to him at the next parliament. However, Edward seeing that the castle could not resist much longer, refused to consider the request, and after a few days Leeds was taken, to be followed by Badlesmere’s other Kentish castles. The Marchers meanwhile returned to Lancaster at Pontefract.
13/10/1398On 13th October 1398, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, the son of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, left Dover for Calais after saying final farewells to his father. Bolingbroke had been exiled for six years by Richard II for his ‘unsettled’ quarrel with Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, the memory of his part in the Lords Appellants’ rebellion, and the king’s perception of him as a political threat. After Gaunt’s death the following year, Bolingbroke’s exile was made for life by Richard II.
13/10/1399On 13th October 1399,  Henry IV was crowned at Westminster Abbey on the feast day of Edward the Confessor. Pontefract Castle would be a major part of his northern estates
14/10/1313On 14th October 1313, Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was one of the great lords of England who knelt before Edward II in Westminster Hall to receive his grace and pardon for his/their part in Piers Gaveston’s death.
14/10/1399On 14th October 1399, the day after Henry IV was crowned king, the Duchy of Lancaster merged with the Crown. Henry decreed that the Lancastrian inheritance should be held separately from other Crown possessions and descend to male heirs (this separation being confirmed by Edward IV in 1461). Pontefract Castle had been incorporated into the Duchy in 1311.
15/10/1313On 15th October 1313, Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, dined with his cousin, Edward II, in a display of new-found harmony after many years of conflict surrounding the king’s rule and his court favourite, Piers Gaveston. Queen Isabella and the Earl of Gloucester, Gaveston’s brother-in-law, had been instrumental in this putative reconciliation.
15/10/1328On 15th October 1328, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster’s (brother of the executed Thomas of Lancaster, and restored to the earldom and control of Pontefract Castle), men murder their lord’s rival, Sir Robert Holland, at Borehamwood just as the king was sending him orders to raise troops against Lancaster. Their ‘gift’ to Lancaster was Holland’s head.
17/10/1388On 17th October 1388, John of Gaunt’s, lord of Pontefract, daughter by Constance of Castile, Catherine, was married, aged fifteen to John I’s (King of Castile) son and heir, Henry, aged ten. Catherine became Queen of Castile through this marriage to the future Henry III of Castile.
18/10/1321Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, clearly knew he was severely disadvantaged in any military engagement with Edward II and, after Leeds Castle’s surrender earlier that month, such a struggle must have appeared increasingly likely. It was probably in another attempt to rally support around him that, on 18th October 1321, he issued writs for an assembly of his supporters at Doncaster on 29th November.
19/10/1343On 19th October 1343, William Zouche, Archbishop of York, granted a licence at Darlington, to the Prior and Convent of Pontefract, at the request of Henry, Earl of Derby: ‘to allow masses and other divine services to be celebrated in the chapel upon the hill, situated near Pontefract’ for Thomas of Lancaster, executed at Pontefract in 1322.
26/10/1326On 26th October 1326, Henry of Lancaster, brother of the executed Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and later to be lord of Pontefract, was made Constable of Abergavenny Castle in Monmouthshire, Wales by Edward II. Edward had been hoping to mobilise forces in Wales against the invading forces of Roger Mortimer, his wife Queen Isabella and his son Prince Edward (later Edward III).
26/10/1396On 26th October 1396, Richard II meets Charles VI of France near Ardres, outside Calais regarding his proposed marriage to Charles’ six-years-old daughter, Isabella of Valois; Richard was twenty-nine. John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, and the Duke of Gloucester escort Charles’ brother, the Duke of Orleans and uncle the Duke of Berry. After formal meetings on the following two days, Charles hands over Isabella to Richard on the 30th and she is escorted to the English camp by Gaunt’s and Gloucester’s duchesses, Katherine Swynford and Eleanor de Bohun.
27/10/1307On 27th October 1307, after the funeral of Edward I, preparations were made for Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, to travel to France to oversee preparations for Edward II’s marriage to Isabella of France.
27/10/1326On 27th October 1326, Hugh Despenser the Elder was hauled before a tribunal at Bristol including Roger Mortimer (Edward II’s wife’s lover), Henry of Lancaster, brother of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract) and the king’s half-brothers of Kent and Norfolk. Despenser had been charged with holding Bristol against Queen Isabella’s advance against her husband’s forces; the siege lasted eight days. Despenser was not allowed to speak in his defence and was hanged, beheaded and his body fed to the dogs.
