This Coming Week In History

This week in history

DateEvent
25/1/1140On 25th January 1140, ‘Archbishop’ Thurstan of York, fulfilling his vow to enter the Cluniac order of monks, took his vows at the Priory of St John, Pontefract which had been founded by Robert de Lacy in 1090.
25/1/1205On 25th January 1205, Roger de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was a witness of letters patent and close authorising King John’s officials to retain and destroy false coins. There was widespread concern during this part of the king’s reign regarding the quality of coinage in circulation and the debasing of the currency particularly given King John’s persistent demands for funds regarding his foreign campaigns, castle repairs, garrisons’ reinforcements etc.
25/1/1277On 25th January 1277, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was with Edward I at Worcester preparing for a military campaign in Wales against the 'rebel' leader, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. By the end of this month, at Oswestry, Henry arrived with a notable company of seven barons, twenty-five knights, sixty-eight troopers and one hundred plus lances. By 1st July, prior to the main, impending campaign, Sir Henry had helped King Edward receive the homage of five Welsh rulers and in early September was with the king helping to capture Anglesey.
25/1/1278On 25th January 1278, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was authorised by Edward I to travel to Brabant to arrange the future marriage of his daughter, Margaret, to John, heir to the Duke of Brabant.
25/1/1537On 25th January 1537, Henry VIII wrote to the Earl of Shrewsbury concerning the new Bigod uprising, following the Pilgrimage of Grace, in North Yorkshire, and the Earl’s health. In the letter, he also declared that so long as Lord Darcy did his duty regarding preventing further troubles in and around Pontefract and holding the castle, the king would regard him with as much favour as if the rebellion had never happened.
26/1/1354On 26th January 1354, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, was made Commissioner to ‘treat’ with the King of Navarre by Edward III.
27/1/1649On 27th January 1649, lawyer Thomas Margetts wrote from Pontefract to Captain Baynes (Parliamentary army officer and later MP for Leeds during the Commonwealth, being the city’s first MP) concerning the third siege of Royalist Pontefract Castle by the Parliamentarians: ‘…only Wednesday the enemy made a sally upon our nearest guard to them, beat them up, took 14 prisoners and killed 3 or 4, and then were forced in again. Mr Beamond (sic), Parson of Kirby, is apprehended for holding a secret cypher intelligence with the enemy in the Castle….I think the gallows will shortly have him…’ Reverend George Beaumont was cousin to Thomas Beaumont of Lascelles Hall. When Major-General John Lambert was made aware of Beaumont’s activities, Beaumont was tortured to reveal his cypher and colleagues (which he did not do) and then hanged from the walls of Pontefract Castle with reputedly one of his relatives forced to assist at his execution.
27/1/1893A ‘Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Malton Urban Sanitary District for the Year 1900’ recorded that the first case of smallpox in Malton had been traced to a tramp from Pontefract on 27th January 1893.
28/1/1237On 28th January 1237, John de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, was with Henry III at Westminster, for the first confirmation of the 1225 issue of Magna Carta. Henry, as often throughout his reign, was in desperate need of funds and sought permission from his magnates and prelates for a ‘thirtieth’ (tax on the value of people’s moveable goods).
28/1/1457On 28th January 1457, Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle in Wales. It would be Henry on 22nd August 1485, who would bring the Wars of the Roses to a conclusion with his decisive defeat of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, thus ending the period of Yorkist rule and heralding the commencement of the Tudor dynasty, and with it, the loss of Sandal castle’s pre-eminent place in the government of the north.
28/1/1569On 28th January 1569, Mary, Queen of Scots was lodged at Pontefract Castle, travelling between Wetherby and her intermediate prison at Rotherham. She had been forced to abdicate in July 1567 and flee south to seek the protection of her cousin Elizabeth I. After an inconclusive inquiry/conference ordered by Elizabeth into Mary’s guilt/involvement in Lord Darnley’s murder, Mary was placed in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury at Tutbury Castle on the 3rd February 1569 and held in captivity in various locations for the next eighteen years until her execution at Fotheringhay Castle on the 8th February 1587.
29/1/1537On 29th January 1537, on receipt of the king’s orders to hold Pontefract Castle with his two sons (in the aftermath of the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion), Lord Darcy, at Templehurst, wrote to his son, Sir George Darcy (in reply to Sir George’s queries), to say that, as ‘all was quiet’ at that time, he would not make preparations until his son had seen the king’s letter and the Duke of Norfolk’s expected arrival in five days’ time.
