A flurry of letters sent northwards

Posted: December 9, 2011 in John Nevill, Letters, Nevill Percy feud, Thomas Percy, Lord Egremont

Having found this the other day, I decided to go through it page by page, culling anything of interest. So far, I’ve found a lot of things of interest! I can’t print it, nor can I find a way to clip and save pages, so I’m transcribing stuff as it comes up. A series of letters between the King (via his council) to various lords, knights and squires of the north, mentioned in my posts on the Nevill-Percy feud, I now have on my hard drive. I should like to share them with you, if I can pray your indulgence. Some of them are either copies of others, or contain chunks of repeated text. They begin with quite confident peremptoriness – summonses to appear before council – please explain letters, and end with a somewhat weary plea to both Lord Egremont and John Nevill to just knock it off already!

Had Henry VI not become ill, and had York’s (almost) first act on being named Protector and Defender not been to high tail it north to sort it all out, it may have dragged on for years and ended very badly… It is the opinion of some that the feud did drag on for years and ended more than badly for just about all the men involved.

From the king to Lord Egremont, 7 June 1453

 By the King

 Right trusty and welbeloved. For certain greet causes and considerations suche as move us and as most of reson sitte us night to hert we will and neverthelesse straitely charge you yt all excusations leide aparte ye in alle haste possible seen thees oure letters come personally unto oure presence to here and understand suche things as then shalbe opened unto you on oure behalf and we woll that ye faille not herein in any wyse and as ye love and tender oure worship and welfare. Yeven tc at Westm the vjj day of Juyn the yere tc xxxj.

From the king to John Nevill, 26 June 1453

By the King

Trusty and welbeloved. It is come to oure knowlache how by occasion of certaine discords and debates moeved betwyx you and the Lord Egremond divers things and novelries contrarie to oure pees have of late daies been committed betwixt you into grete trouble and vexation of oure countree and sugitts there with the whiche demeanyng of reason we may not be well content wherefore and for other causes moevyng us we woll and in the straitest wyse charge you that in alle hast possible after the recevyng of these oure letters ye comme and appere before us and oure counsaille to here and understand suche matiers as shalbe opened to you at your commyng and also that in the meane tyme ye kepe oure pees nothing doing or attempting by your self nor suffering to be doo or attempted by any of youres that may be to the offense or hurt of the same oure pees not levyng this oure commaundement upon the faith and ligeance that ye owe unto us. Yeven tc at Westm the xxvi day of Juyn the yere tc xxxj.

To oure trusty and welbeloved John Neville knyght son to oure right trusty and welbeloved cousyn therle of Salesbury

From the king to Lord Egremont, 26 June 1453

By the king

Divers tymes herebeofre we have yeve you in commaundment by oure letters for suche causes as moeved us to have be and appered before us and our counsaille at daies and place conteigned in the same to the whiche oure letters and commaundment ye in no wyse obeying have differed so to appere as ye yit doo wheof we not wt oute cause gretely mervaille and take it to displesir willing for so muche and in the straitest wyse charging you eftesones that in all hast possible seen thees oure leeters ye come and appere personally befor us and oure saide counsaille to here and understand that shalbe laide before you at youre commyng and over this that in the meane tyme ye bere and kepe the pees ayenst alle oure subgetts no thing doing or attempting nor suffryng to be doo or attempted by any of yours in any wyse to the contrarie and yat ye faille not in execution of this oure commaundment or any part therof upon the faith and ligeance that ye owe unto us. Yeven at Westm the xxvj day of Juyn the yere tc xxxj.

This having got them nowhere, king and council appealed to their fathers.

From the king to the earl of Salisbury, 27 July 1453

Right trusty and welbeloved cousyn. For as moch as we be acertaigned by credible information that of late dayes grete assembles and riottous gaderings of people have be made in the shire that ye dwelle in as wel by yur sone Sr John Nevill knyght as other persones unto right grete vexation and trouble of oure contre and subgitts there directly ayenst oure laws and pees by ye which to grete an inconvenience were like to ensew if it were not hastily purveyed for. We therfor write unto you at this tyme exhorting and in ye straitest wise also charging that ye by all the ways and meanes possible unto you doo your effectuell labour and diligences that the said assembles and gaderings of people be pute downe and utterly ceesed and that ye see our pees be kept by you and yours not suffering any thing to be doo or attempted to the contrary by any personne as ferforth as ye shall mowe and over this that our trusty and welbeloved counsailler William Lucy knyght and other our commissionours which we sende thider as it accordeth for our honnour and worship and the conservation of oure laws not levyng this upon the faith and ligeaunce that ye owe until us. Yeven tc at Westm the xxfij day of Juyll.

