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William PERCY

Male - 1540

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  • Name William PERCY 
    Born Leconfield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    AFN 8WK1-NG 
    Died 15 Sep 1540 
    • (1) Fowler, James, "On Two Heraldic Bench-Ends in Great Sandal Church," in The Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal, Vol. 1: Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Association, 1870, p. 138:

      . . . the second son [of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland] was Sir William Percy, one of the commanders at Flodden, and afterwards in the Pilgrimage of Grace, A.D. 1536. . . .

      (2) The following information was obtained from a pedigree chart in "Younger Branches of the House of Percy," in Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, Vol. II, London, England: John Bowyer Nichols and Son, 1835, pp. 57, 60-61:

      Sir William Percy 1485, mentioned in the will of his brother Joscelyn 1532; mar, 1st. Margaret, mentioned in the will of Joscelyn P. 1532, as Dame Margaret Percy, wife to my brother Sir WiII. Percy; 2d w. Agnes relict of Sir Henry Oughtred and dau. of Sir Marmaduke Constable of Flamborough. [At Flodden Field "The Capitayne of the right wynge was olde Syr Marmaduke Constable, and with hym was mayster Wyll'm Percy his sone in lawe," who was knighted "after the Felde." Contemporary newspaper printed by Richard Faques.]

      (3) "Battle of Flodden," Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010, ??2010 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.:

      Battle of Flodden, (Sept. 9, 1513), English victory over the Scots, fought near Branxton, Northumberland. To honour his alliance with France (1512) and divert troops from the main English army, which was then in France under Henry VIII, James IV of Scotland crossed the border (Aug. 22, 1513) with an army of about 30,000 men supported by artillery. Thomas Howard, earl of Surrey, Henry's lieutenant in the north, gathered an army of about 20,000 to oppose him. Fearing that the Scots would retreat to the border, Surrey issued a challenge to James, who agreed to wait until September 9 to fight. The battle began in the late afternoon. The Scots fought stubbornly, but the English 8-foot- (2.5-metre-) long bill (a staff ending in a hooked-shaped blade) proved superior to the Scottish 15-foot (4.5-metre) spear; and English archers proved decisive on the Scottish right. By nightfall the Scottish army was annihilated. James was killed, together with at least 10,000 of his subjects, including high officers of church and state and many nobles. These losses - and the fact that James left an infant son to succeed him - took Scotland out of international politics for a decade.

      (4) "Battle of Flodden," from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, accessed December 30, 2010:

      The Battle of Flodden or Flodden Field was fought in the county of Northumberland in northern England on 9 September 1513, between an invading Scots army under King James IV and an English army commanded by Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey. It ended in a victory for the English and was the largest battle (in terms of numbers) fought between the two nations.


      This conflict began when James IV, King of Scots declared war on England to honour the Auld Alliance with France by diverting Henry VIII's English troops from their campaign against the French king Louis XII. Henry VIII had also opened old wounds by claiming to be the overlord of Scotland which angered the Scots and the King. At this time England was involved in the War of the League of Cambrai - defending Italy and the Pope from the French (see Italian Wars) as a member of the "Catholic League."
      The Invasion

      Using the pretext of revenge for the murder of Robert Kerr, a warden of the Scottish East March who had been killed by John "The bastard" Heron in 1508, James invaded England with an army of about 30,000 men in 1513. In keeping with his understanding of the medieval code of chivalry, King James sent notice to the English, one month in advance, of his intent to invade. This gave the English time to gather an army and, as importantly, to retrieve the banner of Saint Cuthbert from the cathedral of Durham, a banner which had been carried by the English in victories against the Scots in 1138 and 1346. After a muster on the Burgh Muir of Edinburgh, the Scottish host moved to Ellemford and camped to wait for Angus and Home, and then crossed the River Tweed near Coldstream. By the 29 August, Norham Castle was taken and partly demolished. The Scots moved south capturing the castles of Etal and Ford. A later chronicler, Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, tells the story that James wasted valuable time at Ford enjoying the company of Lady Heron and her daughter.

      The Battle

      The battle actually took place near the village of Branxton, in the county of Northumberland, rather than at Flodden - hence the alternative name is Battle of Branxton. The Scots had previously been stationed at Flodden Edge, to the south of Branxton, which the Earl of Surrey compared to a fortress. Surrey moved to block off the Scots' route north and so James was forced to move his army and artillery 2 miles to Branxton Hill. When the armies were within 3 miles of each other Surrey sent Rouge Croix pursuivant to James who answered that he would wait till noon. At 11 o'clock Lord Howard's vanguard and artillery crossed the Twissell Bridge. (Pitscottie says the king would not allow the Scots artillery to fire on the vulnerable English during this manouevre.) The Scots army was in good order in 5 formations, after the Almain (German) manner. On Friday afternoon the Scots host descended without speaking any word to meet the English.

