Yorkist refugees and Lancastrian operatives in sanctuary

Yorkist refugees in sanctuary during Henry VI’s 1470-71 readeption lived alongside the usual felons and debtors – including an apparent Lancastrian operative, working on war finances from within the sanctuary.

A “travelling man” (in this case evidently meaning courier), Robert Byby, was assigned in December 1470 to convey some liquidated assets for the Lancastrian war effort from Colchester to Westminster; there it was to be given to one Bernard, receiver of the earl of Oxford, a leader of the Lancastrian resurgence.


Byby later reported that he delivered the funds to Bernard in the sanctuary at Westminster, as Bernard was privileged there. As Bernard was obviously working for the Lancastrian cause, he wasn’t there as a political refugee – perhaps then as a debtor or accused felon?

Bernard stayed in sanctuary following Edward IV’s restoration: perhaps then he became a political refugee as well, avoiding Edward’s revenge. As we’ll see in another post, Edward wasn’t always respectful of sanctuary, so we don’t know whether this was a successful tactic for Bernard.

TNA, C 1/46/165; James Ross, John de Vere, 55-56. Top image source

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