SIR JOHN CRESSY (1407-1445)

In the parish church of Dodford, Northamptonshire, there stands a tomb chest commemorating Sir John Cressy, who died on 3 March 1445. [1] The effigy of Sir John, in full plate armour, wearing a Lancastrian SS collar with a trefoil pendant, is surrounded by the following inscription:


Hic jacet Johannes Cressy miles dominus istius ville quondam capitaneus de Lysieux Orbet’ et Ponleve[.]ue in Normandia ac consiliarius domini H. Regis in Fran’ [eastern side not visible] qui obiit aput Tour in Lorema iii o die marcii anno domini mcccc o xliiii cuius anime propicietur deus Amen.


Whilst effigies of knights who served in the fifteenth-century phase of the war are relatively numerous, the recording of specific service in an inscription is less common. This monument, first brought to my attention by Professor Brian Kemp, has stimulated my researches into the knight it commemorates. [2] We can reconstruct Cressy’s military career in considerable detail thanks to the many records which survive for the English occupation of Normandy. That he served at Lisieux is also fortunate since that place is one of the few Norman towns for which municipal archives survive for the early fifteenth century. He was also elected to the 1439 parliament as knight of the shire for Hertfordshire. [3]


From the evidence which jurors gave at his proof of age in 1429, it seems that John Cressy was baptised at the parish church of Dodford on 25 March 1407. [4] The earliest unequivocal record of his service in France dates to 9 March 1432 when he was appointed lieutenant in the garrison of the town of Rouen to John, earl of Arundel as captain, with John, duke of Bedford as overall commander of the Norman capital. [5] The earl had taken up the captaincy on 18 November 1431. [6] It is possible that Sir John entered the garrison at the same time. This could imply that he was one of the two knights bachelor who had crossed with Arundel in the ‘coronation expedition’ of May 1430, [7] and that he had chosen to stay in France when the earl returned home at the end of his twelve-month indenture. [8]


Effigy of Sir John Cressy


By the time of his first recorded service in 1432, Sir John was almost 25 years of age and already a knight. It is extremely likely that he had already seen military service. There is a John Cressy serving as a man-at-arms in the garrison of Domfront in 1420. [9] If this was our knight, and the date given for his baptism is accurate, then we can suggest that paid service in royal armies might begin at an early age: Cressy cannot have been more than around 13 years old in 1420. The John Cressy at Domfront cannot have been his father since the latter died only a few months after our John’s birth, followed shortly afterwards by his firstborn son, Thomas, who was still a child at the time of his death. [10] The wardship of our John was granted by the king to Henry, lord Beaumont, whose own son, John (subsequently lord and, from 1440, viscount Beaumont) was around the same age, being born c. 1409 and also serving in the wars of later decades. [11] Shortly before Henry, lord Beaumont’s death in 1413, Cressy’s wardship was transferred to John Norbury. The latter died a year later but the wardship remained with his widow, Elizabeth, who took as her third husband Sir John Montgomery who was involved in the French wars from 1415 to 1444. He held the captaincy of Domfront from 20 January 1420 (taking over from Sir Hugh Stafford) until at least 23 August 1428. [12] This adds credibility to the possibility that it was indeed our John Cressy who was listed as serving there in 1420. The link with Elizabeth Norbury would also have brought him into contact with her brother, Sir Ralph Butler, later lord Sudeley (d. 1473) who also had extensive service in France as well as significant office in England. [13] Her sons, Henry Norbury (later Sir Henry) and John Norbury, were also militarily active in the wars. [14]


If John Cressy was indeed born in 1407, then he would have come of age in 1428. It was not until February 1429, however, that a writ for proof of age was issued and he was given seisin of his lands. This suggests that he might have been serving abroad before and around the time he reached his majority. On coming of age he almost immediately sold off the more distant parts of his lands, further proof, perhaps, that he was keen to continue his military career, and to raise funds to further it. [15] In this context, it is significant that the next reference we have to Cressy, dating to 12 November 1429, names him as Sir John. Given that the young king was crowned on 6 November 1429, we can conclude that Cressy was probably one of a number of men knighted on the eve of the coronation. Others known to have been dubbed by the young king on this occasion were John, lord Beaumont, whose father, as we have seen, had initially held Cressy’s wardship. [16]