      According to English report, first the groups commanded by the Earls of Huntly, Arran and Crawford totalling 6000 men engaged Lord Howard and were repulsed and mostly slain. Then James IV himself leading a great force came on to Surrey and Lord Darcy's son who bore the brunt of the battle. Lennox and Argyll's commands were met by Sir Edward Stanley.

      James was killed within a spear length from Surrey and his body taken to Berwick. The 'rent surcoat of the King of Scots stained with blood' was sent to Henry VIII at Tournai. The biggest error the Scots made was placing their officers in the front line, medieval style. A Scottish letter of January 1514 contrasts this loss of the nobility with the English great men who took their stand with the reserves and at the rear. The English generals stayed behind the lines in the Renaissance style. The loss of so many Scottish officers meant there was no one to coordinate a retreat.

      Flodden was essentially a victory of bill used by the English over the pike used by the Scots. As a weapon, the pike was effective only in a battle of movement, especially to withstand a cavalry charge. The pike had become a Swiss weapon of choice and represented modern warfare. The hilly terrain of Northumberland, the nature of the combat, and the slippery footing did not allow it to be employed to best effect. Bishop Ruthall reported to Wolsey, 'the bills disappointed the Scots of their long spears, on which they relied.' The infantrymen at Flodden, both Scots and English, had fought in a fashion that in essence would have been familiar to their ancestors, and it has rightly been described as the last great medieval battle in the British Isles. This was the last time that bill and pike would come together as equals in battle. Two years later Francis I defeated the Swiss pikemen at the Battle of Marignano, using a combination of heavy cavalry and artillery, ushering in a new era in the history of war. An official English diplomatic report issued by Brian Tuke noted the Scots' iron spears but concluded: 'the English halberdiers decided the whole affair, so that in the battle the bows and ordnance were of little use.'

      Despite Tuke's comment (he was not present), tactically, this battle was one of the first major engagements on the British Isles where artillery was significantly deployed. John Lesley, writing sixty years later, noted the Scottish bullets flew over the English heads while the English canon was effective, the one army so high and the other so low. The battle is considered the last decisive use of the longbow, yet through the 16th century the English longbowmen continued to have success, as in the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. Many of these archers were recruited from Lancashire and Cheshire. Sir Richard Assheton raised one such company from Middleton, near Manchester. In gratitude for his safe return, he rebuilt St. Leonard's, the local parish church. It contains the unique "Flodden Window" depicting each of the archers, and the priest who accompanied them, by name in stained glass.

      As a reward for his victory, Howard was subsequently restored to the title of "Duke of Norfolk", lost by his father's support for Richard III. The arms of the Dukes of Norfolk still carry an augmentation of honour awarded on account of their ancestor's victory at Flodden, a modified version of the Royal coat of arms of Scotland with an arrow through the lion's mouth.

      Soon after the battle there were legends that James IV had survived; a Scottish merchant at Tournai in October claimed to have spoken with him, Lindsay of Pitscottie records two myths; 'thair cam four great men upon hors, and every ane of thame had ane wisp upoun thair spear headis, quhairby they might know one another and brought the king furth of the feild, upoun ane dun hackney,' and also that the king escaped from the field but was killed between Duns and Kelso. Similarly, John Lesley adds that the body taken to England was 'my lord Bonhard' and James was seen in Kelso after the battle and then went secretly on pilgrimage in far nations.

      Every noble family in Scotland was supposed to have lost a member at Flodden. The dead are remembered by the song (and pipe tune) "The Flowers of the Forest";

      We'll hae nae mair lilting, at the yowe-milking,
      Women and bairns are dowie and wae.
      Sighing and moaning, on ilka green loaning,
      The flowers of the forest are all wede away.


