A new era opens upon Coningsborough
In virtue of the settlement already recited, the four private parties named in it being dead, the inheritance of the earl of Warren´s lands lying north of Trent came to the crown. On the 6th of August 1347, only seven and thirty days after the death of the earl, a royal patent was signed at Reading, the king being then in France, by which all the northern possessions 0f the deceased earl were settled on Edmund of Langley, a younger son of the king, and the heirs male of his body, with remainder to John of Gaunt and Lionel of Antwerp, and their heirs male respectively, remainder to the Crown
This grant was confirmed in parliament. But Edmund not being more than six years of age, his mother, queen Philippa, was allowed to receive the profits for the education of this and her other younger children.
The ultra-Trent estates of the Warrens formed a valuable part of the endowment on Edmund. There were two castles upon them both fit for princely residence, this of Coningsborough, the ancient seat of the family, and another at Sandal near Wakefield of later construction, and which is said to have been built by the last earl when carrying on his intrigues with Alice; of Lancaster. There were feudal rights extending over a large tract of country, and the chace of Hatfield, a valuable dependence upon Coningsborough, would be in peculiar esteem with such a man as Edmund, affording as it did unrivalled opportunities for enjoying the sports of the field. Hardyng has drawn mther an agreeable picture of this lord of Coningsborough.
That Edmond hight of Langley, of good chere,
Glad and mery, and of his own ay lyved
Without wronge, as chronicles have breved.
When all the lordes to coucnell and to parlyament
Went, he wolde to hunte and also to hawkeyng,
All gentyll disporte, as to a lorde appent,
He used aye, and to the pore supportyng
Where ever he was, in any place bidyng
Without surpryse, or any extorcyon
Of the porayle, or any oppressyon.
His name appears less frequently than those of s his brothers in the public affairs of the reigns of Edward and Richard; but he did not lead an in-active life. He was for some time in the wars of the Black Prince in the south of France. In the reign of Richard II he was opposed to the favourite of the king, and he had the dangerous post of lieutenant of England, when his nephew Henry Bolinbroke returned in arms, and tl1e king was absent in Ireland. He saw Henry ascend the throne rather with acquiescence than approbation, and he survived the change about two years, dying in 1401.
He had been created by his father earl of Cambridge, but in the 9th year of Richard II he was advanced to the illustrious title of duke of York.
There was given to him in marriage one of the two daughters and coheirs of Peter surnamed the Cruel king of Castile and Leon, the other being married to John of Gaunt his brother, who in her right claimed that kingdom. This lady appears to have lived principally in England after her marriage, and sometimes at Coningsborough; for there was born her second son, Richard, who enjoyed the title of earl of Cambridge. She died before her husband, and was interred at Fotheringhay, where duke Edmund was also buried.
After her decease he married a daughter of Thomas Holland earl of Kent, who was half-brother to King Richard II., and grandson to Edmund of Woodst0ck. She outlived the duke, and married after his decease three husbands in succession, the lord Willoughby of Eresby, the lord Scrope, and the lord Vescy. She was living as late as the 12th year of Henry VI.
All his issue were by his first marriage with the princess of Castile. She produced him two sons and a daughter. One of the most signal triumphs of Vincent over Brooke is in respect of this daughter. Brooke had stated that she married, first, Thomas Spencer earl of Gloucester, and, secondly, Thomas Holland earl of Kent. Vincent shows that these two earls were concerned in the same conspiracy, and both executed nearly at the same time; an that Brooke´s mistake arose from a supposed contract with Edmund Holland, brother of Thomas, to whom she bore a daughter, married to the lord Audley, whose legitimacy was solemnly questioned in parliament, and finally disallowed. Edward, the elder of the two sons of Edmund, became after his father´s death duke of York, but he is better known in our history by another title, duke of Aumerle, Albemarle. While his younger brother, who had married into the family of Mortimer, was beginning to think of advancing the pretensions of that family to the crown, this Edward adhered closely to the house of Lancaster, and was much trusted by them. He accompanied Henry V in his great expedition to France, and lost his life at the battle of Agincourt. Leland informs us that he was not slain by the enemy, but that, being very corpulent, he was pressed to death in a crowd of his own people. This duke founded a college at Fotheringhay, and to provide for the endowment of it he enfeoffed the bishop of Winchester and others in Coningsborough and its dependencies. He left a widow, Philippe Mohun, daughter of the lord Mohun of Dunster, from whose will, dated in I430, it appears that she held the castle of Coningsborough and the manors of Hatfield and Sowerby in dower. There was no issue.
