Part I: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York


Wardrobe Accounts of Edward IV


Preface, Introductory Remarks, and
Remarks on the Wardrobe Accounts


by Nicholas Harris Nicolas, Esq.



A Note on the Text


Every effort has been made to make the following document true to the edtion originally published in 1830. However, certain adjustments have been necessitated simply by the change to the medium in which it is now presented. The text has been divided into several parts for easier, more efficient computer downloading, and the system of footnotes has been consolidated into separate sections, one at the end of the Introduction, Remarks, and Memoir of Elizabeth of York, and the other after the texts of the Accounts. Where in the fifteenth-century texts themselves or parts excerpted from them and quoted Nicolas’ introductory segments, superscript Roman numerals, etc., have been used, the reader will find these surrounded by –{-} – – brackets instead. Where blank spaces occur in the original, a dotted line…—…will be found in its place. During the period in which the document is being prepared and, therefore, presented segmentally, any footnotes referring to their point of reference placement in the 1830 edition of the Accounts or Privy Purse Expenses themselves will simply be indicated as such in a general manner, until the completion of the entire document, when they can be accurately cross- referenced. J.C.G., Text Transcriber



Table of Contents


  • PART I: Preface, Introductory Remarks & Remarks on the Wardrobe Accounts
  • PART II: Remarks on the Privy Purse Accounts of Elizabeth of York & “Memoirs.”
  • PART III: Memoir of Elizabeth of York.
  • PART IV: Memoir of Elizabeth of York.
  • PART V: Memoir of Elizabeth of York.
  • PART VI: Memoir of Elizabeth of York.
  • PART VII: Endnotes for Introduction, Remarks, and Memoir of Elizabeth of York.
  • PART VIII: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Entries #1 through 7.
  • PART IX: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Entries #8 through 15.
  • PART X: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Entries #16 through 22.
  • PART XI: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Entries #23 through 31.
  • PART XII: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Entries #32 through 41.
  • PART XIII: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Entries #42 through 51.
  • PART XIV: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Entries #52 through 61.
  • PART XV: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Entries #62 through 71.
  • PART XVI.1: Index and Notes on the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Abington through Bray.
  • PART XVI.2: Index and Notes on the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Braybroke through Christenings.
  • PART XVI.3: Index and Notes on the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Clarycords through Dyer.
  • PART XVI.4: Index and Notes on the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Easthampstead through Hynsted.
  • PART XVI.5: Index and Notes on the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Ink through Money borrowed…
  • PART XVI.6: Index and Notes on the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Money lent… through Pins.
  • PART XVI.7: Index and Notes on the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Pin- powder through Stable, the expenses…
  • PART XVI.8: Index and Notes on the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York: Stable, to the officers… through Zouch.



The value of “Privy Purse Expenses” of our sovereigns in illustration of History, having been so frequently pointed out, it is unnecessary to urge the utility of this volume.

It has been edited upon the same plan as “Privy Purse Expenses of King Henry the Eighth,” which were published about three years ago, since which time numerous records of a similar description have been brought to light, the greater part of which are scattered in various repositories, and others are in the hands of private individuals. Whenever the Government may think that the muniments of the Country should be rendered available for the elucidation of History, manuscripts of this nature ought to be among the first which are collected and indexed, even if they be not published by its authority. It is proper to notice that copious extracts from the Privy Purse Expenses of King Henry the Seventh, between December, 1491, and March, 1505, have been recently printed in the “Excerpta Historica,” which are interesting additions to those of his Queen; and that similar accounts of the Princess, afterwards Queen, Mary, are in prepartaion by Mr. Madden, of the British Musuem, than whom a more able Editor could not be desired.

In this volume, Memoirs of Elizabeth of York and of her sisters, will for the first time be found, all of whom have been unaccountably neglected by historical writers. These Memoirs present new facts, and it is presumed correct many important errors, in the History of the Reigns of Richard the Third and Henry the Seventh.

For assistance in the compilation of the Notes, the Editor is much indebted to his friends the Reverend James Dallaway, and John Gage, of Lincoln’s Inn, Esq., to whom, and to Charles George Young, Esq., York Herald, for the exercise of his wonted kindness, he offers his warmest thanks.

20th November, 1830



The accounts which are contained in this volume afford considerable information about the latter part of the reigns of Edward the Fourth and Henry the Seventh; and besides illustrating the manner of the period, they throw light upon some points of History, as well as upon the characters of Elizabeth of York and her consort King Henry the Seventh, and abound in notices of other eminent individuals.



