Sir Henry Percy, VIII, Knight, 3rd Earl of Northumberland

Male 1421 - 1461  (39 years)

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  • Name Henry Percy 
    Title Sir 
    Suffix VIII, Knight, 3rd Earl of Northumberland 
    Birth 25 Jul 1421  Leconfield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3, 4
    Gender Male 
    Death 29 Mar 1461  Towton, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3, 4
    • in the Battle of Towton...
    Burial St. Denis, York, Yorkshire, England. Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Person ID I35771  The Hennessee Family
    Last Modified 25 May 2018 

    Father Sir Henry Percy, VI, Earl of Percy,   b. 3 Feb 1394, Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland, England NE66 1NQ Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 22 May 1455, St. Albans, Hertford, England Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 61 years) 
    Mother Lady Eleanor Neville, Countess of Northumberland,   b. 1397-1399, Raby, Staindrop, Durham, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 0___ 1472 (Age 73 years) 
    Marriage Aft Oct 1414  Berwick, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 6, 7, 8
    Family ID F13643  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Lady Eleanor Poynings, Countess of Northumberland,   b. Cal 1422, Northumberland, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 11 Nov 1474, (West Riding, Yorkshire, England ) Find all individuals with events at this location (Age ~ 52 years) 
    Marriage 0Jun 1435  (Northumberland, England ) Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3, 4, 9, 10
     1. Lady Margaret Percy,   b. ~ 1447, West Riding, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this locationbur. ~ 1520 (Age ~ 73 years)
     2. Henry Percy, IX, 4th Earl of Northumberland,   b. 0___ 1449, Leconfield, East Riding, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 28 Apr 1489, Topcliffe, North Riding, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location (Age ~ 40 years)
    Leconfield Castle, home to the Percy family
    Leconfield Castle, home to the Percy family

    During the Wars of the Roses the Percys supported the House of Lancaster. Following the battle of Towton in 1461 the victorious Yorkist side, led by the Earl of Warwick, marched on Spofforth, burning the castle and plundering the local countryside. The castle lay in ruins for nearly 100 years until 1559, when it was restored by Henry, Lord Percy. By this time, however, the seat of the Percys had shifted to Alnwick in Northumberland.

    Spofforth's west range, the only part of the castle still standing today...
    Family ID F13173  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 30 Apr 2023 

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBirth - 25 Jul 1421 - Leconfield, Yorkshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarriage - 0Jun 1435 - (Northumberland, England ) Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDeath - 29 Mar 1461 - Towton, Yorkshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBurial - - St. Denis, York, Yorkshire, England. Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos

  • Notes 
    • Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland, (25 July 1421 – 29 March 1461) was an English magnate.

      The Earldom of Northumberland was one of the greatest fifteenth-century landholdings in northern England; Percy also became Lord Poynings on his marriage. This title would bring him into direct conflict with the Poynings family themselves, and indeed, feuds with neighbouring nobles, both lay and ecclesiastical, would be a key occupancy of his youth.

      Percy married Eleanor Poynings, who outlived him; together they had four children. He was a leading Lancastrian during the Wars of the Roses, from which he managed to personally benefit, although his father died early in the war. He was not, however, to live to enjoy these gains, being killed at the Battle of Towton in 1461 on the defeated Lancastrian side.

      Early life and war with Scotland[

      Percy was the son of Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland, and Lady Eleanor Neville, daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, and his second wife, Joan Beaufort.[a]

      Percy was knighted in 1426 together with Henry VI.[5] He was appointed Warden of the Eastern March on the Scottish border on 1 April 1440, originally for four years, and subsequent extensions in 1444, and 1445, for the next seven years.[6] This came as well with the custody of Berwick Castle and responsibility for its defence[7] He was to hold this post until March 1461.[8] In May 1448, Percy, with his father and Sir Robert Ogle, invaded Scotland in a pre-emptive defence of the border, and burnt Dunbar and Dumfries, for which, in revenge, the Scots attacked his father's castles of Alnwick and Warkworth.[9] King Henry made his way north, and whilst at Durham sent Percy – now Lord Poynings – to raid Dumfrieshire; the sortie – "only to return with some 500 cattle" – of around 5,000 men failed, and he was captured whilst caught in a marsh following his father's defeat at the River Sark on 23 October.[10] Sir Robert Ogle was now outlawed and the king used half of his estates to compensate Poynings for the ransom he had expended arranging his release from captivity. Tensions with Scotland remained, to the extent that Poynings, his father, and other nobles were requested to stay and guard the border rather than attend Parliament, for which they were excused.[10] In summer 1451, with an Anglo-Scottish truce pending, Poynings was commissioned to treat with Scottish embassies.[5] In July 1455, he successfully prevented an assault on Berwick by the Scottish King, James II, and was congratulated by the English King as a result.[11]

