Thomas Tuddenham

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Sir Thomas Tuddenham
Born 10 May 1401
Eriswell, Suffolk
Died 23 February 1462(1462-02-23) (aged 60)
Tower Hill
Buried Austin Friars, London
Spouse(s) Alice Wodehouse
Father Sir Robert Tuddenham

Sir Thomas Tuddenham (10 May 1401 – 23 February 1462) [1] was an influential Norfolk landowner, official and courtier. He served as Steward of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Keeper of the Great Wardrobe. During the Wars of the Roses he allied himself with the Lancastrian side, and after the Yorkist victory in 1461 was charged with treason and beheaded on Tower Hill on 23 February 1462.

Duchy of Lancaster royal duchy in England

The Duchy of Lancaster is, since 1399, the private estate of the British sovereign as Duke of Lancaster. The principal purpose of the estate is to provide a source of independent income to the Sovereign. The estate consists of a portfolio of lands, properties and assets held in trust for the Sovereign and is administered separately from the Crown Estate. The duchy consists of 18,433 ha of land holdings, urban developments, historic buildings and some commercial properties across England and Wales, particularly in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Savoy Estate in London. The Duchy of Lancaster is one of two royal duchies: the other is the Duchy of Cornwall, which provides income to the Prince of Wales.

Wardrobe (government) department of the kings household in medieval England

The King's Wardrobe, together with the Chamber, made up the personal part of medieval English government known as the King's household. Originally the room where the king's clothes, armour, and treasure were stored, the term was expanded to describe both its contents and the department of clerks who ran it. Early in the reign of Henry III the Wardrobe emerged out of the fragmentation of the Curia Regis to become the chief administrative and accounting department of the Household. The Wardrobe received regular block grants from the Exchequer for much of its history; in addition, however, the wardrobe treasure of gold and jewels enabled the king to make secret and rapid payments to fund his diplomatic and military operations, and for a time, in the 13th-14th centuries, it eclipsed the Exchequer as the chief spending department of central government.

Wars of the Roses Dynastic civil war in England during the 15th-century

The Wars of the Roses were a series of English civil wars for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster, associated with a red rose, and the House of York, whose symbol was a white rose. Eventually, the wars eliminated the male lines of both families. The conflict lasted through many sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1487, but there was related fighting before and after this period between the parties. The power struggle ignited around social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years' War, unfolding the structural problems of feudalism, combined with the mental infirmity and weak rule of King Henry VI which revived interest in Richard of York's claim to the throne. Historians disagree on which of these factors to identify as the main reason for the wars.


Parish church at Eriswell, Suffolk, where Sir Thomas Tuddenham was baptised Eriswell Church - - 208504.jpg
Parish church at Eriswell, Suffolk, where Sir Thomas Tuddenham was baptised


Thomas Tuddenham, born 10 May 1401 at Eriswell, Suffolk, and baptised in the parish church there, [2] was the younger son of Sir Robert Tuddenham (1366–1405) and Margaret Harling, the daughter of John Harling, esquire. [3]

Eriswell village in United Kingdom

Eriswell is a village and civil parish of Forest Heath in the English county of Suffolk. About forty scattered Archaeological finds have been made here, including Bronze Age battle axes, palstaves and rapiers. The greater part of these objects have been entrusted to the Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds while other items are in the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge. Eriswell is home of the re-formed Eriswell Village Football Club who play in the heart of the village on the public playing field. nicknamed 'The Stags' or 'The Well' Eriswell Village FC currently plays in the 3rd Division of the Plastic Trade Frames Bury and District Sunday League with the newly established Saturday team playing in the Glasswells Bury and District Saturday League. Eriswell's primary sponsor is Rands & Wilson. Eriswell currently play in White/Red/Blue with their away kit paying homage to the original team sporting their old home colours of Green and Black.