On 12 November 1429 Sir John Cressy entered into an indenture, sealed at Belvoir castle, by which he was retained by Thomas, lord Roos, ‘pur luy faire service a terme de vie dudit Jean en Engleterre’. [17] Thomas, lord Roos was born in September 1406 and was therefore only a few months older than Cressy. Roos had served on the expedition of 1427. [18] It was not surprising that this young peer should have sought a military career to emulate that of his elder brother, John, who had been killed at the battle of Baugé in March 1421. He had been knighted by the king at the Leicester parliament at Whitsun 1426 following the king’s own dubbing by the duke of Bedford. In December of that year, having already committed himself to serving in the army being raised to accompany Bedford back to France, he petitioned to be given an allowance from his lands before he formally came of age to meet the costs of his involvement in the expedition. [19] The company which he took to France in 1427 consisted of two knights, 37 men-at-arms and 120 archers. It is possible that Cressy was amongst the men-at-arms, but this cannot be proved. The generous terms of the indenture of retainer of 1429, whereby Sir John was granted for life the manor of Braunston, lying about 10 miles to the north of Dodford, as well as a rent of 20 marks from another manor in Northamptonshire, suggests that the relationship was not a new one.


The indenture of November 1429 provided bouche de court when in Roos’s service for Sir John himself, one escuier, one valet and one garcon, along with four horses. Its existence makes it more likely that it was in Thomas, lord Roos’s retinue than in that of the earl of Arundel that Cressy crossed in the coronation expedition of 1430. Roos had indented for this campaign with three knights, 36 men-at-arms and 120 archers. This was remarkably similar in size to the company of 1427 save that it had one fewer men-at-arms and one more knight: it is tempting to see this adjustment as reflecting the dubbing of Cressy and the inclusion of his escuier (that term being commonly given to men-at-arms in this period). That is not to say that Roos’ company in 1429 contained exactly the same men who had served under him in 1427, but that his recruiting capacity, and the expectations of the size of retinue he could bring, were not changed between the two dates.


Roos was killed in action in France on 18 August 1430. If Cressy had been in his company on the coronation expedition, he now needed to find a new master. No other indenture of retainer is known, and we can only speculate that he remained in military service in France. As noted at the outset of this article, we know that Cressy was appointed lieutenant at the town of Rouen for the earl of Arundel in March 1432. [20] Cressy was in office on 1 August 1432. [21] Arundel had returned to England in the summer of 1431 but had then come back to France to attend the king’s coronation in Paris, taking up the captaincy of Rouen on 18 November 1431. [22] On 9 March 1432 the duke of Bedford, as overall captain of Rouen, ordered Arundel to exchange two mounted men-at-arms for two knights bachelor – Sir John Cressy and Sir William Lucy – who were to be his lieutenants at Rouen. [23]


The earl was still captain in March 1433, [24] but it is not certain by that point if Cressy was still his lieutenant. That he was cutting a fine military figure in the early 1430s is revealed by his capture of a valuable prisoner, Jean Faicault, around these same years. On 8 April 1432 he acknowledged receipt of 500 salus in compensation for handing over Faicault, in accordance with the terms of his indenture, whereby important prisoners were to be delivered to the crown rather than put to ransom. [25] The dating suggests that he had captured Faicault around the time he took up the lieutenancy of Rouen. We can speculate that the action was linked to the putting down of the plot led by Ricarville in February 1432, when the keep of Rouen castle had briefly fallen into French hands. [26]


Further rewards ensued. On 2 June 1432 he received a grant of lands in the bailliage of Evreux worth up to 600 livres tournois per annum. [27] These lands had previously been in the hands of the recently deceased Sir John Arthur who is known to have been serving in south-west Normandy under Robert, lord Willoughby, in March 1432. [28] The lands were in the vicinity of Conches and included the seigneurie of Romilly where some defensive structure, now completely razed, once stood, as well as other lands near Heurdeville. They lay within the area controlled by the earl of Arundel by virtue of his appointment on 4 January 1432 as ‘lieutenant sur le fait de la guerre par de la riviere de Seine es bailliages de Rouen, Evreux, Mantes, Chartres et en notre cite de Dreux’. [29] On 11 December 1432 Arundel had received a different regional command as ‘lieutenant sur le fait de la guerre es pais entre Seine, Somme, Oise et la Mer et es villes dessus les dits rivieres’, [30] and on 11 June 1433, provoked by Bedford’s visit to England, he was transfered into Lower Normandy as ‘lieutenant general du roy et du regent sur le fait de la guerre es pais devers les rivieres de Seine, Loire et la mer’. [31] It may have been through the earl’s agency that Cressy acquired his lands in Normandy, which in turn might suggest that Cressy had continued in the earl’s service after August 1432, either as his lieutenant at Rouen or else in the field.


