The De la Pole's
It seems likely that the brothers, John, William and Richard De La Pole were, on their arrival at Hull, orphans of an important family. Strangers to merchandizing and, in view the important official apointments to be held by Richard as early as 1316-17, that they had already been settled, at Hull for some years. It is significant that Edward had earlier made himself responsible for the education.
Richard, received Letters of Safe Conduot from the King in 1316 on going abroad to foreign parts to buy corn and other victuals and to bring the same into England. A great famine was then raging, especially in the north country where the price of wheat and salt had risen sixfold. Richard had to give security that he would not take the foodstuffs to Flanders or to the Scots. At the same time, a fellow burgess arranged to go abroad and buy corn and carry it into the town of Hull for sustenance of himself and his household.
Three De La Pole brothers appear to have been in partnership at Hull in 1319, when they were jointly creditors of Ralph de Grene, a Pontefract merchant. for a loan of £20. There is no further association with Hull of John, the youngest brother who two years later was in business at London where he made a loan. of £40 in conjunction with a London merchant.
Early in 1317 the two elder brothers were appointed joint deputies at Hull to the Kings Butler. From 1318 Richard alone executed the office at Hull which he appears to have held till his appointment as King's Butler in 1327 when he went to reside in London at Lombard Street. Riohard was in 1318 granted a writ of aid whilst with the Butler at Northampton, and commissioned to purvey wines for the King at Hull, the wine to remain in the custody of the merchants and the town bailiffs until the merchants had obtained payment at the Exchequer.
John Rotenhering, who lived in Wyke in 1293 and in 1311 became the first the King's Warden of Kingston upon Hull, appears to have had the brothers, William and Richard De la Pole under his proteotion. In the early years of the 14th century he was probably the wealthiest merchant and shipowner in Kingston Upon Hull, One of his aquisitions was some land at the south-east corner of Monkgate, which later became the berth of the Barton ferry.
By 1332 he lived in High Street close to Grimsby Lane until his death in 1328. A licence was granted for the founding of a chantry in the newly built chancel of the Holy Trinity Church , Hull, where Rotenhering was buried. William and Richard De La Pole, being executers of his will, took over the house and custody of his daughter. They sold his ship "La Codyere" and after provisions for the family the estate was left in the hands of the two brothers. In 1340 on the death of Alicia Rotenhering the house passed to William De La Pole.
1339 During the war with France, Edward iii, and the Queen's jewels were in pawn. The crown of England was in pawn to the Archbishop of Treves, for the payment of 50,000 golden florins; and indeed the King himself was in pawn, for he was engaged not to sail to England without the permission of his creditors. At this critical period William de la Pole, with other commissioners of the English monarch, entered into a convention with the Archbishop of Treves respecting the repayment of these 50,000 florins and other monies which had been lent to the King. At this time Edward acknowledged himself " bound to his beloved merchant, William de la Pole, for £76,180., which sum he faithfully promised to pay off before the end of the year. In order to raise this extraordinary sum, Sir William was obliged to mortgage the whole of his property.
This act of loyal devotion was generously rewarded by Edward, in various ways. He made the Hull Merchant a Knight, and by letters patent conferred on him and his heirs 500 marks per year, in crown rents, with a promise of an additional thousand marks per year, in case he recovered his right of inheritance within the kingdom of France. As soon as Edward returned from France, he made Sir William first Gentleman of the Bed-chamber, then Lord of Holderness, and he afterwards a Baron of the Exchequer.
William de la Pole continued to advance loans for the use of the King up to the year 1352, after he (Sir William) had retired into comparative seclusion.
The princely merchant continued a constant benefactor to the town of Kingston-upon-Hull, and availing himself of the favour of his Sovereign, he obtained for it an increase of its privileges and immunities; and the De la Poles became to this place what the Cliffords were to Skipton, and the Talbots to Sheffield. Before his death, which happened in 1366, he founded a monastery and hospital here, to the glory of God and the benefit of the poor; but he was summoned from this world before the house was complete, and his son and successor, Sir Michael de la Pole, completed the pious work. Sir William and his lady were buried in the chancel of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Hull.
