Archive:The Ancestry of John Whitney, Chapter III
Melville, Henry, A.M., LL.B., The Ancestry of John Whitney: Who, with His Wife Elinor, and Sons John, Richard, Nathaniel, Thomas, and Jonathan, Emigrated from London, England, in the Year 1635, and Settled in Watertown, Massachusetts; the First of the Name in America, and the One from Whom a Great Majority of the Whitneys Now Living in the United States AreDescended (New York, NY: The De Vinne Press, 1896).
CHAPTER III THE WHITNEYS OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY The first Whitney in Parliament, 1313. John de Wytteneye, the monk of Westminster, 1303. John de Wytteney, adviser of Edward II., 1314. Sir Eustace de Whitney, Member of Parliament, 1351-52. Sir Robert de Whitney, in retinue of Duke of Clarence, 1368; Member of three Parliaments, 1376, 1379, 1380; Sheriff of Herefordshire 1377. Sir Robert Whitney, Commissioner to negotiate treaty in Flanders, 1388; Member of Parliament, 1391; Commissioner to France, 1393 ; Knight Marshal, 1394; killed at "the capture of Edmund Mortimer," 1402. CONTEMPORARIES. Persons. Events. King Edward II. . . . . . . 1307-1327 Battle of Bannockburn . . . . . . . 1314 King Edward III. . . . . . 1327-1377 Deposition of Edward II. . . . . . 1327 King Richard II. . . . . . 1377-1399 Battle of Crecy . . . . . . . . . . 1346 Edward, the Black Prince. The Black Death . . . . . . . . . . 1349 Henry, Duke of Hereford. Battle of Poitiers . . . . . . . . 1356 Wat Tyler. First Work in English Prose . . . . 1360 Sir John Mandeville . . . . 1300-1372 Translation of the Bible . . . . . 1380 William Langland . . . . . 1332-1400 The Peasants' Revolt . . . . . . . 1381 John Wycliffe . . . . . . . 1324-1384 "Piers Plowman" . . . . . . . . . . 1381 Geoffrey Chaucer . . . . . 1346-1410 "Canterbury Tales" . . . . . . . . 1334 THE Sir Eustace who was knighted in 1306 had the honor of being the first of a long list of Whitneys to sit in Parliament. It is recorded that "Eustace de Whyteneye, Knight of the Shire, was returned for Hereford to the Parliament at West- 51
52 The Ancestry of John Whitney minster on the third Sunday in Lent, 18 March, 6 Edw. II." (1312-13).1 This session only lasted fifteen days but another, in which he was a member, was convened on the 8th of July, 1313. This was the session just preceding and prepara- tory to the second invasion of Scotland, in which, doubtless, he led his vassals on that disastrous day for English arms, June 24, 1314, at the battle of Ban- nockburn, in connection with which the name of another Whitney appears. Edward I., in preparing for the first Scotch war, had saved up the then great amount of one hundred thousand pounds. When this money, which had been deposited with the monks of Westminster, was wanted, it could not be found. To quote from Bray- ley's "Westminster Abbey":2 In the year 1303 the King's treasury, at that time some- where within the Abbey, was robbed to the amount of £100,000, which had been laid up for the service of the Scot- tish wars. The abbot and forty-eight of the monks were in consequence committed to the Tower and, notwithstand- ing their protestations of innocence, twelve of them were kept two years in prison, the depositions against them being such as caused great suspicion of their having been con- cerned in the robbery. At length, on Lady's Day, 1305, the King, who had come to Westminster to return thanks for his triumph over the Scot; gave orders for their discharge, etc. Our interest in the matter arises from the fact that one of the imprisoned monks was "John de Wytteneye."3 1 Parliamentary Writs (printed), part i, p. 84, No. 33. 2 "Westminster Abbey," by Brayley, Ed. 1818, vol. i, p. 60. 3 Rymer's Feodera, 31 Edw. I. Patent Roll, 31 Edw. I., No. 122, in Record Office, London.
