Battles and Sieges

Battle of Hexham

The Duke of Somerset moved the Lancastrian army through Northumbria in April of 1464. It gathered troops from the garrisons in the area. It culminated in the Battle of Hexham, fought on 15 May 1464.

Somerset found at Hexham

Learning of this, Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, was sent as a forward vanguard of Edward‘s army to the North East. Neville’s force arrived quickly. Neville’s brother, Lord Montagu who had already been victorious at Hedgeley Moor, marched his army along the Tyne. They found Somerset camped near Hexham.

Battle of Hexham

The battle, fought on 15th May 1464 appears to have been brief. Accounts suggest that the Lancastrians were ill prepared for the sudden arrival of a Yorkist force.

They hastily threw up a defensive line by their camp. Behind them was the River Tyne. As the size of Montagu’s army became visible to the defenders, many deserted. Those that did not probably numbered around 500. They were quickly overwhelmed and forced into the river.

Map of the Second Battle of Hexham, fought on 15 May 1464
Map of the Battle of Hexham

Chronicle Accounts of the Battle of Hexham

Hearne’s Fragment

This same year in the beginning of April John Neville, Marquis of Montague, brother to the Earl of Warwick, being the King’s Lieutenant in the North, and hearing of the coming of King Harry, assembled a great host, and fought with him at Hexham, from whence the said King Harry fled, and lost his treasure there. There were taken and beheaded the said Duke of Somerset, the Lord Huntingford, and the Lord Roos, with divers others. Then the said Marquis with the Earl of Warwick, went to Bamburgh and won the Castle by assault, whereat divers gentlemen were taken. And after this skirmish at Hexham King Harry was taken in a wood, by one William Cantlow, and brought to the King, and afterwards committed to the Tower at London, whereat he continued in captivity unto the 18th day of October in the year of our Lord 1469.

Warkworth Chronicle

Also in the iiiith yere of Kynge Edwarde, the monthe of Maij, the Duke of Somersett, the Lorde Roos, the Lorde Moleyns, Tailboys the Erle of Kyme, Sire Philip Wenterworth, Sire Thomas Fyndherne, gadred a grete peple of the northe contre. And Sere Jhon Nevelle, that tyme beynge Erle of Northumberlonde, with [10,000] men come upon them, and there the commons fleede that were with them, and ther the foreside lords were takene and afterward behedede.

Gregory’s Chronicle

Gregory’s Chronicle describing Tailboys’s after the Battles of Hedgeley Moor and Hexham. Gregory was a London Chronicler so this is based on second hand information. Tailboys had been a staunch lancastrian so its unlikely he was deliberately holding funds back from the campaign, much more likely that he was simply trying to prevent it falling into the hands of the Yorkists.

Ande be syde Newecastelle, the same monythe, [th]er was take Taylbosse in a cole pyt, and he hadde moche mony with hym, bothe golde and sylvyr, that schulde have gon unto Kyng Harry and yf [it] had come to Harry, lat Kynge of Ingelonde, hyt wolde have causyd moche sorowe, for he had ordaynyd harneys and ordenance nowe, but the men wolde not go one fote with hym tylle they had mony. And they waytyd dayly and howrely formony that thys Taylebosse shulde have send unto hem or brought hyt; the summa was iij Ml marks. And the lordys mayny of Montegewe were sore hurte and seke, and many of hys men werslayne by for in the grete jornays, but thys mony was departyd amonge hem, and was a very holsum salfe for him. And in the day folowyng Taylebosse loste hys hedde at Newecastelle.

Aftermath of the Battle of Hexham

As the battle ended the Earl of Warwick arrived. At this point, any faint hope of turning the table was over.

Though the battle was small in terms of the numbers involved, it was of significance. The Duke of Somerset was captured and executed.

The Lancastrian baggage train included some £2000, a considerable amount at the time.

A second battle?

John Neville’s retinue had attacked Lancastrians at Hexham on 3 April 1463. It was a relatively minor affair. In some accounts the above clash is therefore noted as being the Second Battle of Hexham.


Wars of the Roses in the North East, a timeline.

Featured Image

Battle of Hexham [May 15th, 1464]. (The Queens’s Cup; Percy[‘s] Cross; Queen Margaret of Anjou.)

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. “Battle of Hexham [May 15th, 1464]. (The Queens’s Cup; Percy[‘s] Cross; Queen Margaret of Anjou.)” The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

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