The de Lancasters of Howgill (Milburn), Rydal, Glencoyne, and Deepdale

all in Westmorland (now in Cumbria)

This webpage contains notes which are constantly being updated, not as finished work, but as on-going work. It is one of several related webpages, especially:

The family which is the subject of this webpage is almost entirely unknown outside of four well-known generations, generations 3 to 6 below, John, William, William, John. Generations 1 and 2 below are the results of research undertaken to resolve conflicting accounts about the origins of generation 3.

I also published a short article in 2007 on the origins of this family in Foundations, the Journal of the Foundation of Medieval Genealogy 2 (4) . It was entitled "The de Lancasters of Westmorland: Lesser-Known Branches, and the Origin of the de Lancasters of Howgill". Many assumptions had been made in the past which were apparently unjustified. The family has apparently always been noticed by antiquarians, but not quite enough to deserve a critical eye.

On the other hand, be careful not to assume that the below information is all proven to a highly convincing level! Please contact me if you have questions, advice, or if you wish to use this as a source for your own research.


Generation 1


Walter de Lancaster

Certainly adult by 1235, and perhaps much earlier. Probably dead by 1277. In my opinion this man is most likely a son or a grandson of one of the two illegitimate sons of William de Lancastre II, Baron on Kendal, Gilbert or Jordan.

The father of Robert de Lancaster (below) is known to have been named Walter de Lancaster because he is named in 1277 and 1292 records concerning Robert (see below). From the 1277 document (or Ragg's report of it) we know furthermore that Walter became a tenant of Sir Roger de Lancaster of Rydal.

A Walter de Lancaster appears in a charter held by Fountains in York, made at Lancaster by Gilbert son of Roger Fitz Reinfrid. But it is estimated to have been made 1209-1212, so this might be too early for the Walter we are seeking. But it is possible.

In the so called Testa de Nevill, for 1235, only 11 landlords are named for Kendal Barony of Westmorland (which I believe would have included Barton and Morland at this time), and only 1 (John de Veteriponte) for the Appleby Barony (the original Westmorland, before it was merged with Kendal). The 11 include several Lancasters, and surprisingly to me, one is Walter. I add notes about the extractions Farrer and Curwen made from the Testa de Nevill, although I am not sure of where all these extra details can be checked, or are they educated guesses?


In about 1241-42, a Walterus de Lancastria appears in the Pipe Rolls for Westmorland, along with Thomas de Lother (Louther?), apparently as pledges for 20 shillings for one John son of Gamel?

Because Robert son of Walter was a tenant of Lord Roger de Lancaster, it seems reasonable to conclude that Walter is the same one mentioned in 1246, when William de Lancaster III, Baron of Kendal died.

Upon his death bed William is said to have granted his brother Roger de Lancastre the following...

200 acres of land of his demesne in Patterdale worth 4l. yearly, and of one Mill worth 60s., and of herbage and pannage worth 14s. yearly, and of the farm of free tenants to the value of 18s. 10d.

The said Roger has the service of Gilbert de Lancastre, [this is clearly Gilbert of Sockbridge] ] who holds by knight's service by the tenth part of one knight's fee.

And the service of Walter de Lancastre, who holds by knight's service, by the tenth part of one knight's fee. [Compare to the 20th which he held within Kendal, apparently in that case not under William III?]

Also the said Roger de Lancastre of the whole forest of Westmorland, except Fusedale and Swartfell, and the head of Martindale, which the said Roger held before of ancient feoffment.

The said earlier enfeoffment of Fusedale, Swartfell, and the head of Martindale also still exists, and is reproduced by Ragg (Charter VII), along with several latter documents concerning disputes over the details between Roger and the heir of Gilbert. Can we assume from all this that Walter de Lancaster possessed land in Patterdale? Gilbert de Lancastre of Sockbridge possessed Hartsop in Patterdale, but also a moiety of Sockbridge. More specifically, in a 1256 concord signed between Roger and Gilbert, Gilbert is said to have 1/20 of a knight's fee in Hartsop under Roger and it seems the 1/10 mentioned in 1246 must include other land. (Ragg apparently reads the 1246 inquisition to say that the the 1/10 must be entirely outside Patterdale, and therefore presumes to refer to in Sockbridge.) I suppose it could be suggested that fees are at least likely to be in the parish of Barton. 

Anyway, obvious and connected question to consider is whether Walter already possessed Deepdale, the particular dale of Patterdale that his family owned later. (Grisedale and Glencoyne were dales which Roger and his son John de Lancaster possessed, while Hartsop and its dales was possessed by the Lancasters of Sockbridge already since the late 1100s. I am not sure who held Glenridding in the middle ages, but I have come to think it was generally referred to only as part of the manor of Patterdale itself, because normally in combination with the lower ground near the shore of Ullswater. It may was probably owned by Roger de Lancastre of Rydal amongst the 200 acres he is said to have had in Patterdale. I think that this was part of what was passed by his son John on to Robert Parvyng? Eventually it came into the hands of a Threlkeld family it seems.) In later generations Deepdale was listed as a property held of descendents of William de Lancaster III, and so it may well be the tenth of a knight's fee held under William de Lancastre III in 1246.

It would seem reasonable to suggest that Walter might be close kin to Gilbert, and a member of the Sockbridge family of Lancasters, because their founder, an earlier Gilbert de Lancaster, had been granted Hartsop in Patterdale in the previous century. For example, Walter might even be a younger son of the first Gilbert de Lancaster, and thus a younger brother or half brother to the second Gilbert. On the other hand he could be a cousin. The first Gilbert had a brother Jordan. Might Jordan have inherited some smaller part of Barton, or at least lands somewhere in Westmorland? Two Lancastres who were sons of a Jordan, named Gilbert and Roger, appear to have been alive until the mid 1200s in Great Strickland, a part of Morland.

Would Walter's 20th part in Kendal have counted within the 10th that he held under William III, that was passed down to his brother Roger? Probably not, because that 20th must have been held of the king directly for it to have been listed that way. 

Perhaps connected, a William, son of Thomas, son of Walter de Lancaster was a plaintiff in Lancaster in 1292. Might Thomas have been a brother of Robert? When Gilbert the son of Jordan de Lancaster died in Strickland (I do not know which Strickland) in 1256, the two men who had to come to an agreement about it where a Thomas de Lancaster and a Ralf de Shireburn alias Schypton.