Richard of Coningsborough, as he was usually called after the fashion of the Plantagenet´s naming themselves from the places of their birth, was the younger of the two sons of Edmund of Langley.
He is usually called earl of Cambridge. He married Anne Mortimer, the daughter of Roger earl of March, son of Edmund earl of March, and Philippa, the daughter and heir to Lionel duke of Clarence. This marriage brought the claim to the crown to the house of York, for her brother Edmund Mortimer, the last of the Mortimer´s earls of March, died without leaving issue, but not till after the death of Anne, so that she is not in strict propriety called the heiress of Lionel duke of Clarence. In her issue, however, the rights of Lionel inhered entire.
Whatever the elder brother might do, Richard appears not to have been insensible to the wrong which was done to the house of Mortimer by the accession of Henry IV to the throne. A little before King Henry left England to prosecute his war in France, this Richard was engaged in a real or supposed conspiracy. His act of attainder gives rather a different view of his objects from that which is to be found in our common histories. The treason alleged in it was, conspiring to lead his brother-in-law Edmund earl of March to the borders of Wales, and there proclaim him king; and countenancing the imposture of Thomas de Trumpington, de Scotia ideotam, who personated King Richard II. The whole act is curious, and the reader may peruse after it with pleasure the scene at Southampton so powerfully drawn by Shakespeare in the first part of King Henry V. The earl of Cambridge was beheaded in 3 Henry V.
This earl could have no views upon the crown himself, for his wife Anne Mortimer was dead, and Edmund earl of March was living and did actually live through the whole reign of Henry V., and till the third year of his successor. He was also married. But at his death he had no issue, so that his nephew Richard, son of Richard of Coningsborough and Anne Mortimer, was his undoubted heir, and the equally undoubted heir to the rights of Lionel´s posterity. A long period elapsed before he ventured to assert them.
Richard of Coningsborough, after the death of Anne Mortimer, married a second wife, who survived him; so that there were three dowagers in this branch of the royal house of England living at the same period. This lady was Maud Clifford, a daughter of Thomas lord Clifford, the favourite of King Richard II., and sister to John lord Clifford slain at the siege of Meaux. This lady in her long widowhood, for she lived till the year 1446, resided much at Coningsborough and in the neighbourhood, and had many transactions with the families around. She married, after the earl´s death, John Nevil lord Latimer 1
She must have held the castle of Coningsborough in dower, for in a charter among the evidences belonging to the estate of West Bretton, she uses the style, ” datum apud castrum nostrum de Cunnesburgh;” and begins in the regal style, “sciant presentes et futuri quod nos Matildis comitissa Cantibrig dimisimus,” etc. This occurs in a charter of hers, dated 3 October l430, by which she conveys to Richard Wentworth the moiety of the manor of West Bretton, which she held by the gift and feoffment of Agnes, late the wife of John Wentworth, of North Elmsal, esq. and Richard Flynthill. She makes John Dowebyggyng and John Tapeton her attornies to deliver possession. The witnesses were sir John Melton, sir Thomas Savile, sir Robert Wateiton, knights; Thomas Clarel, Ralph Mackerell, John Bosevile, Robert Rockley, John Harrington, and Thomas Cromwell, esquires. The deed has unfortunately lost its seal. (She had taken the said half manor by charter dated the Saturday next before the feast of Philip and James, 8 Henry VI., from sir John Melton, Thomas Clarel the elder, Thomas Clarel the younger, and Richard Flynthill, who had held it jointly with William Kynwoldemerche, late treasurer of England, and others, deceased, of the feoffment of Agnes Wentworth.
These deeds shew that she was intimately connected with that branch of the family of Wentworth which about this time acquired the Bretton estate; but they are far from proving what the old heralds have asserted, that she became the wife of Richard Wentworth, and that from her descended the succeeding Wentworths of that line.