Wardrobe Accounts of King Edward the Fourth

The Wardrobe Accounts of King Edward the Fourth from 18th April to the 29th September, 1480, though preceding in point of time, the Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, are placed at the end of the volume, because they are inferior in interest; and as might be expected, they are chiefly valuable for the descriptions which they contain of the costume of the monarch and his court, for which purpose they were consulted by laborious Strutt. The original manuscript is now in the Harleian Collection in the British Museum, and is numbered 4780, but extracts from it only have been thought necessary for publication, because the Inventories are repeated, and many statements of a mere official nature are introduced, which it is not desirable to print at length. All the aritcles therein mentioned, together with the names of persons, have been carefully copied; and little as such a record might appear of promise of historical facts, it establishes one of very great importance.

The Accounts commence with a statement of the money received and expended for the King’s wardrobe. Each article is minutely described, and the impressions created by the perusal are those of admiration at the splendid appearance which persons of rank must have presented, and of surprise at the accuracy with which the delivery or purchase of every trifle is recorded. Explanations of the various things mentioned will be found in the notes; and though they were compiled with great labour, there are a few entries which could not be illustrated, because words occur which it is presumed have not been discovered in any other manuscript, and it is seldom that a solitary example of the use of a word enables an editor to satisfy himself of its precise import.

Among the more interesting passages is the list of some of Edward the Fourth’s books, with a description of their magnificent bindings. The price of wages to workmen seems to have varied from four-pence to six-pence a day, and the pay of the Clerk of the Wardrobe was only a shilling. Information will be found about the equipment of the suite, and of the horses of the King; and the idea of which the illuminated MSS. of the fifteenth century afford of the gorgeous appearance of a tournament, or other assembly of nobles on festive occasions, is corroborated by these descriptions. It was always the practice for the sovereign to present liveries to the officers of his household, and his favourites, and the notices of such presents are deserving of attention, from their shewing the great change which three centuries have produced in the feelings and usages of society. To Lord Howard, afterwards the first Duke of Norfolk, and “the Jocky of Norfolk” of Shakespeare, his royal master gave nine yards of black velvet; and to the heir-apparent of the Earl of Kent, for his marriage, a gown of blue velvet. Gowns were also given to the Marquess of Dorset and to Earl Rivers; and coverings for brigandines were given to Lord Audley, to Sir Thomas Montgomery, and to Sir Thomas Borough, two Knights of the Garter.

Most of the persons thus favoured were relations either of the King or of Elizabeth Wydeville his Queen, and the others held situations in the household. The Prince of Wales, afterwards, King Edward the Fifth, and his brother the Duke of York, are mentioned as having received, the former, five yards of white cloth of old tissue, and the latter, by the hands of his chamberlain, several yards of purple velvet, black and green satin, and sarcenet for gowns, as well as a mantle of the Order of the Garter.

The slightest glance over these Accounts must establish their value in elucidating the manners, dresses, and furniture of our ancestors, and more particularly in relation to the court and to persons of rank, towards the close of the fifteenth century. For comparison of historical pictures, and for the stage, such a record is of the greatest utility; and even if it were confined to points which, with the superciliousness of ignorance, it may be said are only worthy of the attention of a frivilous antiquary, its value in illustration of history would nevertheless be considerable.

It is as requisite for an Historian to be intimately acquainted with the customs of the age of which he writes, as for a traveller to reside some time in a country before he attempts to describe the inhabitants, lest he may consider peculiarities in dress or conduct, which arise from personal caprice, as part of the national character. This is fully exemplified in the instance of a learned historian of the present day, who, in treating the character of Richard the Third, ascribes to him a love of splendid clothes and a taste for pomp, which in fact belonged to the age and not to the individual. Of the mandate to the Keeper of the Wardrobe to send various dresses to the King at York, that writer says, “Richard specifies these with an exactness and descriptive detail, as if they were as minutely registered in his manly memory as in that of the Queen’s mistress of the robes. The abundance of variety of what he sends for, imply a solicitude for his personal exhibition, which we should rather look for from the fop that annoyed Hotspur than from the stern and warlike Richard; but it was a foible of his heart, and like all the secret idols of our self-love, it kept its station within its interior temple, however bustling and contrasted might be the living scenery that surrounded it (1).” Again: “the King’s splendour necessarily outshone the duke of Buckingham’s, and from Richard’s peculiar taste was ostentatiously displayed. The ducal fop was transcended by the royal coxcomb,” &c. “Richard enjoyed his own pomp with too much self-complacency to think of the duke’s feelings on this subject, unless to be secretly gratified with his own superiority.” “His fastidious use and display of his regal state revealed too large a personal vanity to create attachment. Everyone has too much of this weakness to endure it from another, and as the pomp of Richard was too expensive for the less affluent of the gentry, and too self prominent not to make the wealthier feel a great compartive dimunition in his presence, it increased instead of abating his personal unpopularity (2).”