Possibly too late, but a Walter de Loncastre, I think a vicar, is mentioned in Westmorland assize roll 987, for the year 1292. With him is Laurence of Appleby and they are responding to Robert of Walton, who I think is a Yorkshireman, apparently concerning a debt.


For reasons explained below, it seems clear that Walter passed on some sort of claim on Milburn Grange to his son, and that he died while his son Robert was underage. This would seem to make him a likely relative of the de Stutevilles. It is therefore interesting to note that the wife of William de Lancaster II, Baron of Kendal, was a Stuteville, and she seems to have recognized the rights granted to William's illegitimate sons, Gilbert and Jordan. While the Sockbridge Lancasters clearly descend from this Gilbert, fewer records exist for Jordan, but there is one showing that he apparently had a position at the important castle of Knaresburgh in Yorkshire, a seat of her family and also for a while of her new husband, the famous Hugh de Morville. As noted above, the first mention we have of a Walter de Lancastre so far is in York.


Generation 2


Robert de Lancaster

The father of the first John de Lancaster of Howgill was Robert de Lancaster, although some transcriptions of old documents name him as Roger.


I propose that the first clear and recognizable mention of John de Lancaster of Howgill is in the patent rolls of 24 Dec 1314, when John son of Robert de Lancastre of Holegille (which was a common spelling for Howgill) was pardoned for the murder of John de Helton. Can it be any coincidence that a John, son of Robert de Lancaster, had already been to court, about 1312, in Helton under the Lyth, concerning a claim that he had disseised William de Helton of a parcel of land (Assize Roll 993)? And in 1292 Robert de Lancaster, together with Richard de Musgrave, was summoned on a charge of infringing the rights of one John de Helton in Murton. Robert was actually imprisoned, but Richard paid a fine to get himself and his men released.

This Lancaster family, with it's seeming feud against the Heltons, was known to Ragg even though he did not connect to Howgill, and he suggests that Robert was an important freeholder under Richard de Musgrave in Murton. In 1300, Robert acted as a legal representative in the defence of Christiana de Musgrave in a case brought by Hugh de Lowther concerning rents in Killington and Great Musgrave (which Hugh won). (Concerning Killington, the above mentioned Thomas de Lancastre of Kendal Barony had been a witness to the granting of this manor by Peter de Brus to William de Pickering, about 1260.)

Robert de Lancastre was apparently not only interested in lands in Murton and Helton. In 1292, the same year he first appears in an action of Richard Musgrave, Robert de Lancaster, here named as a son of Walter, was involved in a case concerning Milburn (the parish which contains Howgill Castle) in 1292 (Assize Roll 987). Specifically, he claimed that Robert de Veteripont had handed over 10 acres of land in Milneburne to Shap Abbey while he was under age, and in the custody of Veteriponte due to his father's death. From the relevant records it can be determined that the land involved was Milburn Grange, next to Howgill Castle. Nicolson and Burn say that Veteripont had purchased the land from Nicholas Stuteville, but there seems to have been some possible disagreement about whether he had the right to. Curwen writes, concerning the little chapel of St Cuthbert there:

Robert de Veteripont granted Milburn Grange to Shap Abbey for the purpose of establishing this chantry, the abbot and convent were to find a chaplain and pay him a salary of £4 a year out of the revenues of the Grange.
John son of Roger [
sic] de Lancaster by his will, dated 13 January, 1353–4, desired that his body should be buried "in capella Sci Cuthberti de Milnebourne" and left a legacy to pay for a priest who should sing masses for his soul.

I have also noticed that in the post mortem inquest of William de Lyndsey, dated 10 Nov 10 Edward I (1281/2) a Robert de Lancastre is mentioned as a freeholder under Lyndsey in Witherslack and Barton. This is in contrast to Roger de Lancastre in Bannisdale, in the same inquest, who must be the one from Sockbridge.

He also had a connection to the Sockbridge Lancasters, it seems, because in 1291 Ragg seems to say that Robert the son of Walter was one of the sureties for Isabella de Lancaster's payment to keep custody of her underage son Gilbert, after the death of Roger de Lancaster of Sockbridge.

The earliest sighting Ragg claims for this Robert was in 6 Edward I (1277) concerning the question of services claimed by Robert's overlord, Sir Roger de Lancaster of Rydal. That would be an interesting record to investigate.


Generation 3.


John de Lancaster of Holgill or Howgill.

This is the most well known starting point for the tree. His parentage is almost always reported confidently in varying wrong ways. His having inherited lands from John de Lancaster of Grisedale has misled most authorities who were aware of him. Indeed, a whole web of reasoning gives the following theory, which is very common, but I believe incorrect:

  1. John de Lancaster of Howgill took over Rydal and Loughrigg from the better known Sir John de Lancaster of Grisedale, Stanstead, etc, after his death. (Other properties went to other people.)

  2. Sir John de Lancaster of Grisedale certainly had a brother Roger, whom he left the use of some property for his lifetime only. This clause implies that Roger either had no heirs himself to be looked after, or that they were taken care of in some other way. (In the event Roger died ten years before his brother John, and no heir is known for sure. (John de Lancaster of Rainhill is sometimes also said to be a son.)

  3. Therefore John of Howgill is said to be Roger's son, and the nephew and heir of the earlier and very well-known John de Lancaster.

However:

  1. Ragg, in his 1910 De Lancaster article pointed out that it remains strange that none of the many documents surrounding the death of Sir John de Lancaster and his wife Annora mention anything about who is heir. Ragg presumed that John of Howgill must have been illegitimate. One old source I have found does seem to treat the evidence carefully and describes John of Howgill as one heir "by virtue of gift" of Baron John and his wife Annora.

  2. Indeed we can go further and say that the documents do not show any different treatment of John of Howgill than any of the other people who were taking over the divided possessions of Sir John. (Ranulph de Dacre got the site of the manor of Barton; Michael son of Robert de Haverington was to get Witherslack and lands in Ulverston and the Furness fells; and various others received possessions in Durham, Northumberland, Cambridgeshire and Essex.) Apparently the antiquarian Dugdale even came to the conclusion that John of Grisedale's heir was Richard de Plais.