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 53 The Scots, under Robert Bruce, attempted to throw off the English yoke. Edward, then an old man, started against them, but died on the way, leav- ing his son, Edward II., to carry on the war. In 1314 the latter felt himself ready, and marched north with a magnificent army of one hundred thousand men. On June 24 he met the Scotch at Bannockburn, near Stirling. Every schoolboy knows the result. The English fled, leaving thirty thousand dead upon the field. On Friday, June 28, King Edward, in his retreat, reached English soil, and sent out a sum- mons of which this is a translation:1 THE KING to his well-beloved JOHN de WYTTENEY, greeting. Because we wish to have your advice upon cer- tain arduous matters touching us and the condition of our kingdom, we command you, firmly enjoining that you be before our council at Westminster in three weeks from the day of St. John the Baptist last past, there to treat upon the premises with our council and to give true advice. And this do you in no wise omit. Witness the King at Berwick- on-Tweed, the twenty-eighth day of June. Written to the undermentioned in that manner, to wit : To William Servat Henry Norman John de Bureford William de Combermartyn Henry de Nasard Thomas Vaughan Simon de Abyngdon William de Doncastr' Thomas Beauflour John De Wakefield of Ipswich John Priour Richard Pelliparius of Spalding Robert de Callers John Chesterton of Grantham William de Bedyk John de Bliton of Lincoln Richard Stury John Tumby of St. Botolph John de Lodelowe William de Tickne of Roger de Lodelowe Northampton Thomas de la Barre de Ingebramus of Abingdon Hereford Roger de Inkepenne of Winchester. 1 Close Roll, 7 Edw. II., m. 2d, in Record Office, London.
54 The Ancestry of John Whitney In view of what had just happened it is not sur- prising that the King spoke of "arduous matters touching us and the condition of our kingdom." He had better have sought John de Wytteney's advice before instead of after the battle. There is nothing to show where this John lived. He may have been the monk of Westminster. Turning again to the Whitneys of Whitney, we find that, pursuant to a writ tested at Clipston, March 5, 9 Edward II. (1316), Sir Eustace was cer- tified as "Lord of Pencombe, Little Cowarn, and Whitney."1 As patron of Whitney he nominated, in 1345, Thomas de Whitney, and, in 1349, John Rees, and, when an old man, sat in another famous parliament, summoned to meet on the 9th day of February, 1351- 1352, which enacted the Statute of Treasons and the Statute of Provisors, the latter limiting the power of the Pope in England, both landmarks in English legislation.2 His death occurred soon after, for in 1353 Robert de Whitney was patron of the Pencombe living. This Robert, the last of the family to write his name with a "de," was apparently the first who sought and gained favor at court. In 1368 he was one of two hundred knights who went to Milan in the retinue of the Duke of Clarence on the occasion of the latter's marriage. We know this fact from the record of a power of attorney which he secured, 1 Parliamentary, etc., Writs, part ii, p. 125, No. 83. 2 Up to this time many years frequently separated the assembling of parliaments, and there had been no division into two houses. The greater barons were specially summoned, and the others were repre- sented by two of their number from each county, who were called "Knights of the Shire."
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 55 under royal sanction, in providing for the manage- ment of his affairs during his absence, as follows: French Roll, 42 Edw. III, No. 311 (date, 10 Febru- ary, 1367-68). TRANSLATION. ROBERT DE WHITENEYE, who, in the service of the King in the following of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, has set out to the parts of Melan, has the King's letters of general attorney under the names of Baldwin de Whiteneye, clerk, and Richard de Hortesleye, clerk, alternatively to gain, etc., in any whatsoever courts of England, to last for one year. These presents to be worthless if, etc. Witness the King at Westminster, the 10th day of February. The Duke was born November 29, 1338, son of King Edward III., and is best known as the patron of the poet Chaucer, who at one time was a page in his employ. By his first wife Elizabeth he had one daughter, Philippa, who married Edmund Morti- mer, third Earl of March, through whom was de- scended King Edward IV. The Duchess died in 1364. Burke, in his "Extinct Peerages" page 434, has this to say of the second marriage, in which De Whitney was interested : "King Edward concluded the terms of a marriage for his son, the Duke of Clarence, with Violanta, or Jolantis, the daughter of Galeas, or, as he was more classically called, Galea- sius, Prince of Milan, and sister to John Galeas, who subsequently became first Duke of Milan. The bar- gain, for such it was in the strictest sense of the word, was struck at Windsor, upon which occasion the wealthy and munificent Prince Galeas paid down for his daughter's dowry the sum of one hundred thou-
56 The Ancestry of John Whitney sand florins. This, however, was but a prelude to the unbounded magnificence with which he received his son-in-law and his small but chosen retinue of English nobles,1 who in number amounted to about two hundred. When the Duke married his affianced bride, the luxury of the various feasts that followed upon the nuptials, and the richness of the gifts presented by Galeas to the bridegroom and his followers, were such as fairly to confound the imagination. The whole scene, as described by Paulus Jovius, is only to be paralleled by the wild dreamings of some eastern story. At one banquet, when the celebrated Petrarch was present, thirty courses succeeded each other, all composed of the choicest viands that the earth or sea could supply, and, between each course, as many rare gifts were brought in by Galeas himself and pre- sented by him to Clarence. "But not five months after the Duke of Clarence, not regarding his change of air and addicting him- self to immoderate feasting, spent and consumed with a lingering disease, departed this world at Alba Pompeia, called also Longuevil, in the Marquisate of Montserrat, in Piedmont, on the vigil of St. Luke 1 "Peers and Baronets, and Landed Gentlemen, entitled to heredi- tary Arms, form the Nobility of this country. For it must be remem- bered that Nobility, a larger word than Peerage, is not exclusively confined to titled families; and that a well-born Gentleman without title has his own inherent nobility as truly as the Earl or Marquess al- though he cannot pretend to the same rank or illustration." "In former times the untitled Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ire- land were eligible to match with the daughters, sisters, and nieces of Kings; they were admissible into the most illustrious brotherhoods of Chivalry, gave Knights to the Rolls of tile Templars, were among the founders of the most noble Order of the Garter, and have constantly represented their Sovereign at foreign Courts."-- Burke, Introduction to " History of the Landed Gentry."
