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 the book of ‘The Kendalls of Austry’, Mr. H. Kendall makes mention of certain Acts of Parliament relating to the attainder of John Kendall. One of these, he says includes ‘The Baronnie Lordshippe and Manor of Kendall and the Lordshippe of Weardale’. If this is correct, then someone at that time (1486) must have believed that John Kendall had something to do with the Earl of Kendal. Weardale was part of the holding of John, Duke of Bedford (as Earl of Kendal) in 1424 (Townley MS DD Nr 1477). On the other hand this could just have been a mistake made by Parliamentary investigators. Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal died in December 1485, and his son Gaston de Foix-Candalle in France inherited the title
  • Jean de Foix’s contact with England continued after his departure in 1460 – in 1462 a servant of his was reported as returning to him at Aragon with news of happenings at the English court – and in 1498 his son Gaston was granted a licence to import wine
  • John Kendall married Elizabeth Charlton. Her Father, Sir Thomas, was one of the Judges that tried the defenders of the Tower of London in 1460 – Jean de Foix was one of those.
  • Finally, no one seems to have come forward and claimed John Kendall as kin which might be regarded as strange.

This collection of circumstantial evidence, taken together, leads me to conclude that Richard the Third’s secretary was John Kendall, a younger son of Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal. I conclude also that he had been left in England in 1460, initially as a surety for the conduct of Jean de Foix, and with a view to his being raised as an Englishman, with the ability to establish an English power and trading base, following the loss of direct English involvement in Gascony in 1453. I do not think that it was a coincidence that in the year following Jean de Foix’s return to France, Louis XI granted a continuance of the special trading privileges enjoyed by the city of Bordeaux.

So with the help of Marguerite, Duchess of Brittany, Henry Tudor had arrived and swept the field at Bosworth, and had then set about punishing the opposition and rewarding his followers. My problem now became tracking Kendall continuity through attainders and the actions of the ruthless Tudors. If John Kendall had been born in 1450-2 then he might have married circa 1475. A son would have been about ten years old at his attainder. Aged 25, say, around 1500, that son might start to appear in records on his own account.



  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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