Item semble to therle of Northum for his son the Lord Egremond

In letters to Egremont and John Nevill, king and council attempt to show their teeth with threats of forfeiture. They were ignored.

From the king to Lord Egremont and to sir John Nevill, son of the earl of Salisbury.

This letter is undated, but it was probably written on or about 27 July 1453.

By the King

Right trusty and welbeloved. For as moche as we be credibly enfourmed yat divers riottous assembles and gaderings of people have of late dayes be made in the contree yat ye dwelle in and so yit continue to the which ye have take upon you to be leder and so yit be contrary unto our laws and to greet trouble of oure pees and subgetts there. We wol and in the straitest wyse charge you yat incontinent seen yees oure letters ye putting downe and departing of all suche assemblees and gaderings kepe oure pees and be obeying unto oure commissioners yat we sende yider at yis tyme for the cause of the which we have deputed and ordeigned oure trusty and welbeloved counsailler William Lucy knight to be oon and we wol yat ye faile not herein upon peyne of forfaiteur of all your goodes and lands and upon ye faith and ligeance yat ye owe unto us. Yeven tc at Westm ye

To ye Lord Egremond

Item to oure trusty welbeloved John Nevill knight sonne to our right trusty and welbeloved cousyn the Erle of Salesbury

If striking at the head doesn’t work, perhaps if their support trickled away John and Egremont would be forced to settle down. A wide net was cast in the next few letters. It didn’t make a shred of difference. The second letter has no specific addressee/s.

From the king to sir John Conyers, sir James Pickering and others, 27 July 1453

By the King

It is comen to oure knowlach how diverse riottes routes and gaderings of people contrary to oure lawes and pees of late dayes have be made and yit contynue in the shire and contree that ye dwelle in unto grete trouble and vexation of oure subgitts there by occasion whereof irreparable inconveniences were like to folowe that God forbide olesse than hasty provision were made in this behalfe of the which routes and gaderings ye have be a grete sturer and moever and also leder wherof we gretely marvaille and take it as we nedes must to right grete displesire. For as moche as we wol and in the moste straiteest wyse charge yowe that ye surceesing of alle such gaderings and riots making and thoo that so been made deviding and utterly ceesing kepe oure pees noo thing attempting or doing or suffering to be doo or attempted by any of youres or other any thing contrarie to oure pees and more over that ye duely be obeying unto oure trusty and welbeloved counsailler William Lucy knyght an other oure commissioners whiche we sende at this tyme thidre for the said cause in all things concernyng thexecution of oure laws and conservation of oure pees not levyng soo to doo upon pein of forfaiteur of alle youre landes and goodes and upon the faith and ligeaunce that ye owe unto us. Yeven under oure prive seell at Westm the xxvij day of Juyll.

To John Conyers
James Pekering
Rauffe Randolf                             knyghts
Thomas Mouneforth
Ric of Aske
Rauf Neville
Thomas Sewer                            squiers
John Aclom

From the king on the same subject, 27 July 1453

By the King

Trusty and welbeloved. For asmoche as we have understand by credible reporte made unto us howe yat by unlawefull assembles and gaderings of people made in divers parties in ye countree yat ye dwelle ynne ye same oure contree and subgitts yerof have be and been gretely troubled vexed and uneased we sende yider at this tyme oure trusty and welbeloved counsailler William Lucy knyght with oure letters of commission with oyer to enquire of suche matters and to doo yat may be to ye reformation of yat is doon oyerwyse yan oure lawe wold and so to conservation of keping of oure pees. For so muche we write unto you exhorting praying and neverthelesse charging you upon ye feight and trouth yat ye owe unto us yat at such tyme as ye shall be required by oure said counsailler ye favoure and assiste him by alle menes to you possible in all ying yat may concerne thexecution of oure lawes ye levying downe and ceesing of such assembles and gaderings ye keping of oure pees and good rule and tranquyllitee of oure saide contree and subgitts and yat ye faille not herein in any wyse. Yeven tc at Westm the xxvij day of Juyll

And to the younger Percy brothers, amongst others…

From the King to sir Ralph Percy, Richard Percy, sir John Penyngton and others, 10 August 1453

