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Buckingham’s Insurrection at Newbury
Rebel Town Again, 1483

At the very end of the War of the Roses, Newbury was one of those towns that became the scene of an armed insurrection. Its object was to bring about the deposition of the supposed usurper, Richard III, and the adoption of the last of the Lancastrians – Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond – as King of England. Plots against the Yorkist Richard were formed in various parts of the kingdom and Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham – who, as the descendant of Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, had a claim to the throne himself – threw in his lot with Tudor, took up arms and raised the standard of revolt in various parts of England. Buckingham himself raised forces in Wales. His followers included the Marquis of Dorset, the Bishop of Exeter and others in Devon; Sir Richard Woodville and his brother, the Bishop of Salisbury, in Wiltshire; Sir John Fogge and Sir George Browne in Kent; and Sir William Norreys (1433-1507) of Yattendon and Thomas de la Mare (1420-1492) of Aldermaston in Berkshire.

Despite the town being a traditional Yorkist centre, the rebel leader in Berkshire assembled their men and various other supporters of Buckingham, at Newbury on St. Luke's Day, 18th October 1483 and proclaimed Richmond as King of England. Further West, there were additional musters at Salisbury and at Exeter. Buckingham, however, was prevented, by a flood in the Severn, from joining his confederates and sought shelter with one of his dependents who, unfortunately, betrayed him. The Duke was carried to Salisbury where he was beheaded, while large sums of money were offered for the capture of the other leaders. The whole enterprise had utterly failed.

Many of the insurgents found refuge in sanctuaries, others, like Sir William Norreys, repairing to Brittany. Sir Thomas de la Mare of Aldermaston, one of the Berkshire rebels, took shelter at Sion Abbey, where he appears to have taken up his abode. Despite King Richard perishing on the field of Bosworth, only two years later, Sir Thomas’ will, dated 1490, refers to his great sorrows and losses, and also as to the possibility of being unable to pay his debtors in full. This he deplored and so begged that he would be leniently dealt with. He directed his body to be buried in the church at Sion, before the Crucifix, or where it may please the Abbess and Master Confessor.

Edited from Walter Money's "History of Newbury" (1905)

    © Nash Ford Publishing 2003. All Rights Reserved.