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?

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester had the appointment of Constable of Colchester Castle, and its keeping which included some fields, the Hundred of Tendring and part of a water-mill in Essex, until 1447 when he died. It was then granted to Henry VI’s wife Margaret d’Anjou. With the arrival of the Yorkists it was granted to Sir John Howard. Immediately after Bosworth a Thomas Kendall was in 1485, granted by Henry VII the Constableship for life, ‘for service as well within the realm as in foreign parts’. De Vere, Earl of Oxford who had married Margaret Neville, decided that he wanted this appointment and in November 1496 Thomas Kendall yielded this to him. This was confirmed by Henry VIII in May 1509 with a detailed document of grant. (In 1509 de Vere had married as his second wife Elizabeth Scrope, sister to Margaret, who had married Edmund de La Pole who was now in the Tower). If this Thomas Kendall had been useful to Henry ‘beyond the seas’, that almost certainly meant France/Brittany. This must have been a different Thomas Kendall to the son of John Kendall based on the age that he would have had to have been to have fulfilled a useful function. He might have been a brother to John Kendall, the Secretary, or no relevant relation.

In February 1498 the State Papers record a ‘Licence for Gaston de Foys (Foix), Earl of Kendall, to bring into England from Gascony a ship called the Seynt John de Luce laden with 200 tuns of Gascon wine’ (presumably duty free).  Thomas Kendall of the City of London would be about 23; was this a shipment to set him up in the wine business using the many vineyards of the de Foix in Gascony, and probably a long history of wine trade with England and its merchants?

The records of those attending Henry VII’s funeral in 1509 included John Kendale, a ‘Squire of the Household’. In 1509 Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon, his brother Arthur’s widow. Catherine’s step-mother was Germaine de Foix-Grailly. What Catherine thought of her I have not discovered. Catherine was a regular correspondent with her father Ferdinand, King of Spain. She was one of the first to use a sophisticated cypher for her correspondence with him, and she introduced the use of the cypher to Henry VII who then adopted it for English government use.



  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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