This Day in History: 1485-03-11

On 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.