Sir Michael was no less a favourite with Richard II, than his father had been with Edward III. In 1354 he was in the retinue of Henry Duke of Lancaster, and embarking in an expedition to France. Four years later he took part in the great invasion of France, on which occasion the greatest nobles and most illustrious warriors of England attended their Sovereign. A little later he married the daughter of Sir John Wingfield, of Suffolk whose mother was heir of Gilbert Glanville, Earl of Suffolk, and in whose right the Earldom was afterwards conferred upon him (Sir Michael de la Pole). By this lady he had seven children. When war broke out again between France and England, we find Sir Michael de la Pole, in the train of the highest and bravest warriors of the land, doing battle for the honour of England. The Hull Knight ever fights under the banner of the Duke of Lancaster.
In 1376 his name is mentioned as Mayor of Hull, and in the same year he was summoned to parliament as the Admiral of the King's Fleets in the Northern Parts, i. e. from the mouth of the Thames to the north. His retinue were 140 men at arms, 140 archers, 1 banneret, 8 knights, and 130 squires. Richard II. commissioned him to act as ambassador to some of the Italian courts, and in 1383 that monarch made him Lord Chancellor of England. Thus he became one of the most powerful men in the kingdom.
In 1384 he founded a Hospital here, and commenced the erection of the splendid mansion at Hull, afterwards known as Suffolk Palace and in 1385 he was created Earl of Suffolk. He was likewise granted £500. a year out of the public revenue for the support of his new dignity.
Suffolk Palace was situated at the corner of Lowgate and Alfred Gelder Street. It was seized by the crown in 1504 and became the Kings Manor.
In less than a year of his being made Chancellor, he, by farming the King's customs, and by other emoluments, had purchased lands to the amount of £1,000 per annum, besides accumulating large sums of money. It was strongly suspected that he could not so suddenly have amassed so much wealth, but by the abuse of the royal favour.
The parliament therefore presented an address to the King, desiring that be should be dismissed from his post. To this address Richard indignantly replied that the parliament ought to attend to the business about which they were called, and not to meddle with what did not belong to them; and he haughtily added, that to please the parliament he would not turn out the meanest scullion in his kitchen.
Parliament was not happy and the King was no longer able to protect his favourite. The Earl was not only removed from his office of Chancellor, but also summoned to give an account of his administration. He was compelled to restore all the grants he had received from the King, and was confined to Windsor Castle.
No sooner was the parliament broken up, than the King recalled him to court, together with his other favourite, Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland, whose estate had been confiscated. These two noblemen and Alexander Neville, Archbishop of York, were the only persons in whom Richard placed confidence. The Earl and the Duke were loaded with fresh favours, and as if he had intended to make satisfaction to the Earl for what he had suffered, the King caused him to be clothed in royal robes, and to sit at table with him.
The restored favourites endeavoured to improve the royal favor to their own advantage and the ruin of their enemies, among whom the chief were the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Arundel, who, by strict examination of their conduct, had occasioned their condemnation; but the Duke of Gloucester and the other lords, seeing their destruction determined on, assembled an army of about 40,000 men, marched at their head to the King, and denouncing the ministers as traitors, demanded their removal and punishment.
The King found it necessary to give a favourable answer; and the accused peers consulted their own safety by absenting themselves from court. They were afterwards accused in parliament of high treason, and the Earl of Suffolk and the Archbishop of York were condemned to exile, and their estates confiscated. Thus hurled from his high state of greatness and splendour, Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, retired into France in 1389, and died at Paris in the same year, of a broken heart, at the age fifty-five.