  3. Apparently, the documents which are said to mention John of Howgill's father being a Roger, for example in the Patent Rolls of 8 Edward III, according to the transcription of John F. Curwen, actually said "Robert". The main Roger reference I have not been able to cross check in some way is the seeming will of John de Lancaster of Howgill in 1353/4. In the only transcription I know, by Ferguson, he is described as Johannes filius Rogerii quondam de Lancastre. An example case I have noticed more recently shows how evidence needs to be checked: in the transcriptions of protection letters for men participating in the war with Scotland, there is one John called a son of Roger (C71/7, m.3, April 24 1314 but this list of men shows two Johns, and so this might be a son of Roger Lancaster of Sockbridge for example), and once a son of Robert (C71/7, m.7, Oct 24 1314), but this one specifically mentioning that he is of Holegill.

In contrast, William Farrer realized that the father of John de Lancaster of Howgill was Robert, and claimed to have found evidence for him as yet another brother of John de Lancastre of Grisedale. Ironically however, this was itself a misreading, this time reading "Robert" for "Roger" in a record concerning Barton and Witherslake. This was clearly Lord Roger de Lancaster of Rydal, the father of Sir John de Lancaster of Grisedale and Stanstead (see other webpage).

Ragg (p.425) says John was in the campaign against Scotland under Andrew de Harcla in 1314, and I have mentioned above how such records mention his father being Robert. There are also other records for Johns who might be him. He was also called upon to muster men for war in 1324 in Aquitaine/Gascony. He and Walter de Strickland were sworne in as arrayers at the ports in 1324/25. He represented Westmorland in Parliament in 1327 and performed many other functions. He was assigned as a justice of the peace in 1332 (Edward III, vol. 2, p. 292 and Edward III, vol. 2, p. 286).
At Westminster on March 21, 1332 he was appointed as one of 4 keepers of the county of Westmorland, "pursuant to the statute made in the present Parliament, to arrest all disturbers of the king's peace therein and to hear and determine the trespasses whereof they are indicted".
In the 1330s he was commissioned as part of a group of men trying to fix the boundaries of Westmorland. (See 1, 2, 3, 4) And he also received other commissions.
It is not known how John acquired Howgill castle, but as mentioned above, it may somehow be through his own paternal line.
As mentioned above, John acquired Rydal and Loughrigg from his namesake, the son of Roger de Lancaster of Rydal, John de Lancaster of Grisedale. These were important because they were held directly from the king. He also appears to have received Glencoyne, a valley near Grisedal, because this was held by Roger de Lancaster of Rydal at his death in 1291, and is later named as a possession of the Lancasters of Howgill on several occasions. The family also held Deepdale, another valley in that area. The Calendar of Close Rolls also mentions tenements in Hutton Roof
He acquired Skirwith, just over the county border in Cumberland, from the de Daventre family, though the transaction was heavily questioned. See document ref. no. WD RY/BOX 92/37 and further citations in Ragg.

m. Elizabeth (surname unknown), widow of William de Ros of Kendal, who died approx 1310. 

In 1318, "Robert de Gylpyn, who was accused of the death of John de Coupeland, died before conviction, seised of 2 messuages, 19½ a. land and 3 a. meadow in Helsington, held of John de Lancastre and Elizabeth his wife, as of her dower of the inheritance of William de Ros; Richard de Gylpyn, his brother, is next heir and prays for restoration of the tenements; Cal. Inq., vi, 125."


Generation 4.


Richard de Lancaster. He was involved in the acquisition of Skirwith with his father, but is otherwise unknown. Later Skirwith belonged to his brother's family. Perhaps he died young, or childless, or maybe could he have been a younger son who held Skirwith only for his lifetime?

William de Lancaster. d. 6 Oct 1361. (Will made after 8 Sept 1361. Proved 3 Nov 1361.) Inq. Post Mort. exists. Lands included Skirwith, Rydal, Hogill and Milburn (under Roger de Clifford) plus tenements in Deepdale. In 33 Edward III (1359/60) William appears to have been appointed as sheriff of Cumberland for two years.
m. Aline de Gernet of Caton. Died about 1370. Inquisition is summarised by Ragg (1910 p.485). She had at that time 1/3 of Rydal, Depedale, and the manors of Holgill, Milburn and Skirwith.

From the Victoria History of Lancaster, for Caton:

In 1329 Joan widow of Roger de Caton claimed a piece of land against William Wither, Mary his wife (apparently the widow of Thomas), William son of John de Lancaster, Aline his wife, Agnes daughter of Thomas de Caton and others; Assize R. 427, m. 2 d. In the same year the Prior of Lancaster recovered the third part of Caton Mill against those named; De Banco R. 279, m. 175 d.; 280, m. 279 d.
Two years later John de Culwen and Agnes his wife obtained a moiety of twothirds of the manor against William son of Sir John de Lancaster of Howgill (Holegil) and Aline his wife; Assize R. 1404, m. 25. The Abbot of Cockersand in 1334–6 claimed 9 acres against the same William, Aline, John and Agnes; De Banco R. 300, m. 144 d.; 307, m. 90.
In 1346 John de Culwen and William de Lancaster, in right of their wives, held two plough-lands in Caton by 20s. a year and the pasture of Littledale by 6s. 8d.; Survey of 1346 (Chet. Soc.), 72. Agnes afterwards married John Swainson of Ellel, and in 1355–6 they with William de Lancaster and Aline his wife claimed the manor of Caton against Edmund de Prescot and John de Lancaster, who alleged a grant from Joan widow of Roger son of John de Caton; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 4, m. 8 d., 29. The plaintiffs in this case were defendants in 1360, when Robert Pert of Strickland and Margaret his wife, daughter and heir of Roger de Caton and Joan, claimed certain land in Caton; ibid. 7, m. 5; 8, m. 8.


Generation 5.


Sir William de Lancaster. Born at Caton, Lancashire on the Monday before Michaelmas in 18 Edward III, and was 17 and unmarried when his father died. To Ireland in 1360s. He was only just 21 in 1365, and his age needed to be proved (Inquisitio exists). He was 26 or more in 1370 after his mother died. Sheriff of Westmorland approximately 1378-1387. Steward of the King's lands in Penrith and Sowerby in Cumberland 1382. d. 1398.
Paid 3s. 4d. rent for the right to fish in Rothmer, 1390-1394.
As per Ragg, he died 1398 "possessed of half the manor of Caton, and half Littledale and Priest Hutton in Lancashire; of the manor of Rydal, and lands in Depedale and Glencoin; of the manors of Milnburne and Holgill, and of parts of Kirkbythore." Skirwith is part of Cumberland and would have been in a different inquisition. Or did his uncle Richard, or an heir, survive and keep it?
It is interesting to note who he held his lands from as this would indicate something about how they came into the family:-

I understand based on the records of his son John that Rydal was held directly of the king.

m. Christiana. Held dowe, until she died in 1406, of half Caton, half Priest Hutton and probably other tenements outside of Lancashire.


