This Coming Week In History

This week in history

DateEvent
20/4/1251On 20th April 1251, Edmund de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, acted as valettus (page, groom) to Henry III, which lasted until 28th June of that year. By this time, Edmund was in his early twenties but, having inherited his father John’s estates as a minor, was raised in the household of Henry III.
20/4/1408On 20th April 1408, Henry IV, at Pontefract, made the following letter of safe protection for Alexander de Carnys, Provost of the Collegiate Church of Lincluden, Scotland: '… Know ye, that being prompted by affection, and at the special request of our dearly beloved cousin Archibald Earl of Douglas, we have taken and do hereby take under our special protection, safe keeping and defence. Master Alexander de Carnys, Provost of the Collegiate Church of Lincluden in Scotland, wheresoever the said Provost may happen to be in person within the Kingdom of Scotland; also, the said place of Lincluden and the poor chaplains serving God therein; also, the lands of the said Provost round the church, with his granges, crops, cattle and goods of whatever sort whether ecclesiastical or temporal. Therefore we command you and each of you that ye neither inflict nor allow to be inflicted any injury, molestation, loss, violence, interference or any other hardship, upon the said Provost wheresoever he may be in person in the said Kingdom of Scotland, or upon the said place of Lincluden, or upon the chaplains and poor men serving God in the said place, either on their persons, lands, granges, crops, goods, cattle or property of any kind whatever aforesaid……….. This (mandate) to remain in force for three years. In testimony whereof, &c., the King, at the Castle of Pontefract, this twentieth day of April [1408].’
20/4/1483On 20th April 1483, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, lord of Sandal, set out from Middleham Castle, north-west of York, with only 300 men and accepted an offer from Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, based in his Marcher lordship at Brecon, to meet him en route. Buckingham also apparently had around 300 men. They arranged to meet at Northampton on their way to London after news of the death of Edward IV.
20/4/1484On 20th April 1484, Richard III, lord of Sandal, and Queen Anne were at Nottingham Castle when news reached them of the death of their son at Middleham, Edward, Prince of Wales. The Crowland Chronicle suggested that his death was not anticipated: ‘this only son….was seized with an illness of but short duration…..you might have seen his father and mother in a state almost bordering on madness, by reason of their sudden grief.’ Richard and Anne reached Middleham on 5th May. In addition to the parents’ grief, the destabilising effect on Richard’s reign and Yorkist dynasty was profound.
20/4/1645On Sunday 20th April, the Scots supporting the besieging Parliamentary forces set fire to the upper part of Monkhill and began entrenchments from Bondgate Mill towards their barricades at Cherry Orchard Head and from thence raised several strong works to the top of Monkhill. The besieged, in order to annoy the enemy on Baghill, began to raise a mount within the Barbican which became known as Neville's Mount. On this they intended to plant the only large cannon they possessed. The besiegers, seeing this structure, continued a steady fire against the men but the work continued and was completed without suffering any damage on this and the following day. The besieged fired several cannon on this day, one of which shot through the Parliamentary barricade behind the School House where it was supposed to have done much damage. By mistake, the Scots took a party of their own men to be Royalists and fired upon them, killing a major before realising their mistake.
21/4/1194On 21st April 1194, Roger de Lacy, Constable of Chester, legally acquired the lands of Robert de Lacy, viz the honours of Pontefract and Clitheroe, by virtue of an agreement with his grandmother, Albreda (Aubrey) de Lisours.
21/4/1317Royal envoys visited Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, at Donington between 21st April and 2nd May 1317, and again between 29th May and 12th June 1317. It may have been the latter embassy which delivered a writ of summons to the Earl to be at Newcastle on 8th July 1317 for a new campaign; was this summons intended as a final test of the Earl’s loyalty?
22/4/1444Elizabeth_of_SuffolkRichard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) daughter, Elizabeth, was born at Rouen on Saturday 22nd April 1444. The photo shows Elizabeth's effigy St Andrew's parish church, Wingfield, Suffolk.
22/4/1472On 22nd April 1472, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, lord of Sandal, was given papal dispensation to marry Anne Neville as they were related within four degrees: they shared descent from Ralph, Earl of Westmorland, and Joan Beaufort and were both descended from Edmund of Langley.
22/4/1473On 22nd April 1473 (possibly 1476) a signet letter close (a letter sent closed-up and sealed with a signet ring and written on paper not vellum) signed and dated from Pontefract was sent by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to a group of Westmorland councillors regarding a dispute between some tenants of Ralph Nevill, Earl of Westmorland, concerning leaseholds around Raby and Brancepeth in County Durham. The letter was sold at Christies in 2012 for £21,250.
22/4/1645On 22nd April, the Scottish troops aiding the Parliamentarians marched away through the Park and were replaced by troops commanded by Sir John Savile. From this time, the besiegers regularly brought up parties to Baghill putting them behind hedges and in trenches. Keeping a constant watch on the garrison, they poured in their shot and opened fire at every available opportunity, which the besieged, in like manner, returned. In these attacks, lives were lost on both sides but it does not appear that the besieged  Royalists were ever able to sally beyond the enemy's positions as, from this time, they were completely surrounded.