There is another possibility, however, for Cressy’s career at this point. By April 1433 the lieutenancy of the lands between Seine, Somme, Oise and the sea had passed to Robert, lord Willoughby. [32] Given that Sir John Arthur, the previous holder of the lands, had been serving under Willoughby, it is possible that Cressy was in the latter’s company rather than Arundel’s. If Arthur had died whilst in Willoughby’s service, the latter would have been in a strong position to petition that the lands should be given to another of his soldiers. That Cressy knew Willoughby was certain. The wife of the first holder of his wardship, Henry, lord Beaumont, was the sister of William, lord Willoughby of Eresby (d. 1409), and hence aunt of Lord Robert, whose service in France dated back to the duke of Clarence’s expedition in 1412. [33]


When Cressy was granted a delay in April 1434 for taking the prisée (valuation) of his French lands, the justification given was that he was too busy with the war. [34] This suggests that he was still serving in France at this point. [35] To date, however, no references have been found for his service until the summer of 1435. By June of that year Cressy was definitely back in England. On 8 June he indented with the king to send one mounted man-at-arms and 40 archers to the defence of the castle and town of Le Crotoy. These troops were to muster at Charing Cross on 16 June and serve for six months thereafter. [36] But Sir John was not to cross with them. A warrant for issue dated 9 June shows that he had indented separately at that juncture for six months war service in France with 30 men-at-arms and 90 archers. [37] Within the thirty men at arms were to be to knights, himself and one other whose identity is not known. He was granted letters of protection on 14 June. [38] An order to muster his retinue at Winchelsea was issued on 26 June. [39] This is the first occasion on which he is known to have raised and headed his own independent retinue. However, the fact that his company was so large and that he was also able to raise another company to send to Le Crotoy indicates that he was already a well established war captain.


His 120-strong company was part of an army totalling almost 2,000 men. There were fourteen other companies, the largest being provided by John Lord Talbot. Robert, lord Willoughby indented for a company of twenty men-at-arms and 60 archers. [40] Cressy likely mustered and embarked at Winchelsea around 19-21 July in the company of Talbot and some of the other captains. [41] We cannot be certain, however, in what actions he participated. It may even be that he did cross in person to assist in the defence of Le Crotoy before going on to other activities. [42] What is likely, however, is that he came into contact with Robert, lord Willoughby who, on 24 July, was given overall command of the expeditionary troops. [43]


Cressy appears to have stayed on in France at the end of his six month contract. On 12 December 1435 he was commissioned to take the muster of William Cressoner’s retinue when it arrived at Le Crotoy to take possession of the place. [44] This may imply that Cressy had himself been based at Le Crotoy for at least part of his six month service. On 1 February 1436 he took up office as captain of the nearby fortress of Eu. [45] Here he was replacing Sir John Montgomery who had previously been serving as lieutenant under the overall command of the absentee Lord Bourghchier. This suggests Montgomery had used his influence to suggest Cressy as his replacement at a time when the latter was in search of a new military posting at the end of his expeditionary service. Further letters of protection were issued to Cressy on 9 February 1436, but it is unlikely that he had returned to England in the interim since the grant of these letters spoke of him as ‘qui in partibus Francie moretur’. [46] Whatever the case, his service at Eu was short: the place fell to the French within a month of his taking command. There is no evidence of his being taken prisoner. This is not surprising since commanders of places which fell by composition were allowed to depart.


On 23 February 1436, Richard, duke of York, newly appointed lieutenant-general of France, indented to cross to France with an army of 2,700, which sailed around 24 May. [47] This army contained seven knights bachelor but it cannot be proved that Cressy was one of them. What we do know is that by 4 November 1436 Sir John had been appointed by York as his lieutenant in the garrison of Caen. He entered the garrison on 1 December, replacing Sir John Fastolf. [48] It was effectively an independent command since York was an absentee captain. Cressy held office as lieutenant at Caen until 28 December 1437. [49] But it is likely that he returned to England with York in early November since he commissioned Thomas Wylde on 30 October to keep the guard of the town and castle on his behalf. [50] Wylde was the maiden name of Sir John’s mother, Christina. Thomas’s exact relationship with Sir John is uncertain, although as his executor in 1445, he was described as the knight’s brother. [51]


