Early Occupants of the Castle


In earlier years, dates of births, marriages and deaths were not officially recorded. Usually the only clue we have to these events is from references in legal documents. There are references to Featherstones in Yorkshire in legal documents of the twelfth century, but the first such reference found to a Featherstone in Northumberland is to Helias/Elias in the early thirteenth century.

It appears that 1327 was an eventful year for the Thomases in their services to the Crown. In Jan­uary of that year (but possibly 1328 under our pre­sent Gregorian calendar) Edward II was deposed, to be succeeded by his 14 year-old son Edward III. In truth England was ruled in the King’s name by his mother Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer for the first three years of Edward Ill’s reign. In 1330 Edward asserted himself by arrest­ing Mortimer with his own hands at Northampton Castle and having him tried and executed. lsbella was retired from public life with a yearly pension.)

  1. (i)Thomas “senior and junior”, Hugh de Walls and others were conservators to a truce between England and Scotland•.
    (ii)The King made “him” keeper of the Pele at Staworth for a given time and ordered him to repair the tower•.
    (iii)For his good services he gave “him” the custody of the manor of Werk in Tyndale for life*.
    (iv)As his valette, assigned “him” to elect able men in the liberties of Hexham, Wark in Tyndale and the barony of Tyndale•.
    1328 (i) Thomas the younger and his father were commissioned to cause the truce with Scotland to be observed in Northumberland and the Marches••.

(ii) Thomas restored to the Abbot of Jed­burgh (Roxburgh) out of his custody the land and possessions which had been seized by Edward II because of the war against Scotland**.
1328&9. Thomas served on inquisitions post mortem••.

  1. Thomas the younger and his uncle, Peter, received a general pardon from the King for their actions “in the late rebellion.”
  2. Thomas went to Ireland with Anthony de Luct’•.
  3. Thomas had a mandate to array all the men at arms in South Tindale*.
  4. Thomas granted to his mother, Mariota de Fetherstan, the manor of Fetherstanhalg•.
    In 1327 (for example) the third Thomas was probably in his sixties and his son, the fourth Thomas in his forties. However, in 1335 the third Thomas would have been in his seventies. The fourth Thomas could himself have had a son of the same name (a fifth Thomas) by 1327 who it is possible could by then have been in his twenties or even early thirties. Which Thomas is referred to in each of most of the events is therefore very much open to conjecture. From lack of evidence to the contrary, it can be assumed that either the fifth Thomas had no children or that they died before their parents.

here are two known wives of Thomases in the di­rect line of succession, Mariota and Margaret.
If we assume that neither wife was very much younger than her husband it is possible to specu­late on which Thomas had which wife.
The first dated mention ofMariota is c.1312 when she gave land in Westherle to a John of that place and his family. This land had previously belonged to A vicia de Swethorpe which may suggest that Mariota had owned it in her own right, not as a legacy from her husband, and also possibly give a clue to Mariota’s origins. It is not clear whether Mariota was a widow in 1312 but we are told that her son Thomas granted the manor of Fetherstan­halg to her in 1336. This suggests that Mariota was married to the third Thomas. MARGARET In 1374 Margaret is recorded as the widow of Thomas de Fetherstanhalgh and holding lands in the manor of Fetherstonhalgh for life. This appears to indicate that she was the wife of the fifth Thomas.
ALEXANDER is recorded as the second son after Thomas and must have been of mature years in 1306 when by deed he gave to Thomas Tuggen­hall, vicar of Haltwisill, all his lands in Wyden and Redepath *. An inquest held at Newcastle suggests that he died c.1365 *. Other dates and events relating to this Alexander are: 1331. King Edward III appointed Alexander to the custody of Limerick Castle in Ireland and to the office of Constable of Dublin Castle. 1332. Alexander drew wages for a mission from Ireland to England. Anthony de Lucy the Justiciar of Ireland, the Chancellor and the Treasurer had sent him to report to the King on the state of the country.
1347 Back in England, Alexander served on a commission to inquire into the devastation by the Scots of the de Lucy lands in Northumberland. 1352-4, 1356, 1355 His services to the Crown gained him ex­emption from being put on assizes, juries or recognitions and from appointment as mayor, sheriff, eschastor, coroner, bailiff, or other minister of the King without his consent. 1358. Several writs addressed to Alexander as Collector of Customs to levy Knight’s Fees in Northumberland**.
Alexander held the Manor of Featherstonhalgh of the de Lucy family by homage and service of 20s 7d year1r-•.
PETER and then his son, Thomas, held the Manor of Whitwham of the de Lucy family **

WIILLIAM No further information has been found.
RICHARD was a merchant who loaned money to the King**.