23/4/1144On 23rd April 1144, the Castle of Rouen, the Duchy of Normandy’s capital city, garrisoned by William de Warenne, 3rd Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal castle, surrendered to Count Geoffrey of Anjou, husband of Empress Matilda, after a three months’ siege. Geoffrey was soon invested as Duke of Normandy, ceding Gisors and the Vexin to Louis VII of France in return for his recognising Geoffrey as the new Duke.  
23/4/1344On 23rd April 1344,  according to The Complete Peerage, under 'the Founders of the Order of the Garter'  the Order was first instituted (other dates from 1344 to 1351 have been proposed). Henry of Grosmont, first Duke of Lancaster, who was the nephew of Thomas 2nd Earl of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, was the second inductee to this order. After Thomas' execution in 1322, the Honour of Pontefract was eventually restored to Thomas's brother Henry, the father of Henry Grosmont.
23/4/1358On St. George’s Day 1358, a great tournament was held at Windsor in celebration of the English victory at Poitiers and capture of the French king. Unfortunately for Henry, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, he was severely wounded whilst jousting with a knight.
23/4/1361In April 1361 (probably St George’s Day the 23rd), John of Gaunt, not long after the death of his father-in-law, Henry, 1st Duke of Lancaster (lord of Pontefract) and soon to receive this title from Edward III, was fast-tracked into the Order of the Garter.
23/4/1377On 23rd April 1377, Edward III nominated the heirs to the kingdom for the Order of the Garter: his grandsons Richard of Bordeaux (later Richard II) and Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV and son and heir of John of Gaunt who had made Pontefract Castle his personal residence). In addition, Edward also knighted his youngest son, Thomas of Woodstock and the young heirs to the earldoms of Oxford, Salisbury, and Stafford and the heirs to the baronies of Mowbray, Beaumont and Percy concluding with knighting his own illegitimate son, John Southeray (by Edward’s mistress Alice Perrers).
23/4/1643On 23rd April 1643, Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, wrote to Charles: ‘My dear heart, …..Having heard that Pontefract was besieged, our army advanced, as soon as money could be got to make it march: they set off, and by the road, I gave six thousand pieces, for without that, they could not have marched; but this truth should not be known by every body. The army marched to Pontefract; I hear that the rebels quitted the place, and went to Leeds to join the rest of Fairfax’s forces: our troops followed them, and it was resolved to besiege Leeds……but when our cannon came to play, it produced no effect, on which a council of war was called…..’
23/4/1645On 23rd April 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded:' …came the beseegers from the upp’ towne to baghill wth 50 musketeres, 7 lined the hedge 7 the dike wth them; they played very soare against the Castle but did no harme, onely a young maid was Drying of Clothes in Mr Taytons Orchard (Close by the lower Castle gate). She was shott into the head whereof she dyed that night…’
24/4/1483On 24th April 1483, Richard Duke of Gloucester came to Pontefract Castle prior to meeting Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers and Richard Grey at Northampton on the 29th. It was at Northampton that Gloucester had agreed to meet with his supporter Buckingham, who had a retinue of 300 men, the same as the Duke of Gloucester. After an apparently convivial dinner Earl Rivers and Richard Grey found that their rooms were locked from the outside. In the morning, they were arrested by Gloucester and Buckingham. Following the arrest, Richard and his retinue rode the fifteen miles to Stony Stratford where they dismissed the king's (Edward V) escort and arrested two of his household; the chamberlain Thomas Vaughan and Richard Haute, who along with Earl Rivers and Richard Grey would be subsequently executed at Pontefract in June. It was from that day that Richard's plan to take control of Edward V gathered pace.
24/4/1645On 24th April 1645, Nathan Drake, Royalist diarist, recorded: ‘ in the afternoone, at the burial of the maid, a few of our musketeers attended the Corpes to the Church, & gave a valley of Shott, wch gave the beseegers in the upp towne an Allarum…’
24/4/1885On 24th April 1885, Thomas William Tew JP of Carleton Grange, Pontefract, was installed as Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master for the West Riding of Yorkshire (for the Most Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of England) at the Albert Hall, Leeds. This was by command of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, its Grand Master on 10th January that year.
25/4/1341On 25th April 1341, Archbishop Stratford of Canterbury, was refused entry to Edward III’s parliament in the Painted Chamber at Westminster, sparking the so-called ‘Crisis of 1341’. Stratford had lambasted the king for his ‘tyrannical’ behaviour and forbade the payment of clerical taxation; even threatening excommunication. Edward had charged the archbishop with treason and informed the pope that the archbishop’s exile was being considered. John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle, bravely smoothed the way for Stratford’s welcome back into the king’s favour by arguing that the parliament as then constituted was illegitimate as some attendees should not be present and some who should be leading proceedings were barred.