Knock Shalcock in Long Marton does not yet appear to belong to this family.


Generation 6.


William de Lancaster of Yanwath
William in 1394 in Skirwith.
Pardoned for murder 1394.
The patent rolls mention, 8 January 1394, at Westminster. "Pardon to William de Lancastre, son of William de Lancastre, knight, for the death of Nicholas Dobson, killed at Schallyng in Skirwith on Wednesday the feast of St. Barnabas in the fifteenth year." Steve Hissem seems right to say that this does not look like the act of the 50-year old elder William. (Steve also mentions a death date of 1407, but I am not sure of the source.)
William of Yanwath whose sons were John and Christopher
:
...after the death of John (below) two of the heirs in line to inherit were John and Christopher, sons of William de Lancaster of Yanwith. Yanwath had been the only part of Barton parish which was not held in their peak of power by the de Lancasters. It had gone from Greystoke who held it of Clifford, to the Threlkelds and Lancasters. In 1408, William de Lancaster of Yanwath was granted a market there. Around about the same time, according to Ragg (
De Lancaster), he must have married Elizabeth de Threlkeld, who (in his de Threlkeld) he claims to have been the sister of Margaret who married John de Lancaster below - thus making it more likely that the William involved is the brother of this John. William and John could be just a relatives through marriage and surname, but...
In 6th Henry VI (1426/7) when John of Howgill's line ended, the Lancaster part of Yanwath went entirely to the Threlkelds, implying that John had taken over William's part, and that John and William were closely connected (p.100 of The Border Antiquities of England and Scotland, 1814, by Walter Scott, Luke Clennell, and John Greig).
(Also note that there was a William in Eamont Bridge, part of the same manor as Yanwath, in 1476 and 1477. See www.rainbeaux.net/sandfordhistory/SandfordsofWestmorland.doc although he was perhaps a member of the nearby Sockbridge family.)
There is perhaps an alternative explanation about William of Yanwath. Could he be a son of Lord John who died early? See below for more discussion of William, but the problem with this idea is that John de Lancaster seems to have married at a similar time to William, and they married sisters. It would require John to have had an earlier wife at a very young age, and then having re-married perhaps as much as 3 times more.
The History of Parliament website on the other hand asserts that William of Yanwath is a brother, and although they do not explain their sources in detail they seem to have access to more than I do. For example they say that "in October 1399, John and his brother, William, acted as mainpernors for their influential neighbour, Sir Richard Redmayne*, who was then involved in a dispute with the archdeacon of Richmond".


Robert de Lancaster, brother of John below. Known for sure only because his son William is mentioned in records concerning John. However, in a PRO document probably after 1413, William Louther (Lowther), esquire, master forester of Inglewood forest "and the other foresters of Inglewood forest request that John and Robert de Lancaster, William de Beaulieu, John and Roland de Cliburn and William de Lancaster be ordered to come before the council and answer concerning their hunting of the King's game in the forest". A 1436 "Lay Subsidy Roll" names Robert de Lancaster, as one of two Lancasters in that list. He only just squeezed in with 100 shillings value. The History of Parliament website says that he served as a member for Carlisle in March 1416, and that his wife's name was Christine. It also says that "it is worth noting that when he offered sureties at the Exchequer on behalf of Thomas, Lord Dacre, during the course of the session, he was specifically described as living in Westmorland" and...

Despite his important connexions, Robert played little part in local affairs. He attended the parliamentary election for Westmorland in 1425 and that for Cumberland in 1429, but otherwise little is known of his activities. He evidently did not survive long enough to become involved in the feuds and bloodshed which followed his sister-in-law’s strenuous attempts to retain her late husband’s property.

He seems to appear as a witness in a Durham cathedral document relating to Carlisle, f.273r-v 5 December 1441, showing that he was still alive at this time. Or was this a separate man who was a cleric that became Bishop of Asaph in 1411? Or might Robert the brother of John himself have become a cleric?


John de Lancaster b. before 1369. Was 30 or older when his father died in 1399. d. about 1433. See below.

To start with a quote about first sighting from the history of parliament website:

John was about 28 years old when he first entered Parliament, in January 1397, by which date he had perhaps already married Sir William Threlkeld’s daughter, Margaret. She and her sister (who became the wife of John’s younger brother, William) were then heirs presumptive to all the Threlkeld estates, and the double marriage was clearly planned by Sir William Lancaster as a means of extending his family’s influence as far as Cumberland. A few days after the end of the parliamentary session John stood surety at the Exchequer for his neighbour, the CW 306 Gift 1432 - Hugh Louthere of Ascome grants all lands etc he holds in Westmorland to Roger Lancastre of Sokbred and Christopher Lancastre his brother.CW 306 Gift 1432 - Hugh Louthere of Ascome grants all lands etc he holds in Westmorland to Roger Lancastre of Sokbred and Christopher Lancastre his brother.CW 306 Gift 1432 - Hugh Louthere of Ascome grants all lands etc he holds in Westmorland to Roger Lancastre of Sokbred and Christopher Lancastre his brother.CW 306 Gift 1432 - Hugh Louthere of Ascome grants all lands etc he holds in Westmorland to Roger Lancastre of Sokbred and Christopher Lancastre his brother.CW 306 Gift 1432 - Hugh Louthere of Ascome grants all lands etc he holds in Westmorland to Roger Lancastre of Sokbred and Christopher Lancastre his brother.CW 306 Gift 1432 - Hugh Louthere of Ascome grants all lands etc he holds in Westmorland to Roger Lancastre of Sokbred and Christopher Lancastre his brother.abbot of Cockersand, as farmer of the alien priory of Lancaster. In the following year he and his father both deemed it expedient to sue out royal letters of pardon, John’s being awarded in September 1398, at the same time as a papal indult according him and his wife plenary remission of sins at the hour of death. If he thus hoped to avoid earthly as well as divine punishment for his part in the ‘divers dissensions’ resulting from his vendetta with Sir John Beetham’s* family he was doomed to disappointment, as in November following orders went out for his arrest along with Richard Duckett* and all the other local gentry responsible for ‘unlawful assemblies, consequent murders, insurrections and riots in breach of the peace’. These incidents had no lasting effect on John’s career, however, and did not even prevent his appointment as deputy sheriff of Westmorland while he was still threatened with detention. He succeeded his father in the following January, although it was not until May 1399 that he obtained formal seisin of his inheritance. Dower was then assigned to his mother, Christine, who died in 1406, leaving him in possession of all the family estates.