30/1/1297On 30th January 1297, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, and his army had been ambushed by the French en route from Bayonne to Bonnegarde trying to bring provisions to the besieged bastide, in Edward I’s attempts to reclaim Gascony. Many infantry were killed and several knights taken prisoner, including John of St John, Lieutenant of Aquitaine.
30/1/1537On 30th January 1537, Sir George Darcy wrote to his father in Templehurst, in reply to his letter of the previous day, stating that the situation in the country, in the aftermath of the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion, was far from peaceful and he could not afford to await the Duke of Norfolk’s arrival before preparing Pontefract Castle.
31/1/1308On 31st January 1308, John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle, was one of the principal signatories to the Boulogne Agreement. This document sought to assert the signatories’ duty to guard the king’s honour and rights of the Crown and redress any wrongs that had been committed against such and the people. Its successor Boulogne Declaration’s three articles in April 1308, invoked the “doctrine of capacities” stipulating that the subjects of the realm owed allegiance to the Crown not to the person of the king. Any abuse of the king’s position should be corrected by his subjects. Piers Gaveston, Edward II’s court favourite, was also implicitly attacked in the document (with his removal tacitly suggested) and the king was obliged to adhere to his coronation oath.
31/1/1308On 31st January 1308, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract and senior earl, was one of the principal signatories to the Boulogne Agreement. This document sought to assert the signatories’ duty to guard the king’s honour and rights of the Crown and redress any wrongs that had been committed against such and the people. Its successor (introduced into parliament by Henry de Lacy) Boulogne Declaration’s three articles in April 1308, invoked the “doctrine of capacities” stipulating that the subjects of the realm owed allegiance to the Crown not to the person of the king. Any abuse of the king’s position should be corrected by his subjects. Piers Gaveston, Edward II’s court favourite, was also implicitly attacked in the document (with his removal tacitly suggested) and the king was obliged to adhere to his coronation oath.
31/1/1398On 31st January 1398, a commission convened at Bristol, led by John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, to investigate claims by Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, concerning plots about  the destruction of the House of Lancaster. A quarrel between Mowbray and Henry Bolingbroke, then Duke of Hereford and later Henry IV, was mediated by Richard II at Windsor that April in demanding both lords fight out their differences in a duel.

Last week in history

DateEvent
17/1/1425On 17th January 1425, Robert Waterton, Steward and Constable of Pontefract Castle and Master Forester, who had had custody of Richard II, Charles, Duke of Orleans, Jean I, Duke of Bourbon, James I of Scotland and the son of the Earl of Athol died at Methley. In addition, he was at various times Constable at Tickhill and Donnington castles, Henry IV’s Master of Horse, chief steward of the northern areas of the Duchy of Lancaster (later chamberlain) and Sheriff of Lincolnshire. He was one of the executors of Henry IV’s will. His military and diplomatic skills were evidenced by his part in quelling the Percy ‘revolts’ of 1403 and 1408 and negotiations with ambassadors from France.
17/1/1645Cannon Balls found at the castleOn this day in 1645, the first serious action of the first siege at Pontefract Castle began. Parliamentarian gun batteries started an intense bombardment of the castle. Cannon fire lasted five days and in this time 1367 shots were fired at the defenders. Here is a photo of two of the cannon balls found over 360 years later, still lodged in the castle walls!
18/1/1382On 18th January 1382, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, escorted sixteen-year-old Anne of Bohemia, eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, into London for her impending wedding to Richard II.
18/1/1425On 18th January 1425, Richard Plantagenet’s (Duke of York and lord of Sandal Castle), uncle, Edmund Mortimer, died of plague after having been sent to Ireland. Richard now assumed the titles of Earl of March and Ulster and the Mortimer lands in Wales and border territories. These lands, however, were held in trust by Mortimer’s widow, Anne Stafford by reason of Richard’s ‘nonage’ (minority).
19/1/1645On 19th January 1645, Nathan Drake recorded that the  Piper Tower was beaten down by the besiegers 'about 9 of the clock, there having beene 71 shott made that morning, before it fell'.
19/1/1654On 19th January 1654, Sir Ferdinand Leigh, Royalist officer (colonel of troop), died and was buried at St Giles and St Mary, Pontefract. In 1625, he had been Deputy-Governor of the Isle of Man under his relative, the Earl of Derby and also a gentleman of the king’s privy chamber having contributed 100 shillings (£1210 in today’s money) to the Royalist cause when Charles I assembled the gentry of Yorkshire at York.
