This Day in History: 1399-07-25

On 25th July 1399, Sir John Pelham, one of John of Gaunt’s (lord of Pontefract) retainers, wrote to his son, Henry Bolingbroke, at Pontefract from Pevensey Castle where he was the Constable: ‘My dear Lord……thank you (for) your comfortable letter that ye sent me from Pontefract that come to me on Mary Magdalene day (22nd July); …I was never so glad as when I heard by your letter that ye were strong enough with the grace of God for to keep you from the malice of your enemies…… I am here by laid in manner of a siege with the county of Sussex, Surrey and a great parcel of Kent, so that I may nought out of none victuals get me but with much hard. Wherefore my dear if it like you by the advice of your wise counsel for to get remedy of the salvation of your castle and withstand the malice the shires aforesaid. And also that ye be fully informed of their great malice workers in these shires which that haves so despitefully wrought to you, and to your castle, to your men and to your tenants for this country have yai (sic) wasted for a great while. Farewell, my dear lord, the holy Trinity you keep from your enemies, and ever send me good tidings of you. Written at Pevensey in the castle on St Jacob day last past.’ This letter is purported to be the oldest private letter in the English language.