Wenlock, John, Lord Wenlock

(d. 1471)
   Although an early adherent of the house of YORK, and a prominent diplomat under EDWARD IV, John Wenlock, Lord Wenlock, supported the restoration of the house of LANCASTER in 1470.
   Born into a Bedfordshire GENTRY family, Wenlock entered the service of Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU in the 1440s, becoming her chamberlain by 1450. In 1455, he fought for HENRY VI at the Battle of ST. ALBANS, but shortly thereafter joined the Yorkists. In 1459, after the Yorkist debacle at the Battle of LUDFORD BRIDGE,Wenlock fled to CALAIS with Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, and his son Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick. Wenlock returned to England with the Nevilles in June 1460 and participated in the successful Yorkist siege of the TOWER OF LONDON. In March 1461, he fought for Edward IV at the Battles of FERRYBRIDGE and TOWTON, and was rewarded later in the year with elevation to the PEERAGE. In 1462, Wenlock took part in Warwick’s siege of DUNSTANBURGH CASTLE.
   During the 1460s Wenlock served on numerous diplomatic missions with Warwick, including efforts to find a foreign queen for Edward IV. He and Warwick concluded a truce at sea with FRANCE in 1464, and in the following year they were joined by William HASTINGS, Lord Hastings, in a wide-ranging peace mission to various European courts. Although he was implicated in the CORNELIUS PLOT, a shadowy Lancastrian conspiracy uncovered in 1468, Wenlock suffered no serious consequences because he was engaged at the time in conducting the king’s sister, MARGARET OF YORK, to BURGUNDY for her marriage to Duke CHARLES. In April 1470, when Warwick fled England after the failure of his second coup attempt, he sailed to Calais, where Wenlock was in command as Warwick’s deputy. Although sympathetic,Wenlock knew the garrison was loyal to Edward; he refused admittance to Warwick and his party but privately advised the earl to seek refuge in France. For this action, Edward rewarded Wenlock with the governorship of the town, but he then grew suspicious of Wenlock’s loyalty and dismissed him from the post in favor of Anthony WOODVILLE, Earl Rivers. When Warwick forged his alliance with Margaret of Anjou in the summer of 1470 (see Angers Agreement), Wenlock was one of WENLOCK, JOHN, LORD WENLOCK 297 the few Yorkist peers to follow the earl into the Lancastrian camp. Although his exact reasons for this defection are unclear, he may have shared Warwick’s dislike for Edward’s Burgundian alliance and for the rise of the WOODVILLE FAMILY. Wenlock landed in England with Queen Margaret and Prince EDWARD OF LANCASTER in April 1471 and was a leader of the Lancastrian army at the Battle of TEWKESBURY on 4 May. According to one account,Wenlock was slain by Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, the Lancastrian commander, who was enraged at what he considered to be Wenlock’s failure to support his attack.However, other sources say that Wenlock was simply killed in battle.
   Further Reading: Hicks, Michael,Warwick the Kingmaker (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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