19/1/2017On 19th January 2017, Elizabeth Love, last owner of the Main Guard, at 6 Castle Chain, Pontefract, died. In her will she left the building in trust to be turned into a museum. In 2005, Historic England, then called English Heritage, carried out tree-ring analysis of timbers from the Main Guard. Core samples were obtained from thirty-two different oak timbers in a wide range of locations throughout the Main Guard. The analysis of these produced a single site chronology comprising twenty-five samples, and having a combined overall length of 150 rings. The site chronology was dated as spanning the years AD 1507 to AD 1656. Interpretation of the sapwood would indicate that all the dated timbers, from the basement, ground, and first-floors, and from the roof, were cut in a single phase of felling in AD 1656. Such a date would indicate that while the stone element of the Main Guard may date to the fifteenth century, a considerable amount of work was undertaken at this site shortly after the Civil War. No earlier or later material is detected amongst the sampled timbers.
20/1/1307On 20th January 1307, Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was one of two Commissioners to open parliament in Carlisle.
20/1/1327On 20th January 1327, at Kenilworth Castle, owned by Henry of Lancaster, later lord of Pontefract when his executed brother Thomas’s titles and lands were restored to Henry, Edward II agreed to resign his crown to his son, later Edward III.
20/1/1382On 20th January 1382, fifteen-year-old Richard II, the most famous prisoner to be later held at Pontefract Castle, was married to sixteen-year-old Anne of Bohemia in Westminster Abbey by the Bishop of London, Robert Baybrooke.
21/1/1390On 21st January 1390, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was re-sworn as a Privy Councillor to Richard II.
21/1/1652On 21st January 1652, it was reported by The Parliament Committee for Advance of Money (set up in November 1642, and ceasing in 1656, to produce voluntary loans and subsequently compulsory assessments for the fight against Charles I and from 1645 to uncover the concealed resources of Royalist ‘delinquents’) that Lady Savile, widow of Sir William Savile of Thornhill, ‘went to Sheffield, then a King’s garrison, contributing money, horses, and arms and encouraging the soldiers to fight against Parliament, and stayed there till its surrender. Also that she was privy to the design of betraying Pontefract Castle to the King in 1648, and much assisted the enemy. Also that her late husband was a commander under the Earl of Newcastle, and a notorious delinquent.’
22/1/1382On 22nd January 1382, Anne of Bohemia, eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, was crowned Queen of England (to Richard II) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Courtenay. John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, was in attendance and gave the queen a silver enamelled ewer on an elaborate stand. During the week-long festivities after the wedding, Gaunt provided minstrels for the jousts at Smithfield, with his son, Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV), displaying his considerable jousting talents.
22/1/1425In late January 1425, Richard Neville, later to be Earl of Salisbury and brother-in-law to Richard, Duke of York, was made Constable of Pontefract Castle, succeeding Robert Waterton.
22/1/1645On 22nd January 1645, the English Commissioners with the Scotch (sic) Army wrote from Grantham to Lieutenant-General Leslie: ‘We have received very sad complaints of horse lately quartered at Stayncross and those parts in Yorkshire under Major Blair, how they took clothes and free quarter, and assessed great sums of money, take horses and when the owners redeem them for money take both horses and money, and that one of them committed a rape ; some said the Reformadoes of your army, com¬ mitting many oppressions at Tickhill, were taken by the inhabitants to Pontefract Castle, of whom those of the Scotch nation the Committee have written to you shall be sent to receive justice at your hands, and the English Irish and French shall receive the punishment appointed by Parliament…..’
23/1/1396John of GauntIn January 1396, John Of Gaunt was newly-married to his mistress, Katherine Swynford. The Duke and Duchess made a short trip to the North before facing the court. Possibly, John wanted to 'test the water' by taking Katherine on a tour of his domains and by the 23rd January, they were lodged at Pontefract Castle. The royal lodgings were in the turreted trefoil donjon which John had heightened 20 years earlier. The couple would have resided in great luxury as John had lavished huge sums of money on his castle. The image is of John of Gaunt.
23/1/1600On 23rd January 1600, Alexander Keirincx, a Flemish landscape artist, was born in Antwerp. He was commissioned by Charles I of England (probably to note the king’s visit to Scotland in 1639) to paint a series of ten or more paintings of royal castles and places in England and Scotland and it is believed his depiction of the grandeur of Pontefract Castle was done in 1640. He died in Amsterdam on 7th October 1652.