There is no evidence that he served in France again until he crossed with York when the latter took up his second period of lieutenancy. We know that Cressy was in England in 1438-9 when there were cases against him in the court of common pleas. In June 1439 he found himself under arrest. A proud and bellicose nature, perhaps stimulated by his war experience, is revealed by his attack on the official detailed to carry out the arrest, whom he insultingly called a ‘rusticum’ and threatened to kill. [52] This did not prevent Cressy’s election as knight of the shire for Hertfordshire in the parliament of 1439, nor his appointment to the commission of the peace in the same county in November of that year. Indeed such royal service no doubt helped him gain a pardon on 20 January 1440 for his outburst of the previous year. His presence at the 1439-40 parliament is also interesting in the context of his earlier war service, since it saw much debate on the release of the duke of Orleans and a possible peace settlement with France.


The duke of York specifically requested when discussing his terms of service in 1440 that members of the royal household should accompany his army. [53] Cressy was a king’s knight from at least July 1436. [54] It is possible that he was one of the men seconded to York’s service in 1440-1. Cressy’s service was deemed worth having, so much so that on the very day he mustered with his retinue, he was granted a life interest in the profits and courts of the manor of Magor. [55] It was not uncommon for grants to be made to those who were about to serve, perhaps as persuasions, perhaps as rewards. That he had expense in preparing to serve is evidenced by his purchase from Italian merchants in London on 17 December 1440 of a ‘harneyes de Meleyn complet’’ for £8.6.8.. [56]


Cressy mustered with 19 men-at-arms and 116 archers on 26 March 1441. By early September, he and his men, along with Sir Richard Wydeville’s company which had also crossed with York, were placed as additional troops in the much threatened town of Pontoise. [57] This was not enough, however, to prevent the place falling to the French on 19 September. When Cressy’s expeditionary service expired at the end of September 1441, he was appointed to the captaincy of Gisors where he probably remained throughout the following year. [58] This was quite close to his land holding at Romilly. By February 1443, however, the rental income of his lands were much reduced due, according to the report of the maire, to depopulation ‘a cause des logis de gens de guerre’. [59] This damage was likely committed during the siege of Conches in 1442.


Sir John seems to have returned to England during 1443 since he was once more appointed to the commission of the peace in Hertfordshire in May 1443 and again in December 1443. [60] But by February 1444 he was already captain of Lisieux, Orbec and Pont-l-Evêque, the three commands noted on the inscription on his tomb chest. [61] The exact date of appointment is unknown although it cannot have been before August 1443 when Sir John Salvain is known to have still been captain of Lisieux. [62] The three garrisons were united for the first time under Cressy, although the arrangement was continued after his death. By December 1444 the garrisons were within an apanage granted to York in this area of Normandy. [63]


It is difficult to know whether Cressy was regularly resident in his garrisons. No musters or counter-rolls survive but references in the town accounts of Lisieux suggest that most of the responsibilities incumbent upon the captain were carried out by his lieutenant, Thomas Reddhugh, who had served as a soldier at Lisieux for many years and was described as a ‘bourgeois de la ville’ despite his English origins. Cressy was certainly present in Lisieux in December 1444, however, and there is some evidence that he maintained a household there administered by his maître d’hôtel, John Kemp. [64] It is likely too that he was present in the town in late February 1445 when the duke of York stayed briefly at the bishop’s palace. [65]


Although the English occupiers and the people of Lisieux had invested much time and money in rebuilding the fortifications of the town, the accounts of the period of Cressy’s captaincy do not reveal intensive building activity. This was, of course, a period of truce. On one occasion, probably shortly before his death, he was given 100 bushels of hay by the bourgeois of the town ‘pour moderer le guet après les treves criées’.[66] By 1449 one of the towers lying near the eastern gate (the Porte de Paris) was called the ‘tour de Cressy’. [67] We can only speculate on this naming. Was it the subject of repair during his captaincy? Had he resided in the tower?