25/4/1408On 25th April 1408, whilst at Pontefract, Henry IV delegated to the Earl of Westmorland the right to pardon or punish six rebels captured after the Battle of Bramham Moor (on 19th February)
25/4/1645In late April 1645, on receiving information that the King had raised the siege at Chester and obtained some advantage over his enemies, the besieged Royalists in Pontefract Castle began to hope that they would  be speedily relieved. What bolstered this hope was the information from a woman who had been taken to William Wether. She said that the besiegers would remain only two or three more days before the castle and that the troops of Parliament would be collected together to watch the approach of the royal army. It seems unlikely that a woman would have information on the plans of the besiegers but the besieged were eager to believe her and had high hopes that the siege of Pontefract Castle would be raised in the near future. This information was true as regards Chester but the conclusions drawn from it were never realised and the besiegers continued to surround the castle.
26/4/1645The Parliamentary besiegers received a reinforcement of 150 men on 26th April 1645. They came by way of Ferrybridge to the New Hall where they kept up a strong guard. During the night, they sent 100 men from the upper town to Baghill where they 'threw up' a trench. While the besiegers were employed in preparing for their own security, the besieged sallied forth in large parties to prevent them. About sixty men, commanded by Captain Smith and Lieutenant Savile, sallied forth out of Swillington Tower, up Northgate where they greatly alarmed the Parliamentarians who took to arms, both in the town and through all their trenches. A brisk fire was kept up on both sides for half an hour and the besieged retreated without any loss. At the same time, another party sallied out of the east gate and drove the besiegers from their sentries to their works near the New Hall. The besiegers carried on their works on Baghill and kept a hundred musketeers stationed there; they were regularly relieved by the same number from the upper town. The fire of the besiegers was so vigorous and constant that the besieged were closely confined. They could not send their cattle to graze without extreme danger. The garrison now began to suffer and fresh meat was a luxury. Some of the besieged seeing three hogs, which had strayed from Broad Lane, rushed out of the garrison and drove them into the castle. Men were willing to risk their own lives to gain a little fresh meat. During the night, the Parliamentarians worked in completing the trenches. A hundred men were replaced by a hundred and fifty from the town the following morning and they continued with the same work the whole of the day.

Last week in history

DateEvent
16/4/1247In April 1247, John de Warenne, son of William de Warenne, (who had succeeded to his father's estates in 1240), married Alice de Lusignan, King Henry III's half sister. This marriage created resentment among the English nobility who did not like seeing a rich earl married to a penniless foreigner. John was the most warlike of all the Warenne earls and was largely responsible for the design of Sandal Castle in it's finished state.
16/4/1537On 16th April 1537, Lord Darcy, Constable of Pontefract Castle during the previous year’s Pilgrimage of Grace, was examined at the Lord Chancellor’s house regarding accusations of treason for his (in)actions in the rebellion at Pontefract. His opening remarks to his examiners were defiant:’ I am here now at your pleasure; ye may do your pleasure with me. I have read that men that have been in cases like with their prince as ye be now have come at the last to the same end that ye would now bring me unto. And so may ye come to the same.’ He accused Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and, most probably his father, the Duke of Norfolk, but directed his most bitter challenge to Thomas Cromwell, Lord Privy Seal : “ Cromwell, it is thou that art the very original and chief causer of all this rebellion and mischief, and art likewise causer of the apprehension of us that be noble men and dost daily earnestly travail to bring us to our end and to strike off our heads, and I trust that or thou die, though thou wouldst procure all the noblemen’s heads within the realm to be stricken off, yet shall there one head remain that shall strike off thy head”.
16/4/1645A vigorous and successful sally was made on the 16th April 1645. Two parties of fifty Royalist musketeers went out; one, under Captain Hemsworth, went out of the lower gate to the trenches near Alderman Lunn's house and the other under Captain Munroe went from Swillington Tower up Northgate to the enemy's upper trenches. Fifty volunteers drawn from four divisions assisted these. A party of horse under Captain Beale and Cornet Speight (a cornet was the lowest commissioned officer in a cavalry regiment) was stationed near Baghill to prevent the horse of the Parliamentarians giving any assistance to their infantry during the attack. The two parties assaulted their enemy's trenches and compelled them to retreat to another trench near the bridge. The loss to the besiegers was about fifty men killed, wounded or taken and the next day the Parliamentarians were seen to carry away seven wagons loaded with wounded men.
16/4/1939On 16th April 1939, before the outbreak of World War II, six thousand people attended a National Service Rally in Pontefract Castle grounds. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer reported that this “rendered conscription unnecessary”.
17/4/1194On 17th April 1194, Hamelin de Plantagenet - 4th Earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle - carried one of the three swords at the second coronation of Richard I at Winchester Cathedral, on Richard's return from Germany.