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 57 the Evangelist, viz., the 17th day of October, anno 1368. "The Duke was first buried in the city of Pavia, but was afterwards brought over to England by Thomas Narbonne and others of the retinue who had accom- panied him in his nuptial expedition." De Whitney returned to England, possibly with impaired digestion, and lived to enjoy many honors. He is mentioned as a patron of Whitney in 1373, and as a member of Parliament three times, in sessions beginning as follows : January 27, 1376-77 ; April 24, 1379; January 16, 1379-80.1 During the latter years of his reign Edward III. became enfeebled in mind and body, and the gov- ernment was managed almost entirely by the great barons of the Royal Council. This usurpation dis- pleased the barons of lower rank, answering to what would now be called the "Commons," who had begun to claim a more active influence in the work of leg- islation. A crisis came in 1376, when, assembled in what is known as "The Good Parliament," the lat- ter embodied their grievances in one hundred and sixty petitions. Their demands were supported by the heir apparent, Edward, the Black Prince, but opposed by his brother, John O'Gaunt, Duke of Lan- caster. While the former lived, advancement was made and legislation secured providing for annual sessions, the discontinuance of arbitrary taxation, the resistance of Papal encroachments, the protec- tion of trade, and the free election of the Knights 1 "Return of Members of Parliament," printed for House of Com- mons, 1878. For the understanding of these dates, it is necessary to remember that then, and long after, the year began on March 25 instead of January 1, as at present.
58 The Ancestry of John Whitney of the Shire. The right of Parliament to impeach the King's Ministers was also for the first time rec- ognized. The death of Prince Edward, however, not only checked these reforms, but caused much of the ground to be lost. The parliaments of 1379-80, packed in the interest of the great barons, were anything but "good," and, among other iniquitous measures, enacted the poll tax that led to Wat Tyler's rebellion. This Robert also was the first Whitney, so far as is known, who became sheriff of Herefordshire, then the greatest local distinction to which a man could attain.1 There may have been others before him, but the records, prior to about this date, have not been preserved. We derive our information from "The History of the Worthies of England," by Thomas Fuller, 1662, where his name is mentioned as sheriff in the first year of Richard II. (1377), and there is the additional interesting information that his arms were: "Az, a cross checky or and Gules." It will be noted that these are the same that the family bore through- out the rest of its history. Next came another Sir Robert,2 whose life, though 1 "The word Sheriff, expressed in the Latin language by Vice Comes, clearly points to the origin of the office. The Saxon Earl (Comes) en- joyed very considerable authority in his particular province, and hence a county was called comitatus. The original appointment of the Sheriff appears, therefore, to have been that of an Assistant or Deputy to the Earl in the discharge of his duties. They had anciently both the ad- ministration of justice and the management of the King's revenue com- mitted to them in their respective counties ; and when an Earldom was made an honor of a more personal nature, the provincial authority was vested in the Sheriff alone." Duncumb, vol. i, p. 139. 2 Both the Whitneys must have been well acquainted with Geoffrey Chaucer, who was high in favor at court under Edward III. and Rich- ard II., and quite likely they heard from him the "Canterbury" and other tales, and swapped for them some fairly good stories of their own.
