Genealogy of the Scales Family

Thomas 7th Baron Scales and His Heirs

Thomas 7th Baron Scales
Robert de Scales’s brother Thomas (1397-1460) took over the title 7th Baron Scales on the death of his elder brother Robert, when he had only just come of age. He was the last and perhaps the most distinguished of the Barons Scales, his son Thomas (c.1435-c.1440) predeceasing him. He married Emma (Ismayne, Esmania) Whalesborough, daughter of Sir Simon Whalesborough of Cornwall. He was a wealthy man and, in addition to Middleton and Newselles, held the Manor of Rivenhall in Essex and many other estates in Norfolk and elsewhere.
He behaved gallantly in the wars against France and played a major role in Henry V’s 1421 campaign, including the sieges of Dreux and Meaux. Henry was to die the following year from dysentery probably caught during the latter siege. In 1422 he fought in Normandy against Joan of Arc in the Loire campaign.
He was at the battle of Verneuil in 1424 (sometimes called the Second Agincourt), where the English under the Duke of Bedford won a crushing victory over the Scots and French. In 1424-5 he fought alongside John Fastolf (Shakespeare’s probable model for Falstaff) to recapture the fortress at Maine. In 1426, when in France (again with the Duke of Bedford, regent to the young Henry VI), he was elected Knight of the Garter at St. George's feast at Windsor.
He saw action against Joan of Arc again in the Siege of Orléans (1428-9), a turning point in the Hundred Years War and the first major French success after Agincourt. He was taken prisoner but a ransom was paid and he was released. This is discussed by the Duke of Bedford in Shakespeare's Henry VI Part 1 (see the next page). He evidently commanded a corps of 728 archers and about 50 infantry at the siege of Saint-Denis in 1435. By 1441 he was Seneschal of Normandy with a seal of six scallop shells and the circumscription Sir Thomace de Scalis et de Neucellis Senescalli Normanice. All in all he was one of the principal English commanders in the last twenty years of the Hundred Years War.
In 1450 Thomas fought against Jack Cade, leader of the popular revolt known as the Kent Rebellion. This act is recalled when he appears briefly in Shakespeare's Henry VI Part 2 (see the next page but one). By 1451, a Lancastrian supporter, he was said to be in high favour with Henry VI and his queen Margaret of Anjou.
In 1460, the Yorkist Earls of March, Warwick, and Salisbury invaded from Calais and Thomas, assisted by Lord Hungerford and other eminent Lancastrians, secured the Tower of London for the King. His defence of The Tower against the Yorkists did not go well, as his weaponry mainly succeeded in killing civilians and setting fire to their properties, but he managed to hold out for a while. Warwick led his forces north, where they triumphed at the Battle of Northampton. The Queen escaped to Harlech Castle in north Wales and the King was taken to London, where Salisbury's forces has ended the resistance at The Tower by starving the garrison and battering the outer defences with heavy cannon. Thomas had tried to escape by boat with three others, but was recognised by an angry mob and murdered 'with many darts and daggers'. He was buried at the Church of St. Mary Overie, now Southwark Cathedral.
It was an ignominious end for a proud, veteran soldier with a reputation for occasional brutality, who was nonetheless apparently known by his men as 'good old Lord Scales'.
Middleton Towers
It was Thomas who in 1455 began the construction of what is now Middleton Towers. The large, three storey gatehouse with corner turrets dates from this time. It was unfinished by the time of his death in 1460 and the work was probably completed by his daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Anthony Woodville. By the 18th century the site was derelict and very little of the 15th century house remained other than the gatehouse itself. The remainder of the present structure dates from the second half of the 19th century, when the gatehouse was also restored. The present site is worth studying on Google Earth - the moat and layout of the buildings are very clear.
Elizabeth de Scales
Because of his son Thomas’s early death, Thomas the 7th Baron's heir was his daughter Elizabeth (c.1436-1473), then about 24 and married to Sir Henry Bourchier, son of Henry Bourchier, 1st Earl of Essex. The barony also passed to her; she became 8th Baroness Scales and one of the wealthiest heiresses in England. She had had no children by the time Henry died and by 1462 she was remarried to Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, son and heir of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, who was treasurer to Edward IV and father of Elizabeth Woodville his Queen. The following year Earl Rivers was summoned to parliament under the title Lord Scales. Elizabeth's remarriage is dicussed in Shakespeare's Henry VI Part 3, when Edward IV’s brothers George Duke of Clarence and Richard Duke of Gloucester complain to Edward about his bestowal of her on the Queen's brother instead of one of them (see the next page).
