The Suffolk Free Company 


The De La Pole household during The Wars of The Roses

So who were the De La Poles?

As you have probably gathered, we form a part of the Duke of Suffolks Household. The Duke did not play a huge part in the Conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster. But his father and children did. Here's a rough guide to the 15th century De La Poles.

Sir William De la Pole  (Father)

William was the second son of Michael de la Pole, 2nd Earl of Suffolk and Katharine de Stafford, daughter of Hugh, 2nd Earl of Stafford, K.G.

Almost continually engaged in the wars in France, he was seriously wounded during the siege of Harfleur (1415), where his father was killed. Later that year his older brother Michael de la Pole, 3rd Earl of Suffolk was killed at the Battle of Agincourt, and William succeeded as 4th Earl. He became co-commander of the English forces at the siege of Orléans (1429), after the death of Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury. When that city was relieved by Joan of Arc in 1429, he managed a retreat to Jargeau where he was forced to surrender on 12 June. He remained a prisoner of Charles VII of France for three years, and was ransomed in 1431.

After his return to the Kingdom of England, he became a courtier and close ally of Henry Cardinal Beaufort. His most notable accomplishment in this period was negotiating the marriage of King Henry VI with Margaret of Anjou (1444). This earned him elevation to Marquess of Suffolk that year but a secret clause was put in the agreement which gave Normandy back to France which was partly to cause his downfall. His own marriage took place on 11 November 1430, (date of licence), to (as her third husband) Alice (1404 - 1475), daughter of Thomas Chaucer of EwelmeKidlingtonOxfordshire, and granddaughter of the notable poet Geoffrey Chaucer and his wife Philippa (de) Roet. In 1434 the Earl became Constable of Wallingford Castle.

With the deaths in 1447 of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort, Suffolk became the principal power behind the throne of the weak and compliant Henry VI. In short order he was appointed Chamberlain, Admiral of England, and to several other important offices. He was created Earl of Pembrokein 1447 and Duke of Suffolk in 1448.

The following three years saw the near-complete loss of the English possessions in northern France, and Suffolk could not avoid taking the blame for these failures, partly because of the loss of Normandy through his marriage negotiations regarding Henry VI. On 28 January 1450 he was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was banished for five years, but on his journey to France his ship was intercepted, and he was executed. It was suspected that his archenemy the Duke of York was responsible for his beheading on the gunwales of a boat and his body was thrown overboard. He was later found on the seashore near Dover.


Sir John De la Pole  (Our man)


 JOHN DE LA POLE, second Duke of Suffolk (1442-1491), born on 27 Sept. 1442, was only son of William de la Pole, first duke of Suffolk (d. 1450). On 27 Nov. 1440 he was made joint constable of Wallingford and high steward of the honour of St. Valery, offices to which he was reappointed in 1461. In 1455 he was restored by Henry VI to the dukedom of Suffolk.

None the less he joined Henry's Yorkist foes, and married Edward IV's sister. In February 1461 he was with the army which went under Warwick against Margaret's northern host, fresh from Wakefield, and he fought at the second battle of St. Albans on 7 Feb. 1461. On 28 June following he was steward of England at the coronation of Edward IV, and two years later he was re-created Duke of Suffolk. In 1463 he was a trier of petitions. He bore the queen's sceptre at the coronation of Elizabeth Woodville or Wydeville. In his own county, according to a letter from Margaret Paston to her husband, he was far from popular, but it must be remembered that he was involved in disputes with the Paston family.

In the troubles of 1469 and 1470 he took Edward's side, and appears as a joint commissioner of array for several counties. When Edward was restored Suffolk was made a knight of the Garter (1472). In 1472 he became high steward of Oxford University. When Edward went to France in 1475, Suffolk was a captain in his army, and took some minor part in the negotiations which led to the treaty of Pecquigny. In 1478 he made various exchanges of lands with the king, which were duly confirmed in parliament. From 10 March 1478 to 5 May 1479 he was lieutenant of Ireland; he also held the office of joint high steward of the duchy of Lancaster for the parts of England south of the Trent.

