King Richard the Third’s Secretary of State: A son of Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal?
In conducting research for my book I have traced many people and their activities and connections. One of the most interesting and seemingly unresolved mysteries related to the familial background to John Kendall, King Richard the Third’s Secretary of State.
He was interesting because, unlike most of Richard’s other Councillors, he seems to have lacked a ‘landed’ background or familial patronage which would normally have accompanied such an appointment. He held not just an important position in Richard’s administration, but it is clear that he was also very close to him personally, and died fighting alongside him at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
There existed a number of Kendall families, all of which could have claimed him as kin. They have not. There are a number of historians who have sought to point to his origins. They have not done this conclusively.
My research led me to the conclusion that John Kendall was a younger son of Jean de Foix, Earl of Kendal. The family of Grailly or Grelley had a long history of involvement with the administration of English affairs in Gascony and also had an early presence in England. In the 1380’s they changed their name from Grailly to de Foix. England was the principal trading partner with Gascony and the main family enjoying special privileges were the de Grailly/de Foix. Most Gascons had considered themselves English for some 300 years before Gascony was lost to France in 1453. In 1461 Louis XI granted a continuance of the special trading privileges enjoyed by the city of Bordeaux, which once again facilitated trade with England. I propose that one of the reasons that a younger son of Jean de Foix was left in England was to establish a direct familial connection with England following the loss of Gascony. This would have been in line with the family’s earlier history of developing areas of influence.