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 59 cut off in its prime, was most eventful A courtier like his father before him, he stood high in the con- fidence of that unfortunate monarch, Richard II., who first knighted him and afterwards appointed him to several offices of high honor. The first record we find, dated the 20th of May, 11 Richard II. (1388), is his commission, with other min- isters plenipotentiary, to negotiate a treaty with the Count of Flanders. It may be thus translated: French Roll, 11 Richard II. (Roll No. 332), m. 6. TRANSLATION. Of treating with the Count of Flanders and others. The King, to all those who shall see or hear these letters, greet- ing. Know ye that we, fully trusting in the loyalty and shrewdness of our beloved and faithful William de Beau- champ, Captain of Caleys, our cousin, John de Say, Baron of Wemme, Esmond de la Pole, Robert De Witteneye, Knights, Master Richard Rouhale, Doctor of Laws, Roger Walden, Treasurer of Caleys, Henry Vanner, Thomas Neuton, John Gleucuant, Thomas Beaupeny, John Newerk and John Ultyng, have ordained, constituted, deputed and established them and do ordain, constitute, depute and establish them of our certain knowledge by these our pres- ent letters, our true and special messengers, commissaries and deputies, for the deed of treaty, and we have given and do give by these presents to the same, our messengers, commissaries and deputies eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven and six of them, special and general authority, power and order, as well for us as for all our subjects, kingdoms, lands, countries and places on this side and over the sea, to assemble, treat and speak together with the Count of Flan- ders, and the good people of three good towns of Flanders, Ghent, Bruges and Ypre, and those of Frye and all others having interest or sufficient power to treat for the country
60 The Ancestry of John Whitney of Flanders or with their special messengers, deputies, pro- curers and commissaries, having from them sufficient order, jointly and severally, and to make, take, accord and re- ceive a truce and suspension of arms for us and our sub- jects and our country with the said Count of Flanders, the people of the three good towns aforesaid and those of Frye and the country of Flanders, jointly and severally, for a term which can be agreed between them. And upon what- ever shall be treated, spoken, transacted, composed, pacified and agreed for us and our part to contract and give cau- tions, obligations, sureties and promises the best they know or can devise, the which we desire shall have such effect, vigor and force as if we in our own person had given and made them, and to make, take and accord all good peace and agreement, and also all manner of liege alliances, hon- est and reasonable friendships and confederacies with the said Count and the gentlemen of the three good towns, those of Frye and all the country of Flanders abovesaid, jointly and severally, perpetual or temporary, in the best way that they can be made, ordained and devised in that part, and to take upon this all the best cautions, obligations and sureties they know or can devise, and to make, execute, expedite and accomplish for us and our part all whatso- ever affair and matter that shall in such case upon all and every of the articles aforesaid with the dependencies inci- dent, emergent and connected suppose--which special order shall be required. And we promise loyally and in good faith to have and to hold always firm and agreeable and to accom- plish and perfect whatever shall be treated, spoken, ac- corded; pacified, composed, ordained, devised or done by our said messengers, commissaries and deputies eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven or six of them upon all and each of the matters aforesaid. And to ratify, agree and approve all the matters aforesaid, and each of them and their dependencies which thus shall be accorded upon caution and obligation of all our goods, present and future, without ever doing or suffering, as much as in us lies, anything to be done at any time to time contrary. Given by testimony of our great seal
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 61 at our Palace of Westminster the 20th day of May, the year of grace one thousand three hundred eighty and eight and the eleventh of our reign. By the King at his Council. On his return he became a member of the parliament that met November 3, 1391, and in 1393 had another foreign mission, of which the following is a record: French Roll, 17 Richard II., Roll No.338 (date, 27 October, 1393.) TRANSLATION. THE KING to his beloved and trusty Knight SIR ROB- ERT WHITENEY and to his beloved clerk John Melton, greeting.--Know ye, whereas lately by a certain treaty be- tween us and the Noble Prince Charles, late King of Navarre, deceased, made by procurators having on behalf of each side sufficient power for this purpose, the castle and town of Chirburgh in Normandy were delivered to us to remain in our hand for a certain time in the said treaty specified, which time ended, by virtue of the treaty aforesaid, we were held and are held under certain forms and conditions in the same treaty contained to restore entirely to the aforesaid King of Navarre or his deputies for himself and in his name the castle and town aforesaid. And afterwards thereupon our dearest uncles John, Duke of Aquitaine, then King of Castile and Leon, Duke of Lancaster and Steward of Eng- . land, Edmund, Duke of York, then Earl of Cambridge, and Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, then Earl of Buckingham and Constable of England, Edmund, Earl of March, Richard, Earl of Arundel, Thomas, Earl of Warwick, Hugh, Earl of Stafford, William, Earl of Salisbury, and other grandees of our kingdom by their letters sealed under their seals by their free will and assent were bound and sworn, upon the holy gospel of God, and under pain that in any places what- soever they might be considered perjured and untrust- worthy, that they would promptly and entirely render and