I think it is reasonable to suggest that as a young man he had some military duties, because around 1385 a John Lancastre "squire" started receiving protection letters, including two which indicate he was stationed at Berwick for two years starting in 1388. In 1398 John, along with Richard Duckett, and other members of the local landed gentry, were mentioned in records concerning a "violent feud" against several members of the Beetham family who had some years earlier also been involved in a vendetta against the abbot of Shap (See 1, 2, 3, 4). As the History of Parliament website describes it "In November 1398 orders went out for their arrest and imprisonment, but, so far as we can tell, nothing much was done to punish their ‘unlawful assemblies, consequent murders, insurrections and riots’."
In 1410, John de Lancastre, 'chivaler,' received pardon "for all felonies, trespasses and misprisions committed by him, except treason, murder, rape and common larceny".
John was a knight representing the shire of Westmorland many times (20 Ric II = 1396/97, 8 Hen IV = 1406/07, 9 Hen V = 1421/22). In 5 Henry V (1417/18) John was appointed sheriff of Cumberland.
Apparently he acquired Knock Shalcock in nearby Long Marton from the Rookby family, who had it after the Bovilles. I do not believe it is known how Knock entered his possession, but it was was probably late in life and it seems to have been effectively passed on to Lancaster relatives. See Curwen. Nicholson and Burn claim that by 1422 Thomas de Rookby had Knock, and that it was later passed to John de Rookby, and then to the Lancasters via the marriage of his daughter Joan to John de Lancaster of Howgill. This marriage however is one of three that are asserted for John, but not one asserted in most authorities. On the other hand if the property came to John via a marriage then Ragg in his
De Threlkeld, proposes that it could be from a marriage with a Threlkeld. It is possible that Nicholson and Burn were confusing different Johns, and that perhaps a Rookby marriage was much later. But as I will show below, when discussing John's wife, there is evidence for both theories.
John de Lancaster's family were used as an example by Robin Storey in his book about the collapsing legal system in the time of Henry VI, "The End of the House of Lancaster" and his involvement in Westmorland clan wars is discussed on the history of parliament website on the articles not only for John, but also a whole group of Westmorland parliamentarians of the time. To start with, John complained about the violent plundering of the Thornburghs in SC 8/24/1174 in 1421. And to quote Storey:

"The second time he was at Westminster, John Lancaster reported a narrow escape from assassination in the summer of 1421, when he was visiting Roland Thornborough's widow in Mauld's Meaburn. Five sons of William Thornborough then came to the house with the worst intentions, bringing with them swords and Carlisle axes, those indispensible instruments of north-country homicide. These weapons they hid under their beds in the chamber where they were to spend the night with Sir John, but he was able to frustrate their plan to kill him as he slept. The Thornboroughs next took some of Lancaster's cattle and in September disturbed a session of the peace at Appleby, effectively threatening the jury with death if any charges were made against them."

The history of parliament website explains the inter-relationships: John had earlier married an heiress of William de Threlkeld, Margaret, but his claim on their possessions suffered a blow when William had a son later in life with a second wife, named Henry. Later, Roland de Thornborough married his daughter Margaret to this Henry, and possibly also married the boy's widow, Katherine, as his second wife. This would have been the widow, widowed once more, who John was visiting when he was attacked by the brothers of Roland at the order of their father. In other words they were competing for power over the Threlkeld properties in the area.
Later John was perceived as being on the Thornburgh side in other disputes which must also have been connected, with Robert Crackenthorpe. The Crackenthorpes were also in the land grab and marriages game. One was married to a brother of Roland de Thornborough, and another was married to a daughter of John de Lancaster. In 1424 Robert Crakenthorp reported that he had to intervene in a fracas when Katherine, John's last wife, who may also have been a Crakenthorpe, led a large force including Henry Threlkeld and William Thornborough to attack the house of John Cliburn, firing a thousand or more arrows from dawn to midday when they were persuaded to lift the siege "wounding him and his children and intimidating his tenants". Katherine eventually had Cliburn imprisoned.
See also C 1/12/193 of 1433 wherein "Robert Crakanthorp, J.P. in co. Westmorland" accuses "William Thornburgh, of Meaburn, Oliver Thornburgh, of Celsheved,
William son of Robert Lancastre, of Great Strickland (Stirkeland), Katherine wife of John de Lancastre, knt. and others" of "Riots and lying in wait in the forest of Whinfell (Whynwell) for petitioner on his return from a session at Appleby". Note that John and not only his wife are amongst the accused and were presumably alive. But this might be the last time we hear of him alive. The last record of a commission for John shown on the History of Parliament website is March 1430.

In August 1438, one Roland Thornborough was eventually pardoned for the death of this Robert Crackenthorpe, but another Robert Crackenthorpe, perhaps his son, married John's daughter Elizabeth and became a disputed heir to several Lancaster possessions (see below). Storey presumes this was the same Crackenthorpe, and that the Thornboroughs and Lancaster continued to harass her after his death. For Elizabeth see below. The history of parliament website does not take a sympathetic position concerning Crackenthorpe (on the page for Crackenthorpe, who was also an MP):

Powerless in the face of such influential opposition, Lancaster fell ill and died, leaving his widow and an unruly band of kinsmen to pursue the vendetta. Notwithstanding the arrangements made by her late father, Elizabeth Crackenthorpe then managed to gain possession of his manor of Howgill and other land at Milburn in Westmorland, which she promptly settled upon feoffees. She also entered some of the property which had belonged to him in Rydal and Deepdale, thus prompting two of his relatives to destroy crops and buildings worth an estimated £100. Perhaps in retaliation, Crackenthorpe confronted Roland Thornburgh, one of the ringleaders, in person at Brampton on 24 Aug. 1436, and was killed by him and his supporters. Although indicted for the murder and other crimes, Roland eventually obtained a royal pardon along with other members of his family, who had, meanwhile, kept up the offensive against Crackenthorpe’s widow. In March 1439 a royal commission (which included her brother-in-law, William Crackenthorpe II) was appointed to investigate her complaints of continuous harassment and intimidation.

