Fauconberg, Thomas (DNB00)

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FAUCONBERG, THOMAS, The Bastard of, sometimes called Thomas the Bastard (d. 1471), was the natural son of Sir William Nevill, baron Fauconberg in 1429 and earl of Kent in 1462, who took an active part in 1461 in setting Edward IV on the throne in the place of Henry VI. In 1471 the Bastard was in the service of the Earl of Warwick, and zealously supported the earl's attempt to reinstate Henry VI. He was appointed the captain of ‘Warwick's navy,’ and was directed to cruise about St. George's Channel between Dover and Calais to intercept assistance coming to Edward. About the date of the battle of Tewkesbury (4 May), where Edward gained a complete victory, the Bastard received orders to raise the county of Kent in behalf of Warwick and Henry VI. He marched through Kent and Essex, and collected a large number of men. Nicholas Faunt, the mayor of Canterbury, actively assisted him. On 14 May the Bastard appeared at Aldgate and demanded admission to the city of London. This was refused, and the Bastard set fire to the eastern suburbs. The citizens met the attack vigorously, and pursued the Bastard and his army as far as Stratford and Blackwall, but the damage his followers wrought on the banks of the Thames was long remembered (cf. Wright, Political Songs, ii. 277). The Bastard afterwards made his way westward to Kingston-upon-Thames in pursuit of Edward IV. Lord Scales, who held London for Edward, recognised the king's danger, for the Bastard's army was estimated at twenty thousand men, and recruits were stated to be still coming in. Scales sent word to the Bastard that Edward IV was quitting England, and thus induced the Bastard to return to Blackheath. Thence the Bastard journeyed with six hundred horsemen to Rochester and Sandwich. He soon learned there that Warwick's cause was lost. Edward marched on Sandwich and captured thirteen ships with most of the Bastard's immediate followers. The Bastard himself escaped to Southampton, where the Duke of York took him prisoner. He was taken thence to the castle of Middleham, Yorkshire, and there was beheaded on 22 Sept. 1471. His head was set on London Bridge, ‘looking into Kentward’ (Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, iii. 17). A brother is stated to have been a prisoner at the same time, but took sanctuary at Beverley (ib.)

[Warkworth's Chronicle (Camd. Soc.), pp. 19, 20, 65; Stow's Chronicle (1632), pp. 424–5; Hasted's Kent, iv. 260, 433; Hardyng's Chronicle, ed. Grafton and Ellis, pp. 459–60; Polydore Vergil's History (Camd. Soc.), pp. 153, 154.]

S. L. L.