27/10/1399On 27th October 1399, Parliament met to hear the unanimous judgement by 58 lords on Richard (II) of Bordeaux. Two archbishops, thirteen bishops, seven abbots, Prince Henry, the Duke of York, six earls, twenty-four lords and four knights and Parliament agreed that Richard should be confined in isolation in perpetuity; he died imprisoned at Pontefract Castle.
29/10/1399On 29th October 1399, Richard (II) of Bordeaux was secretly removed from the Tower of London and taken via various castles to Knaresborough and later Pontefract to be guarded by Robert Waterton and Thomas Swynford, trusted friends of Henry IV.
31/10/1396Isabela_richard_weddingOn 31st October 1396, Isabella of Valois became Richard II's second wife. Richard was twenty-nine years old and Isabella was just six years old. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, oversaw the finalisation of the marriage agreement with the Duke of Burgundy. Later in 1406, after Richard's death, Isabella married her cousin Charles, Duke of Orléans. She was sixteen and he was eleven. Coincidentally, Richard II died at Pontefract Castle and the Duke of Orléans was imprisoned at the castle for many years.
8/10/1472On 8th (or 9th) October 1472, at Pontefract, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, ordered the arrest of Thomas Farnell for the murder of Katherine Williamson’s husband.
9/10/1483Around 9th or 10th October 1483, Richard III, on hearing news of southern discontent, hurriedly left Pontefract to reach Lincoln, via Gainsborough, on his return south. It was here that he heard of Henry Stafford’s, Duke of Buckingham, intention to rebel, possibly because of the delay in his gaining access to the de Bohun inheritance. On the 12th October, Richard wrote to the Chancellor, John Russell, requesting the Great Seal be sent to him immediately.
12/10/1462On 12th October 1462, a ten-years-old Richard, brother of Edward IV, Duke of Gloucester and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was appointed Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine. Two months previously, in order to support his status, Richard had been given the castle of Gloucester, the constableship of Corfe Castle, the manor of Kingston Lacy and lordship of Richmond (soon to be transferred to his brother George). Around this time, Richard was also given property from the Duchy of Lancaster valued at £1000 a year (£1 million in today’s money) to provide a suitable income.
13/10/1472On 13th October 1472, at Pontefract, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, sent a letter to Sir William Plumpton concerning cattle stealing: 'R: Glocestre. Right trustie and welbeloued, we grete you well and whearas att the freshe pursuit of our welbeloued Christopher Stansfeild, one Richard of the Burgh that had take and led away feloniously certaine ky and othe cattell belonging to him, was take and arested with(in) the said manor att Spofford, wheras they yett remaine. Wheafore we desire & pray you that vpon sufficient suerty found […] by the said Christopher to sue against the said felon, as the law will for that offence, ye will make deliuery vnto him of the said cattell, as is according with right showing him your good aide, favour and benevolence,the rather att the instaunce of this our letters. And our Lord preserue you. From Pontefrett vnder our signett, the thirtenth of October. Endorsed: To our right trustie & wellbeloued Sir William Plompton knight, stuard of the lordshipp of Spofford, and to the bailife of the same, and to ether of them the duke of Glocester, constabl and admirall of England.'
17/10/1469On 17th October 1469, Richard, brother of Edward IV, Duke of Gloucester and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was given the important office of High Constable of England for life, relinquished by Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers, after his capture at the Battle of Edgecote in July of that year and beheading seventeen days later. The Constable had responsibility for national security, military matters and application of justice against treasonable acts against the Crown.
19/10/1469On 19th October 1469, Richard, brother of Edward IV, Duke of Gloucester and steward of the Duchy of Lancaster north of Trent with official residence at Pontefract Castle, was made Chief Steward of the queen’s lands for life with an income of £100 a year (£115,000 in today’s money).
20/10/1484On 20th October 1484, Richard III sent Nicholas Leventhorp a warrant to see that the house of Dame Margaret Moulton 'Anchres of Pountfret' and the chapel adjoining were newly 'redeified' at the king's costs. An annuity of 40s (nearly £1400 in today's money) plus restoration of rights to twenty acres of pasture to the Priory of St John was also made.