This website also apparently has documentary evidence which refines what we can say about the death of John:

This affair may have hastened Sir John’s death, which occurred shortly before June 1434. He was evidently ill for some time, as unfounded rumours of his demise had already reached Westminster in the previous November.

The inheritance did not go smoothly. There were apparently agreements to leave everything divided between the husbands of the 4 daughters of John. However final concord documents from 1425 (reproduced by Ragg), in the name of John Lancaster kt, and his wife Katrina, appear to try to transfer the right of inheritance of "Rydal, Milnburne, Holgill, Depedale, Glenkun, Loughbrygge and Skyrwyth, plus 4 messuage and 40 acres in Blencarn" to "the heirs male of their bodies". (Note no mention of Knock, or Yanwath, but Skirwith is mentioned.) And "if it chanced that John and Katrine died without leaving an heir male" over to "Robert Lancastre, brother of John" and afterwards to "John Lancaster, son of William Lancaster of Yanwyth" and if he has no male heir then to the brother of this John, Christopher, son of William. The last resort was then William Lancastre of Hartsop, who I believe was probably the current leader of the Sockbridge Lancaster family (Hartsop being one of the 3 main manors that they held, Sockbridge, Hartsop and Strickland Roger, and probably one of the two where they actually resided in a manor "hall").
At least concerning Rydal and Loughrygge, this resulted in a 1435 fine. His 4 daughters were eventually paid 20 pounds each for their moiety in Yanwath by Sir Henry Threlkeld. WD RY/BOX 92/90 of 1443 mentions his manors passed on via a gift to several clerics: Rydal, Deepdale, Glencoyne, Howgill and "
Knoksalcok". Christiana and Margaret were to share Deepdale, Glencoyne, Howgill and Knok Shalcock (Knock, near Howgill and Brampton); Elizabeth and Isabella, Rydal and Loughrigg. However (see below) it may not have turned out this way. John and Katherine apparently also had belongings in Blencarn, Cumberland. We shall explain further below, who really ended up with what, but some lands should be discussed apart:

Feuding amongst these families continued after the Lancaster line ceased to be so important. 9 November 1447 there is an indenture concerning the "vareances querels and debates" between the Threlkelds and Thurnburghs. This was presided over by Thomas of Haryngton, perhaps a relative of John de Lancaster's son-in-law. William de Thornburgh had to pay Henry de Threlkeld for "the tene of Maudes Meuburn" and "a gowne of blak". Both sides had to "release all manner of accions personels" to the other.

m1. Margaret de Threlkeld. Daughter of William de Threlkeld and his wife Margaret. We have already mentioned above this is stated in the inquest of 1409 at the death of William de Threlkeld. But it appears that John's connection with Yanwath might have been more with several parts of the manor, and not just through William de Threlkeld's inheritance. The history of Parliament website says:

John was about 28 years old when he first entered Parliament, in January 1397, by which date he had perhaps already married Sir William Threlkeld’s daughter, Margaret. She and her sister (who became the wife of John’s younger brother, William) were then heirs presumptive to all the Threlkeld estates, and the double marriage was clearly planned by Sir William Lancaster as a means of extending his family’s influence as far as Cumberland. [...] His first wife’s prospects as an heiress had unfortunately been dashed in 1399 on the birth of her half-brother, Henry, although she and her sister were at least able to share part of the manor of Yanwath in Westmorland which their late mother had occupied as a jointure, and which descended to them in 1408 on the death of their father. Sir John’s part in the division of this inheritance may not have been entirely above suspicion. Shortly afterwards he obtained a second royal pardon covering ‘all felonies, trespasses and misprisions’ previously committed by him, although, so far as we can tell, no immediate attempt was made to challenge his title. We do not know when his first wife died, but it seems likely that he remarried before the autumn of 1414, when he took part in the Cumberland parliamentary elections for the first time.

m2. Joan de Rookby? Nicholson and Burn say that Knock in Long Marton came to the Lancasters through a marriage of John of Howgill to Joan Rookby, but that would require yet another wife. In 1418, at the time of the Westmorland post mortem inquisition of Ralph, Baron of Greystoke, one John de Lancastre and his heirs held Brampton, paying 8s 6d. This is not sir John of Howgill, but a neighbour. The immediately next entry concerns "Warthewyk", and says that John de Lancastre, "knight", and his wife Joan, not mentioned in Brampton, are paying 8s 6d, along with another couple, George Warthewycke and his wife Elizabeth. It appears both men hold this same land in name of their wives, who are perhaps sisters? I tend to believe this knight is John de Lancaster of Howgill, but I can not explain away the Joan. Where is Warthewyck in Westmorland? There is such a place (now Warwick) in Cumberland, and it seems there was a George de Warthewycke living there at this particular time, so he seems real, but the place which shares his surname is quite far away, and the record seems to place it within the Barony of Dufton. Could there be an ancient error, with George's surname being used as the placename? The Greystoke manor, earlier barony, of Dufton, included two manors not listed, Knock and Yanwath, both of which have an association with the Lancasters of Howgill. Knock had earlier been within this Dufton collection but at least later, by the 1400s when the Lancasters still held it, it seems to have become a possession held directly from the Cliffords. I can find an association with Yanwath for George, but not involving any Threlkelds or Rookbys. And here is further evidence:

CP 25/1/249/8, number 25. County: Westmorland. Place: Westminster. Date: The day after St Martin, 6 Henry VI [12 November 1427]. Parties: John Hawekyn', vicar of the church of Penreth', William Stapilton' the younger and Richard Louther, querents, and George de Warrewyk and Elizabeth, his wife, deforciants. Property: A moiety of the manor of Yanewyth'. Action: Plea of covenant. Agreement: George and Elizabeth have acknowledged the moiety to be the right of William as that which William, John and Richard have of their gift. John, William and Richard have granted it to George and Elizabeth and have rendered it to them in the same court, to hold to them of John, William and Richard and the heirs of William for the life of Elizabeth.