It was not, however, where he died. His tomb inscription leaves no doubt that he died in France on 3 March 1445. It gives the location as ‘Tour in Lorema’. This is in fact the city of Toul, in the province of Lorraine, indicating that Cressy had been one of the English envoys sent to negotiate with Charles VII, then based at Nancy, in the spring of 1445, and to accompany Margaret of Anjou to Normandy en route to England for her marriage. It seems that Cressy was already ill and had to be left behind when the English began their return journey on 2 March. [68]


Cressy’s tomb inscription also describes him as a councillor of the king in Normandy. This office can be substantiated by orders of payment in May 1445 to his executors for arrears owed for Sir John’s services as councillor and as captain of the three garrisons and of Gisors. These arrears were described as being incurred from the time York took up command until September 1444. [69] This role is not surprising. The duke had already shown trust in Cressy’s command abilities during his first period as lieutenant general. It is likely that he sought him out to accompany him to France when he began his second term of office. During this second lieutenancy we can also see York’s level of trust in Sir John by the fact that he sent him in an embassy to John, duke of Somerset in October 1443, when the latter was campaigning, somewhat controversially, in the basses marches of Normandy. [70] In October 1444, Cressy and Nicholas Molineux, York’s receiver-general in his apanage, were paid for their involvement in discussions with Charles VII’s representatives over merchandise passing along the Seine during the truce. [71]


However, work on York’s affinity has not identified Cressy as a formal retainer of the duke. [72] Rather, he enjoyed a professional relationship based on military service. Cressy had a distant blood link with the duke through a collateral branch of the Mortimer line, [73] but it is also possible that the two men had known each other since adolescence. Duke Richard was only a few years younger than Cressy, and had been present with Thomas, lord Roos in the household of Henry VI as young men from 1425 onwards. [74] Remember that Cressy’s life indenture in 1429 was with Roos. It is possible that Cressy himself had been in the royal household in the 1420s. [75]


This brings us to some interim conclusions on how relationships affected military service and command. Historians have tended to emphasise the significance of acts of retaining such as that entered into by Cressy with Roos. This was a short-lived link since Roos was killed only a few months later. What Sir John Cressy’s career demonstrates is how soldiers enjoyed extensive and complex networks of relationships. What it also shows is the need to look at a career as a whole to show how relationships developed and persisted over a long period, with connections being added in all the time.


For Cressy such relationships begin early in his life. He was initially in the wardship of Henry, lord Beaumont, and would therefore have known John, lord Beaumont (b. c. 1409), who saw extensive service in France . Henry’s wife was the aunt of Robert, lord Willoughby, a leading commander. Elizabeth, wife of his second guardian, John Norbury, was sister of Sir Ralph Butler of Sudeley, a knight also prominent in the wars.[76] Her third husband was Sir John Montgomery of Charlton, Hampshire. As we have seen, Cressy may have begun his service as a teenager under Montgomery. That he followed the latter as lieutenant of Eu in 1436 suggests that the link remained significant, as did that with Butler. When Cressy indented to serve in France in 1435, he entrusted some of his manors to Butler as the most prominent of a group of feoffees. [77] In January 1440 he stood as mainprise for Butler when the latter was granted the keeping of the lands of the widow of the earl of Warwick. [78] Around the same time he was linked with Butler, Montgomery, Sir Henry Norbury and Thomas Wylde as feoffee for John, Lord Clinton. [79]


In other words, Cressy grew up within a strongly military community, alongside others of around the same age who were later to serve and with links to older men, such as Butler, who were highly committed to English interests in France. It is not surprising that further links should develop within a military context, such as with Thomas, Lord Roos and Richard, duke of York. There is an age factor in play here too. Such men were close in age to Cressy himself. John, earl of Arundel was of the same generation too, being born in 1407/8.


A final link must be mentioned. Cressy married Constance, daughter of Reginald, lord Grey of Ruthin (d. October 1440). [80] This marriage must be earlier than 1441 since their son John’s inquisition post mortem suggests he was born in that year. [81] Her father had seen service in Wales against Glendower, and was on campaign in France in at least 1417 and 1425, being granted lands in Normandy by Henry V in December 1421.[82] Constance’s elder half brother, Sir John (b. circa 1388) had served at Agincourt and Verneuil, and was created a KG in 1436. [83] He was also linked to the royal family through his marriage to Constance Holland, granddaughter of John of Gaunt. More significantly, Reginald, lord Grey’s first wife, and mother of Sir John Grey, was Margaret, daughter of Thomas, lord Roos (d. 1384), aunt of the Thomas, lord Roos with whom Cressy entered into a life indenture in 1429. [84] Cressy’s marriage, therefore, has a link to his Roos connection. But the latter also linked him to Arundel. His erstwhile master, Thomas, Lord Roos (d. 1430), was the son of Margaret (d. 1438), daughter of Sir John Arundel (d. 1397). [85] The latter was the younger brother of Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel (d. 1397), and hence great grandfather of John, earl of Arundel (d. 1435) under whom Cressy served in 1432.


