Richard of Conisborough, Earl of Cambridge

RICHARD, Earl of Cambridge (d. 1415), was second son of Edmund of Langley, first duke of York [see Langley, Edmund de], by Isabel of Castile. His godfather was Richard II. In early life he was called Richard of Coningsburgh, and was presumably born at that place (Dugdale, Monast. Angl. vi. 355). In April–May 1403 he was employed in the Welsh war, and on 9 May was at Hereford, whence he wrote complaining that he could get no pay for his men (Nicolas, Proc. Privy Council, ii. 69). In the following year he was still on the same service at Hereford, and on 26 June was summoned to join the Prince of Wales at Worcester (ib. i. 224, 230, 232). He is mentioned among those who were summoned to the council in 1405 (ib. ii. 98). On 26 June 1406 he was knighted, and soon afterwards was appointed one of the escort for the king’s daughter Philippa, then going to be married to Eric of Denmark. He left London on 7 Aug., joined the king at Lynn, and about the end of the month sailed from that port. Philippa was married at Lund on 28 Oct., and Richard returned to England in time to reach London by 4 Dec. (Wylie, Hist. Henry IV, ii. 446–51; Fœdera, viii. 443, 447–8; Nicolas, Proc. Privy Council, i. 294). He was created Earl of Cambridge, a title formerly held by his father, by Henry V on 1 May 1414. Richard had married Anne, daughter of Roger (VI) de Mortimer, and granddaughter of Lionel, duke of Clarence.

This connection now led him to become the centre of a plot for placing his wife’s brother, Edmund, earl of March, on the throne. Richard’s chief fellow-conspirators were Henry, lord de Scrope of Masham, and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton. Scrope’s wife Johanna had been the second wife of Richard’s father, Edmund of Langley. The scheme was of north-country origin. It included a plan for the restoration of the heir of the Percys, and for the raising of a revolt in Wales. It was, in fact, a revival of the old alliance of the Percys, Mortimers, and Glendower. If Edmund Mortimer would not take part in the scheme, it was intended to bring in the pseudo-Richard II from Scotland. The plot was to take effect after the king’s departure to France, and some authorities suggest that the conspirators were actually bribed by the French (Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 306; Gesta Henrici, p. 10 n.) In July 1415, when the king was at Southampton, preparing to sail for France, the plot was revealed to Mortimer. Mortimer declared that such a matter needed time for consideration, but on the following morning revealed the conspiracy to the king. The conspirators were at once arrested, and on 21 July a commission was appointed for their trial. On 2 Aug. they were brought before a jury of the county at Southampton, and adjudged guilty. Grey was at once executed, but Scrope and Richard of Cambridge, being peers, were remanded. On 5 Aug. they were accordingly brought before a court of peers, under Thomas of Clarence. The court, after examining the record of the previous trial, adjudged them both to death, and they were executed on the same day. Richard, before his death, addressed two pitiable letters to the king. In the first he acknowledged his guilt; in the second, written probably after the first trial, he begged for mercy (Ellis, Original Letters, i. 44–5). Richard’s attainder was confirmed by parliament in November 1415; it was reversed in the first parliament of Edward IV in 1461 (Rolls of Parliament, iv. 69, v. 486). Richard was ‘a weak, ungrateful man’ (Stubbs, Constitutional History, iii. 87). By Anne Mortimer he was father of Richard, duke of York, and grandfather of Edward IV, and of Isabel, wife of Henry Bourchier, earl of Essex [q. v.] After Anne’s death he married Maud, daughter of Thomas, lord Clifford. There is a portrait of Richard in Harleian MS. 5805, from a stained window of contemporary date in Christ Church, Canterbury; it is engraved in Doyle’s ‘Official Baronage.’

[Walsingham’s Hist. Angl. ii. 305–6; Gesta Henrici Quinti, pp. 10–11 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Mon- strelet’s Chroniques, p. 366, ed. Buchon; Rolls of Parliament, iv. 54–6; Rymer’s Fœdera, ix. 300–1; Forty-fourth Report of the Deputy-keeper, pp. 579–94; Ramsay’s Lancaster and York; Dugdale’s Baronage, ii. 158; Doyle’s Official Baronage, i. 294; other authorities quoted.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 48
Richard (d.1415) by Charles Lethbridge Kingsford

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