This Day in History: 1311-02-05

Henry de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, died on 5th February 1311 at Lincoln’s Inn in the City of London. He had been Chief Councillor to Edward I and appointed Protector of the Realm whilst Edward was engaged in military campaigns against the Scots and, similarly, Regent of the Kingdom during Edward II’s absence in Scotland. Henry had been a moderating influence on baronial opposition to Edward II leaving the Earl of Lancaster as leader of the Ordainers who sought major reforms to the king’s household and powers and exile of Piers Gaveston. Henry was buried in Old St Paul’s Cathedral; unfortunately, his tomb and the cathedral were destroyed in the great fire of London 1666. Upon Henry’s death, his daughter, Alice de Lacy, inherited a sizeable fortune worth 10,000 marks or £6,666. 13. 4d (£6.3 million in today’s money) as Henry’s lands and accumulated revenues were estimated at their height to be in the region of £3500 (£3.3 million in today’s money) per annum.  His daughter Alice had previously married Thomas of Lancaster and this had significant political repercussions as he then inherited the de Lacy estates and fortune (except the castle and honour of Halton) through his wife and, effectively, on Henry’s death, Thomas became the second wealthiest earl in the country behind the earldom of Cornwall. This date was also when Pontefract Castle became part of the Duchy of Lancaster which had been created as an inheritance in 1265 by Henry III for his youngest son, Edmund, who assumed the title Earl of Lancaster in 1267.