Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kendall, John (d.1485)

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KENDALL, JOHN (d. 1485), secretary to Richard III and architect, obtained in March 1461 the office of supervisor of the king's works; he was also cofferer to the king's household. He was probably one of those appointed to attend on the Duchess of Burgundy when she visited England in 1480. In 1481 he became one of the comptrollers of the public works for life, at a salary of 18l. 5s. a year, with an allowance of 9l. 2s. 6d. for his clerk. He is designated ‘servant’ or secretary to Richard, duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III, in a grant of 30 May 1483, by which he was also made keeper of the writs and rolls of the common pleas and chief clerk of the same court. A petition of Richard Tilles, which was presented some time in Edward V's reign, seems to show that Kendall was then one of the poor knights of Windsor. Tilles asks for the office of comptroller of the works, and erroneously speaks of Kendall as dead, possibly confusing him with another of the same name. Kendall became king's secretary under Richard III, who in addition to his other offices gave him those of assayer of the mint, keeper of the palace and park of Havering-atte-Bower, Essex, ranger of the Forest of Dean, and keeper of the prince's wardrobe. He also (28 March 1484) was made custodian of the exchange of Calais and in England over against foreign parts (9th Rep. Deputy-Keeper of Public Rec. App. ii. 79). Kendall accompanied Richard on his northern progress, was present at the delivery of the great seal to the master of the rolls on 1 Aug. 1485 (Rymer, Fœdera, xii. 272), and is stated to have fallen at Bosworth Field, while fighting for Richard III, on 22 Aug. 1485. He was attainted in the first parliament of Henry VII. On 7 Aug. 1486 commissioners were appointed to investigate his possessions, and he was then described as a traitor and late secretary to the late Duke of Gloucester. By grants dated 2 Feb. 1487–8 and 27 Jan. 1488–9 lands which he held at Berkeley were given to William Treffrey (Campbell, Materials for the History of Henry VII, Rolls Ser., i. 416, 537, ii. 236; cf. Trevelyan Papers, i. 87; Return of Members of Parliament, i. 358, 361, 364). Kendall also held land under the Bishop of Durham in Yorkshire, and was in the commission of the peace for the East Riding.

Another John Kendall (d. 1501?) was of a Norfolk or perhaps Yorkshire family (cf. Paston Letters, iii. 397, with Plumpton Correspondence, Camden Soc., p. 119). He was appointed ‘Turcopolier,’ or general of infantry, to the Knights of St. John in 1477 (cf. Castelli, Memorie storiche su la dignità … del Turcopiliere in Nuova raccolta di opuscoli di Autori Siciliani, i. 145), succeeding John Weston, but was not present at the siege of Rhodes in 1480 (Vertot, Hist. des Chevaliers Hospitaliers, 1778, vii. 439). Kendall was officially styled in that year the locum tenens of the grand prior in Italy, England, Flanders, and Ireland (Rymer, Fœdera, xii. 112, where all are commanded to help him), and in the same year the first medal struck in honour of an Englishman commemorated Kendall; it was probably made in Italy. It bears on the one side a bust, with the inscription, ‘Jo. Kendal Rhodi Tvrcvpellerivs,’ and on the reverse, with the arms of Kendall and of the Hospitallers, the words, ‘Tempore obsidionis Turcorum mcccclxxx.’ Kendall's arms are said to be found on the wall of the grand prior's house in Rhodes. One of the two examples of this medal extant was found in Knaresborough Forest; it passed into the possession of Thoresby, and thence to the collection of the Duke of Devonshire; it is now in the British Museum (Franks and Grueber, Medallic Illustrations of the Hist. of Great Britain and Ireland, i. 17). In order to raise money for the besiegers of Rhodes, Kendall was empowered by Pope Sixtus IV to grant indulgences and give facilities in confession. The forms were printed on parchment, and two copies, one from the press of Caxton and the other from that of Lettou (dated in 1480), are in the British Museum. One of the Plumptons was at the siege of Rhodes, and Kendall granted an indulgence to Dame Joan Plumpton, which is printed in the ‘Plumpton Correspondence,’ p. 119. Another form of indulgence, probably granted by Kendall, was also printed by Caxton, apparently in 1481. On 6 Dec. 1484 he was appointed, with the bishop of Durham and another, commissary to the pope (Rymer, xii. 253). In 1489 a new Turcopolier was appointed. Kendall succeeded John Weston as prior of the English Hospitallers about 1491. In 1492 he was a commissioner to arrange a peace with France (ib. xii. 481), and went on a similar mission to the Archduke Philip in February 1495–6 (ib. xii. 579). In November 1494 he was present at a tournament when Prince Henry was created Duke of York.

On 14 March 1495–6 a Frenchman, named Bernard de Vignolles, made at Rouen a long statement respecting a plot in favour of Perkin Warbeck, of which Kendall, John Horsey, archdeacon of London, and Jehan Thonge, a nephew of Kendall, were said to be the ringleaders. The accusation is very detailed, but the main point was that the three when in Rome sought out a Spanish friar who practised astrology, and was ready for money to take Henry VII's life. The story, though discredited, was not entirely improbable; Thonge was also a knight of St. John, and had been Turcopolier in 1470 (cf. Plumpton Corresp., Camd. Soc., p. 120). Kendall, however, was present at Calais in 1500 at the meeting of Henry VII and the Archduke Philip, and was one of those deputed to wait on Catherine of Aragon when she arrived in England in 1501. He apparently died in November of the same year.

A third John Kendall (fl. 1476) was admitted a vicar-choral of Southwell on 16 March 1476, and resigned the office on 16 Aug. 1486. He is frequently mentioned in the visitations as extremely profligate and violent.

[Dict. of Architecture, vol. iv.; Appendix ii. to the 9th Rep. Deputy-Keeper of Public Records has many grants to Kendall; Record Office Chancery Inquis. Post Mortem (Virtute Officii) Ric. III and Hen. VII, No. 88, taken 3 Nov. 1488, only has reference to Kendall's lands in Gloucestershire; Nicolas's Proceedings of the Privy Council, vi. cxii; Nicholas's Grants of King Edward V (Camd. Soc.), xxix. 30 (where the first and second Kendalls are treated as one person), 50; Davies's York Records, p. 164 sq.; Drake's Eboracum, p. 116; Thoresby's Ducatus Leodiensis; Letters and Papers of Richard III, ed. Gairdner (Rolls Ser.), i. 402, ii. 87, 104, 318 (this and the following pages contain, with some letters by Kendall, Vignolles' accusation, printed from Cotton. MS. Caligula, D. vi. 30, corrected by Rymer's transcript, Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 5485, fol. 320); Archæologia, xxvii. 173; Pinkerton's Medals, ii. 110; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. x. 378, xi. 29, 179, 200, contains a full account of the office of Turcopolier; Leach's Visitations and Memorials of Southwell (Camd. Soc.), pp. 31, &c.; authorities quoted.]

W. A. J. A.