      Surrey's army lost 1,500 men killed. There were various conflicting accounts of the Scottish loss. A contemporary French source, the Gazette of the Battle of Flodden, said that about 10,000 Scots were killed, a claim made by Henry VIII on 16 September while he was still uncertain of the death of James IV. Italian newsletters put the Scottish losses at 18 or 20 thousand and the English at 5000. Brian Tuke, the English Clerk of the Signet, sent a newsletter stating 10,000 Scots killed and 10,000 escaped the field. Tuke reckoned the total Scottish invasion force to have been 60,000 and the English army at 40,000. George Buchanan wrote in his History of Scotland (published in 1582) that, according to the lists that were compiled throughout the counties of Scotland, there were about 5,000 killed. A plaque on the monument to the 2nd Duke of Norfolk (as the Earl of Surrey became in 1514) at Thetford put the figure at 17,000.

      (5) "Pilgrimage of Grace," Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010, © 2010 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.:

      Pilgrimage of Grace, (1536), a rising in the northern counties of England, the only overt immediate discontent shown against the Reformation legislation of King Henry VIII. Part of the resentment was caused by attempts, especially under Henry???s minister Thomas Cromwell, to increase government control in the north; there was an element of agrarian opposition to enclosures for pasture; and there was a religious element, aroused especially by the dissolution of the monasteries, then in progress. The arrival of commissioners sent by Cromwell to collect a financial subsidy and to dissolve the smaller monasteries triggered the rising. In Louth in Lincolnshire there were riots on October 1, and commissioners were attacked. The rebels occupied Lincoln, demanding an end to the dissolution, revenge on Cromwell, and the dismissal of heretical bishops. But Henry refused to treat with men in arms against him (although professing their loyalty), and the Lincolnshire movement collapsed on October 19. Meanwhile, a more serious rising had begun in Yorkshire, led by Robert Aske, a country gentleman and lawyer. Aske took York and by October 24 was supported by about 30,000 armed men and by magnates such as Edward Lee, archbishop of York, and Thomas Darcy, Baron Darcy of Templehurst. The government had insufficient troops in the area, but on October 27, at Doncaster Bridge, Thomas Howard, the 3rd duke of Norfolk, temporized with Aske, playing for time until adequate forces could be assembled. At a council at Pontefract on December 2, the rebels drew up their demands, similar to those of the Lincolnshire men but including a return of England to papal obedience and the summoning of a Parliament free from royal influence. To these Norfolk, on December 6, made vague promises and offered a full pardon, whereupon Aske naively assumed he had gained his objectives and persuaded his followers to disperse. Sporadic riots in January and February 1537 enabled the government to deal with the troubles piecemeal; about 220-250 men were executed, including Darcy and Aske. The pilgrimage achieved nothing and received no support from other parts of the country.

      (6) "Pilgrimage of Grace," from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, accessed December 30, 2010:

      The Pilgrimage of Grace was a popular rising in York, Yorkshire during 1536, in protest against England's break with Rome and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, as well as other specific political, social and economic grievances. Technically the term Pilgrimage of Grace refers specifically and inclusively to the uprising around York, though sometimes it is used in relation to the risings in general which took place around Northern England; first from Lincolnshire, twelve days before the actual Pilgrimage of Grace.

      Lincolnshire Rising

      The Lincolnshire Rising was a brief dissent of Roman Catholics against the establishment of the Church of England by Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries set in motion by Thomas Cromwell's suggested plan of asserting the nation's religious autonomy and the king's supremacy over religious matters.

      It began at St. James Church, Louth, after evensong on 1 October 1536, shortly after the closure of Louth Abbey. The uprising was only against the attempt to suppress the religious houses, these being Catholic, and was not against the king or the Church. It quickly gained support in Horncastle, Market Rasen, Caistor and other nearby towns. Angry with the actions of commissioners, the protesters/rioters demanded the end of the collection of a subsidy, the end of the Ten Articles, an end to the dissolution, an end to taxes in peacetime, a purge of heretics in government, and the repeal of the Statute of Uses. With support from local gentry, a force of demonstrators, estimated at up to 40,000, marched on Lincoln and, by 14 October, occupied Lincoln Cathedral. They demanded the freedom to continue worshipping as Catholics, and protection for the treasures of Lincolnshire churches.

      The moratorium effectively ended on 4 October 1536, when King Henry sent word for the occupiers to disperse or face the forces of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, which had already been mobilised. By 14 October, few remained in Lincoln. Following the rising, the vicar of Louth and Captain Cobbler, two of the main leaders, were captured and hanged at Tyburn. Most of the other local ringleaders met the same fate over the next twelve days, with a lawyer from Willingham being hanged, drawn and quartered for his involvement. Soon, however, the Lincolnshire Rising helped inspire the more widespread Pilgrimage of Grace.