      The remains of Berwick Castle today

      Feud with the Poynings

      In the late 1440s, the Yorkshire tenants of his father, the Earl of Northumberland, were in almost constant conflict with their neighbours, those of the Archbishop of York, involving armed skirmishes which Percy's brothers led.[12] These events were deemed so severe that in 1448 they led to the only progress north for the King during his reign.[9] The same year, because of a dispute over the inheritance his family received as a result of Henry Percy's marriage, the Earl of Northumberland's retainers had ejected the earl's relative, Robert Poynings, from his Sussex manors. A year later, Henry Percy – now Lord Poynings by right of his wife – took direct part, with his father, in raiding the manor of Newington Bertram in Kent, which was also enfeoffed by Robert. This attack also apparently involved cattle rustling and theft, and Robert later claimed it to be so brutal that he was "deterred from seeking a remedy at law for three years".[13]

      Feud with Nevilles

      Main article: Percy-Neville feud
      By the early 1450s, relations with a powerful neighbouring family, the Nevilles became increasingly tense, and Poyning's brother Thomas, Lord Egremont, had finally ambushed a Neville force, returning from a wedding, near Sheriff Hutton.[14] with a force of between 1,000[15] and 5,000 men.[16] Although this was a bloodless confrontation, a precedent for the use of force in this particular dispute had already been laid in the previous violence in the region.[17] By October 1453, Poynings was directly involved, with his father, brothers Egremont and Richard, and joined by Lord Clifford, in forcing a battle with John and Richard Neville at Topcliffe.[18] The feud continued into the next year, when Poyning reportedly planned on attending parliament accompanied by a large force of men in February, and three months later both he and the earl were summoned by the king to attend council in attempt to impose a peace;[5] a second letter was "written but not despatched".[19] Neither, along with John Neville or Salisbury, did as requested.[20]

      Wars of the Roses[edit]
      Main article: Wars of the Roses

      John Quartley's 19th-century depiction of the Battle of Towton
      During the Wars of the Roses, Percy followed his father in siding with the Lancastrians against the Yorkists.[21] The Earl himself died at what is generally considered to be the first battle of the wars, at St Alban's on 22 May 1455, and Poynings was elevated as third Earl of Northumberland, without having to pay relief to the Crown, due the fact that his father had died in the King's service. He in his turn "swore to uphold the Lancastrian dynasty".[5] Although a reconciliation of the leading magnates of the realm was attempted in October 1458 in London, he arrived with such a large body of men (thought to be around 1,500)[22] that the city denied him entry. The new earl and his brother Egremont were bound over ¹4,000 each to keep the peace.[23] When conflict broke out again, he attended the so-called Parliament of Devils in October 1459, which condemned as traitors those Yorkists accused of, among other offences, causing the death of his father four years before.[5] On 30 December 1460, Percy led the central "battle" or section of the victorious Lancastrian army at the Battle of Wakefield,[24] following which, the army marched south, pillaging on the road to London.[25] He fought against Warwick at the second Battle of St. Alban's on 17 February 1461, and he commanded the Lancastrian van at the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461,[26] however, "his archers were blinded by snowstorms", and he was either slain in close fighting, or died of his wounds soon after.[27] He was buried at St Denys's Church, York. He was posthumously attainted by the first parliament of the victorious Edward IV in November 1461, and his son and namesake was committed to the Tower.[5][28]

      Estates, offices and finances

      The estates of the Earls of Northumberland had traditionally been in constant use as a source of manpower and wages in defence of the border since the Percy family first gained the office the previous century.[29] The wages assigned to the third Earl were substantial: ¹2,500 yearly in time of peace, and ¹5,000 during war, as well as an annual payment for the maintenance of Berwick's upkeep (¹66 in peacetime and ¹120 in wartime). Percy often had to provide from his own resources, however, as "securing payment was not easy" from the Exchequer,[5] (for example, in 1454 he received no payments at all).[30] In July 1452 he gained a twenty-year fee-farm (¹80 yearly, from Carlisle), although he subsequently lost it in favour of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, in July 1454.[5] Throughout the 1450s, the Crown continually made efforts at paying Percy his Warden's wages and fees promptly (paying him full wartime rates for the whole of the year 1456-7, for example),[31] and since he was a loyal Lancastrian he achieved this more often than his counterpart on the west march, Salisbury, who by now had publicly aligned himself with York. The fee farm of Carlisle was returned to Percy in November 1459, following Salisbury's attainder in Coventry. He also benefited from the attainder of York, being granted an annuity of ¹66 from the latter's forfeited Wakefield Lordship in Yorkshire; he also received ¹200 from the profits of Penrith.[32]