17/4/1239On 17th April 1239, William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey and lord of Sandal, was with, amongst others, John de Lacy, the Earls of Derby, Hereford and Essex, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishops of Bath, Exeter, Ely, Lincoln, Worcester and Carlisle at the opening of Parliament when a charter was confirmed granting Amaury de Montfort’s transfer to his younger brother Simon of the rights and earldom of Leicester. This was to become a foundation for Simon’s later ‘parliamentary forays’ against Henry III.  
17/4/1264On 17th April 1264, John de Warenne , lord of Sandal, was garrison commander at Rochester castle, supporting Henry III in the Second Barons' War. At the start of the troubles in 1258, John had supported the King but later in 1261 changed sides to support Simon de Montfort, then two years later changed back to supporting the King at the Battle of Lewes in May 1264.
17/4/1404On 17th April 1404, Henry IV sent two men to arrest John Staunton, servant of the Countess of Oxford, as well as a canon of St Osyth, a goldsmith and the Countess herself for broadcasting that Richard II, who had ‘died’ at Pontefract Castle in February 1400, was still alive and would be returning imminently.
17/4/1486On 17th April 1486 (until the 20th), Henry VII was at Pontefract Castle on his way to York. He had set off from the Priory of St John of Jerusalem near London in mid-March on his first official progress of the North. Although the first armed uprising against Henry, after the Battle of Bosworth, by Yorkist supporters Francis Lord Lovell and Humphrey Stafford, did not occur until Eastertime 1486 (Easter Sunday was 4th April), after Lovell and Stafford had escaped from sanctuary at Colchester Abbey, the new king had been monitoring their activities for some time. An attempt to capture Henry VII at York was apparently foiled by Henry Percy on St George’s Day. Lovell fled to Flanders and the Stafford brothers were forcibly removed from sanctuary at Culham on the 14th May. Humphrey was executed but his younger brother, Thomas, was pardoned.
18/4/1645Scots and English armies embraceOn 18th April 1645, Parliamentarian reinforcements of 600 Scottish troops, under the command of Colonel Montgomery, arrived at Pontefract Castle to assist with the ongoing siege. The garrison kept up heavy fire from the castle; several were killed including Captain Hamilton and several officers. The day was market-day and the besiegers drew out a considerable body of cavalry and musketeers on Baghill to protect the butchers and others coming into the town and also to prevent the garrison obtaining a supply of fresh provisions. The  besieged Royalists, however, by  well-directed fire from the towers dispersed these men who quit their station. The same day, a party of Scots from Monkhill was unsuccessful in driving away a party of musketeers sent from the castle to protect the grazing cattle. The besieged discovered about forty oxen and cows belonging to the enemy, grazing in the fields. A body of men under Captain Beale and Cornet Speight and another infantry under Majors Bland and Dinnis sallied forth, seizing all the cattle and returning to the castle without any loss. The picture is of unknown source but was published in The Story Of Scotland, First Press and Scottish Daily Record Group, 1999-2000.
18/4/1803On 18th April 1803, 42 magistrates at Pontefract in Session passed the following resolution:’ not to apprentice parish children to the owners of cotton mills where they had to engage in night work, or work for an unreasonable number of hours a day.’
19/4/1603On 19th April 1603, according to the historian Richard Holmes in his book 'Pontefract: its Name, its Lords, its Castles', King James I, on his journey from Edinburgh to London to claim his throne, came to Pontefract. The castle was included in jointure property (reverting to a wife after her husband's death) of his wife, Anne of Denmark. Anne, unfortunately, did not survive James. Holmes remarks: 'As was the case in other places where he stayed, the dirty habits of his followers seem to have brought upon the town a visitation of the plague, which broke out on September 2nd 1603, as is marked by an entry in the church books "Plague begonne" . The plague gradually increased in virulence during September (10 deaths/vs 11 in same month the previous year), raged violently during October (57/11), November (67/7) and December (32/8), then somewhat abating in January (18/7) and February (10/6) and nearly died out in March (13/9).' 
19/4/1645On 19th April 1645, the besieged Royalists set fire to the lower side of Monkhill and at three different times compelled the Parliamentarians to retreat from their positions.
20/4/1251On 20th April 1251, Edmund de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, acted as valettus (page, groom) to Henry III, which lasted until 28th June of that year. By this time, Edmund was in his early twenties but, having inherited his father John’s estates as a minor, was raised in the household of Henry III.
