Reginald Lord Grey of Ruthin’s principal residence of Wrest Park near Silsoe. He held manors all across Northants including Castle Ashby, and had properties in the town. In May 1437, Sir John Cornwall married to Henry IV’s sister is created Lord Fanhope in 1432, and began to build a new castle at Ampthill in Bedfordshire, less than five miles away from Wrest Park. In January 1439, violence flared between the two in Bedford when they met at a commission of the peace at the shire hall. Fanhope claimed that Grey had brought 800 men armed to the teeth, from his estates in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. In 1442, violence flared up again in Bedford and Northampton where the common bell was rang. The king had to send a letter commanding the burgesses of Northampton to suppress all riotous assemblies on 6 July. 12 July 1443, Grey was commanded to keep the peace with the people of Northampton. John Claypole parson of Wotton complained that Sir Henry Bylock kept him out of the church, laid in wait to slay him with the help of Ruthin

In 1450, William Tresham was  indicted for treason in the aftermath of Jack Cade’s rebellion in Kent, but before any sort of commission could take place he was murdered by Lord Grey of Ruthin’s men at Thorpland Close, Moulton reputedly on his way to meet Richard of York.

1452. Richard of York launches a rebellion from Ludlow. King Henry sends an army north. They stop at Northampton however, Richard slips past but is tricked into surrendering at Dartford. 

10 July 1460.  Northampton 1460

Battle of Northampton A3 contrast
The Yorkist Guns at Northampton by Matthew Ryan

Siege of Thorpe Waterville

31 March 1461, only two days after the battle of Towton, William Lee, a joiner was instructed to find carriages and labourers called ‘carters’, horses and oxen for three cannon or great bombards to lay siege to the castle at Thorpe Waterville, three miles from Thrapston in Northamptonshire. Although it is not recorded who was inside the castle, the manor of Thorpe Waterville was held by Henry Holland, the Duke of Exeter at the time. On 1st April, Edward ordered John Wenlock (who had laid siege to London, a few months earlier) to summon the gentry of Northampton, Bedford, Buckingham, Cambridge and Huntington to assist him in taking the castle. There are no further details of the siege, but considering the need for the cannons and summonsing of the gentry, it must have been substantial. In addition, when John Leland passed through the village during the late 1530’s, he noted the ruins of the outer wall of the castle, probably destroyed during the fighting. The great hall of the castle still survives today and for many years was used as a barn. It is now part of Thorpe Castle House.

26 July 1469Edgecote 1469

Richard III

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Richard was born at Fotheringhay in Northants and lived in the castle until he was around eight. After 12 years of relative peace Edward dies in the small hours of 9 April 1483, aged 40. On 24 April, Anthony Woodville and the new King leave Ludlow for London. Party includes Sir Richard Grey, Sir Thomas Vaughan and 2000 men.

Richard, who by this time was Duke of Gloucester, leaves York with 600 ‘gentlemen of the north. The two groups are supposed to meet at Northampton. The Woodvilles continue to Stony Stratford. Anthony returns Northampton to meet Richard. On night of 29 April they meet. Richard is joined by Buckingham and 300 men. In the morning Anthony is arrested. Richard goes to Stony Stratford. Arrests Grey and Vaughan, takes control of the King. It was the begining of his run for the throne. 

After Richard III was enthroned, William Catesby of  Ashby St. Ledger, was one of King Richard’s closest advisors. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and as Speaker of the House of Commons during the Parliament of 1484, in which he sat as knight of the shire for Northamptonshire. He also received a substantial grant of land from the king, enough to make him richer than most knights. He fought alongside Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field and was captured. He was executed three days later at Leicester. His daughter Elizabeth married Roger Wake.

Catesby is immortalised as the Catte in the contemporary ditty written by Colingbourne “The Catte, the Ratte and Lovell our dogge rulyth all Englande under a hogge.” Also in the ditty is another man who grew up with Richard – Lord Francis Lovell and is family seat was also in Northants at Titmarsh . 

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