      As a reward for his role in the Lancastrian victory at Ludford Bridge, he was made Chief Forester north of the River Trent and the Constable of Scarborough Castle on 22 December 1459 for life. He was nominated to a wide-ranging commission of oyer and terminer (from the old French, literally a commission "to hear and determine")[33] on 30 May 1460, his new rank was a tactic to deal with the treasons and insurrections in Northumberland. On 3 July, he was granted Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Cambridgeshire, all belonging to Salisbury, on a twelve-year lease.[34] After the Yorkists captured Henry VI at the Battle of Northampton in 1460, they accused Percy of having looted York's northern estates during his exile in Ireland. This charge was likely to have had some truth in it, as it was his continued pillaging of those estates, with the Lords Clifford and Dacre, that led to York marching north to Wakefield in December 1460. These incomes, however collected, would have been vital to the Earl both personally and militarily as his northern estates especially had been a victim of feudal decline for most of the first half of the fifteenth century: even on the forfeit of the earldom to the Crown in 1461, his arrears have been calculated as still standing at approximately ¹12,000.[5]


      At the arrangement of his father and Cardinal Beaufort in 1434,[5] he married on or before 25 June 1435, Eleanor Poynings (c.1422 – 11 February 1484), de jure suo jure Lady Poynings, daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Poynings of Poynings in Sussex, by his second wife, Eleanor Berkeley, daughter of Sir John Berkeley of Beverston Castle in Gloucestershire. She was heir general in 1446 to her grandfather, Robert Poynings, 4th Baron Poynings,[35] to the Lordship of Poynings, with lands across the south of England.[5] He was summoned to Parliament from 14 December 1446 to 26 May 1455, by writs directed Henrico de Percy, chivaler, domino de Ponynges. His wife was a legatee in the 1455 will of her mother, Eleanor, Countess of Arundel (widow of the thirteenth Earl of Arundel). They had one son and three daughters:[35]

      Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland (c.1449 – 28 April 1489), who married Maud Herbert, daughter of the first Earl of Pembroke.[36]
      Eleanor Percy (born 1455), who married Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.[37]
      Margaret Percy (b. c. 1447), who married Sir William Gascoigne[38]
      Elizabeth Percy (1460–1512), who married Henry Scrope, 6th Baron Scrope of Bolton.[35]
      Anne Percy (1444–1522), who married Sir Thomas Hungerford in 1460.[39]

      end of this biography [3]
    • Photos, maps and history of the Battle of Towton (28,000 killed)...

      and part of the "Wars of the Roses"...

      The red rose represented the "House of Plantagenet" ...

      The white rose represented the "Houses of Lancaster and York" ...

      Click here to view his royal DNA pedigree...

      end of note [6, 11, 12]
    • His maternal uncles included Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury . His maternal aunts included Cecily Neville , through whom he was closely related to the House of York : Edward IV of England , Margaret of York , George, Duke of Clarence and Richard III of England were all first cousins.

      In consequence of his marriage to Eleanor, Lady Poynings, Henry Percy was summoned to Parliament from 14 December 1446 to 26 May 1455, by writs directed Henrico de Percy, chivaler, domino de Ponynges. His wife was a legatee in the 1455 will of her mother, Eleanor, Countess of Arundel (widow of the thirteenth Earl of Arundel ).

      end of note [13]
    • Later Earls of Northumberland:

      Henry Percy, 5th earl (January 14,1478-May 19,1527) m. Katherine Spencer (d.1542)
      Henry Percy, 6th earl (1502-January 30,1537) m. January 1524 Mary Talbot (d. April 15,1572); title willed to the king; restored in 1557 to his nephew, son of Thomas Percy (c.1504-x. June 2,1537) and Eleanor Harbottle (1504-May 18,1566),
      Thomas Percy, 7th earl (1528-August 22,1572) m. June 12,1558 Anne Somerset (1538-October 17,1596); attainted 1571; title to his brother,
      Henry Percy, 8th earl (1532-June 21,1585) m. January 28,1562 Catherine Neville (1546-October 28,1596)
      Henry Percy, 9th earl (April 27,1564-November 5,1632) m.1594 Dorothy Devereux (1564-August 3,1619)

      end of note [14]

  • Sources