Next week in history

DateEvent
31/1/1308On 31st January 1308, John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle, was one of the principal signatories to the Boulogne Agreement. This document sought to assert the signatories’ duty to guard the king’s honour and rights of the Crown and redress any wrongs that had been committed against such and the people. Its successor Boulogne Declaration’s three articles in April 1308, invoked the “doctrine of capacities” stipulating that the subjects of the realm owed allegiance to the Crown not to the person of the king. Any abuse of the king’s position should be corrected by his subjects. Piers Gaveston, Edward II’s court favourite, was also implicitly attacked in the document (with his removal tacitly suggested) and the king was obliged to adhere to his coronation oath.
31/1/1308On 31st January 1308, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract and senior earl, was one of the principal signatories to the Boulogne Agreement. This document sought to assert the signatories’ duty to guard the king’s honour and rights of the Crown and redress any wrongs that had been committed against such and the people. Its successor (introduced into parliament by Henry de Lacy) Boulogne Declaration’s three articles in April 1308, invoked the “doctrine of capacities” stipulating that the subjects of the realm owed allegiance to the Crown not to the person of the king. Any abuse of the king’s position should be corrected by his subjects. Piers Gaveston, Edward II’s court favourite, was also implicitly attacked in the document (with his removal tacitly suggested) and the king was obliged to adhere to his coronation oath.
31/1/1398On 31st January 1398, a commission convened at Bristol, led by John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, to investigate claims by Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, concerning plots about  the destruction of the House of Lancaster. A quarrel between Mowbray and Henry Bolingbroke, then Duke of Hereford and later Henry IV, was mediated by Richard II at Windsor that April in demanding both lords fight out their differences in a duel.
1/2/1221In early February 1221, John de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, on the orders of Henry III, assisted in the siege of Skipton Castle, following the rebellion of William de Forz, Earl of Aumale. De Forz surrendered to the king through the mediation of the Archbishop of York, Walter de Gray.
1/2/1301On 1st February 1301, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was given the custody of Corfe Castle after his return from his ambassadorial mission to the papal curia. De Lacy had been somewhat successful in helping Edward’s finances by securing the pope’s 10% tax (intended to ‘recover’ the kingdom of Sicily) on English churches for three years with half the profits going to the king.
1/2/1327On 1st February 1327, John de Warenne, the 7th and final Earl of Surrey, was present at the coronation of Edward III. However, with the accession of Edward III, John would lose his estates, including Sandal, as they reverted to royal control, only regaining them in 1334. When the earl died in June 1347, Sandal and his other Yorkshire lands passed to the king. The titles of Earl Warenne and Earl of Surrey lapsed on his death.
1/2/1327On 1st February 1327, the Honours of the Castles of Pontefract and Clitheroe were given to Edward II's wife Queen Isabella. She was obliged to give Pontefract to Edward III's wife Queen Philippa in 1330.
1/2/1419On 1st February 1419, Robert Waterton, Constable of Pontefract Castle, took charge of Arthur de Richemont, brother of John V, Duke of Brittany, who had been captured at Agincourt. Arthur was released by the English in 1420 and later became Duke of Touraine, Constable of France (fighting alongside Joan of Arc) and, briefly, Duke of Brittany.
1/2/1456At the beginning of February 1456, Richard Duke of York’s second Protectorate was coming to an end. When Henry Bolingbroke had become Henry IV in 1399, one of the uses the Lancastrian kings put their private estates to was the endowment of their queens. Consequently, Margaret of Anjou held great swathes of the Duchy of Lancaster including Pontefract Castle. With the ending of Richard Duke of York’s second Protectorate, Margaret was in a position to continue this trend. This led to a tension-filled stalemate in the summer of 1456 with John Bocking reporting in June that ‘My lord of York is at Sandal still and waits on the queen, and she upon him’. This endowment to the Lancastrian queens would explain why Pontefract was a Lancastrian stronghold, but Sandal a Yorkist fortress, given its importance to Richard as his northern base.
1/2/1463In early February 1463, the remains of Lord Salisbury and his second son, Thomas, both killed at or soon after the Battle of Wakefield, left Pontefract for Bisham Abbey on the borders of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Their funeral was a joint one with Alice Montagu, Countess of Salisbury who had died the previous December.