Interesting that George had an arranged marriage, because his father died when he was a minor. See the Patent Rolls of 1386. He also apparently sold Warthewyck in 1439?

m3. Katherine (Katrina). Ragg and the history of parliament website call her a second wife. Ragg thinks she was probably related to the Thornboroughs, and the history of parliament website is more specific and thinks she is a relative of Elianor, who the asserts to be a Crackenthorpe (I have not found any confirmation of this; a quick search seems to tell me she was a Musgrave). This is apparently based upon her having brought Brougham and Skirwith into the marriage. It is interesting also, that Katherine was the name of the Thornborough widow, who was also a Threlkeld widow, that John was visiting when he reported the Thornborough brothers had tried to kill him! Could John have become her third husband? But if so it would mean John was marrying the step-mother of his first wife! Even if true she could still be a Crackenthorpe originally, which would make her a Crackenthorpe, Threlkeld, Thornborough and Lancaster! In 1422 the Inquisitio Post Mortem of John de Clifford showed that she and John held part of the manor of Brougham together. In 1435 William Thornborough was in possession of it. William and his wife Elianor were given entail by John and Katherine in 1427, for messuages in Strickland Ketel, Campton Cundale, Kellet, and Brougham.
Note that Storey somehow believes that this Katherine was actually married to a second Sir John, and that the first Sir John had already died in 1422 and left his estates divided amongst 4 daughters, which would presumably make the second Sir John, who Storey believes was still alive in 1424 not his son? But then who was he? Ragg and others do not draw the same conclusions, and Storey does not explain why we should believe John died in 1422. (There is a candidate for a younger Sir John who is not a son, discussed below. He apparently took up lordship in the Deepdale remnant of the this family's holdings.)



Children, probably none to Katherine, are discussed below:-



Generation 7 and beyond.

1. The daughters of the last Lord John.

There were four daughters, who were heirs, but there seems to have been a complicated inheritance, and indeed, perhaps a set of competitive heirs who were favoured by the Threlkelds and Thornburghs. The four daughters were as follows...

Christiana Lancaster

m. Sir Robert de Haryngton

This couple seem to have had lands in Preston Patrick and Caton, which may perhaps have come from their Lancaster inheritance.


Margaret Lancaster

m. Sir Matthew Whitfeld, Sheriff of Northumberland 1434. It seems that at first Mathew Whitfield and Thomas le Fleming divided Rydal and Loughrigg between them, but that the Flemings bought out the Whitfield moiety.

Elizabeth Lancaster. Her husband appears to be the same man, or perhaps the son and namesake, who was in big conflicts with her father as mentioned above. In 1439 Elizabeth complained against the actions of John de Lancaster of Holgill, his brother Christopher, and William Thornborough of Selside and his brothers, against her late husband Robert in Rydal and Deepdale. This is striking because by by this time John de Lancaster with brother Christopher must refer to the son of William de Lancaster of Yanwath. This John is apparently nowhere elsewhere ever referred to as being "of Holgill" and this record apparently comes from a time when there was still uncertainty about who would end up with Howgill. Eventually it was Elizabeth herself, and her husband. Her Inq. Post. Mort. seems to be one of 2 Edw IV (1463/3).

m. Robert Crackenthorpe of Newbiggin, who thereby eventually received the Manor of Howgill. There is a History of Parliament article for him which says that:

The provision of an unusually handsome jointure for Katherine Lancaster, in 1425, seemed bad enough, but (Sir) John’s decision to settle the reversionary interest upon his more distant heirs male at the expense of his own daughters proved an even worse blow to Crackenthorpe, whose wife was thus deprived of an impressive inheritance in Westmorland and Cumberland. Although Lancaster seems to have earmarked two manors in Lancashire for his four daughters, a good deal of ill-feeling still remained; and in 1431 he agreed to settle his manor of Skirwith in Cumberland upon the Crackenthorpes alone. Far from bringing about a reconciliation, his gift appears to have precipitated a worse quarrel.

But one source says that it was for a time Skirwith was in the hands of a William Lancaster (it had been of course, Sir John's father was William) whose heiress married a Crackenthorpe. This appears to be a compression of several generations, but there is certainly evidence that taking possession of any of John de Lancastre's lands was not simple and easy for Robert. In any case the Crakenthorpes ended up with Skirwith, as well as Howgill.

Isabella Lancaster

m. (1409) Thomas le Fleming, who thereby eventually acquired the Manors of Coniston and of Rydal. She perhaps later married John Wharton? The Flemings also eventually acquired Skirwith, but in this case it was much later, after first having been in the hands of the Crackenthorpes.


2. There also appears to have been a son of John de Lancaster of Howgill:

William Lancaster.
Ragg mentions that John de Clifford had a suit against "William, son of John de Lancaster, knight, of Holgill". He broke into Clifford's forest in Whinfell and carried away crops etc worth 40 marks. (Ragg cites de Banco, Hillary, 3 Henry V, which would be 1415 or 1416). He presumably died young, before 1425. Otherwise, why did he not inherit anything? The history of parliament articles for both John de Lancaster and Robert de Crackenthorpe also asserts that this only son died.


3. The family was also perhaps continued by the sons of William de Lancaster of Yanwath, then Deepdale?

This William was married to Margaret de Threlkeld and 24 or more in 1409. The history of parliament website, in its article about Sir William of Threlkeld (1347-1408) asserts that he was Sir John's younger brother. It is not clear if he died before John, but he had adult sons by the time John died. As discussed above, there appears to have been a conflict between two sets of potential heirs of the last Lord John, on the one hand the daughters and their husbands, and on the other his apparent nephews, which it seems were Lord John's own preference at least later in life? During his lifetime John and Christopher are referred to by calling them sons of William de Lancaster of Yanwath. Afterwards though, there is no further mention of Yanwath Lancasters. In 1439 (discussed above) it might be the same two brothers who are referred to as John de Lancaster of Howgill and his brother Christopher, along with a group of Thornboroughs, apparently also trying to take possession of Rydal and Deepdale from the Crackenthorpes. This complaint went to Westminster, and apparently the Crackenthorpes got Holgill but not Deepdale. Later there are only mentions of John and Christopher of Deepdale, which had also been a property left by John de Lancaster of Howgill. It seems reasonable to equate all these sets of Johns and Christophers.

A 1450 document D HG/113, seems to make this John lord of Deepdale in Barton, this having been granted by William Tesedale and Robert Keldesyk. This document, and others concerning Deepdale, Glencoyne, and Glenridding, are in the archives from the Howard family of Greystoke castle.