These inferences with respect to the character of Richard the Third are, it is submitted, drawn from a mistaken estimate of evidence, rather than from erroneous data; and they prove the necessity of an historian not merely using research, but of being able to attach proper value to his materials. The grounds upon which Richard’s vanity is built are the account of the articles delivered out of the Wardrobe for his coronation, the descriptions of the Chroniclers of his pompous appearance on public occasions, and the clothes for which he sent from York. Viewed without reference to silimar documents in previous and subsequent reigns, the conclusion is natural, that the sovereign to whom they relate was a “vain coxcomb,” especially if the opinion be just that that list was prepared by the monarch himself. But when records of this nature are compared with others, and it becomes evident that the splendid dresses worn by Richard formed the general costume of persons of rank of the age, and when the minuteness of detail which is ascribed to his own taste is proved to be the usual form in which Wardrobe-keepers and their officers entered the articles entrusted to their custody, the error of supposing that the splendour or the accurate description of the robes are in any degree indicative of Richard the Third’s character is manifest. A reference to these Wardrobe Accounts, or to any other list of apparel or jewels, in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth century, will prove that there is not a single circumstance connected with Richard which justifies the opinion that he was more fond of splendour and parade than his predecessors, much less that he was either a “fop” or a “coxcomb.”

It is only comparing one record with another, and devoting much labour to the inquiry, that accurate conclusions on the characters of individuals of the middle ages can be formed. Man is wise, virtuous, and humane, or silly, vain, and wicked, in comparison with his contemporaries. He must be estimated, not by the standard of morality erected several centuries after his death, but the the standard of the age in which he lived. There is not, for example, a greater want of mental delicacy in the female savage whose person is exposed, than in the European woman whose form is nearly concealed; but educate that savage and transport her to Europe, and if she refuse to imitate the females by whom she is surrounded, she may then, but not until then, be charged with indelicacy. If Richard was the first monarch who was splendidly attired, or if his subjects did not imitate him as far as their purses or the laws permitted, there would be some justice in accusing him of vanity; but a love of splendour in apparel was so peculiar a characteristic of the middle ages throughout Europe, that it was restrained in England by various sumptuary statutes.

It is sufficiently evident that Wardrobe Accounts are if a much greater value in illustration of History than is generally supposed; and an important fact which is established by those here printed will now be stated.

Margaret of York, sister of King Edward the Fourth, married Charles Duke of Burgundy on the 9th July, 1468. This princess is memorable for the annoyance she caused to Henry the Seventh by countenancing Perkin Warbeck, who personated her nephew, the Duke of York, and more especially for the support which she afforded the impostor. Historians assert that the duchess tutored him in the part he was to perform, by giving him accurate information of her brother’s court, “describing unto him the personages, lineaments, and features of the king and queen, his pretended parents, and of his brothers and sisters, and divers others that were nearest him in his childhood; together with all passages, some secret, some common, that were fit for a child’s memory, until the death of King Edward. Then she added the particulars from the time of the king’s death until he and his brother were committed to the Tower, as well as during the time he was abroad, as while he was in sanctuary,” (3) &c.

Upon this passage Horace Walpole remarks, “Indeed! Margaret must in truth have been a Juno, a divine power, if she could give all these instuctions to purpose. This passage is so very important, the whole story depends so much upon it, that if I can shew the utter impossibility of its being true, Perkin will remain the true Duke of York for any thing we can prove to the contrary; and for Henry, Sir Thomas More, Lord Bacon, and their copyists, it will be impossible to give any longer credit to their narrations. I have said that Duke Richard was born in 1474. Unfortunately his aunt Margaret was married out of England in 1467, seven years before his was born, and never returned thither.” Walpole then triumphantly asks, “Was not she singularly capable of describing to Perkin her nephew whom she had never seen? How well informed she was of the times of his childhood, and of all passages relating to his brother and sisters! Oh! but she had English refugees about her. She must have had many, and those of most intimate connection with the court, if she and they together could compose a tolerable story for Perkin, that was to take in the most minute passages of so many years (4).” He then observes, that “twenty-seven years at least had elapsed since Margaret had been in the court of England,” and concludes his argument in words which shew that he deemed it unanswerable: “If Margaret was Juno, he who shall answer these questions satisfactorily, “erit mihi magnus Apollo.'”