In 1402 Michael de la Pole, the second Earl of Suffolk of that name, was restored to the titles and estates of his father, and accompanied Henry V. in his first expedition to France. During the siege of Harfleur he greatly distinguished himself, and gave many signal proofs of his courage and military capacity. But the fatigues of the siege, and the unusual heat of the season, produced a malignant disease, which made dreadful ravages in the army, and the Earl fell a victim to it on the 18th of September, 1415. In the account of the taking of Harfleur, given in the Liber De Illmtribus Henricus, Capgrave says, "many of the soldiers fell sick of the bloody flux; and the Earl of Suffolk and the Bishop of Norwich, Courtenay by name, died of the sickness." His honours and estates descended to his eldest son, Michael, who likewise attended the King in this expedition, and was then at Harfleur. This, the third Earl of Suffolk, did not long enjoy his title, for in a few weeks after the death of his father he was slain, valiantly fighting by the side of his Sovereign, in the memorable battle of Agincourt, on the 24th of October, 1415.
William de la Pole, the fourth Earl of Suffolk (brother to the third Earl), was distinguished alike in the field and in the cabinet.
With a retinue of thirty lances and four score and ten archers he accompanied the King in his expedition to France in 1417. This was the first of twenty four campaigns to France and he served seventeen years on the continent without ever returning to his native country. When the English were extending their conquests in France, in the beginning of the reign of Henry VI., this Earl bore a distinguished part in the war, and gained many signal victories; and on the death of that renowned General, the Earl of Salisbury, at the memorable siege of Orleans, in 1428, the chief command of the besieging army devolved on the Earl of Suffolk, who continued the attacks with unabated vigour. But the laurels which the army had gathered began to wither in his keeping; the heroic deeds of that military and political prodigy ”the Maid of Orleans” turned the fortune of the war, and ultimately expelled the English from the French territory.
In the following year the war between England and France was renewed, and the loss of Normandy, which followed, was attributed to Suffolk. He was accused of having delivered Maine, the key of Normandy, to the French, for the accomplishment of the marriage of the King and Margaret of Anjou which he had arranged. The whole province of Maine having been ceded to France, as one of the conditions of the treaty of the marriage. He was further charged with having murdered the Duke of Gloucester, and with having removed from the King's presence all virtuous counsellors, and filled their places with his own creatures.He was also accused of other crimes some of which were improbable.
1450 the parliament met, and the Commons presented to the Lords an indictment against him. The Duke was advised to refer himself to the King's award, who, by his own authority, banished him for five years. But his enemies foreseeing that on the first favourable opportunity he would be recalled, and reinstated in his former power, were determined on his destruction. He was accordingly met on his passage to France by an English ship, called the Nicholas, belonging to his enemy the Duke of Exeter, Constable of the Tower, the Captain of which seized the Duke, brought him into Dover roads, and struck off his head on the side of a long boat.
Thus fell the most powerful man in the kingdom who, in so many campaigns, distinguished himself at the head of the English armies in France, and had lost his grandfather, his father, two uncles, and his brother, in the wars of that country; who had ruled the cabinet of London, had been a Privy Councillor fifteen years, and for thirty years a Knight of the Garter; and no enquiry was made after the perpetrators of this illegal act of violence. His mutilated body was found upon the sands at Dover, by one of his chaplains. and buried, By his will, dated January, 27th, 1450, he desired that his "wretched body" should be buried "in the Charter House at Hull, with a fair monument."*
Whatever might be his errors as a minister of state, William de la Pole was to Hull a distinguished benefactor, and the town received through his influence numerous marks of royal favor.
From him was descended John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, who married Elizabeth Plantagenet, sister of Edward IV. This Earl aspired to the throne, but Richard II, after the death of his only son, the Prince of Wales, declared the Earl of Lincoln presumptive heir to the crown. The battle of Bosworth Field, which was fought on the 22nd of August, 1485, destroyed these aspiring hopes, by placing Henry, Earl of Richmond, on the throne.