62 The Ancestry of John Whitney restore the said castle and town to the aforesaid King of Navarre, or to those whom he in his life or his testament should ordain, ceasing any excuses, fraud and evil intent in form and condition aforesaid. And, whereas, thus it may be that by the name of the magnificent. and powerful Prince Charles, by the grace of God now King of Navarre as well, as the eldest son and heir of the said late King of Navarre, as by pretext of a certain clause contained in the will of the aforesaid Charles, the late King of Navarre, the tenor of which follows hereunder : "Also we ordain and will that our cousins the King of England and his uncles, and the others bound to us for the restitution of our castle and town of Chirburgh, be held to render, restore and deliver our said castle and town to Charles our heir and eldest son when- ever that they shall be summoned and required on the be- half of our said son." The procurators of the same, now King of Navarre, having sufficient power under the great seal of the same now King of Navarre, have requested us and our said uncles and the others bound aforesaid to make restitution of the castle and town aforesaid, themselves offering to fill up in the name of the now King of Navarre the prompt conditions contained in the said treaty. We, considering the great faithfulness which always was found in our progenitors, and desiring that as much faithfulness should be found in our person against all whomsoever, at the frequent instance and supplication of our said uncles and of the aforesaid Earl of Arundel and Warwick and of many of the "obligors" aforesaid, we have granted and promised in saving of the honor of us and of our said uncles and of other the earls and two of the obligors afore- said, that the said castle and town shall be delivered to the aforesaid King of Navarre or to his procurers as quickly as it can be done conveniently. We have assigned you and either of you to ask and in our name to receive the castle and town aforesaid out of the hand of our beloved and trusty Knight John Golafre, keeper of the same, or his lieutenant there, and also victualling of the castle and town aforesaid to the value of 1,000 marks, together with artillery there
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 63 according to the effect of a certain indenture thereof made between us and the aforesaid John Golafre by indentures due to be made between you or either of you and the afore- said John Golafre or his lieutenant, testifying those things which the same John Golafre or his lieutenant so to you will deliver. We have assigned also you and either of you to deliver in exoneration of us and of the said obligors the castle and town aforesaid to Charles de Beaumont, Alferiz de Navarre, Martin de la Carre, Marshal of Navarre, and to Peter Arnaud de Garro, knights proctors of the said now King of Navarre, or to any of them, for and in the name of the same King into their hand and possession without ob- jection remaining, and to sell to the same proctors or to any of them, for their money promptly to be paid, the victuals and artillery aforesaid or parcel of the same as between you and the proctors aforesaid can be reasonably agreed, or otherwise to determine for them in the best way you know how for our convenience. Moreover, we give to the aforesaid keeper as well as to all and singular the soldiers of the castle and town aforesaid, and to other our trusty lieges and subjects there by the tenor of these presents firmly in command, that you and either of you, in the premises to be done and executing, shall be ready and intendant in all as it beseems. We will, indeed, that you and either of you, for the delivery of the castle and town aforesaid in form aforesaid, be dis- charged against us and our heirs in every way. In witness whereof, etc., witness the King at Westminster, the 27th day of October. By writ of privy seal. French Roll, 17 Richard II., Roll No. 338 m. 14. (date, 29 October, 1393). TRANSLATION. OF PROTECTION. The King's beloved and faithful knight, SIR ROBERT WHITENEY, who has departed to the parts across the seas
64 The Ancestry of John Whitney in the King's service, there to tarry upon certain the King's affairs, has letters of protection of the King with "clausula volumus," to last until the feast of the Nativity of our Lord next to fellow, these presents, etc. Witness the King at Westminster, the 29th day of October. By bill of privy seal. In 1394 we find that Sir Robert held, at the court of the King, the office of "Knight Marshal," regard- ing which a word of explanation is necessary. At coronations and all royal pageants, one of the most prominent personages was the "Earl Marshal" of England. Aside from thus making a show of his gorgeous apparel his duties were nominal. The "Knight Marshal" was his deputy, and not only formed part of the spectacular features of impor- tant ceremonial occasions, but had practical employ- ment as well. He was most of the time in atten- dance at court, where he dined at the King's table,1 and consequently came to be commonly known as "Marshal, of the Household," and was superinten- dent of the palace police and royal body guard.2 Again he was sent out of England on public busi- ness, this time to Ireland, but the nature of his er- rand does not appear. The fact is known from the following record of a letter of protection under his seal, which was given to one of his subordinates : Welsh Records, Chester Recognizance Rolls. Roll No. 67 from 20 July, 18 Richard II., to the feast of St. Michael following. Mem. 1, entry 4 (1394). 1 "The Marshal shall have a Knight under him, bearing a white rod and sworn to keep the King's Counsel. The Knight shall dine and sup in the King's Hall," etc. Harleian Manuscript in British Museum, No. 6064. "The Order and Office of the Marshal of England." 2 "The Book of the Court," by William J. Thorns, London, 1864.
