Monday, 1 January 2018

The Cat, the Rat and Lovell, our Dog: Part two**. 'The Ratte' - Sir Richard Ratcliffe.

The Ratcliffe Arms

Sir Richard Ratcliffe, otherwise spelled Radcliffe, was a younger son of Sir Thomas Radcliffe, who in his turn was younger son of the Clitheroe branch of the Radcliffes of Radcliffe Tower, Lancashire, and himself became Lord of Derwentwater and Keswick, through marriage.
Richard's mother was Margaret, daughter of Sir William Parr of Kendal, grandfather of Catherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII. 

The family pedigree makes him the second son of his parents, and his brother Edward, who ultimately succeeded to the Derwentwater estates, the third. There must, however, be some mistake here, for Radcliffe's son stated in parliament in 1495 that his father had two elder brothers, both of whom were living in that year. It is not impossible that Edward and Richard were twins and the exact order of their birth unknown.

Ratcliffe is said by Davies to have married Agnes Scrope, daughter of John, Lord Scrope (d. 1498) of Bolton in Wensleydale. The only child given to him in Nicolson and Burn's pedigree of him is a son, another Richard, but a correspondent of 'Notes and Queries' (1st ser. x. 164) asserts, without quoting his source, that 'Radcliffe's daughter Joan married Henry Grubb of North Mimms, Hertfordshire, and was heiress to her brother, Sir John  Radcliffe.' 

Richard Ratcliffe's maternal grandfather was well known at court as Comptroller of the Household to Edward IV and this explains the friendship and intimacy of Richard Ratcliffe and Richard of Gloucester. Both he and his uncle, John Parr, were knighted by the king on the field of Tewkesbury, and Gloucester made him a knight-banneret during the siege of Berwick in August 1482.

The following year, 1483, Gloucester, sent Radcliffe to summon his Yorkshire friends to his assistance, just before seizing the throne. Leaving London shortly after 11 June 1483, he presented the Protector's letters to the magistrates of York on the 15th, and by the 24th he had reached Pontefract on his way south with a force estimated at five thousand men. On that day Earl Rivers, Sir Richard Grey, son of the queen-dowager, Sir Thomas Vaughan, and Sir Richard Haute were brought to Pontefract from their different northern prisons and executed there on the 25th by Radcliffe. 

According to the well-informed Croyland chronicler they were allowed no form of trial, though the statement of Rous that the Earl of Northumberland was their principal judge may imply a formal sentence by a commission. As High Constable of England, however, if these executions were done under Richard of Gloucester's orders, no trial was actually necessary.

Richard rewarded Ratcliffe handsomely, He was made a Knight of the Garter, Knight of the Body to the King (10 Aug. 1484), and High Sheriff of Westmoreland for life. Besides the advantageous stewardship of Wakefield, estates to the yearly value of over £650 were given to him.These grants were only exceeded in amount by those made to the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Northumberland, and Lord Stanley. 

Ratcliffe and William Catesby, who did not benefit anywhere near so richly, were reputed to be Richard's most confidential counsellors, 'quorum sententiis vix unquam rex ipse ausus fuit resistere;' and this, as was mentioned in last month's blog on The Catte, found popular expression in the satirical couplet which cost its author, William Collingbourne, his life:

The catte, the ratte, and Lovell our dogge
Rulyth all Englande under a hogge.
The 'catte' and the 'ratte' wasted no time telling their master  in the spring of 1485 that he must publicly disavow a rumour that was going round idea about him marrying his niece, Elizabeth of York, or even the loyal Yorkshiremen  would think that he had had his wife, Anne - nee Nevill-  removed to make way for an incestuous marriage. 

They found twelve doctors of theology to testify that the pope had no power of dispensation where the relationship was so close. Their opposition, to which Richard yielded, was perhaps a little too forceful to be wholly disinterested, and they are often thought to have entertained a fear that if Elizabeth became queen she would some day take revenge upon them for the death of her uncle Rivers and her half-brother, Richard Grey. If this is true, it raises the question of whether they were behind the executions, rather than the king.

Shortly after this (22 April), as head of a commission to treat with Scotland, Radcliffe received a safe-conduct from King James, but is thought to have been prevented from going by the news of Richmond's contemplated invasion. At any rate, he fought at Bosworth Field on 21 Aug., and was there slain. He was attainted in Henry VII's first parliament, but the attainder was removed on the petition of his son Richard in 1495.

**Next month Lovell oure dogge is in the spotlight.

Whitaker: History of Richmondshire
Davies: Ramsay, Lancaster and York
John Rous
Paston Letters
Croyland Chronicle

© Diana Milne 3/12/17

No comments:

Post a Comment