Giles Thorndon (c. 1388 – August 1477) was a senior official of the English Crown in the fifteenth century, who was noted for his long and loyal service to the House of Lancaster and for his troubled and unsuccessful career as Lord Treasurer of Ireland.
He was born in Newcastle upon Tyne shortly before 1390.Little is known of his family; there is no evidence that he was related to Roger Thornton, the long-serving Mayor of Newcastle, who died in 1430.
By his own account he entered the household of the future King Henry V in 1404, when he must still have been in his teens.He continued to serve the Prince after he became King, and remained in the household of Henry VI. For several years he was the Royal sewer i.e. the household official with responsibility for overseeing the kitchens. From these household duties, he was promoted to become a senior Crown servant. In 1434 he became constable of Dublin Castle and Wicklow Castle, and for a time was also entrusted with the wardenship of Cardigan Castle. In 1437 he became Lord Treasurer of Ireland.
Fifteenth-century Irish politics was dominated for almost thirty years by the feud between the faction of James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormonde, who served for many years as the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on the one side, and the faction of Richard Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland, backed by his brother John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, on the other side. As the feud grew more bitter, almost all Irish Crown officials were forced to declare themselves as supporters of either the Butler or the Talbot factions.
Thorndon in his early years in Ireland sought to act as a mediator between the rival factions. In 1442 he produced a memorandum on the state of Irish affairs, based, as he noted, on his thirty-eight years' experience of Crown service.At this time he was making every effort to be impartial, stressing that there were faults on both sides. What really mattered, as he pointed out, were the dire results of the feud. In particular impartial justice could not be obtained from the Courts where the interests of one faction or the other were involved, Irish Exchequer officials were not collecting Crown debts, and lavish grants of land to the supporters of whichever faction was in the ascendant had greatly depleted the Crown revenues. He proposed a number of remedies, including the strengthening of his own office and ensuring that the Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer was a trained lawyer (Irish Barons of the Court of Exchequer then often lacked any legal qualifications).
In 1443 the Butler–Talbot feud seemed to be dying down, but in 1444 it flared up again.The immediate cause of the conflict was Thorndon's refusal to reappoint William Chevir, justice of the Court of King's Bench and a key ally of Ormonde, as his deputy. Thorndon now abandoned any effort to mediate and declared himself to be firmly on the Talbot side. He produced a string of complaints against Ormonde and Chevir, covering a wide range of examples of corruption, bribery, maladministration, and disobedience to the Crown. Ormonde responded by calling a meeting of the Council at Drogheda, where he declared that Thorndon was deemed to have vacated his office, and accused him of treasonable conspiracy with the quarrelsome and litigious Thomas FitzGerald, Prior of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem at Kilmainham. He also produced a monk called Thomas Talbot, who testified that Thorndon had threatened Ormond's life, allegedly saying that: "I wish to be the first to cut his head off".
Thorndon and Prior FitzGerald fled to England where they charged Ormonde with treason, and (rather curiously) with necromancy, but the Privy Council, which was only concerned to end the feud, was unsympathetic to their complaints. No action was taken against Ormonde, and the Prior was permanently deprived of office in 1447: the Council's proposal that the Earl and the Prior settle their differences through trial by combat was vetoed personally by King Henry VI, who persuaded them to agree to a truce.
Thorndon, as far as is known, did not return to Ireland, although his later marriage to Jane d'Artois, widow of Lord Gormanston, suggests that he remained in contact with some of his former colleagues there.
Despite his unhappy experiences in Ireland, it was clearly felt by the Crown that Thorndon had acquired useful knowledge of the governance of the country: in 1458 he was confirmed in office as Treasurer of Ireland.Unsurprisingly he preferred to appoint a deputy to act in his place. He retired to Northumberland in 1460, shortly before the downfall of the Lancastrian dynasty which he had served so long and loyally. The new Yorkist regime, which was generally in favour of reconciliation with its former opponents, left him in peace: whether he maintained contacts with the exiled Henry VI or his Queen, Margaret of Anjou, is unknown. During the brief Readeption of Henry VI in 1470-1, he seems to have played no political role, probably because of his great age. He died in August 1477, aged almost ninety.
He married, sometime after 1450, when they were both rather advanced in years, Jane d'Artois, dowager Lady Gormanston; she was the daughter of the prominent Gascony-born military commander and landowner Sir Jenico d'Artois and his first wife Joan Taaffe of Liscarton, and widow of Christopher Preston, 3rd Baron Gormanston.
The Lord Deputy was the representative of the monarch and head of the Irish executive under English rule, during the Lordship of Ireland and then the Kingdom of Ireland. He deputised prior to 1523 for the Viceroy of Ireland. The plural form is Lords Deputy.
John Talbot, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury, 2nd Earl of Waterford, 8th Baron Talbot, KG was an English nobleman and soldier. He was the son of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, 1st Earl of Waterford, 7th Baron Talbot, 10th Baron Strange of Blackmere, and Maud Neville, 6th Baroness Furnivall.