Next to Walpole and Laing, the strongest advocate of the identity of Warbeck with the Duke of York, is the historian of the Tower of London, who has discussed the question (5) with great zeal, but without throwing much light upon the subject. An argument of so conclusive a nature as that the Duchess of Burgundy could not possibly have tutored Warbeck, because she had not been in England for twenty-seven years, during which time the children of Edward the Fourth were born, and that so serious an error weakens the other statements of the writers who have comitted it, is strongly pressed by the disciples of Horace Walpole. Mr. Bayley observes, “How the duchess could have selected this young man for his likeness to her nephew, the Duke of York; how she could have described to him the persons of his brother, his sisters, and others nearest him in his childhood; how she could have given him minute details of the affairs of England, and of how she could have instructed him in what passed while he was in the sanctuary of Westminster, and more especially of the transactions in the Tower, would be difficult to imagine; for this princess, who is represented as bitter against Henry, was married out of England in 1467, before either of Edward the Fourth’s children was born, and as she never returned, she could never have seen the Duke of York, his brother, or either of the princesses, nor could she have had such knowledge of the extraordinary chain of events that had since occurred in England, as would have made her a capable instructress of a Flemish youth in the wily and difficult course he would have to tread (6).”

It is much easier to draw conclusion from presumed premises than to examine into the truth of the premises themselves; and had half the ingenuity which some writers have displayed in supporting their favorite hpyothesis, been bestowed on an investigation of the evidence on which they build it, the history of England would not be so disfigured by errors and absurdities.

Nothing could be more satisfactory than the argument which has been quoted, for disbelieving that the Duchess of Burdgundy tutored Warbeck, were it not certain that the Duchess paid her brother’s court a visit in July or August, 1480, — less than three years before Edward’s decease.

On the 24th July, sheets, fustians, blankets, arras, travasses, &c., were sent to Greenwich and Coldharbour, “against the coming thither of my Lady Duchess of Bourgoigne (7),” and green sarcenet was issued from the Wardrobe to make a traverse for the Duchess’ chapel at Coldharbour (8), to which place hooks and other materials for hanging tapestry were also forwarded, in expectation of her arrival and of the arrival of the ambassadors of Burgundy (9). To the Master of the King’s Barge a gown of black camlet was delivered the same day, “against the Duchess’ coming.” The said master and twenty-four bargemen received sixteen yards of blue and murrey cloth, being the colours of the livery of the house of York, and forty-eight small roses embroidered, to make jackets, which were to be garnished with small roses; four other persons receiving on the same occasion eight large embroidered roses, “against the coming to London of the Duchess of Burgundy (10).” On the 26th, green velet, garnished with aglets of silver gilt, bordered with spangles, for horse harnesses, together with crimson velvet for covering head- stalls and reins for ten hobies and palfreys, which articles the King presented to the Duchess, were issued by the Wardrobe-keeper (11).

The Duchess of Burgundy remained in London, being lodged at Coldharbour, until the end of September; and on the 18th ofthat month, Sir Edward Wydeville the King’s brother-in-law, Sir James Radclyffe, knights of the body, Darcy, Tay, William Berkeley and Roger Vaughan, esquires of the body, obtained an order for the delivery of purple velvet and purple satin, for their jackets against the Duchess’ return, they being appointed to attend her < href=”wardnote.html#W12″>(12); for which purpose jackets of woollen cloth, of the colours of murrey and blue, were given to one hundred other persons, many of whom were gentlemen and servants of the household (13). Previous to her departure, a maginficent pillion, “against her going into Flanders again,” was provided (14). The Duchess appears to have been treated with the most marked respect and attention during her stay in this country, which lasted, as near as the dates admit of the inference, upwards of six weeks. In her suite was the Argentier of France, to whom, on the 16th August, and “to divers estates and gentles being attending and awaiting” upon the person of the Duchess, were given several yards of cloth of silver, scarlet, violet cloth, and black velvet (15).

The only Chronicle yet printed in which the Duchess of Burgundy’s visit to England is noticed, is in one lately edited, entitled, “the Chronicle of London,” where the circumstance is thus alluded to: “Anno 20 Edw. IV. Also this yere the Duches of Burgoyne came into England to see the Kyng her brother, which shewed to her great pleasure; and so she departid ageyne (16).”

Though the object of the Duchess of Burgundy’s coming is there said to be “to see the King,” it was probably intimately connected with the negociation then entered into with that duchy, but the positive evidence that she passed many weeks in England within so short a period of the death of Edward the Fourth, when all his children were living, and when the Prince of Wales was ten years old, and his eldest sister the Princess Elizabeth fourteen, is highly valuable because it completely negatives the assertion that the Duchess could not have given Warbeck the knowledge he possessed of the royal family. By destroying that hypothesis, the statements of Lord Bacon and other writers, that Perkin derived his information from her, is restored to its original value, and the probability that he was an impostor is of course increased. It is true that the presence of the Duchess at her brother’s court in August, 1480, would not have enabled her to acquaint Warbeck with what passed while the Duke of York was in the sanctuary at Westminster; but his information on those points was of so general a nature, that he might easily have obtained it from Margaret’s agents.