There can be no doubt that Cressy had a distinguished career in France, and that he benefited from it. Such indications as we possess suggest that he was an effective soldier, commander, administrator and diplomat. He came from a relatively insignificant family of gentry status, whose land holdings had been acquired rather nefariously. [86] The valuation of his assets in the 1436 income tax was £93. [87] But he died as a trusted and well rewarded commander. Arguably, however, his military opportunities resulted from the particular circumstances of his early life which brought him into contact with leading military men. The issue remains, therefore, whether his career was made by war or by wardship. Perhaps both.


Anne Curry

[1] The tomb is illustrated and discussed in The Victoria County History: Northamptonshire, vol. 1 (London, 1902), pp. 410-11. Although the year on the tomb is given as 1444, since this was before Lady Day (25 March) it actually means 3 March 1445. I published an initial discussion of Sir John Cressy and of some of the men in his retinues in ‘English Armies in the Fifteenth Century’, in Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, ed. A. Curry and M. Hughes (Woodbridge, 1994), pp, 65-8.

[2] I am grateful to Professor Kemp for his expert opinion on the inscription.

[3] History of Parliament Trust, Londonunpublished article on Sir John Cressy for 1422-1461 section by Dr Simon Payling. I am very grateful to the History of Parliament Trust for allowing me to see this article in draft.

[4] The National Archives [TNA] C139/42/82 (proof of age, Feb. 1429).

[5] Bibliothèque Nationale de France [BN] manuscrit français 26055/1762.

[6] BN pièces originales 238 Beauchamp en Angleterre 9.

[7] Arundel’s indenture does not survive but a warrant for issue, dated 24 February 1430, gives his retinue as himself, two knights bachelor, 58 men-at-arms and 180 archers (TNA E404/46/286). For the expedition see A. Curry, ‘The “coronation expedition” and Henry VI’s court in France, 1430-32’, in The Lancastrian Court, ed. J. Stratford (Stamford: Paul Watkins Press, 2003), pp. 30-54. The coronation expedition was probably Arundel’s first service in France (see Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council of England 1386-1542 [POPC], ed. N.H.Nicolas (7 vols, London, 1834-7), iv, pp. 27-8).

[8] H. Ratcliffe, ‘The Military Expenditure of the English Crown 1422-1435’, unpublished M.Litt. thesis (Oxford, 1980), pp. 68-9.

[9] Archives Nationales de France [AN] K59/23/3. It is possible that this is a descendant of the main Cressy of Hodsock (Notts) line. A Sir John Cressy was granted letters of protection for service in June 1383 for service in the company of Sir Philip Darcy under the overall command of Bishop Despencer (TNA C76/67 m. 3).

[10] TNA C139/42/82; Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem [CIPM], xix, nos. 370-8.

[11] Complete Peerage, ii, p. 62. John, lord Beaumont was said to be about four years old at the death of his father in 1413. He also served on the coronation expedition but without any knights in his company (TNA E404/46/188, E101/52/10 m. 4).

[12] Actes de la Chancellerie d’Henri VI concernant la Normandie sous la domination anglaise, ed. P. Le Cacheux (Société de l’Histoire de Normandie, Rouen and Paris, 1907-8), i, p. 216; BN pieces originales 2021 Montgomery 8. Sir John Montgomery also served on the coronation campaign but without knights in his company (TNA E404/46/248, 20 Feb. 1430).

[13] Complete Peerage, xii, pp. 419-21. Butler also served on the coronation expedition but without any knights in his company (TNA E404/46/223, 20 Feb. 1430).

[14] For instance, Henry, still an esquire, was lieutenant at Domfront to his step father, Sir John Montgomery, in August 1427 (BN manuscrit français 25768/251).

[15] TNA E159/205. History of Parliament Trust, Londonunpublished article on Sir John Cressy by Dr Simon Payling. I am grateful to Dr Payling for this reference and for the idea that the sale was to support his military career.

[16] R.A. Griffiths, The Reign of Henry the Sixth (London, 1981), p. 190.

[17] Calendar of Patent Rolls [CPR] 1429-36, p. 330; TNA C66/435, m. 18.

[18] TNA E403/677 mm. 11, 14; E404/43/170. His elder brother, John, had been killed at the battle of Baugé in March 1421 (Complete Peerage, xi, p. 104).