2/2/1141On 2nd February 1141, William de Warenne , 3rd Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal castle, fought at the Battle of Lincoln. The battle was fought between the forces of King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, during the eighteen years' civil war from 1135-1153, known as the Anarchy. William was a supporter of King Stephen, who was captured during the battle, imprisoned and effectively deposed whilst Matilda ruled for a short while. De Warenne and his brother were one of many earls fleeing before the enemy’s opening (and vastly superior) cavalry charge.
2/2/1141On 2nd February 1141, Ilbert de Lacy is captured along with King Stephen and other leading magnates, at the Battle of Lincoln. Ilbert,  Baron of Pontefract, died following his capture, possibly from his wounds. Ilbert was the eldest son of Robert de Lacy and Maud de Perche, and Ilbert, with his father, supported the claims  of Robert Curthouse - eldest son of William the Conqueror, to the throne of England against those of the younger brother, Henry I. Upon Henry’s succession, the de Lacy’s were dispossessed of all their estates and Robert and Ilbert were banished from England. Allowed to return from exile, and a few years later with their lands and titles returned, Ilbert would be a key supporter of King Stephen during the Anarchy. It is interesting to note the connection once again between the castles of Pontefract and Sandal, with both  de Lacy of Pontefract and de Warenne of Sandal, supporting King Stephen.
2/2/1316In February 1316, John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey,  began divorce proceedings against his wife, Joan, although there is no historical record of this having ever been finalised. John would have many illegitimate children with Maud de Nerford and Isabel de Warenne.
2/2/1461Battle-of-Mortimers-CrossOn 2nd February 1461, a Yorkist force, under Edward the Earl of March (soon to be Edward IV), defeated a Welsh Lancastrian force at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross.
2/2/1626Charles IOn 2nd February 1626, Charles I was crowned King of England which would ultimately lead to the English Civil War and the besieging of Pontefract Castle in December 1644. The image is a painting of Charles I by Anthony van Dyck, 1633.
2/2/1649On 2nd February 1649, after the execution of Charles I on 30th January 1649, the besieged Pontefract garrison immediately declared his son as Charles II with ‘siege coins’ struck in his name and likeness and used to pay its troops, buy and sell food within the castle and reward people gathering food outside. The coins’ legend (the motto of the town) ‘POST MORTEM PATRIS PRO FILIO’ ('After the death of the father for the son') clearly indicates the garrison’s loyalties. The earliest siege coins were made on a flange, cut by hand from silver plate or pewter, bearing the initials of the castle and the Latin legend ‘DUM SPIRO SPERO’ ('Whilst I Live I Hope'); ominous in that Charles I had already been captured and imprisoned at that time.
3/2/1320After failing to attend a parliament at York called by the king for the 20th January, Thomas of Lancaster meanwhile probably remained at Pontefract. He was certainly there on 3rd February, 25th April, 10th August, and 9th October 1320, and it is a telling mark of his isolation during this period that the wardrobe books record no payments for messengers passing between King and Earl. In contrast, Edward had written to him at least five times between the raising of the siege of Berwick in September 1319 and January 1320.
3/2/1327On 3rd February 1327, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster (grandson of Henry III), proposed to Edward III’s first parliament that his executed brother, Thomas should be pardoned for his opposition to Edward’s father and that he (Henry) should be granted the Lancastrian ‘inheritance’. Edward returned the earldom of Lancaster, including Pontefract Castle, to him and also appointed him head of the regency council, composed of twelve or fourteen men as Edward was under age. It has been argued that Thomas of Lancaster's condemnation and execution under martial law, done in a time of peace, was murder as it was against Magna Carta.
3/2/1399John of GauntOn 3rd of February 1399, John of Gaunt died of natural causes aged 58. He was the fourth son of Edward III, uncle to Richard II and as the founder of the royal house of Lancaster it would be his descendants who would ascend to the throne after his death. Pontefract Castle was his personal residence and he did a great deal of work rebuilding and improving the towers. He owned over 30 castles but Pontefract was his favourite. The image is a late-fourteenth century portrait which also displays John of Gaunt's coat of arms.
3/2/1452On 3rd February 1452, Richard, Duke of York (lord of Sandal Castle), wrote from Ludlow to the citizens of Shrewsbury enlisting help in detaining the Duke of Somerset: ‘It is well known unto you….whilst the kingdom’s sovereign lord stood possessed of his lordship in the realm of France and duchy of Normandy; and what derogation, loss of merchandise, lesion of honour and villainy, is…reported generally unto the English nation, for loss of the same…..through the envy, malice and untruth of the Duke of Somerset…who ever prevails and rules about the king’s person.’