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 65 TRANSLATION. PROTECTION OF RICHARD DE WYSTANSTON. RICHARD, by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, to all his bailiffs and faithful subjects to whom these present letters shall have come) greeting. Know ye that we have taken into our protection and defense Richard de Wystanston, who has departed in our service in the company of our beloved and trusty SIR ROBERT WHYTENEY, Knight Marshal, of our house- hold, towards the land of Ireland--his men, lands, goods, rents, and all the possessions of the same Richard, and, therefore, we do command you that you maintain, protect and defend the said Richard, his men, lands, goods, rents, and all the possessions of the said Richard. Not doing to them nor allowing to be done any injury, violence, damage or harm. And if anything shall be forfeited from them that you do cause them to be amended to him without delay. In witness whereof, these our letters we have caused to be made patent, to last for one year, sealed with the seal of our exchequer of Chester. We will also that the same Richard meanwhile may be quit of all pleas and quarrels, except pleas "de dote unde nihil habet," and "quare im- pedit," and "assises of novel disseisin" and "last presenta- tion" and "attaints," and except pleas which might happen to be summoned before our judges itinerant in their journeys. These presents to be worthless if it befell the same Richard not to take that journey, or afterwards that he returned into England from the parts aforesaid within that term. Given at Chester, the 27th day of July, in the l8th year of our reign. By bill of the seal of ROBERT WHYTENEY, Knight Marshal, of the King's household. As "Marshal," Whitney also, doubtless, was master of ceremonies upon an occasion that changed the course of English history.
66 The Ancestry of John Whitney The royal family, and the relationship of each member to King Richard, can be seen at a glance from the following diagram : KING EDWARD III. _______________|_____________________ | | | | EDWARD, LIONEL, JOHN O'GAUNT, EDMUND, the Black Duke of Duke of Duke of Prince. Clarence. Lancaster. York. | | | RICHARD II. PHILIPPA, HENRY mar. Duke of Hereford, Edmund afterwards Mortimer. King Henry IV. | ________|_________ | | ROGER MORTIMER, SIR EDMUND Earl of March, MORTIMER (at died 1398. battle of Pilleth). | EDMUND MORTIMER, Earl of March, heir pre- sumptive to the crown after Richard II. In 1389 Richard had suddenly shaken off the re- straints of his council, announced himself of age, and taken possession of the government. For eight years he ruled in accordance with constitutional forms, appointed good men to office, and in general was prosperous; but in 1397 this policy was sharply re- versed. Having secured peace with France, he con- ceived the idea of making himself absolute, and of governing without regard to the consent of the gov- erned. One after another the men of influence op- posed to him were cast into prison, and a packed parliament voted their condemnation, repealed all the reform measures, and vested all the legislative power for the future in a committee made up of twelve
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 67 peers and six commoners, all creatures of the King. He then proceeded to levy taxes without regard to right or usage, and, even by force, compelled wealthy men to put their seals to blank promises to pay, which the King could fill up with any sum he pleased. Finally he had killed, imprisoned, or exiled all the men he feared except two--his cousin, Henry Boling- broke, Duke of Hereford, and Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk and Earl of Nottingham. As it happened, these quarreled, and, after the custom of the times, challenged each other to mortal combat before the King. Shakespeare describes the event and represents the "Lord Marshal" as playing a con- spicuous part. This was probably the Knight Mar- shal Whitney, for such duties were appropriate to his office. But, the question may be asked, on such a great occasion, may not the Earl Marshal have taken part? The Earl Marshal certainly was present, but in the capacity of one of the contestants, for up to this time in Richard's reign that office was held by Thomas Mowbray.1 Turning now to the pages of Shakespeare, in the play of Richard II., act i, scene iii, it is interesting to read the spirited lines, inserting Whitney in place of "Marshal" whenever that word appears : SCENE III.--Open space near Coventry. (Lists set out and a throne. Heralds, etc., attending.) (Enter the Lord Marshal and Aumerle.) Marshal. My Lord Aumerle, is Harry Hereford arm'd? Aumerle. Yea, at all points; and longs to enter in. 1 "The Book of the Court," by Wm. J. Thoms, under title "Earl Marshal." See also Burke's " Extinct Peerage," p. 386.