His elder brother, Robert, died in 1415, at which time Tuddenham inherited the family estates. However, as he was still underage his wardship and marriage fell to the Crown, and in July 1417 were granted to Sir John Rodenhale and John Wodehouse, esquire. [3] Tuddenham married Wodehouse's daughter in about 1418, and was granted livery of his lands in March 1423. [3]

On 30 June 1425 Wodehouse surrendered his office of steward of the Duchy of Lancaster in order that it could be granted to his son-in-law. Tuddenham was also knighted about this time, and perhaps through his father-in-law's influence entered the service of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter. His landholdings in Norfolk were augmented in 1434 when he inherited the manor of Oxburgh from a cousin. [3]

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter English military commander

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter was an English military commander during the Hundred Years' War, and briefly Chancellor of England. He was the third of the four children born to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress Katherine Swynford. To overcome their problematic parentage, his parents were married in 1396, and he and his siblings were legitimated on two separate occasions, in 1390 and again in 1397. He married the daughter of Sir Thomas Neville of Hornby, Margaret Neville, who bore him one son, Henry Beaufort. However, the child died young.

After Exeter's death in 1426, Tuddenham aligned himself with William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk (1396–1450), Exeter's successor as the leading nobleman in Norfolk. As an ally of Suffolk, Tuddenham was the recipient of numerous appointments and grants in East Anglia and in the household of Henry VI. He was Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in 1432, and Member of Parliament for Suffolk in 1431, and for Norfolk in 1432, 1435 and 1442. [3] On 29 September 1443 he and Suffolk were jointly appointed to the chief stewardship of the north parts of the Duchy of Lancaster. On 26 October 1446 Tuddenham was appointed Keeper of the Great Wardrobe in the royal household. [3]

William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk 15th-century English noble

William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk,, nicknamed Jackanapes, was an English magnate, statesman, and military commander during the Hundred Years' War. He became a favourite of the weak king Henry VI of England, and consequently a leading figure in the English government. Due to his influence in state policy, Suffolk came to be associated with many of the royal government's failures of the time, particularly on the war in France, earning him significant unpopularity and eventually leading to his downfall. He also appears prominently in Shakespeare's Henry VI, parts 1 and 2.

East Anglia region of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

East Anglia is a geographical area in the East of England. The area included has varied but the legally defined NUTS 2 statistical unit comprises the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, including the City of Peterborough unitary authority area. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Angles, a tribe whose name originated in Anglia, northern Germany.

Henry VI of England 15th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. The only child of Henry V, he succeeded to the English throne at the age of nine months upon his father's death, and succeeded to the French throne on the death of his maternal grandfather Charles VI shortly afterwards.

In 1449–50 Tuddenham funded a visit to Rome in the Holy Year by the theologian and historian John Capgrave, who subsequently wrote his The Solace of Pilgrimes; A Description of Rome for Tuddenham. [4] [5]

In Judaism and Christianity, the concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. In the Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fiftieth year, during which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.

John Capgrave British historian and theologian

John Capgrave was an English historian, hagiographer and scholastic theologian. He is remembered chiefly for the "Nova Legenda Angliae", the first comprehensive collection of the lives of English saints.

Suffolk fell from power in 1450, and according to Ross, "The primary theme of the Paston Letters in the early 1450's is the attempt to bring Suffolk's East Anglian affinity to justice, at least as John Paston and his circle viewed it, and in particular Sir Thomas Tuddenham and John Heydon" of Baconsthorpe. [6] Tuddenham lost his offices of Justice of the Peace in Norfolk, Keeper of the Great Wardrobe, and Steward of the north parts of the Duchy of Lancaster, [3] and on 1 August 1450 a general commission of oyer and terminer was issued to the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Oxford, Lord Scales, William Yelverton, and members of the Norfolk gentry. [6] The commissioners convicted Tuddenham of more than 300 offences, and on 16 November 1450 fined him £1396; however in the following July, when power at court had been consolidated in the hands of the Duke of Somerset, Tuddenham was remitted all but £200 of the fine, and many of the charges against him were later dismissed. [7] By 1457–8 some sort of rapprochement had been reached between Tuddenham and Oxford, and the Earl had granted Tuddenham an annuity of £10 per annum. [8] Nevertheless, Tuddenham and Heydon's political influence "never again reached the same heights it had done in the 1440s", and it was not until March 1455 that both men were reinstated as Justices of the Peace in Norfolk. [8] [3]