3/2/1455On 3rd February 1455, Henry VI ordered the release of the Duke of Exeter from Pontefract Castle. Lord Salisbury, Chancellor and constable of the castle ignored the order and was relieved of his chancellorship on the 9th March. Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, ordered Exeter’s release on pain of an exorbitant fine.
3/2/1649On 3rd February 1649, after the execution of Charles I and during Pontefract Castle’s last desperate holding-out against reinforced Parliamentary besiegers a heavy bombardment commenced.
3/2/1649On 3rd February 1649, lawyer Thomas Margetts wrote from Pontefract to Captain Baynes (Parliamentary army officer and later MP for Leeds during the Commonwealth, being the city’s first MP) concerning the third siege of Royalist Pontefract Castle by the Parliamentarians: ‘ Little news here. Malignants talk much of the King’s death: well affected are well satisfied. Malignants plot privately to relieve this Castle, and are gathered together in woods as we are informed, but we have sent Parties to apprehend and prevent them. The enemy (Royalists) hold out resolutely in hopes of relief, but I believe would come to fair terms for they would have another summons. The Major- General hath now done disbanding…. Yesterday the enemy sallied forth to beat us out of our Trenches near Swillington tower, killed us one man and were beaten in again. Our mortar pieces have made some work among them….They have heard of the King’s death, and seem to be more resolute upon it, but I believe it will make some of them slink.’
4/2/1397On 4th February 1397, Richard II granted John of Gaunt’s (lord of Pontefract) wish to have his four Beaufort children (John, Henry, Thomas and Joan) legitimised. Richard stated: ‘by the plenitude of our royal power, and with the assent of Parliament,…….’ the children were legitimate and able to inherit ‘whatsoever honours, dignities, pre-eminencies, status, ranks and offices, public and private, perpetual and temporal, feudal and noble there may be….as fully, freely and lawfully as if you had been born in lawful wedlock.’
4/2/1399On 4th February 1399, after the death of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, the dukedom of Lancaster passed to his son, Henry Bolingbroke (later that year becoming Henry IV).
4/2/1537On 4th February 1537, the Duke of Norfolk arrived at Pontefract Castle, in the aftermath of the Pilgrimage of Grace. Ironically, as the environs around Pontefract were now in good order, Lord Darcy, now at Pontefract, was then in the unenviable position of answering why he had failed to ‘keep the peace’ during the first rising. A family dispute with his son, Sir George Darcy, over controlling and defending the castle was resolved by Norfolk in favour of Lord Darcy but Sir George was to be ready to assist his father with all his forces at an hour’s warning. Norfolk ruefully remarked ‘I pray God the father be as good in heart as the son, which by the proof only I shall believe’.
5/2/1140On 5th February 1140, the aged ‘Archbishop’ Thurstan of York died, having entered the Priory of St John, Pontefract (which had been founded by Robert de Lacy in 1090) only eleven days before.
5/2/1292On 5th February 1292, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was made Joint Commissioner for the Armament of the Kingdom by Edward I.
5/2/1311Henry de Lacy SealHenry de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, died on 5th February 1311 at Lincoln’s Inn in the City of London and was buried in St Dunstan's Chapel in St Paul's Cathedral. His monument was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666 (the image of his tomb below was drawn by Wenceslaus Hollar in 1656). 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, on Henry’s death, Thomas became the second wealthiest earl in the country behind the earldom of Cornwall. This date effectively meant Pontefract Castle was incorporated into the Duchy of Lancaster which Henry III had granted to his son, Edmund (Crouchback), Thomas’s father, in 1265.
5/2/1397On 5th February 1397, John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, interrogated Thomas Haxey, a clerk of the Commons, in the White Chamber at Westminster, before condemning him to death as a traitor. Haxey had been nominated by the Speaker of the House, John Bussey, as having criticised Richard II’s excessive household expenditure in a bill he had formulated; to which the king took enormous offence. Albeit Haxey was pardoned by the king after representations by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the affair illustrated Richard’s volatile nature and Gaunt’s unwillingness to confront the king over a blatant injustice, particularly as he had only recently gained legitimization of his Beaufort children by Richard.
5/2/1941On 5th February 1941, Pontefract Corporation approved £513 (nearly £27,000 in today's money) for the adaptation of the refreshment room at Pontefract Castle into a mortuary for civilians killed during World War II.
6/2/1310On 6th February 1310, Sir Henry de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, was made Steward of the Manor of Brunne (Bourne Castle), Lincolnshire.