Also in 1450, in the Duke of Norfolk's Dacre records we find clear evidence concerning the method in which John seems to have been given lands, via an interim feofee: CW 307 Letters of attorney 1450 - William Bix, chaplain appoints Edward Thornburgh esq. to deliver to seisin to John Lancastire, son of William Lancastire of Yaynewithe all lands and tenements of William Bix in the counties of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancaster.

Could he also have inherited Knock? John de Lancaster of Knock, yeoman is mentioned in D LONS/L5/1/3/75 - date: 1472. But there later commentators seem to think this is a new acquisition: The Later Records relating to North Westmorland tells us, the "manor of Knock Shalcock belonged in the reigns of Edward II and III to the family of Boyville, afterwards to the Rookby and then to the Lancaster families". Ragg's 1908 transcription "The Feoffees of the Cliffords", from around the mid 1400s, mentions this John and says that he holds Knock of his wife, the daughter and heir of John Rukeby. Nicolson and Burn specify that she was Joan Rookby. It is however mysterious how the Rookbys had taken control of the manor after a long absence. Surely both the repossession and marriage to a Lancaster must have something to do with Knock having most recently belonged to John Lancaster of Howgill?


It appears that at least one of these two, may have had issue, or at least heirs, who remained in the general area. In the late 1400s there are frequent mentions of a land owner named William Lancaster of Eamont Bridge, gentleman. Eamont Bridge and Yanwath were often treated as one manor, at the eastern extremity of the parish of Barton. Could it be that William of Yanwath's family kept one part of that manor but that it came to be referred to as the Eamont Bridge part? One possible reason is that around 1425, similar to the time of decease of John de Lancaster, there was call for a re-building of the bridge itself. Nicholson and Burn also report that around 1464/65 the Lancasters still held a part of Yanwath.


The next apparent generation:-


C1/536/20 dated 1518-1529. "Christopher, son of William, son of John Lancastre. v. Thomas, Lord Dacre, son of Humphrey and grandson of Thomas, Lord Dacre: Refusal to allow complainant to redeem mortgage of ground called `the forest of Glenecone,' mortgaged by the said John to the said Lord Dacre the elder" This must have been the same Christopher Lancaster of Depedale who married, Joanne, daughter of Christopher Lancaster and Eleanor Musgrave, of the Sockbridge Lancasters. In 1518-1529 he was involved in a case C 1/520/46 relating to deeds for land in Kirkby Thore, ancestral territory of his line, versus three couples of the families Hoton, Middylton and Sandford. In that account he is called a gentleman and a son and heir of William Lancastre.

Christopher effectively became a member of the complex of Lancaster families in Barton parish, revolving around Sockbridge. He seems to have had descendents, and there may still be descendants today.


Machel Vol 1 page 606 says that William, son and heir of Christopher Lancaster of Deepdale purchased land at Melkinthorpe from Edward Lancaster of Brampton in 1521.
[1536] 31 Aug., 28 Hen. VIII. Bond from Henry Barton of Ormished, gent., to William Lancaster of Deppedall, gent., in 201., respecting the sale of a tenement in Patriksdall.
In 1537 this William appears to have been executed for treason. One of the lists of lands he had (Henry VIII correspondence of 1544) mentions "Depedale, Patterdale, Penreth, Carleton. and Farleton, in cos. Westmld., Lanc., and Cumb.". (Notice, no Glencoyne, although it could be included in Patterdale.) There are extensive records of the inquiry into rebellious events involving the so-called Procession of Grace, wherein it seems clear that this same William had possession of the parsonage of Beetham. This had once been held by Lord John Lancaster of Grisedale, whose possessions passed to this family. See my notes on records relating to Lord John (and namesakes).
The Dacre records of the Duke of Norfolk mention that the witnesses at Depedalle of the receiving of the properties in Westmorland included Gerard Lancastre and John Lancastre.


Note that in 1533-1538, John Lancaster, grandson and heir of John Lancaster, esquire, was a sewer of the King's chamber, v. William, lord Dacre concerning a mortgage of land called 'Glencone' to Thomas, lord Dacre. (Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Early Proceedings, Richard II to Philip and Mary C 1/841/10.) Notice how the father's name, presumably William, is not listed. This must be Glencoyne, also long held by the Howgill Lancasters.


In 1519, CP40/1023 (750d) mentions "Lancastre, Thomas, of Knoke, Westmor, gent". As explained above, there was an earlier John of Knock, who could be his father, and Knock had a generation earlier apparently been amongst the properties of John of Howgill. Concerning Knock there is however also a possible connection by this time to the Lancasters of Brampton (and possibly Melkinthorpe): C 1/651/15 Johan, late the wife of John Lancaster of Branton [Brampton in Long Marton]. v. Thomas Lancaster, her son.: Detention of deeds relating to the manor of Knottishalcoke [Knock in Long Marton ?].: Westmorland. Covering dates 1529-1532. This makes it seem that the Lancasters of Brampton owned Knock by that time. (But note that Thomas Lancaster of Brampton and John Lancaster of Knock had been contemporaries in earlier Clifford records in the 1400s, so we can not easily equate the two lines. The original Brampton Lancasters probably belong in the Sockbridge family, not the Howgill family.)


4. There was a son to John's brother Robert...

William Lancaster. Son mentioned in Cal. Pat. R. 1435, P. 455 and various other documents associated with the passing of John Lancaster of Howgill. According to appeals to the Lord Chancellor about the Lancasters and Thornboroughs he was associated with Great Strickland. His father's holdings in Westmorland are not well known, although it seems they were significant. On the other hand we know Robert was associated with Carlisle. This William is possibly too old to be the later William of Eamont bridge. John de Lancaster's documents also clearly distinguish him from William of Hertsop and William of Yanwath.


5. William de Lancaster of Hartsop???

In 1425 William de Lancaster of Hertsop is named as last in line after the above possible heirs. It is however difficult to find room for more Williams in this family tree! William of Herstop is known from sightings from about 1409 until the 1450s, mainly associating with the Sockbridge Lancasters. However his genealogical link to other Lancasters is unknown. Considering his position amongst John's listing of possible heirs it is tempting to suggest that William married a sister of John.

Hartsop is close to Deepdale, which was held by the Howgill Lancasters.