25/10/1415Agincourt1415On 25th Oct 1415, Henry V defeated the French armies at the Battle of Agincourt. Following the battle, many of the defeated French nobles were brought to England in captivity, including the Duke of Orleans who was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle. Charles, Duke of Orleans, nephew of the French King Charles VI who was absent from the battlefield, was only twenty years old with no military experience and had arrived at Agincourt only the previous day. The duke was found beneath a pile of French dead. Estimates of the French dead were between 3,000 and 12,000 whilst English mortalities varied between 20 and 1,600 with only two of Henry V’s nobles killed: the Duke of York and Earl of Suffolk. Thomas Halliday, of Pontefract, commanded five hundred archers in Sir John Shirley's division of the English army at this battle.
5/10/1536On 5th October 1536, Lord Thomas Darcy sent his son, Sir Arthur to Henry VIII warning of risings in Northumberland, Dent, Sedbergh and Wensleydale and that ‘greater rebellions were to be feared’ in the impending (as it was to be called) Pilgrimage of Grace. He left his family seat at Templehurst (near Selby) for Pontefract Castle finding, on his arrival, that fewer than one third of its 300-strong garrison could be trusted as many favoured the rebels.
6/10/1536On 6th October 1536, Lord Thomas Darcy wrote to Henry VIII for guns and powder in order to defend the garrison at Pontefract. Darcy’s efforts to provision the castle were being hampered by lukewarm local support and the king himself had little money or arms to spare being preoccupied with Robert Aske’s Lincolnshire rebellion against the establishment of the Church of England, dissolution of the monasteries and other Crown policies closely identified with Thomas Cromwell. .
8/10/1536On 8th October 1536, Lord Darcy wrote to his son from Pontefract Castle urging him to go rapidly to the king requesting that his son be allowed to help his father (Darcy was nearly seventy-years-old at the time) and, again, warning Henry VIII that Yorkshire was now on the point of rebellion against the king’s religious, political and economic policies. The king’s letters summoning the northern counties to send help to George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, were received at Pontefract this day.
9/10/1536On 9th October 1536, Henry VIII received Lord Darcy’s letters from Pontefract warning of impending religious revolt but replied to Darcy that he was confident there was no danger and instructed him to arrest fugitives and anyone spreading rumours.
10/10/1536On 10th October 1536, the Archbishop of York, Edward Lee, fearing that he was about to be abducted by rebellious ‘commons’ from the Marshland in the West Riding of Yorkshire in the impending rising (as it was to be called) Pilgrimage of Grace, fled to Pontefract Castle with thirty servants to join Dr Magnus from York and Lord Darcy. On this day also, Darcy wrote to the Lord Mayor of York informing him that the commons of the East Riding were likely to invade York and seize the king’s treasure.
11/10/1536On 11th October 1536, having received Sir Brian Hastings’ letter from Hatfield advising Lord Darcy, in Pontefract, to send a force immediately to York ‘ to overawe their faction in that city’ (rebels from Howdenshire and Marshland intending to march on York in the Pilgrimage of Grace), Darcy replied: ‘I am putting all the gentlemen within my room in readiness at an hour’s warning, when I shall know the King’s pleasure…If you have any certainty from above let me share it’.
13/10/1536On 13th October 1536, with the remaining Lincolnshire insurgents (precursor to the Pilgrimage of Grace) having dispersed, the Earl of Shrewsbury wrote to Lord Darcy in Pontefract stating that the rebels ‘now mind themselves to be the King’s true and faithful subjects at all times and from time to time accordingly’ and as they would give no further help to the Yorkshiremen (even stopping boats on the Humber, Ouse and Trent so ‘that none shall come over but be glad to return homewards like fools’), he trusted any disturbances near Darcy would cease. On the same day, Darcy wrote to the king expecting the rebels to encounter him shortly but ‘there was not one gun in Pontefract Castle ready to shoot. There is no powder, arrows and bows are few and bad, money and gunners none, the well, the bridge, houses of office etc for defence, much out of frame’.
15/10/1536On 15th October 1536, the gentlemen in Pontefract Castle wrote to the Earl of Shrewsbury and other lords at Nottingham stating that following their advice of the 13th, they were ‘lying still’, doubting very much if they could safely venture out as the commons before York numbered 20,000 men and the whole county seemed in turmoil during the Pilgrimage of Grace. They expected the rebels to reach Pontefract on the 17th October and as the king had ignored their letters concerning the weakness of the castle, urgent help was needed. They begged that the Yorkshire rebels were offered the same conciliatory terms as those in Lincolnshire.