By the King

It is comen to oure knowlache howe divers riottes routes and gaderings of people contrarie to oure laws and pees of late dayes have be made and yit continue in the shire and contree that ye dwelle in unto greet trouble and vexation of oure subgetts yere by occasion whereof to irreparable inconvenience were like to folowe that  God forbide olesse thane hasty provision were made in this behalf of the whiche riottes and gaderings ye may be a greet sturrer and moever and also leder as we be right credibly enformed wherefore we greetly mervaille and take it as we nedes must to right greet displesir. For so moche as we woll and in the moost straitest wise charge you that ye surceesing of all such gaderings and routes making and thoo that so ben made dividing and utterly ceesing kepe oure pees noo thing attempting or doing or suffering to be do or attempted by any of yours or other asmoche as in you is any thing contrarie to oure pees and moreover that ye duely be obeying to oure trusty and welbeloved counsailler William Lucy knyght and other oure commissioners whiche we sende at yis tyme yider for the saide cause in alle yinge concernyng the execusion of oure lawes and conservation of oure pees not levyng so to doo upon paine and forfaiteur of all youre landes and goodes and upon the feith and ligeaunce yat ye owe unto us. Yeven tc at Westm the x day of August the yere tc xxxj

Sir Rauf Percy                          Sir Henri Fenwyk
Ric Percy                                   Sir William Martindale
Sir John Penyngton              John Swynbourne squire
Rolande Kyrkeby
Henri Belingham                           squiers
William Lee

Kinsmen of the Nevills received letters as well, thanking them for their unbiased help. Despite this, they were soon replaced by a commissioner sent by the king, sir William Lucy, who could not be accused of favouring the Nevill cause over that of the Percies. Westmoreland was Salisbury’s nephew and the bishop of Durham was his brother, Robert.

By this time the skirmish at Heworth was a couple of months in the past but not forgotten, one suspects, by John Nevill…

From the king to the earl of Westmoreland and the bishop of Durham, 8 October 1453

By the King

Right trusty and welbeloved cosin. We have understand by credible reporte made unto us the greet labours paines and diligences that ye have nowe of late tyme doon and doo daily for the letting and appesing of such troubles and unlwawful gaderings of people as not long ago have be and yit as it is saide contynue in the contree ther ye dwelle and ther a boute and that ye in no wise though ye be nygh of blode and allie to the pties making such assembles have favoured or lened in such unfyttyg demenyng to that one ptie or to that other butt have be redy and ben to helpe strength and assite such lords spuel and tempel [spiritual and temporal] ther as ben fully disposed and sette indifferently to the coservacon of our pees easing and ceesing of the saide gaderings and good and restful governance of our saide contree and subgitts of which your good disposicon and sadde demenyng we be right wel content and thanke you spially willyng exhorting and also praying you hertely so to contynue wherin ye shal do thing ful acceptable unto God to our saide contree and subgittes and behoveful and pfitable and right plesant to us and thankeful and cause us to be the more desirous to do thing that may be to yo pleasur and behove. Yeven under our prive seel at Westm the viij day of Octobr.

To therle of Westmerl

Itm semble to the revent fader in  God our right trusty and welbeloved cosin the Bisship of Duresme.

Though the archbishop of York at the time, William Bothe, was not related by blood to the Nevills (so far as I know) he did seem to be a little partisan, accompanying Salisbury, his sons and retainers to the averted-in-the-nick-of-time almost showdown outside Topcliffe in October 1453.

From the king to the archbishop of York, 8 October 1453.

By the King

Moost revernt fader in God our right trusty and welbeloved. We have understande by credible reporte made unto us that ye according to the degree and astate that ye stande in have goodly and godly doo your parte and daily do to thappesing and ceesing of suche troubles and unlawful gaderings of people as not long agoo have be and yit as it is saide continue in the contrees that ye dwelle in deserving therin as we can right grete and spial thanke willyng exhortyng and prayng you hertely that ye wol so contynue and that ye wol not departe frome that contree unto the tyme the saide trouble and unlawfuyl assemblees be fully appesed and extint as our pfite trust is on you understandyng for certaine that herin y shal do thyng ful acceptable to God to our saide contree and subgittes behoveful and pfitable and right plesant to us and thankeful and cause us to be the more desirous to do thing that may be to your pleasir and behove. Yeven under our prive seel at Westm the viij day of Octobre.

To tharchebisshop of Yorke

Threats of forfeiture against the sons having failed, the threat was turned on the fathers…

From the king to the earls of Salisbury and Northumberland, 8 October 1453.