Alexander (now identified on the Tree as Alexander (I) who held the Manor of Featherstonhalgh in 1358 and is thought to have died between 1365 and 1368. He had, presumably, inherited the Castle from his nephew, Thomas, who died without surviving issue. No mention has been found of Alexander’s wife but he had
three sons; Thomas, Alexander and Francis.

THOMAS was presumably the eldest son of Alexander. He is recorded* as being the heir of his father, Alexander de Featherstonhalgh, and to have held the Manor of Featherstonhaugh in 1368. No mention has been found of Thomas having married and he appears to have died without issue about 1374 when Alexander his brother is recorded* as having inherited the Manor of Fetherstonhalgh while the “remainder” (presumably of Thomas’ estate) was passed to Richard (his uncle?).

ALEXANDER II . In the same year (1374) that this Alexander inherited the Manor of Featherstonhalgh, he is said* to have made some unspecified settlements before the Sheriff of the County before proceeding to the King’s foreign wars. It seems that Alexander had married by 1374 because his wife, Isabella, is mentioned in the settlements. The next known mention of Alexander* is in 1406 when he conveyed to his wife Isabella and their son Alexander the Manor of Kellow and lands in Wyden. Alexander and Isabella appear to have had two sons, Ralph and Alexander III. Alexander II must have been living in 1421 because on 30 August that year he made a grant of the Manor of Featherstone to his son Ralph at £6.6s.8d. a year.

FRANCIS is recorded as being “–in remainder with his brothers Thomas and Alexander, in his father’s entail of lands in Wyden and Redepeth.” No further information has been found on Francis but the fact that he did not figure in the 1374
settlement of Thomas’ estate may suggest that he too had died by then.

RALPH. Nothing has been found on Ralph having married or any other information on him after his tenure of the Manor of Featherstone in 1421.

ALEXANDER III was married to Armitruda and they had two sons, Nicholas and Alexander. On 18 January 1461 Alexander entered into a contract with Sir Richard Salkeld to marry his son and heir, Nicholas, to Sir Richard’s daughter, Maude. For whatever reason, Nicholas’ brother Alexander IV was also engaged to marry Maude in case Nicholas should die before the wedding. Alexander III must have died between 1461 and 1464 when his widow, Armitruda, “– let the interest she had in the Lordship of Faderston to Richard Salkeld,esq. father to her son Nicholas’ wife.”. Armitruda was later to marry John Brandsley who was engaged in coal mining enterprises. She was living in 1486*.

NICHOLAS did survive until his wedding to Maude Salkeld who brought a dowry of £23. On 4th October 1488 “Henry Earle of Northumberland granted to his servant Nicholas Fetherstanhaugh a fee of six markes during his life.”. Nicholas and Maude had three sons, Alexander, Richard and Rowland, and a daughter, Anne.

ALEXANDER V married Anne, daughter of John Crackenthorpe, of Crackenthorpe in Westmorland. The dispensation to marry was dated 9th December 1501. In 1513 Alexander and Anne were granted the freehold of the manor of “Fetherstanhaught”.
Alexander and “Albany his son and heir apparent” had other interests. On October 6th 1539 they leased their lands at Smeaton and Smyddifield, called the
Vaux lands, to Richard Vincent for the rent of 46s. 8d.. In 1542 Alexander’s “toure of Fetherstonhaughe was in good reparations.”.

Alexander made a will in 1544. By this time his wife, Anne, had died.

RICHARD. There is no doubt that Richard was a Doctor of Divinity and that he had Royal connections. There are, however, some differences of opinion on his specific roles. There is general agreement that Richard was executed in 1540.

ROWLAND. No further information has been found.

ANNE married Ralph Brooke “one of the Spears and Waitre Bayliffes of Callyee.”*.
* “A History of Northumberland. John Hodgson, 1840.
** “Featherstoniana” C P Cuttino.
*** “The Featherstones of England, A Family His­tory.” Dr. Hans Wand Mrs. Elizabeth Meier, 1995

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