20/4/1408On 20th April 1408, Henry IV, at Pontefract, made the following letter of safe protection for Alexander de Carnys, Provost of the Collegiate Church of Lincluden, Scotland: '… Know ye, that being prompted by affection, and at the special request of our dearly beloved cousin Archibald Earl of Douglas, we have taken and do hereby take under our special protection, safe keeping and defence. Master Alexander de Carnys, Provost of the Collegiate Church of Lincluden in Scotland, wheresoever the said Provost may happen to be in person within the Kingdom of Scotland; also, the said place of Lincluden and the poor chaplains serving God therein; also, the lands of the said Provost round the church, with his granges, crops, cattle and goods of whatever sort whether ecclesiastical or temporal. Therefore we command you and each of you that ye neither inflict nor allow to be inflicted any injury, molestation, loss, violence, interference or any other hardship, upon the said Provost wheresoever he may be in person in the said Kingdom of Scotland, or upon the said place of Lincluden, or upon the chaplains and poor men serving God in the said place, either on their persons, lands, granges, crops, goods, cattle or property of any kind whatever aforesaid……….. This (mandate) to remain in force for three years. In testimony whereof, &c., the King, at the Castle of Pontefract, this twentieth day of April [1408].’
20/4/1483On 20th April 1483, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, lord of Sandal, set out from Middleham Castle, north-west of York, with only 300 men and accepted an offer from Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, based in his Marcher lordship at Brecon, to meet him en route. Buckingham also apparently had around 300 men. They arranged to meet at Northampton on their way to London after news of the death of Edward IV.
20/4/1484On 20th April 1484, Richard III, lord of Sandal, and Queen Anne were at Nottingham Castle when news reached them of the death of their son at Middleham, Edward, Prince of Wales. The Crowland Chronicle suggested that his death was not anticipated: ‘this only son….was seized with an illness of but short duration…..you might have seen his father and mother in a state almost bordering on madness, by reason of their sudden grief.’ Richard and Anne reached Middleham on 5th May. In addition to the parents’ grief, the destabilising effect on Richard’s reign and Yorkist dynasty was profound.
20/4/1645On Sunday 20th April, the Scots supporting the besieging Parliamentary forces set fire to the upper part of Monkhill and began entrenchments from Bondgate Mill towards their barricades at Cherry Orchard Head and from thence raised several strong works to the top of Monkhill. The besieged, in order to annoy the enemy on Baghill, began to raise a mount within the Barbican which became known as Neville's Mount. On this they intended to plant the only large cannon they possessed. The besiegers, seeing this structure, continued a steady fire against the men but the work continued and was completed without suffering any damage on this and the following day. The besieged fired several cannon on this day, one of which shot through the Parliamentary barricade behind the School House where it was supposed to have done much damage. By mistake, the Scots took a party of their own men to be Royalists and fired upon them, killing a major before realising their mistake.
21/4/1194On 21st April 1194, Roger de Lacy, Constable of Chester, legally acquired the lands of Robert de Lacy, viz the honours of Pontefract and Clitheroe, by virtue of an agreement with his grandmother, Albreda (Aubrey) de Lisours.
21/4/1317Royal envoys visited Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, at Donington between 21st April and 2nd May 1317, and again between 29th May and 12th June 1317. It may have been the latter embassy which delivered a writ of summons to the Earl to be at Newcastle on 8th July 1317 for a new campaign; was this summons intended as a final test of the Earl’s loyalty?

Next week in history

DateEvent
30/4/1230On 30th April 1230, John de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, sailed out of Portsmouth with Henry III to secure most of Brittany and Poitou, areas held before 1224. De lacy received the manors of Collingham and Bardesy as reward for this service.
30/4/1408Having spent three weeks over Easter at Pontefract, Henry IV left the castle on 30th April 1408 arriving at Windsor by 21st May and the Tower of London 29th-31st May. Henry had headed for Yorkshire to supervise the arrests and executions of fugitives from the Battle of Bramham Moor, south of Wetherby, in February in which Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, was killed and his invading army from Scotland routed. Percy’s ‘treacherous’ body was hanged, drawn and quartered, his head placed on London Bridge and other parts of his anatomy displayed in various locations.
30/4/1474On 30th April 1474, in letters dated that day at Pontefract, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, ordered £29 12s (£20,300 in today's money) worth of seafish from Thomas and Robert Burdon for his household and £54 (£37,000 in today's money) of sheep and cattle from Matthew Metcalfe.
30/4/1645On 30th April 1645, the Parliamentary besiegers of Pontefract Castle relieved the guard at Baghill with at least 150 men and through the day a heavy fire was kept up on both sides. The besieged Royalists had one horse killed in the Barbican and the enemy had several men killed and wounded by the musketry from the Round Tower. During the night, the besiegers burnt two houses; one at Monkhill and a smaller one by the castle walls.
30/4/1646On 30th April 1646, it was resolved by the House of Commons that Royalist Sandal Castle should be made untenable as a military garrison having being besieged three times in 1645 by Parliamentary forces.
1/5/1207On 1st May 1207, King John stayed at Pontefract Castle on his not infrequent ‘processions’ throughout his realm. The 3rd of the month saw him at Derby, 4th at Hunston, 5th Lichfield, 8th Gloucester, 10th Bristol etc. culminating via nine other venues at Lewes on the 31st. These regular nation-wide itineraries were a feature of John’s reign: some surmising that they were for personal protection i.e. never sleeping in the same place for long, as much as surveying his kingdom.