68 The Ancestry of John Whitney Marshal. The Duke of Norfolk, sprightfully and bold, Stays but the summons of the appellant's trumpet. Aumerle. Why, then, the champions are prepared, and stay For nothing but his majesty's approach. (Flourish of trumpets. Enter King Richard, who takes his seat on his throne; Gaunt, and several noblemen, who take their places. A trumpet is sounded, and answered by another trumpet within. Then enter Norfolk, in armor, preceded by a herald.) King Richard. Marshal, demand of yonder champion The cause of his arrival here in arms: Ask him his name ; and orderly proceed To swear him in the justice of his cause. Marshal. In God's name and the King's, say who thou art, And why then com'st thus knightly clad in arms; Against what man thou com'st, and what thy quarrel: Speak truly, on thy knighthood, and thine oath; As so defend thee heaven, and thy valor! Norfolk. My name is Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, Who hither come engaged by my oath. (Which heaven defend a knight should violate!) Both to defend my loyalty and truth To God, my king, and my succeeding issue, Against the Duke of Hereford that appeals me; And, by the grace of God, and this mine arm, To prove him, in defending of myself, A traitor to my God, my king, and me; And, as I truly fight, defend me heaven! (He takes his seat. Trumpet sounds. Enter Bolingbroke, in armor, preceded by a herald.) King Richard. Marshal, ask yonder knight in arms, Both who he is, and why he cometh hither Thus plated in habiliments of war; And formally according to our law Depose him in the justice of his cause. Marshal. What is thy name? and wherefore com'st thou hither,
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 69 Before King Richard, in his royal lists? Against whom com'st thou? and what 's thy quarrel? Speak like a true knight, so defend thee heaven! Bolingbroke. Harry of Hereford, Lancaster and Derby, Am I; who ready here do stand in arms, To prove by heaven's grace, and my body's valor, In lists, on Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, That he is a traitor, foul and dangerous, To God of heaven, King Richard and to me; And, as I truly fight, defend me heaven! Marshal. On pain of death, no person be so bold, Or daring-hardy, as to touch the lists, Except the marshal, and such officers Appointed to direct these fair designs. Bolingbroke. Lord Marshal, let me kiss my sovereign's hand, And bow my knee before his majesty; For Mowbray and myself are like two men That vow a long and weary pilgrimage; Then let us take a ceremonious leave And loving farewell of our several friends. Marshal. The appellant in all duty greets your highness, And craves to kiss your hand, and take his leave. King Richard. We will descend and fold him in our arms. Cousin of Hereford, as thy cause is right, So be thy fortune in this royal fight! Farewell, my blood; which if to-day thou shed, Lament we may, but not revenge thee dead. Bolingbroke. O, let no noble eye profane a tear For me, if I be gored with Mowbray's spear: As confident as is the falcon's flight Against a bird, do I with Mowbray fight. (To Lord Marshal.) My loving lord, I take my leave of you; Of you, my noble cousin, Lord Aumerle:-- Not sick, although I have to do with death, But lusty, young, and cheerly drawing breath. Lo, as at English feasts, so I regreet The daintiest last, to make the end most sweet:
70 The Ancestry of John Whitney (To Gaunt.) O thou, the earthly author of my blood, Whose youthful spirit, in me regenerate, Doth with a twofold vigor lift me up To reach at victory above my head,-- Add proof unto mine armor with thy prayers ; And with thy blessings steel my lance's point, That it may enter Mowbray's waxen coat, And furbish new the name of John of Gaunt, Even in the lusty havior of his son. Gaunt. Heaven in thy good cause make thee prosperous! Be swift like lightning in the execution; And let thy blows, doubly redoubled, Fail like amazing thunder on the casque Of thy adverse pernicious enemy: Rouse up thy youthful blood, be valiant and live. Bolingbroke. Mine innocency, and Saint George to thrive. (He takes his seat.) Norfolk. (Rising.) However heaven, or fortune, cast my lot, There lives, or dies, true to King Richard's throne, A loyal, just, and upright gentleman: Never did captive with a freer heart Cast off his chains of bondage, and embrace His golden uncontroll'd enfranchisement, More than my dancing soul doth celebrate This feast of battle with mine adversary. Most mighty liege, and my companion peers, Take from my mouth the wish of happy years: As gentle and as jocund, as to jest, Go I to fight: truth hath a quiet breast. King Richard. Farewell, my lord: securely I espy Virtue with valor couched in thine eye. Order the trial, marshal, and begin. (The King and the lords return to their seats.) Marshal. Harry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby, Receive thy lance ; and God defend the right!