16/10/1536On 16th October 1536, Lord Darcy wrote to the Earl of Shrewsbury from Pontefract complaining bitterly that although the king had commanded him ‘to stay or distress the commons who are up in the north and commit the heads to sure ward’, he had already checked the (Pilgrimage of Grace) rising in his own locality for fourteen days, had prevented the rebels from joining the Lincolnshire men but their forces in the north and west surpassed his power to deal with them as he had no weapons or money. He signed off his letter ‘from the King’s strong castle of Pontefract, even the most simply furnished that ever I think was any to defend’.
17/10/1536On 17th October 1536, the garrison at Pontefract Castle was cut off by a rising in the town during the Pilgrimage of Grace. Sir Arthur Darcy, Lord Darcy’s son, hurried south with his father’s letter to the king informing him that ‘we in the castle must in a few days either yield or lose our lives….there is no likelihood of vanquishing the commons with any power here’. The castle was now totally isolated regarding receiving provisions and news of possible relief.
18/10/1536On 18th October 1536, the Vicar of Brayton, a leading zealot of the Pilgrimage of Grace, set out to York from Pontefract to inform Robert Aske that Pontefract Castle could no longer hold out
19/10/1536On 19th October 1536, Lord Darcy, Constable of Pontefract Castle, Edward Lee, Archbishop of York, Dr Magnus of the King’s Council, Sir Robert Constable of Flamborough and all the knights and gentlemen in the castle, including Sir George Darcy, Sir Robert Neville and Sir John Wentworth assembled in the state chamber to meet Robert Aske, leader of the Pilgrimage of Grace, who ‘required those present to join them and deliver the castle’ with refusal meaning no mercy would be shown. Darcy replied that ‘I neither could nor would deliver the King’s castle’ and that he would consult others regarding the commons’ grievances. Aske agreed to a truce until the following night although Darcy asked for a day longer. Later that day, the garrison’s council decided that if no rescue came, the only course was to yield: ‘Out of 300 men, not 140 remained and these were not all sound; there was only victual for eight or ten days…..Every day, the captain (Aske) wrote to me charging me on my life to yield the castle or they would burn my house (Templehurst) and kill my son’s children’. Darcy’s request for an extension of the truce until 9 o’clock on the 20th for payment of £20 (£17,000 in today’s money) was agreed.
21/10/1536Pilgrimage_of_GraceOn 21st October 1536, 40,0000 protesters under Robert Aske marched on Pontefract Castle during the Pilgrimage of Grace. On the same day, Sir Thomas Percy, Recorder of Lincoln and a leading figure in the Pilgrimage of Grace, arrived at Pontefract Castle with nearly ten thousand men from the north-east (Percy was also a participant in the Bigod Rebellion the following year and was to be hanged, drawn and quartered as a traitor at Tyburn on 2nd June 1537).  Lord Darcy, who was sheltering the Archbishop of York, Sir Robert Constable and some forty other gentlemen, later surrendered the castle without a fight. He later claimed that there was not enough gunpowder to fill a walnut shell and no firewood for cooking for his men. The Pilgrimage of Grace was a popular uprising that began in Yorkshire in October 1536 (but was pre-dated by a Lincolnshire rebellion), before spreading to other parts of Northern England including Cumberland, Northumberland and north Lancashire, under the leadership of lawyer, Robert Aske. The "most serious of all Tudor rebellions", it was a protest against Henry VIII's break with the Roman Catholic Church, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the policies of the king's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, as well as other specific political, social and economic grievances. A list of "24 Articles", sometimes called "The Commons' Petition", was given to the Duke of Norfolk at Doncaster on December 6th. The rebels agreed to disband if the king reviewed the demands: a freely elected parliament at York acting on the same, and if the rebels received parliamentary pardon for taking part in the rebellion and for all acts committed during such. Norfolk received the articles with promises to present them to the king. He also promised a parliament at York and a general pardon to the rebels. Robert Aske announced these promises to the Pilgrims, and the rebels disbanded. Aske visited the king in London, but returned to York in January with nothing more than vague promises. In January 1537, rebels under Sir Francis Bigod, who had realized the king had no intention of respecting either the Pilgrims' demands, or the promises made to them, started a new uprising. This gave the king an excuse to violently stamp out the rebellion in the North and to renege on the promises made on his behalf by Norfolk.
22/10/1536On 22nd October 1536, William Stapleton, a lawyer and compatriot of Robert Aske in the Pilgrimage of Grace, brought his East Riding (Beverley) forces to Pontefract Castle, having taken Hull for the rebels.