1/5/1218In May 1218, John de Lacy, Baron of Pontefract, accompanied Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester and 1st Earl of Lincoln, on the Fifth Crusade to Damietta in Egypt, returning in 1220.
1/5/1230In May 1230, Edmund de Lacy, later lord of Pontefract, was born. He succeeded his father, John de Lacy, on his death in 1240 but, being a minor, was raised in the royal household of Henry III as a ward of the crown albeit his sisters initially remained with their/his mother, Margaret, until 1243. Edmund was in the custody of Richard le Norman and John de Barsham, effectively his tutors.
1/5/1247On 1st May 1247, Edmund de Lacy, later lord of Pontefract, married Alasia di Saluzzo in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Alasia (Alice) was the granddaughter of Amadeus, Count of Savoy, the uncle of Queen Eleanor of Provence. The marriage was highly politically motivated: forming part of the Anglo-Savoyard treaty of 1246 which bolstered Henry III’s foreign interests against Louis IX’s encroachments; it strengthened Queen Eleanor’s Savoyard faction at court; and attempted to pre-empt any potentially unfavourable alliances should Edmund’s mother re-marry.
1/5/1248In May 1248, Edmund de Lacy, later lord of Pontefract, and still legally underage, was permitted to inherit all of his estates for a relief of £858 (£626,000 in today's money).
1/5/1265In early May 1265, John de Warenne, 6th earl of Surrey and owner of Sandal Castle, landed on the coast of Pembrokeshire along with William de Valence and a force of 120 men. John was joining with Gilbert de Clare, the 6th earl of Gloucester - some historians show Gilbert as the 7th earl -  in the ongoing struggle between Simon de Montfort and King Henry III. Gilbert had decided to change sides and withdraw his support of Simon which would eventually lead to Simon's death at the Battle of Evesham on 4th August 1265. It is not known for sure whether John de Warenne was at the Battle of Evesham, but it is highly likely.
1/5/1278On 1st May 1278, Dominus Petrus de Cestreia (Peter of Chester or Peter of Lascy, illegitimate son of John de Lacy, lord of Pontefract, Constable of Chester and Earl of Lincoln) was the first witness to his nephew Henry de Lacy’s charter to the burgesses of Pontefract, being described as Provost of Beverley.
1/5/1293In May 1293, King Edward I asked his brother, Edmund, Earl of Lancaster (father of Thomas, future Earl) and Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln and lord of Pontefract, to go to France to try to resolve diplomatic problems with the King of France, Philip IV. Quarrels between English and French sailors from Normandy had resulted in the former attacking La Rochelle and Philip’s letters to Edward were discourteous, failing to address him as King of England nor acknowledging him as Duke of Aquitaine.
1/5/1315On 1st May 1315, the Constable of Barnard Castle was ordered to allow Thomas of Lancaster, lord of Pontefract, and his men, who were going north on the king’s business, to use the castle whenever they liked and on 8th June his envoys, on their way north on Scottish affairs, were given safe-conducts.
1/5/1360On 1st May 1360, after advice from Henry, Duke of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, negotiations with the French to seek a permanent peace took place at Bretigny. Edward III agreed in principle to relinquish his claim on the French throne in return for sovereignty of all the territories he had inherited as a vassal and those gained by conquest. Henry (according to Froissart) cautioned Edward: ‘You can press on with your struggle and pass the rest of your life fighting or you can make terms with your enemy and end the war now with honour’. Further, and dubiously attributable remarks by Henry warned: ‘’we might lose in a single day all that we have gained in twenty years’.
1/5/1483On 1st May 1483, Elizabeth Woodville, widow of Edward IV, went into sanctuary at Westminster, the day after Edward V (her son) met Richard, Duke of Gloucester, lord of Sandal, and the Duke of Buckingham at Stony Stratford on his way to London.
1/5/1484On 1st May 1484, a German Silesian knight and traveller, Niclas Von Popplau, passed or visited  Pontefract on a visit to King Richard III who was in residence at York. This visit may have been a diplomatic mission on behalf of Maximillian Duke of Burgundy, who was in conflict with the French king Louis XI who also claimed the Burgundian title.  This is a translation of the 15th century text of his visit by Niclas; “Ten miles from Doncaster as we travel towards York, there is a castle. In there the king keeps his treasure and all great gentlemen, also the kings children and the sons of princes, which are kept like prisoners. And the castle is called Pons Fractus as the king himself by the name of Richard King of England .... told me and explained to me. I arrived on the day Phillip and Jacobi, that is the first of May (1484) on Saturday, and graciously granted me audience on the next day.” It is interesting to speculate who the 'children and sons of princes' may have been. Much controversy has surrounded the deaths of the two princes in the Tower in 1483, but it worth noting what Popplau then goes on to say; 'And King Richard who reigns now, had put to death the sons of King Edward, they say, so that not they but he was crowned. But many say (and I count myself amongst them) they still live and are kept in a very dark cellar'. Readers are invited to share their thoughts and comments and any evidence they have on this world - famous 'murder mystery', with us via the 'Contact Us' button on the right hand side of this page.
