Tailboys, Sir William

(c. 1416–1464)
   Although responsible for numerous crimes in his county and therefore a prime example of the local corruption and disorder that made HENRY VI’s government so ineffective and unpopular, Sir William Tailboys (or Talboys) was a staunch partisan of the house of LANCASTER after the outbreak of the WARS OF THE ROSES.
   Born into a Lincolnshire GENTRY family that descended from a Norman follower of William the Conqueror, Tailboys entered the king’s household in 1441 and married the daughter of a prominent courtier, William BONVILLE, Lord Bonville, in 1446. Possessed of a fierce temper and an aggressive nature, Tailboys deeply involved himself in the magnate feuds that disturbed Lincolnshire in the 1440s. In November 1449, perhaps in pursuit of these local quarrels,Tailboys assaulted Ralph Cromwell, Lord Cromwell, at Westminster, an act that Cromwell and others attributed to Tailboys’s political patron,William de la POLE, duke of Suffolk.Tailboys’s violence helped precipitate Suffolk’s impeachment by PARLIAMENT in early 1450. The duke’s protection of Tailboys for the Westminster assault and for earlier disorders was used as evidence of Suffolk’s corruption and abuse of power.
   After Suffolk’s fall, Tailboys was fined and briefly imprisoned, but he continued to conspire against his Lincolnshire enemies, and in 1452 he attempted to falsely implicate Cromwell in the unsuccessful DARTFORD UPRISING undertaken by Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York. When civil war erupted in 1459, Tailboys was a firm Lancastrian. He fought for Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU at the Battle of ST. ALBANS in February 1461 and was knighted after the battle by Henry VI. After the Battle of TOWTON in March 1461, he fled into SCOTLAND with the Lancastrian royal family. EDWARD IV seized Tailboys’s estates in May, and the first Yorkist Parliament included him in a bill of ATTAINDER in November. In the same month, Tailboys led a force into England and recaptured ALNWICK CASTLE for Henry VI. He then marched to DUNSTANBURGH CASTLE, where Sir Ralph Percy, whom Edward had retained in command when the Yorkists took the fortress, surrendered the castle to him. Tailboys himself surrendered Alnwick in July 1462 to a force under William HASTINGS, Lord Hastings, and Sir John HOWARD, who allowed him to withdraw into Scotland. In April 1464, Tailboys fought under Henry BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, at the Battle of HEDGELEY MOOR. One month later, he fought again with Somerset at the Battle of HEXHAM. Shortly after the battle, soldiers of John NEVILLE, Lord Montagu, the victor of Hexham, captured Tailboys as he hid in a coal pit. A large sum of money, apparently Lancastrian war funds, was found on his person. Tailboys was then taken to Newcastle and executed.
   Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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