28/10/1536On 28th October 1536, Lord Darcy and Robert Aske, at Pontefract Castle, proclaimed a truce to the besieging ‘commons’ of the Pilgrimage of Grace and ordered the rebels to return home. Albeit their captains, Lord John Scrope, 8th Baron Scrope of Bolton, Sir Christopher Danby and others were willing to accept the truce, the rebels were reluctant to go home empty-handed but did eventually comply.
29/10/1536On 29th October 1536, Henry VIII’s heralds (Chester and Carlisle) saw the last rebels of the Pilgrimage of Grace ‘disparple’ (disperse) at Pontefract Castle and make their way home over Ferrybridge. The heralds returned to Doncaster the same day where the Royalist Earl of Shrewsbury’s army was similarly disbanding.
1/10/1674On 1st October 1674, Lieutenant-General George FitzRoy, was created Earl of Northumberland, Baron of Pontefract and Viscount Falmouth. He was the third and youngest illegitimate son of Charles II and Barbara Villiers (and Charles’ fifth of eight illegitimate sons).
4/10/1648Parliamentarian Robert Brier was a prisoner at Pontefract Castle in early October 1648. Brier was released on parole in November, but refused to surrender himself again.
4/10/1683On 4th October 1683, George Shillitoe was buried in Pontefract. He had been besieged in Royalist Pontefract Castle in 1644-45, Alderman of the town in 1662, Mayor in 1662 and 1680 and by deed dated 12th September 1654 had acquired forfeited Royalist estates in Purston, Featherstone, Pontefract and Ackworth. His will, dated 31st July 1683, left to his son, Richard, tenants’ right in the Lease of the Lands and Tenements belonging to University College, Oxford.
5/10/1671On 5th October 1671, an order of sessions fixed the fees payable to the gaoler by the prisoners (debtors) kept at Pontefract Castle’s Main Guard (outside the present main entrance) according to their status: Knight, Esquire, Yeoman or Artificer. The Main Guard was a century later, from 1763, used as a place of detention for French prisoners of war.
9/10/1648On 9th October 1648, Parliamentary troops, under Sir Henry Cholmley, (JP for the West Riding of Yorkshire, commissioner for the militia in Yorkshire and colonel of foot in the Parliamentary army) entered Pontefract, having previously occupied the villages of Ackworth, Featherstone and Ferrybridge.
14/10/1663On 14th October 1663, Colonel John Frescheville wrote to the Marquis of Newcastle after the Stuart restoration: ‘I am commanded by my Lord Duke of Buckingham to give your Lordship this intelligence, that his Grace is now at Pomfrett, with 1500 foot, and 500 horse, which consists of trained bands and volunteers, all but the two troops under my command. Sir George Savill, and the rest of the most considerable persons of this country are here, and the confirmed intelligence both from the west and north of Yorkshire gives assurance that a party of rebels are drawing together, and Skipton is one place of their ren- dezvous, and North Allerton another….’
15/10/1645On 15th October 1645, the King sent his forces, under Marmaduke Langdale and Lord Digby, to join Royalists from Scotland. They went to cross at Ferrybridge and encountered the Parliamentarian forces sallying forth from Pontefract Castle.
23/10/1648Robert Greathead carvingIn late October 1648, Parliamentarian Captain Greathead was taken prisoner by Captain William Paulden and put in the dungeon (magazine) at Pontefract Castle. Once in captivity, however, he managed to hide the fact that he was an officer. He may well have been from Nottinghamshire and when Colonel Morris ransomed him in January 1649 he was still under the impression that Greathead was still a trooper.
28/10/1631On 28th October 1631, Sir Richard Beaumont died. He had been knighted by James I on 23rd July 1609, had been given a commission to command two hundred soldiers by James in 1613 and in 1618 was a justice of the peace and treasurer in aid of lame soldiers in the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1625, he was returned as MP for Pontefract and in 1628 created a baronet by Charles I. His estates, including Whitley Beaumont and Sandal Castle were bequeathed to his cousin.
29/10/1648Thomas Rainsborough On 29th October 1648, Parliamentarian Vice Admiral Thomas Rainsborough died. In October 1648, Rainsborough was sent by his commander, Sir Thomas Fairfax, to the siege at Pontefract Castle. Whilst he was in nearby Doncaster, he was killed by four Royalists during a bungled kidnap attempt. Some historians dispute this, favouring  Cromwellian complicity in his death as, at the time, Rainsborough was at odds with certain sections of Parliament. The site is still marked today by a plaque outside of the House of Fraser. A quote by Rainsborough, which is an excerpt from the Putney Debates of autumn 1647, is in St Mary's Church in Putney  The full quote arguing for universal suffrage states: 'I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.' Rainsborough was a Leveller, which was a political movement campaigning for people's equal rights.