      Pilgrimage of Grace, the early Tudor crisis

      The movement broke out on 13 October 1536, immediately following the failure of the Lincolnshire Rising, and at this point was the term 'Pilgrimage of Grace' used. The causes of the expostulations have long been debated by historians, but several key themes can be identified:

      • Economic grievances. The northern gentry had concerns over the new Statute of Uses. The harvest of 1535 had also led to high food prices, which may have contributed to discontent.

      • Political grievances. Many people in northern England had disliked the way in which Henry VIII had 'cast off' Catherine of Aragon. Although her successor, Anne Boleyn, had been unpopular, both as Catherine's replacement, a rumoured Protestant and a Southerner, her execution in 1536 on trumped-up charges of adultery, witchcraft and treason, had done much to undermine the monarchy's prestige and the king's personal reputation. There was also anger at the rise of Thomas Cromwell who was 'base born' and the aristocracy objected to this strongly.

      • Religious grievances. The local church was, for many in the north, the centre of community life. Many ordinary peasants were worried that their church plate would be confiscated. There were also popular rumours at the time which hinted that baptism might be taxed. The recently released Ten Articles and the new order of prayer issued by the government in 1535 had also made official doctrine more reformed. This went against the conservative beliefs of most northerners.

      Robert Aske was chosen to lead the insurgents; he was a London barrister, a resident of the Inns of Court, and the youngest son of Sir Robert Aske of Aughton near Selby. His was an old Yorkshire family from Richmondshire (Aske Hall). In 1536 Aske led a band of nine thousand followers, who entered and occupied York. There he arranged for the expelled monks and nuns to return to their houses; the king's newly installed tenants were driven out and Catholic observance resumed. The success of the rising was so great that the royal leaders, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, opened negotiations with the insurgents at Doncaster, where Aske had assembled between thirty and forty thousand men.

      Henry authorised Norfolk to promise a general pardon and a Parliament to be held at York within a year, as well as a reprieve for the abbeys until the parliament had met. Trusting in the king's promises, Aske dismissed his followers.


      The King's promises were not kept, and in February 1537 a new rising took place in Cumberland and Westmorland called Bigod's Rebellion (which Aske attempted to prevent) under Sir Francis Bigod, of Settrington in the North Riding of Yorkshire. Upon this the king arrested Aske and several of the other leaders, such as Darcy, Constable, and Bigod, who were all convicted of treason and executed. Aske was hanged in chains from the walls of York Castle as a warning to other would-be 'rebels'. Sir John Bigod, Sir Thomas Percy, Sir Henry Percy, Sir John Bulmer, Sir Stephan Hamilton, Sir Nicholas Tempast, Sir William Lumley, Sir Edward Neville, Sir John Constable, Sir William Constable, Sir Robert Constable, Adam Sedbar, Abbot of Jervaulx, the abbots of Barlings, Sawley, Fountains abbeys and the prior of Bridlington were executed in July 1537. In all, 216 were put to death; lords and knights, half a dozen abbots, 38 monks, and 16 parish priests. The loss of the leaders enabled the Duke of Norfolk to quell the rising and martial law was imposed upon the demonstrating regions, ending predication.

      Successes and failures

      The Lincolnshire Rising and the Pilgrimage of Grace have traditionally been seen as complete failures. They did, however, achieve several results that suggest otherwise.


      Contrary to popular myth, there were some partial successes because of the rebellions:

      • The government postponed the collection of the October subsidy. This had been a major grievance amongst the Lincolnshire organisations.

      • The Statute of Uses was negated by a new law, the Statute of Wills.

      • Four of the seven sacraments that were omitted from the Ten Articles, were restored in the Bishop's Book of 1537. This marked the end of the drift of official doctrine towards Protestantism. The Bishop's Book was followed by the Six Articles of 1539.

      • An onslaught upon heresy was promised in a royal proclamation in 1538.


      • The dissolution of the monasteries continued unabated, with the largest monasteries being dissolved by 1540.

      • Great tracts of land were seized from the Church and divided among the monarchy and its supporters.

      • The moves towards official Protestantism achieved by Cromwell were not reversed except during the five-year reign of Mary I of England (1553-1558).
    Person ID I24618  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 

    Father Henry PERCY,   b. Abt 1449,   d. 28 Apr 1489  (Age ~ 40 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Maud HERBERT,   b. 1448 
    Relationship natural 
    Married Between 1473 and 1476 
    Family ID F10806  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Agnes CONSTABLE 
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 19:11:43 
    Family ID F10814  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart