A Compendium of Irish Biography/York, Richard, Duke of

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York, Richard, Duke of, son of the Earl of Cambridge, a scion of the Plantagenet royal family of England, was born about the year 1411. Through his mother, daughter of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, he inherited extensive estates in England and Ireland, and pretensions to the Crown, as being descended from Lionel, third son of Edward III., the reigning family being descended from John of Gaunt, the fourth. In 1449 the Duke of York was sent into virtual exile in Ireland as Lord-Lieutenant, but stipulated for complete freedom of action in the government, and for the entire revenue of the country, besides a substantial yearly allowance. On the 6th of July he landed at Howth with much pomp, accompanied by his duchess, and was well received by the people of the Pale, with whom his ancestors had been popular. At the head of a large force he advanced into the country of the O'Byrnes and brought them to terms, and acted with such tact and discretion that before Michaelmas about a score of the Irish "kings, dukes, earls, and barons came to the Viceroy, swore to be true liegemen to Henry VI., and to the Duke and his heirs, gave hostages, and entered into indentures." The English reports of these affairs added that so great was his influence that "the wildest Irishman in Ireland would before twelve months be sworn English." [1] On 21st October 1449, the Duke's son George, afterwards Duke of Clarence, was born in Dublin Castle, and the Earls of Kildare and Ormond stood his sponsors. At a Parliament convened the same month. Acts were passed against coigne, livery, and other exactions. The English of Cork memorialized the Duke to restrain the contentions of the English lords of that county:—"We, the King's poor subjects of this city of Cork, Kinsale, and Youghal, desire your lordships to send hither two good justices to see this matter ordered and amended, and some captain with twenty Englishmen, that may be captains over us all; and we will rise with him, when need is, to redress these enormities, all at our cost; and if you do not, then we are all cast away; and then, farewell Munster for ever." [1] The English of Waterford and Wexford were in no better plight. MacGeoghegan, lord of Kinelea, in Westmeath, had been amongst those who submitted, and even presented the Duke with 380 kine, but he shortly afterwards ravaged the ducal domains in Meath. The Viceroy marched against him, but MacGeoghegan had such a force of well-appointed cavalry that he was fain to make terms and forego all claims for the damage committed. The Duke was soon in want of funds (the Irish revenues being very uncertain, and the allowances from England not forthcoming), and was compelled to pledge his jewels and plate, and borrow from his friends. In September 1450 he suddenly returned to England, leaving the eldest son of the Earl of Ormond as Deputy. In the ensuing wars of the Roses, Irish contingents fought on both sides, particularly on that of the Yorkists. In 1459 the Duke revisited Ireland, where he was enthusiastically received. Stimulated by the presence of the Duke, and in answer to the decrees of the Lancastrian Parliament at Coventry, the Irish Parliament at Trim asserted the independence of the legislature of Ireland, and affirmed the right to separate laws and statutes, and a distinct coinage, and that the King's subjects in Ireland were not bound to answer any writs except those under the Great Seal of Ireland. A messenger who arrived with English writs for the apprehension of the Duke was tried for treason against the Irish Parliament, and hanged, drawn, and quartered. The King's friends then made an unsuccessful effort to stir up the Irish septs to revolt. Subsequently, the Yorkists gaining some important successes in England, the Duke committed the government to the Earl of Kildare, crossed to Chester, and made his way by rapid stages to London, which he entered in triumph. His brief subsequent career, and his defeat and death (31st December 1460) at the battle of Wakefield, are matters of English history. [2] [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Viceroys of Ireland, History: John T. Gilbert. Dublin, 1865.
  2. Biographical Dictionary: William R. Cates. London, 1867.