[19] He was granted £100 (POPC, iii, pp. 225-6). The expedition which sailed in March 1427 comprised of companies under John, lord Talbot, William, lord Clinton, Roger, lord Camoys, Sir Edmund Beaufort, Sir Thomas Kingston, Sir William Bucton, Henry Bourchier, and Richard Wedirton (Ratcliffe, ‘The Military Expenditure of the English Crown 1422-1435’, pp. 22-3.

[20] BN pièces originales 238 Beauchamp en Angleterre 9. For a muster of the garrison under his lieutenancy see BN manuscrit français 25770/697. This muster will be placed on the www.medieval web site in due course.

[21] BN nouvelles acquisitions françaises 1482/122.

[22] BN pièces originales 238 Beauchamp en Angleterre 9.

[23] BN manuscrit français 26055/1762.

[24] BN manuscrit français 25770/746.

[25] BN pièces originales 929 Cressy 2.

[26] C.T. Allmand, Lancastrian Normandy, 1415-1450. The History of a Medieval Occupation (Oxford, 1983), p. 37.

[27] AN Collection Lenoir 22, folio 245.

[28] British Library Additional Charter 11,759.

[29] BN manuscrit français 26055/1724.

[30] BN manuscrit français 26056/1965.

[31] AN K63/24/5.

[32] AN K63/24/2.

[33] Complete Peerage, xii/2, pp. 663-6.

[34] AN Collection Lenoir, 24 folio 85. This document was a grant of a delay in his taking the prisée of his lands.

[35] The earl of Arundel was involved in many actions over the course of 1434 -5 before being mortally wounded at the siege of Gerberoy in May 1435 and dying on 14 June. By contrast, Willoughby seems to have been in England in the first half of 1434. On 10 June 1434 he was granted letters of attorney to go abroad (TNA C76/116, m. 8; calendared in Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records [DKR] 48, p. 298), but he does not seem to be active in Normandy until the spring of 1435 when he was holding the field against the French in Mont-Saint-Michel (BN manuscrit français 25772/955: counter-roll of the garrison of Pont-de-lArche, showing his absence from 26 May to 30 June for this purpose).

[36] TNA E101/71/3/882. The archers were to be adequately armed and arrayed but no mention is made of their being mounted, whereas this is explicitly stated for the man-at-arms.

[37] TNA E404/51/316. The payment of half the wages for the quarter, £417 0s 4d, was listed on the issue roll under 15 June (TNA E403/719). Of the composition of his retinue we know little save that it was to contain William Veer of Lyndhurst, Hampshire, who failed to turn up at the muster (CPR 1429-36, p. 463, revocation of his protection).

[38] TNA C76/117, m. 5, calendared in DKR 48, p. 304.

[39] CPR 1429-36, p. 476.

[40] TNA E404/51/332, E403/719 (where only the payment of the first instalment of wages is given. The lack of a second payment may suggest the retinue did not cross to France).

[41] The payment of the second instalment of wages , customarily made at the point of muster, was entered on the issue roll under 21 July (TNA E403/719). Payments to John Yerd as musterer were entered under 19 July.

[42] See TNA E404/51/360 and 54/151 for shipping costs which imply this possibility.

[43] TNA C76/117, m.2.

[44] CPR 1429-36, p. 525.

[45] BN manuscrit français 25772/938. This is the counter-roll of the garrison compiled by the controller, Edmund Hull. It notes that Cressy was ‘de nouvel ordonne cappitaine due dit lieu deu’. This counter-roll will be placed on the www.medieval web site in due course.

[46] TNA C76/118 m. 16, calendared in DKR 48, p. 309.

[47] TNA E404/52/208; E403/722 m.15, E403/724 m.6.

[48] BN manuscrit français 26061/2978. For musters of the garrison during his lieutenancy, see BN manuscrit français 25774/1259 (30 Oct. 1437); Caen, Archives Départementales du Calvados F 1354 (18 November 1437); Caen, Musée des Beaux Arts, Collection Mancel XVI/43 (28 Dec. 1437). These musters will be placed on the www.medieval web site in due course.

[49] Caen, Musée des Beaux Arts, Collection Mancel XVI/43.

[50] BN manuscrit français 25774/1259; Archives Départementales du Calvados F1354.

[51] BN pièces originales 929 Cressy 11.

[52] CPR 1436-41, p. 361.