1/5/1528In May 1528, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, and the illegitimate son of Henry VIII was in residence in Pontefract.  Henry was the result of a 'liaison' between Henry VIII and one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies in waiting, perhaps Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount. Henry Fitzroy had spent the greater part of 1527 and all the early part of 1528 at Pontefract and it is known from a letter written by William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton and brother of Catherine Parr, to Cardinal Wolsey, that a sweating sickness was reported in Pontefract in May 1528. Henry Fitzroy was in good health  but ‘ there has six persones lately disseased within the lordship of Pontefracte … and that many young children bee sick of the pokkes nere thereabouts”. Henry was moved to Ledston (Ledston Hall), a house that belonged to the Prior of Pontefract.
1/5/1645Civil War cannon ballOn 1st May 1645, the Parliamentary besiegers, having  relieved their guard at Baghill,  began to erect a strong triangular work which they walled with stone and filled with earth. The besieged Royalists planted their cannon against this work and, by well-directed shot, greatly annoyed the Parliamentarians. Several sallies were made by small parties against the besiegers at Monkhill and the troops of Sir John Savile were driven from their positions several times during the day, with the loss of some killed and more wounded. In the afternoon, three of the garrison (without orders) sallied forth against the Parliamentarians and continued their assault until the enemy began to retaliate and they retreated. One of them, Nathaniel Sutton, a barber, was shot dead, another received a fracture to the skull but recovered and a ball entered the doublet of a third who had stooped to avoid the fire of the enemy. The photo above is of a 3kg cannon ball fired from a medium-sized cannon used during the Civil War.
2/5/1381On 2nd May 1381, the treaty for the impending marriage of Richard II (who died at Pontefract Castle nineteen years later) to Anne of Bohemia was signed. The treaty also confirmed an Anglo-Imperial alliance in favour of Pope Urban VI against rival Pope Clement VII.
2/5/1483On 2nd May 1483, at the command of Richard IIISir Thomas Vaughan, the personal chamberlain to the young Edward V, was dispatched as a prisoner to Pontefract Castle where he was executed the following month. On the same day, Edward’s uncle, Anthony Woodville (Earl Rivers), and Sir Richard Grey were dispatched to Sheriff Hutton Castle and Middleham Castle respectively. All three, along with Richard Haute (the latter is open to question), were executed in June at Pontefract Castle. The picture above is of Edward V from Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, Lambeth Palace.
2/5/1484On 2nd May 1484, Niclas Von Popplau was granted an audience with Richard III, ‘in the presence of the princes, earls, councillors and all his nobility, in front of which I spoke Latin'. This meeting was held at York and Popplau delivered to Richard letters from His Imperial Majesty the King and the Duke of Burgundy. We do not know the content of these letters but, after Popplau left the king's court on that day, he was conducted to a nearby inn by a gentleman of the Royal Chamber, quickly finding they were not alone as they were followed by many women and maidens. It is at this meeting that Richard III mentioned to Popplau that the castle he had passed or visited on his way from Doncaster to York, 'is called in Latin pons fractus, which was confirmed to me later by the word of the king himself, whose name is Richard King of England.....'  Again, as per our entry for the 1st May 1484 it is intriguing to consider the possibility that Popplau's travel-diary comment 'the king's children and sons to the princes just like you keep prisoners'  may refer to the two ‘Princes in the Tower’ supposedly murdered in 1483. We would invite any comments, evidence or discussion upon this fascinating mystery through the 'Contact Us' button to the right of this page.
2/5/1645On 2nd May 1645, at night, the Parliamentary  besiegers cut down branches of trees and made blinds at the end of their works on Baghill, where they placed a long drake (small piece of artillery) belonging to Sir John Savile's troops. The following morning, they opened fire upon the castle but having fired eight times the drake was moved again. The besiegers had twenty men, either killed or wounded; the besieged Royalists had one man killed and one of their oxen shot by the enemy but they managed to retrieve it.
2/5/1891On 2nd May 1891, 'The Friend; A Religious and Literary Journal' noted: ‘The influenza epidemic is becoming of an alarmingly more severe type in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire……….and deaths are becoming much more frequent. At Pontefract, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, there are 400 serious cases. The garrison of Pontefract has also been attacked, with the result that a large number of the soldiers are on the sick list, and that several deaths have occurred among the military.’
3/5/1230On the 3rd May 1230, John de Lacy, Lord of Pontefract, landed at St Malo in Brittany in support of Henry III. Henry was leading a mighty force across the Channel to reclaim his inheritance lost by his father King John i.e. his lands in Normandy, Brittany and Poitou.
