Sir Ralph Percy

PERCY, Sir RALPH (1425–1464), soldier, was seventh son of Henry Percy, second earl of Northumberland [q. v.], by Eleanor, daughter of Ralph, first earl of Westmorland, and widow of Ralph, lord Spencer. He took the Lancastrian side throughout the wars of the roses, and was the leader of the Percys in their inter-tribal warfare with the Nevilles during the latter part of Henry VI’s reign. He was with Queen Margaret in her march south after the battle of Wakefield; and when Edward IV had been proclaimed king, he occupied Bamborough Castle for her, but he surrendered it on 24 Dec. 1462, and swore fealty to Edward. Early in 1463 he changed sides again, and allowed the Scots to retake Bamborough; he held to the Lancastrian cause for the rest of his life, even though the queen sailed that summer to the Low Countries. He very nearly captured Edward as he marched north to Newcastle early in 1464, and was the captain in the battle of Hedgely Moor on 25 April 1464. Here he was killed fighting, and just before his death was heard to say, ‘I have saved the bird in my bosom,’ meaning his loyalty to Henry (Oman, Warwick, p. 154). A rudely carved column, called ‘Percy’s Cross,’ marks the spot where he fell. He was unmarried.

[Ramsay’s Lancaster and York, ii. 302 &c.; De Fonblanque’s Annals of the House of Percy, i. 283–6; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, pp. 156, 158, 176, 178.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 44
Percy, Ralph by William Arthur Jobson Archbold

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