[53] Letters and Papers Illustrative of the Wars of the English in France during the Reign of Henry the Sixth, king of England , ed. J. Stevenson (2 vols in 3 parts, Rolls Series, 1861-4), II, ii, p. 590.

[54] J.C. Wedgwood, History of Parliament: Biographies of Members of the Commons House 1439-1503 (London, 1936), p. 235.

[55] CPR 1436-41, p. 518.

[56] TNA E101/128/31, m. 7; J. Mann, ‘A further account of the armour preserved in the sanctuary of the Madonna della Brescia, near Mantua’, Archaeologia, 87 (1938), p. 319-20.

[57] For muster roll, TNA E101/53/33 m.1 available on the medieval soldier database,, accessed 1/11/2008. BN pièces originales 929 Cressy 3.

[58] BN pièces originales 929 Cressy 3.

[59] BN manuscrit français 26070/4732.

[60] CPR 1441-6, p. 471.

[61] Archives Communales de Lisieux CC14, folio 15v.

[62] AN Collection Lenoir 4, f.231.

[63] P. Johnson, Duke Richard of York 1411-1460 (Oxford, 1988), p. 47, note 140.

[64] AC Lisieux CC 17, p. 144; CC16 folio 22.

[65] BN manuscrit français 26073/5164.

[66] AC Lisieux CC 16 folio 19. This account covers the period from February 1445 to February 1446.

[67] AC Lisieux CC 25 p. 181. On the fortifications in general see J. Lesquier, ‘Les fortifications de Lisieux au quinzième siècles’, Etudes Lexoviennes, 3 (1928), pp. 193-240.

[68] For the embassy and dates of the journey see Griffiths, Reign of Henry the Sixth, pp. 486-7; P. Marot, ‘L’Expedition de Charles VII à Metz 1444-5’, Bibliothèque de l’école de Chartes, 102 (1941), p. 270. Margaret arrived at Nancy in early February and there was a convention as well as various jousts at Metz between 28 February and 5 March 1445.

[69] BN manuscript français 26073/5228, 5231.

[70] AN Collection Dom Lenoir 27, folio 189.

[71] AN K68/1/35.

[72] Johnson, Duke Richard of York, appendix III. It is significant that Cressy was immediately replaced as captain of Lisieux by Sir William Oldhall, who was York’s maître d’hôtel and retainer (AC Lisieux CC16 folio 9).

[73] John’s great-grandmother was Joan Mortimer, born to a collateral branch of the Mortimers of Wigmore.

[74] Griffiths, Reign of Henry the Sixth, p. 54. For Roos’s expenses as king’s ward see TNA E404/42/293 (1425-6).

[75] It is unlikely, however, that he was the John Cressy commissioned to provide carriage for the poultry of the royal household for the coronation in 1429 (CR 1429-36, p. 3). That is more likely a Cressy from a London family of that name.

[76] Complete Peerage xii, pp. 419-21.

[77] CPR 1429-36, p 476.

[78] Calendar of Fine Rolls  1437-45, p. 122. Various others associated with the royal household and war with France were involved in this transaction, such as Sir William Mountfort and John Norreys.

[79] Calendar of Close Rolls 1447-54, p. 317. In March 1439 Sir Thomas Grey and Edward Hull, who also served in France, were used by Cressy in property conveyance in Luton (Calendar of Ancient Deeds, iii. C3728).

[80] Constance outlived her husband by many years. For her will, dated 28 April 1486, see Hertfordshire County Record Office Archdeaconry of St Albans, 2AR folio 49v.

[81] CIPM, iii, p. 255 31 Henry VI. At his father’s death, the wardship of John jnr was granted to Humphrey, duke of Gloucester (CPR 1441-6, p. 342, 8 May 1445).

[82] Complete Peerage, vi, pp. 155-8.

[83] H. Collins, The Order of the Garter 1348-1461. Chivalry and Politics in Late Medieval England (Oxford, 2000).

[84] Complete Peerage, xi, pp. 101-105.

[85] Complete Peerage, xi, p. 103. Margaret, Lady Roos, was lady in waiting to Queen Katherine on her journey to France in 1422.

[86] This will be explored fully in the forthcoming History of Parliament: The Commons 1422-1461. I am grateful to the History of Parliament Trust for allowing me to see Dr Payling’s article in draft.

[87] TNA E163/7/31. By way of comparison, Sir John Popham was assessed at £122, Richard Woodville esquire at £148, Sir Ralp Butler at £156..