By the Kyng

Cousin. Howe it be that at al tymes before this ye have be holde a sadde a sober and a wel reuled man as it sitteth you in al wyse so to be and somoche the more for the degree and astate that ye stande inne the which is ordained you not to abuse it but to use to the worship of God and to the avice and supportacon of us in keping of our pees and of our lawes to the which ye owe to do so moche the grett diligence that ye be oon of the commssioners of the pees in the countrees that ye dwelle inne and also stande charged oon of the lords of our Counsail in receiving of the which charge y were sworne that yf ye sholde from that tyme forth hiere of any debate betwixt lord and lord by stiring of the which the good reste and pees of this oure lande might in any wyse be letted or troubled whom soever of thaime it touched ye yf it touched you sholde be reuled by the lords of oure said Counsil and in no wyse take upon you the reule therof at yor own hande the which notwithstanding and also that in oure Parlement which is yit continued ye and all othr lords wer warned that yf any of you felt him grieved ayenste other shold putte in his grief in writing and besides this notwithstanding the straite charge and comaundement yeven unto you nowe late by oure lres of prive seal by the which ye sholde have putte you in yor devoir by all meenes possible to the cessing and putting down of thassemblees and gadering remembred in the same oure lres ye wtoute any request or complaint made to us of any grief do unto you have sith that tyme as it is saide take upon you or be disposed to take upon you contrarye to oure saide comaundement and also to oure pees and lawes to make the grettest assemblee of our liegemen and therto have appointed tyme and place that ever was made wtin this oure lande at any tyme that man can thinke the whiche yf it so be do or heraft happe to be doo by you youre ordenaunce or appointement yf any of oure liegemen be perished by the meane therof we wol that ye holde for undoubted that aswel ye as thoo that have be counsailling and helping you therin shal so be so chastised that bothe ye and thay and all othr oure subgitts shal have matier and cause to eschewe to attempte any thing like heraft.  And as toward you yf ye so have attempted ayenste oure estate and yours desving therby to be straunged from thoccupacon of the said astate that ye stand we shal in no wyse spare you in this case but rather more grievously punyssh you than we wolde do the leste persone of oure lande the which neverthelesse as oure Lord knoweth we wold be right lothe to do. Yeven tc at Westm the viij day of October.

To oure cousin therle of Salisbury

Itm semble to our cousin therle of Northumbr

The next letter is the one sent to Egremont. John Nevill hadn’t been ‘putte … to the worshippe and astate of Baron”, and the beginning of the letter to him – as the addendum suggests – was different.

Letter from the King to lord Egremont and sir John Nevill, son of the earl of Salisbury, 8 October 1453

Howe it be that not long agoo we putte you to the worshippe and astate of Baron not for any greet service that ye hadde do to us before that tyme but for the trust and trowing that we hadde of the good service that ye sholde do us in tyme comyng in esiall in keping of the rest and pees of oure lande and in letting of alle that sholde mowe be to the contrarye neverthelesse we be credibly enfourmed that ye ne use not the saide astate to the saide entente but to the contrarie deservyng therby to be straunged therfroo in espial in that that notwtstanding oure lres late addressed unto you bering date at Westm the xxvij day of Juyll last passed by the which we yave you in the straitest wyse in comaundement upon the faith and ligeance that ye owe unto us to putte downe and departe alle such assemblees and gaderings of people as at that tyme ye hadde made and arraised ayenst oure pees in comocon and trouble of our subgitts of the contree that ye dwell in and to kepe our peax like as it was conteigned in the same oure lres ye ne have in any wyse obeyed nor accomplysshed oure saide comaundement but as it appreth wel in contempt therof have multiplied and daily do gaderynggs of people of oure subgitts redy to goo to the feld as by credible reporte we have understand ye dispose you fully to doo as it were in lande of werre unto full greet hurt unease and trouble of our said contree and subgitts and of lyklyhode to destruccon and undoing therof that God forbade if it were not sette apart. Wherfore we wol and in the moost straitest wyse charge you as before that having consideracon to the nonn observance of the contynue of oure saide lres the contempt that ye be ronne in ayenst us in that behalf and the charge that may be leyde upon you therefore in tyme comyng ye in restful and peisible wyse departe such people as ye have assembled and surseesse of suche novelries as you have begonne keping oure pees and makyng it to be kept by alle yours and other as ferre as in you is and that ye faille not so to doo upon paine and forfaiteur of all that ye may forfaite unto us and upont the faith and ligeance that ye owe unto us. Yeven tc at Westm the viij day of Octobr the yere tc xxxij

To the Lord Egremond

Itm to John Nevyll knyght son to Therle of Salisbury begynnyng at notwithstanding tc

That is the end of the correspondence on the subject. Shortly after this, Henry VI suffered from his first bout of incapacitating illness and Richard, duke of York, became Protector and Defender of England and sorted it all out… at least until May 1455 and the first battle of St Albans.

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