Suffolk had enjoyed many favours from Edward IV, yet on his death he at once offered his support to Richard III. He bore the sceptre and the dove at Richard's coronation on 7 July 1483. When, however, Richard was dead, Suffolk swore fealty to Henry VII, and was rewarded (19 Sept. 1485) with the constableship of Wallingford, a sole grant, doubtless, instead of a joint grant, such as he had had previously. This, however, he did not keep long, for on 21 Feb. 1488-9 the office was regranted to two more distinguished Lancastrians, Sir William Stonor and Sir Thomas Lovell. Suffolk seems to have been trusted by Henry, for, in spite of the defection of his eldest son John, he was a trier of petitions in 1485 and 1487, and chief commissioner of array for Norfolk and Suffolk in 1487.

In 1487 he refused to come to a feast of the order of the Garter because Lord Dynham had not made proper provision. Others did the same, and the feast had to be postponed. On 25 Nov. 1487 he bore the queen's sceptre at the coronation of Elizabeth of York, and on 6 March of the next year he witnessed a charter to her. At the end of 1488 he was commissioned to take muster of archers for the relief of Brittany. In 1489 he had a grant from the king's wardrobe. He died in 1491. He had married before October 1460 Elizabeth, second daughter of Richard, duke of York, and sister of Edward IV. By her he had three sons — John, Edmund, and Richard

Sir John De la Pole (First son)

John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln (1462/1464 – 16 June 1487), was the eldest son of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk and Elizabeth of York, Duchess of Suffolk. His mother was the sixth child and third daughter born to Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville.

During the last year of the reign of his maternal uncle King Richard III, he was designated heir to the throne. In addition, he was given revenues of about 500 pounds a year, and was appointed king's lieutenant in Ireland and president of the Council of the North.

After Richard's defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485, Lincoln was reconciled with the new king, Henry VII, but soon became impatient for power and tried to achieve it by supporting the claims of the boy pretender, Lambert Simnel. Lincoln's life came to an end at the Battle of Stoke in 1487, at which the rebel army was defeated, and he was killed. In November 1487, he was posthumously attainted.

Edmund de la Pole  (Second son)

Edmund de la Pole, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, 6th Earl of Suffolk (1471/1472 – 30 April 1513), Duke of Suffolk was a son of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk and his wife Elizabeth of York.

His mother was the second surviving daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville. She was also a younger sister to Edward IV of England and Edmund, Earl of Rutland as well as an older sister to Margaret of York, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence and Richard III of England.

Following the death of his older brother at the Battle of Stoke, Edmund became the leading Yorkist claimant to the throne. Nevertheless, Henry spared his life and allowed him to succeed as Duke of Suffolk in 1491, though at some time later, Edmund's title was demoted to the rank of Earl. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Richard Scrope. The headstrong Edmund did not have his father's pragmatism, and a title was not enough for him. He left the Kingdom of England in 1501, this time seeking the help of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. He drew others such as Sir James Tyrrell into his intrigue. In 1506, Phillip, Duke of Burgundy, the Emperor's son was blown off course while sailing, and reluctantly and unexpectedly became a guest of Henry VII. Needing to set sail again in order to claim his wife's inheritance (Castile), he was persuaded by Henry to hand over the Earl of Suffolk. Henry agreed to the proviso that Suffolk would not be harmed, and restricted himself to imprisoning the Earl. The next king, Henry VIII, did not feel bound to this agreement, and had Suffolk executed in 1513, thus ridding himself of any threat to his throne during his absence for the invasion in France that year.


Richard De La Pole

Richard de la Pole (died February 24, 1525 in Pavia, Duchy of Milan) was a pretender to the English crown. Commonly nicknamed White Rose, he was the last Head of the House of York to actively and openly seek the crown of England. He lived in exile after many of his relatives were executed; here he became allied with Louis XII of France in the War of the League of Cambrai, who saw him as a more favourable ally and prospect for an English king than Henry VIII.

During 1514, the stage was set for a Yorkist reclaiming of England under Richard. He was in Brittany with 12,000 mercenaries set for the invasion, leading his army to St. Malo; however France and England made peace just as they were about to embark and as thus it was called off. Later, with Francis I of France as king, de la Pole struck up an alliance in 1523 and planned a Yorkist invasion and reclaiming of England once again. However this never came to light as Richard died fighting alongside Francis I at the Battle of Pavia two years later.