3/5/1347On 3rd May 1347, Henry of Grosmont, nephew of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster and lord of Pontefract, and now himself Earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby and Steward of England, contracted a future marriage between his younger daughter, Blanche of Lancaster and John Segrave, son and heir of Lord Segrave and Edward I’s granddaughter Margaret, Countess of Norfolk. Unfortunately, the marriage never transpired as John Segrave died as a child.
3/5/1415On 3rd May 1415, Cecily Neville, future wife of Richard, Duke of York, lord of Sandal, and mother of two kings of England (Edward IV and Richard III) was born at Raby Castle in Durham. She was the last child (of fourteen) of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland and his second wife, Joan Beaufort.
3/5/1446Margaret_of_YorkRichard Duke of York's (lord of Sandal Castle) daughter, Margaret, was born at Fotheringhay, on Tuesday 3rd May 1446.
3/5/1484On 3rd May 1484 Richard III asked Niclas Von Popplau to join him at mass at a nearby church in York. Popplau, who on the previous day had discussed with Richard  the 'stronghold castle ....... called in Latin pons fractus',  wrote that he would hear ‘the most delightful music that I heard in all my life … with voices compared to angels’. Richard had had a tent erected near the church and this is interesting for the fact that it is one of the few insights we get to see the majesty of Richard’s court during his short reign. Popplau was struck by the lavish nature of the tent - ‘I saw the king’s bed covered in red velvet and a cloth of gold. And in the king’s tent there was also a table covered all around with cloths of silk embroidered with gold set up next to the bed". At the king's table, where Richard wore a collar of gold with many pearls the ‘size of peas’, were Richard’s princes and lords. According to Popplau, Richard continually talked to him and hardly ate, asking him about His Imperial Majesty (Frederick III) and the kings and princes of the empire. Popplau’s account of Richard’s court at York shows a king who was kind, learned and very passionate about events and people, a stark contrast to the Richard portrayed by Shakespeare.
3/5/1645On 3rd May 1645, there was firing on both sides. The Parliamentary besiegers kept close in their trenches and the besieged in the castle. A deserter fled into the castle  the following day and gave the besieged Royalists information as to the state and numbers of the enemy. A number of Royalists who had been taken prisoners at Newark and brought to Pontefract were exchanged for an equal number of Parliamentarians who had been kept as prisoners in Pontefract Castle.
4/5/1302On 4th May 1302 (some sources say the 2nd), Thomas of Lancaster’s (future lord of Pontefract) mother, Blanche of Artois died and was buried at the Church of the Cordeliers, Paris, with her sons in attendance. Some time later, Thomas employed a chaplain to celebrate divine service for his parents’ souls with daily Masses and yearly anniversaries performed in various churches.
4/5/1312On 4th May 1312,  Thomas, Earl of Lancaster,  lord of Pontefract, came close to capturing Piers Gaveston and King Edward II at Tynemouth Priory. The two men escaped, however, in a small boat and sailed down the coast to Scarborough.
4/5/1471On 4th May 1471, Prince Edward, son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury either in the battle or ‘round-up’ afterwards. The Crowland Chronicle states he was killed ‘by the avenging hands of certain persons’ which some have interpreted as a hint at Richard, Duke of Gloucester’s, lord of Sandal, responsibility.
4/5/1483On 4th May 1483, the day of Edward V’s postponed coronation, Edward V was escorted into London by his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester and lord of Sandal, accompanied by the city’s reception committee, clad in Yorkist mulberry. Proclamations declared that the young king had been rescued from his scheming Woodville family, with four cartloads of weaponry confiscated from Anthony Woodville as proof.
4/5/1645Sandal_Castle In the first week of May 1645, Royalist Captain John Benson and three of his men secretly left Pontefract Castle to strengthen the Sandal garrison, which had suffered  eight men killed and several others wounded and captured when a foraging party had been ambushed by Parliamentarian forces.
5/5/1242On 5th May 1242, the Henry III Fine Rolls recorded: ‘To the barons of the Exchequer. The king has committed to the venerable father in Christ Walter (de Gray) archbishop of York, primate of England, all lands, castles and vaccaries (a place for keeping cattle) with all their appurtenances formerly of John de Lacy, formerly earl of Lincoln (and lord of Pontefract) which are in the king’s hands outside the county of Chester, excepting the castle and manor of Donington and the manors of Snaith and Wadenhoe, to hold at farm for the five years next following the Invention of the Holy Cross in the twenty-sixth year, rendering for each manor per annum at the Exchequer the extent at which they have been extended by Nicholas de Molis, Sheriff of Yorkshire, by the king’s order, one moiety (one part) thereof at Michaelmas and the other moiety at Easter, namely £122 19s 10d (“over £218,000 in today’s money) for the manor of Pontefract…….’
5/5/1550On the 5th May 1550, Edward VI again issued the Pontefract's Charter. A confirmatory charter was issued by James I in 1606-07.
5/5/1645On 5th May 1645, and the following days there was little firing on both the Royalist and Parliamentarian sides. There were not more than thirty or forty Parliamentarians on guard at Baghill.