Her last will is entered in archbishop Kemp´s register. It was made at the monastery of Roche,at a time when she was near her end, a trait of antient manners which I do not remember to have seen noticed before} But with the religious of that house, which is only a few miles from Coningsborough, she was closely connected; her family, the Clifford´s, being accounted founders, that is, the representatives of the original founder. She directed that she should be buried there, in the chapel of the blessed virgin Mary, before the image of the same, in the south part of the said monastery, and a stone of alabaster to be laid over her grave. She gives to her niece Beatrix Waterton a gold cross; to her cousin Thomas Lord Clifford a bed; to her godson filiolus, John Clifford, twelve silver dishes; to Alice Bolton, who was the wife of John Bolton, citizen and alderman of York, £20 to the marriage of one of her daughters; to Richard Fairfax 100 shillings to the repair of her house at Braithwell, which he is to have for life, and at his death to be disposed of for the good of her soul. She mentions also her god-daughter Matilda, and her cousin Alice countess of Salisbury. She names as executors William Scargill, Edmund Fitzwilliam, and William Stafford rector of Hooton Roberts.
In a codicil she gives her collar of gold to her niece Joan lady Clifford, and ,£10 to her niece dame Beatrix `Waterton; and she adds another executor, Thomas Wentworth or Thomas Wombwell, for Dodsworth’s notes of this will here are at variance.2
The will was dated on the feast of the Assumption 1446, and it was proved on 4th September in the same year. The feast of the Assumption is the 15th of August. She died on the 26th, as we learn from an entry in a missal which belonged to the family of Fitz William of Aldwark, one of whom as we see was an executor. The John Clifford to whom the countess of Cambridge had been godmother was the “black-faced Clifford, “the mortal enemy of the house of York. He was the son of her nephew Thomas lord Clifford; and there is reason to believe that he was born in the castle of Coningsborough. Dr. Whitaker has shewn that the feast of his mother´s purification was kept at Coningsborough, and that the family of Clifford spent much of the year in which he was born at that place.3 The dark chambers of Coningsborough were no unsuitable birth-place for a man who could embrue his hands in the blood of the earl of Rutland, a mere stripling in arms} It is possible that the violent animosity of the Clifford´s towards the house of York might be excited or enhanced by family circumstances. There is negative evidence in the will of the countess of Cambridge that there was no cordiality between her and her step-son, the duke of York; for she takes no notice of him in it, nor of his wife, who was nearly related to her own second husband, nor of his children, several of whom were born, and on whom the affections of all the friends of the house of York must at that time have been fixed with a deep and powerful interest. Richard of Coningsborough left by Anne Mortimer a daughter from whom descended the family of Devereux, and a son who bore his name.
Richard duke of York entered into possession of Coningsborough in 1446, on the death of the Countess of Cambridge. He had been some time married to Cecily Nevil, a daughter of the earl of Westmorland, and she had produced him offspring, one or two of which were born at Hatfield, a dependence on Coningsborough. The stimulations of the ambitious family of Nevil, the weakness of the rule of Henry, and his own love of power, did not suffer this duke to forget the right which had descended to him from his mother, and he gave indications of his aspiring disposition before his conduct ceased to be equivocal. The issue of the struggle is well known. The lords of the party of Lancaster were laying waste his lands in Yorkshires when he hastened to Sandal, which appears to have been a favourite residence. The battle of Wakefield ensued, in which he lost his life.
The spirit and the object of the father descended to his son the earl of March. In the year after his father´s death was fought the great battle of Towton, in which the fortunes of the house of York prevailed, and the earl became seated on the throne as King Edward IV.
The lords of Coningsborough thus became kings of England, and the place once more in fact as in name the Kings-borough. While the princes of the house of York held possession of the throne, Coningsborough was kept as a private fief. In this the example was followed of the house of Lancaster. When Henry IV took possession of the crown, he did not annex Pontefract, and other members of his dukedom to the crown, knowing how much better founded was his title to the one than to the other. For the administration of the revenue arising from Coningsborough a receiver was appointed with proper officers under him. When, by the marriage of Henry VII with Elizabeth of York, the ancient rivalry of the white and the red rose became extinguished, and there was no probability of the right of succession of the issue being questioned, the whole of what had been settled on Edmund of Langley was declared to be resumed, and for ever annexed to the crown. This was done in parliament, 11, Henry VII.
1 It might be however that she lay sick at her own castle of Coningsborough, and that the will was drawn up at the abbey
2 compare vol. XCIX. fi *261, with cxxv. E 124.
3 Hist. of Craven, p. 242, &c.
4 He was not however that mere child which he is sometimes represented, for he was born on 17 May 1443, and the battle in which he fell was fought on 29 Dec. 1460. See Will. of Worc.