7/10/1745On 7th October 1745, Lady Sophia Fermor, the second daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Pontefract died of fever aged twenty-four a few weeks after the birth of her daughter. Sophia was reputedly the author of ‘Woman Not Inferior to Man’, a radical text proclaiming the rights of women including quotes: 'I think it evidently appears, that there is no science, office, or dignity, which Women have not an equal right to share in with the Men: Since there can be no superiority, but that of brutal strength, shewn in the latter, to entitle them to engross all power and prerogative to themselves: nor any incapacity proved in the former, to disqualify them of their right, but what is owing to the unjust oppression of the Men, and might be easily removed…………. We must be at least as well qualified as [Men] to teach the sciences; and if we are not seen in university chairs, it cannot be attributed to our want of capacity to fill them, but to that violence with which the Men support their unjust intrusion into our places………. And as our sex, when it applies to learning, may be said at least to keep pace with the Men, so are they more to be esteem'd for their learning than the latter: Since they are under a necessity of surmounting the softness they were educated in (...) to which cruel custom seem'd to condemn them; to overcome the external impediments in their way to study; and to conquer the disadvantageous notions, which the vulgar of both sexes entertain of learning in Women. (...) it is self-evident, that many of our sex have far outstript the Men. Why then are we not as fit to learn and teach the sciences, at least to our own sex, as they fancy themselves to be?'
17/10/1786On 17th October 1786, the first mail-coach from London to York set out on its journey by the Great North Road. The first change of horses was at Doncaster, the next at Ferrybridge. In the following century, many renowned coaches passed directly through Pontefract: 1816, the True Briton; 1821, the Royal Forester; 1829, the George the Fourth; 1833, The Emerald; 1843, The Perseverance.
30/10/1711On 30th October 1711, Pontefract Corporation made an order: ‘That Mr Waterhouse, the present Mayor, do make a warrant to some person who will take and collect the Toll of the boats that pass and repass on the river Aire, betwixt Knottingley and Temple Hurst. And that if any person refuse to pay the same, that the person so nominated and appointed distrain for the same. And that he be indemnified by the town for so doing…….the same shall be granted by lease to such persons in Trust….and that the profits thereof be and go to the public use of the Charity School of Pontefract.’ A set of rules for the management of the school was soon agreed. Initially, the school educated and clothed twenty-four boys and twelve girls.
3/10/1830On 3rd October 1830, a cow belonging to Mr Sudbury, of Pontefract, gave birth to a full-grown calf with two heads, two breasts, two necks, four fore-legs, two hearts, two livers and lights, two back bones separated as far as the sixth rib then joining into one back, two tails and only two hind legs, with each body possessing perfect and distinct intestines.
14/10/1871On 14th October 1871, the Leeds Times reported that “portions of Pontefract Castle are now being restored in the Tudor style of architecture, by order of the Duchy”.
17/10/1892On 17th October 1892, ‘The New York Times’ reported that: ‘The River Aire, in Yorkshire, has overflowed its banks, inundating eighteen square miles in the district of Pontefract. Many families were compelled by the flood on Saturday and Sunday to take refuge in the upper stories of their houses, from which they were afterward rescued by boats. Dozens of houses, undermined by the water, have collapsed. Many of the mines in the district are flooded. The loss of stock is very great.’
28/10/1892On 28th October 1892, ‘The Builder’ reported: ‘MASONIC LODGE FOR PONTEFRACT— Contracts have just been let for the erection of Masonic Lodge buildings in Ropergate, Pontefract. The buildings are to be built of brick, with terra-cotta panels and stone facings. On the upper story will be a lodge-room, 34 ft. by 2: ft., with ante-rooms adjoining, and downstairs will be a dining-hall, 51 ft. by 21 ft., which may be also used for a ball-room, and will be fitted with movable partitions to make it into three small rooms for other purposes. A caretaker’s house will be attached. Mr. J. H. Greaves, of Pontefract, is the architect. The cost will be £1,000.’
31/10/1903On 31st October 1903, ‘The Builder’ magazine reported that eight tenders had been received ‘for the erection of a free library, Salter-row for the Corporation of Pontefract with ……….Henry Gundhill’s (of Pontefract) £1744 4s 8d accepted (£217,000 in today’s money)…… £150 (£18,650) allowed for wood block floors not included in the contract’