Anglo-French Relations The Cloak of Secrecy A personal voyage of detection

King Richard the Third's Secretary of State: A son of Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal?

Given that William de la Pole was an uncle through marriage for Jean de Foix, this had to be an interesting and important link if John Kendall was Jean’s son. (I also note that in 1380 there was a Stonor fee in the Manor of Pyrton, Oxfordshire valued at £5. The original Pyrton overlords were the English Grailly family, from whom it passed to John Gise, married to a sister of the last English Grailly.)

In 1483 he was made Keeper of the writs and rolls of the Common Bench. This seems to indicate, not just competence and trust, but also practical legal training. In July 1483 he attended the Coronation of King Richard dressed in a livery of scarlet. Also attending was Sir Richard Charlton.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2009 suggests that Kendall ‘may have been the son of John Kendall of Gloucester’, but gives no support for this and the dates would seem to cast doubt on this. The details on John Kendall given by Paul Murray Kendall in his book ‘Richard the Third’ (1972) are as follows:

That John Kendall, Richard III’s Secretary was the son of another John Kendall who had served in the Household of the Duke of York. (I have not seen any support for the statement that he was the son of that earlier John Kendall). He subsequently qualifies this to ‘appears to have been’.

In his notes to the text Kendall states that ‘Considerable obscurity attends the identity and life of Richard’s Secretary, John Kendall, since no less than four distinct John Kendalls make their appearance in documents of the 15th and early 16th centuries.’ He then goes on to explain why each of the others could not have been Richard’s Secretary.

P.M. Kendall indicates that Richard III’s secretary, John Kendall, fulfilled ‘the most important role in the government which a King’s Secretary had yet achieved’.

Sir John Howard became close to Richard as a result of campaigning in the north against the Scots in 1481. Richard then sold Howard his East Anglian Manor of Wysnowe which was transacted by John Kendall.



  1. Since King Richard’s will is of such importance these days in the debate about where he intended to be interred, do you have a source for your statement that he changed his will to appoint his nephew John de la Pole as his successor? Some people argue that we cannot know Richard’s intention in that regard since he left no will, while others are of the opinion that Richard, like other medieval men going to battle, certainly left a will, but that it was probably destroyed by Tudor’s men after Bosworth.

    1. Thank you for this. I do not have a primary source but secondary sources are many eg:
      William Toone’s The Chronological Historian (1828) Vol 1 p.110
      James Anderson’s A genealogical History of the House of Yvery (1742) Vol.1 p294
      The Works of Francis Bacon (edition 1854) Vol 1 p.739
      King Richard’s appointment of John de la Pole as his successor is what gave rise to the claims of the ‘White Rose’ please see Desmond Seward’s book of that title.

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