During the Wars of the Roses in the 1450s Tuddenham and his associates aligned themselves with the Lancastrian forces of Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI, and at the end of 1458 Tuddenham was appointed Treasurer of the Royal Household. [3]

Depiction of Austin Friars, London, burial place of Sir Thomas Tuddenham, circa 1550 Austin Friary copperplate map.png
Depiction of Austin Friars, London, burial place of Sir Thomas Tuddenham, circa 1550

Edward IV came to the throne after the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461, and shortly thereafter an order for Tuddenham's arrest was issued, and his estates were confiscated. [9] [3] In February 1462 Tuddenham was allegedly involved in a plot to murder the King. He was arrested, and "at Edward IV's bidding" was tried and sentenced to death for High Treason by John Tiptoft, 1st Earl of Worcester, together with the Earl of Oxford, the Earl's eldest son and heir, Aubrey de Vere, John Montgomery [10] and William Tyrrell of Gipping, Suffolk. [11] [5] [12] [3] [13] Sources differ as to the way in which the King discovered the alleged conspiracy; one account claims that Aubrey de Vere revealed the plot to the King, while another states that letters sent from the Earl to Margaret of Anjou were instead taken to the King by the Earl's messenger. No records survive of the trials of the various conspirators to shed light on the subject. [14]

The executions were recorded in several chronicles of the period, one of which contained the following account: [15]

And the 12th day of February the Earl of Oxenford and the Lord Aubrey Vere, his son, Sir Thomas Tuddenham, William Tyrrell and other were brought into the Tower of London. And upon the 20th day of the said month the said Lord Aubrey was drawn from Westminster to the Tower Hill, and there beheaded. And the 23rd day of the said month of February Sir Thomas Tuddenham, [16] William Tyrrell, and John Montgomery were beheaded at said Tower Hill. And upon the Friday next following, which was the 26th day of February, the Earl of Oxenford was led upon foot from Westminster unto the Tower Hill, and there beheaded, and after the corpse was had unto the Friar Augustines, and there buried in the choir.

Tuddenham, too, was buried in the church of the Austin Friars in London. [3] [17] His lands, including his manor of Oxburgh, were inherited by his sister, Margaret Tuddenham, who had married Sir Edmund Bedingfield. [3] [1]

Marriage and issue

Tuddenham married, about 1418, Alice Wodehouse, the daughter of his guardian, John Wodehouse. The couple lived together until about 1425, during which time Alice gave birth to a son who died young. Both Tuddenham and his wife later denied that the marriage had been consummated, and Alice admitted that her father's chamberlain was the father of her infant son. By 1429, Tuddenham and his wife were formally separated, and Alice became a nun at Crabhouse Priory in Norfolk. The marriage was annulled on 22 November 1436. [3] [18]


  1. 1 2 Greenstreet 1878, pp. 82–3.
  2. Greenstreet 1878, p. 83.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Castor 2004.
  4. Lucas 2004.
  5. 1 2 Mills 1911, p. 1.
  6. 1 2 Ross 2011, p. 30.
  7. Ross 2011, pp. 31–2.
  8. 1 2 Ross 2011, p. 32.
  9. Ross 2011, p. 42.
  10. John Montgomery (c.1426 – 23 February 1462) of Faulkbourne, Essex, was the son of Sir John Montgomery and Elizabeth Boteler. He married Anne Darcy, the daughter of Sir Robert Darcy of Maldon, Essex, by whom he had no issue; Richardson III 2011 , pp. 261–2; Ross 2011 , p. 42.
  11. Kohl 2004.
  12. Cokayne & 1945, p. 238.
  13. William Tyrrell of Gipping was the son of Sir John Tyrrell, Speaker of the House of Commons, and his wife Alice Coggeshall (d.1422), daughter and heir of Sir William Coggeshall (d.1426). He married Margaret Darcy, the daughter of Robert Darcy of Maldon, Essex, by whom he was the father of Sir James Tyrrell; Horrox 2004; Horrox 2008.
  14. Ross 2011, pp. 39–41.
  15. Ross 2011, p. 39.
  16. Mills gives the date of Tuddenham's execution as 22 February.
  17. Cokayne 1945, p. 239.
  18. Mills, 1911, p. 1.

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