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 71 Bolingbroke. (Rising.) Strong as a tower in hope, l cry-- amen. Marshal. (To an officer.) Go bear this lance to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk. First Herald. Harry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby, Stands here for God, his sovereign, and himself, On pain to be found false and recreant, To prove the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray, A traitor to his God, his king, and him, And dares him to set forward to the fight. Second Herald. Here standeth Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, On pain to be found false and recreant, Both to defend himself, and to approve Henry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby, To God, his sovereign, and to him disloyal ; Courageously, and with a free desire, Attending but the signal to begin. Marshal. Sound, trumpets; and set forward, combatants. (A charge sounded.) Stay, the King hath thrown his warder down. King Richard. Let them lay by their helmets and their spears, And both return back to their chairs again: Withdraw with us: and let the trumpets sound, While we return these dukes what we decree. (A long flourish.) (To the combatants.) Draw near, And list, what with our council we have done. For that our kingdom's earth should not be soiled With that dear blood which it bath fostered; And for our eyes do hate the dire aspect Of civil wounds plough'd up with neighbors' swords; And for we think the eagle-winged pride Of sky-aspiring and ambitious thoughts,
72 The Ancestry of John Whitney With rival-hating envy, set on you To wake our peace, which in our country's cradle Draws the sweet infant breath of gentle sleep; Which so roused up with boisterous untuned drums, With harsh-resounding trumpets' dreadful bray, And grating shock of wrathful iron arms, Might from our quiet confines fright fair peace, And make us wade even in our kindred's blood;-- Therefore, we banish you our territories: You, cousin Hereford, upon pain of death, Till twice five summers have enrich'd our fields, Shall not regreet our fair dominions, But tread the stranger paths of banishment. Bolingbroke. Your will be done; this must my com- fort be, That sun, that warms you here, shall shine on me . And those his golden beams, to you here lent, Shall point on me, and gild my banishment. Bolingbroke left England; carrying with him the hearts of the men of Herefordshire, who, after this, were all anxious for a chance to overthrow Richard. The Earl of Hereford was reputed then In England the most valiant gentleman; . . . . all the country in a general voice Cried hate upon him; and all their prayers and love Were set on Hereford, whom they doted on, And blessed and graced indeed more than the king.1 The opportunity for revolt soon came. The ban- ished Duke returned. They flocked to his standard, seized Bristol Castle, and a little later aided in com- pletely routing the royal forces. In 1399, as Henry IV., their favorite became king of England. 1 "King Henry IV.," part ii, act iv.
Whitneys of the Fourteenth Century 73 The fourteen years of his reign were one succes- sion of plots, rebellions, and civil wars. The Whit- neys were, however, loyal throughout; at what ex- pense, the record quoted below well shows. The Welsh rose in arms under Owen Glendower. Edmund Mortimer, uncle to the young earl of the same name, who, by descent, had a better right than Henry to the throne (see pedigree), led a force from the Marches into Wales, and, as was charged, treach- erously betrayed them to their enemies, causing their massacre almost to a man. The battle took place at Pilleth, in Radnorshire, on June 12, 1402, and was a hand-to-hand conflict, bloody in the extreme. The English who fell, though outnumbered and without a leader, resisted to the last, and sold their lives dearly. Probably most of the families in the Marches and western Herefordshire were represented there by nearly all their ablebodied men, and a sad day it must have been in Whitney Castle when-- . . . all athwart there came A post from Wales loaden with heavy news; Whose worst was, that the noble Mortimer, Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight Against the irregular and wild Glendower, Was by the rude hands of that Welshman taken, And a thousand of his people butchered; Upon whose dead corpses there was such misuse, Such beastly, shameless transformation By those Welshwomen done, as may not be Without much shame re-told or spoken of.1 Sir Robert Whitney, his younger brother, and most of his relatives were among those who perished. 1 "King Henry IV.," part i, act i.
Copyright © 2004, 2006, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group