James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond was the son of James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond. He was called 'The White Earl', and was esteemed for his learning. He was the patron of the Irish literary work, 'The Book of the White Earl'. His career was marked by his long and bitter feud with the Talbot family.
The Lord High Treasurer of Ireland was the head of the Exchequer of Ireland, chief financial officer of the Kingdom of Ireland. The designation High was added in 1695.
Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 5th Earl of Kildare was an Irish peer. Gerald was the son of Maurice FitzGerald, 4th Earl of Kildare and Elizabeth Burghersh.
Sir Laurence Merbury was an English-born statesman in Ireland who held the office of Treasurer of Ireland and was also Deputy to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
Robert Preston, 1st Viscount Gormanston (1435–1503) was an Irish peer and statesman of the fifteenth century who held the offices of Deputy to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland and Lord Deputy of Ireland.
Thomas Le Boteller, or Thomas Butler, nicknamed Thomas Bacach i.e. Thomas the Lame, was the illegitimate son of the 3rd Earl of Ormond, and a leading political figure in early fifteenth century Ireland. He held the offices of Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Lord Deputy of Ireland and Prior of Kilmainham. In his own lifetime, he was a highly unpopular statesman, who was accused by his numerous enemies of treason. He is now chiefly remembered as a professional soldier, who was present at the Siege of Rouen in 1418–19. He had previously fought in the sanguinary conflict known as the Battle of Bloody Bank near Dublin in 1402.
Richard Talbot was an English-born statesman and cleric in fifteenth-century Ireland. He was a younger brother of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury. He held the offices of Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was one of the leading political figures in Ireland for more than thirty years, but his career was marked by controversy and frequent conflicts with other statesmen. In particular, the Talbot brothers' quarrel with the powerful Earl of Ormonde was the main cause of the Butler–Talbot feud, which dominated Irish politics for decades, and seriously weakened the authority of the English Crown in Ireland.
James Cornwalsh was an Irish judge who held the office of Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer. He was a political figure of considerable importance in fifteenth-century Ireland, and a supporter of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond. He was murdered as a result of a feud over the possession of Baggotrath Castle, near Dublin.
Christopher Bernevall, or Barnewall (1370–1446) was an Irish politician and judge of the fifteenth century, who held the offices of Vice-Treasurer of Ireland and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He was deeply involved in the political controversies of his time, and was a leading opponent of the powerful Anglo-Irish magnate James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond. His elder son Nicholas also held office as Lord Chief Justice, and his younger son Robert was created the first Baron Trimleston.
John Chevir was an Irish judge and politician of the fifteenth century. He held the offices of Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and Master of the Rolls in Ireland, and was also one of the first recorded Speakers of the Irish House of Commons.
William Tynbegh, or de Thinbegh (c.1375-1424) was an Irish lawyer who had a long and distinguished career as a judge, holding office as Chief Justice of all three of the courts of common law and as Lord High Treasurer of Ireland. His career is unusual in that he left the Bench to become Attorney General for Ireland, but later returned to judicial office.
William Chevir was an Irish politician and judge, whose career was marked by accusations of oppression and corruption.
Christopher Preston, 2nd Baron Gormanston was an Anglo-Irish peer and statesman. He was accused of treason and imprisoned in 1418-19, but was soon released and restored to Royal favour.
Robert Dyke, Dyck or Dyche was an English-born cleric and judge who held high office in fifteenth-century Ireland. He was appointed to the offices of Archdeacon of Dublin, Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland, Lord High Treasurer of Ireland, and Master of the Rolls in Ireland.
Edward Somerton was an Irish barrister and judge who held the offices of Serjeant-at-law (Ireland) and judge of the Court of King's Bench (Ireland) and the Court of Common Pleas (Ireland). He was born in Ireland, possibly in Waterford. By 1426 he was a clerk in the Court of Chancery (Ireland), and was paid 26 shillings for his labours in preparing writs and enrolment of indentures. In 1427 he is recorded in London studying law at Lincoln's Inn. He returned to Ireland and was appointed King's Serjeant for life in 1437; he also acted as counsel for the city of Waterford, a position subsequently held by another future judge, John Gough.
Sir Jenico d'Artois, Dartas, Dartass or Dartasso was a Gascony-born soldier and statesman, much of whose career was spent in Ireland. He enjoyed the trust and confidence of three successive English monarchs, and became a wealthy landowner in Ireland.
Edward Dantsey or Dauntsey (c.1370-1430) was a fifteenth-century Bishop of Meath, who also held high political office in Ireland, serving as Lord High Treasurer of Ireland and twice as Deputy to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In a curious episode in 1426, he was wrongfully charged with theft, but acquitted.
John Gough, or John Gogh was an Irish barrister, judge and Crown official of the fifteenth century.