He was the fifth son of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk and his wife Elizabeth of York. His mother was the second surviving daughter of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville. She was also a younger sister to Edward IV of England and Edmund, Earl of Rutland as well as an older sister to Margaret of York, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence and Richard III of England. His ancestor was Owen de la Pole who was the last claimant to the throne of Powys Wenwynwyn a 13th Century Welsh princely state.

In 1487, Lincoln joined the rebellion of Lambert Simnel, and was killed at the Battle of Stoke. The second brother Edmund (c. 1472-1513), succeeded his father while still in his minority. His estates suffered under the attainder of his brother, and he was compelled to pay large sums to Henry VII for the recovery of part of the forfeited lands, and also to exchange his title of duke for that of earl. In 1501 he sought Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor in Tyrol, and received from him a promise of substantial assistance in case of an attempt on the English crown.

In consequence of these treasonable proceedings Henry seized his brother William de la Pole, with four other Yorkist noblemen. Two of them, Sir James Tyrrell and Sir John Wyndham, were executed, William de la Pole was imprisoned and Edmund de la Pole, 3rd Duke of Suffolk outlawed. Then in July 1502 Henry concluded a treaty with Maximilian by which the king bound himself not to countenance English rebels. Presently Suffolk fell into the hands of Philip I of Castile, who imprisoned him at Namur, and in 1506 surrendered him to Henry VII, on condition that his life was spared. He remained a prisoner until 1513, when he was beheaded at the time his brother Richard took up arms with the French king.

Richard de la Pole joined Edmund abroad in 1504, and remained at Aix-la-Chapelle as surety for his elder brothers debts. The creditors threatened to surrender him to Henry VII, but, more fortunate than his brother, he found a safe refuge at Buda with King Ladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary. He was excepted from the general pardon proclaimed at the accession of Henry VIII, and when Louis XII of France went to war with the Kingdom of England in 1512 he recognized Edmund's pretensions to the English crown, and gave Richard a command in the French army. In 1513, after the execution of Edmund, he assumed the title of Earl of Suffolk. In 1514 he was given 12,000 German mercenaries ostensibly for the defence of Brittany, but really for an invasion of England. These he led to St. Malo, but the conclusion of peace with England prevented their embarcation. Pole was required to leave France, and he established himself at Metz, in Lorraine, and built a palace at La Haute Pierre, near St. Simphorien.

While at Metz, he was visited by Pierre Alamire, the German-Netherlandish composer and music copyist, as a spy for Henry VIII. However de la Pole employed Alamire as a counter-spy against Henry, and Alamire, on being suspected of unreliability by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Henry, never returned to England.

He had numerous interviews with King Francis I of France, and in 1523 he was permitted, in concert with John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, the Scottish regent, to arrange an invasion of England, which was never carried out. He was with Francis I at the Battle of Pavia, where he was killed on February 24, 1525.

The Church at Wingfield


There are three outstanding tombs to be seen. The earliest one is of Sir John de Wingfield, whose widow Alianore carried out his wishes in 1362 to found a Chantry College and to make Wingfield a Collegiate Church. His tomb is on the north wall to the west of the present Vestry Door.

The next oldest monument is on the south side of the Sanctuary This is the tomb of Michael de la Pole second Earl of Suffolk and his wife Katharine, daughter of the Earl of Stafford. He died at Harfleur in 1415. This is a rare example of a wooden tomb.

The third monument lies on the north side of the Sanctuary. It is of alabaster and depicts John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk who died in 1491 and his wife, Elizabeth Plantagenet, sister of Edward IV and Richard III. He was the son of Alice de la Pole who extended the Chancel after the death of her husband, William in 1450



Wingfield Castle

Wingfield Castle is a moated feudal fortress built by Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk in 1384. It is now a private house and difficult to see from the front – the main fortifications are at the front and have towers 60ft high. Walking onto the common at the side of the moat you can get a decent view of the manor house (rebuilt in c1544) and the rear of the front wall and towers.