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?

In London it is probable that it was Richard III’s Secretary who leased in 1482 from the Abbot of Westminster a piece of ground on what is now Whitehall, being 520 feet in length and in width 63 feet at the west end 68 at the east and 100 in the middle. At the same time he obtained a lease of another piece of ground being 100 feet long and 66 wide. It seems that four years later these leases were transferred.

Dr Horrox records that the City of Southampton had representatives in London with regard to the City’s privileges, and they incurred expenses including ‘a gallon of wine presented unto my said Master Secretary and to his wife’. She also notes that John Kendall had at least one son. She bases this on the will drawn up by Thomas Barowe in June 1499, where there were a number of bequests and in the middle of the list are bequests to the son of Robert Brackenbury, who received 40 pounds and the son of John Kendall who received the same sum.  Barowe had been Richard of York’s Chancellor and was made Master of the Rolls after his accession. He received the Great Seal from Richard in the chapel at Nottingham castle, three weeks before the battle of Bosworth, and Kendall was one of the witnesses (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2009)). Robert Brackenbury was Treasurer to Richard and eventually Sheriff of Kent. He had also been Lieutenant of the Tower of London until replaced by James Tyrrell, because, it is said, he would not kill the two princes, the sons of King Edward.

Against that background I set out the collection of facts representing the circumstantial evidence supporting for my conclusion that John Kendall, Richard III’s Secretary, was a younger son of Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal:

  • Jean de Foix was captured in the Tower of London at the time of the Battle of Northampton in 1460.
  • With him were among others Lords De La Warr and Lovell. It was reported that they were persuaded to become Yorkist supporters.
  • De Foix and his father had a long history of loyally supporting the Lancastrian Kings from whom they received many benefits.
  • However, it was also true that Jean de Foix had just spent seven years in a French prison as a result of his fighting, on the English side, the last battle of the ‘Hundred years War’ – Castillon.


  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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