Elizabeth died childless in 1473, predeceasing Anthony, and marking 15 generations and over 400 years of this branch of the family. In 1473 Edward IV appointed Earl Rivers Governor of the Prince of Wales' household and he went with the Prince to Ludlow Castle. When Edward died in 1483, Rivers accompanied the Prince, now Edward V, on the way back to London. However, they were waylaid by the Duke of Gloucester, who imprisoned Rivers and then had him beheaded at Pontefract Castle as part of his path towards becoming King Richard III. The De Scales peerage fell into abeyance and the issue of inheritance of the vast estate was left in dispute. The inheritance issue was resolved on the accession of Henry VII in 1485 when it was determined that the heirs were descendants of Robert 3rd Baron Scales via his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret.
The Heirs of Elizabeth de Felbrigg née Scales
The 3rd Baron's daughter Elizabeth had married Roger de Felbrigg (1316-1362) from a prominent Norfolk family and her heirs were her great-granddaughter Helena de Felbrigg (1399-1426), also heiress of the Felbrigg family, and her husband William Tyndale (1397-1426). Helena and William were the great-grandparents of Sir William Tyndale (1494-1536), protestant reformer and translator of the Bible into English (and ultimately martyred for it).
The Heirs of Margaret Howard née Scales
The 3rd Baron's daughter Margaret had married Robert Howard (1336-1388) from another prominent Norfolk family and her heirs were her great-granddaughter Elizabeth Howard (1410-aft.1475), also heiress of the Howard family, and her husband John de Vere 12th Earl of Oxford (1408-1462).
Robert and Margaret's son John Howard (d.1436) married twice. His first wife was Margaret Plaise and their granddaughter was the abovementioned Elizabeth Howard. Elizabeth's husband John de Vere was succeeded by the remaining Earls of Oxford down to the 20th Earl (1627-1703), where the line terminated with his daughter Diana. Diana married Charles Beauclerk (1670-1726), 1st Duke of St. Albans and illegitimate son of Charles II and Nell Gwynne. The Dukes of St. Albans live on with the 14th Duke Murray de Vere Beauclerk (b.1939).
Among the most distinguished of the line was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604), an Elizabethan courtier, playwright, poet, sportsman and patron of writers, composers and acting companies. He is most famous today as the strongest alternative candidate proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare's plays.
John Howard's second wife was Alice de Tendering and their grandson was John Howard 1st Duke of Norfolk (1420-1485). The Dukes of Norfolk are the premier Dukes in the Peerage of England and this was the third and last creation of the title. He was a close friend and loyal supporter of Richard III, who ganted him the title and with whom he died at the Battle of Bosworth. His son Thomas 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443-1524) also fought with Richard at Bosworth, but survived into the Tudor era.
Among the 2nd Duke's nine children by his first wife Elizabeth Tilney (bef.1447-1497 - he had another eight by her cousin Agnes, his second wife), was Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Norfolk (1473-1544), the prominent politician in the time of Henry VIII. His descendants were the Dukes of Norfolk down to the current 18th Duke Edward Fitzalan-Howard (b.1956). Among the other children by the 2nd Duke's first marriage were his son Edmund (d.1539) and his daughter Elizabeth (1480-1538). Elizabeth married Thomas Boleyn 1st Earl of Wiltshire (1477-1539) and one of their children was Anne Boleyn (c.1507-1536), 2nd wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I. Edmund's first wife was Jocasta Culpeper (1480-1531) and one of their children was Catherine Howard (1521-1542), 5th wife of Henry VIII. The rest, as they say, is history.
Middleton Towers
Sir William Tyndale
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
The photograph of Middleton Towers is ©Graham Brown LRPS, sourced from the National Monuments Record and used by kind permission of English Heritage.
Freely licensed images courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
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