John Cade

Cade, John, said to have been an Irishman, a physician, whose real name was Aylmer, was induced in the summer of 1450 to assume the name of Mortimer, and to head a rising of Kentishmen, ostensibly as a protest against certain fines and taxes, really in the interest of Richard, Duke of York. He encamped, says Grafton the chronicler, "in good order of battaile" at Blackheath, and sent messages to Henry VI. and his council, " with louyng wordes, but with malicious entent." Henry marched against the insurgents, who retreated to Sevenoaks. There they defeated a detachment sent against them — the leaders of same, Sir Humphrey and Sir William Stafford, falling in the encounter. Henry VI. appears to have retreated into Warwickshire, committing to the Tower the unpopular Treasurer of England, Lord Say. "We are told that Cade apparelled himself in the rich armour of the Staffords, "and so with pompe and glorie returned agagne towarde London," his forces being considerably augmented by contingents from Sussex and Surrey. He first entered Southwark, and then London itself, and he struck his sword on London stone, saying: "Now is Mortimer lorde of this citie;" after which, we are told by Grafton, "he rode in euery streete lyke a lordly captayne."

At first he restrained the excesses of his followers, and protected life and property. On the 3rd July, however, he had Lord Say and others executed, and the citizens being subjected to wanton outrages, banded themselves together, and with the co-operation of Lord Scales, keeper of the Tower, drove Cade and his following, after a desperate encounter, across the bridge into Southwark. In the fighting many houses were burned, and numbers of women and children perished in the flames or by drowning. Cade's discomfiture was completed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Winchester secretly crossing the river, and disseminating among his followers the King's pardon to all who would peaceably return to their homes. Grafton, the chronicler, remarks: "Lord, howe glad the people were of this pardon . . and how they accepted the same, in so much that the whole multitude, without by dding farewell to their Capitane, retired the same night, euery man to his own home, as men amazed and striken with feare." Cade fled disguised into Sussex — "but all his metamorphosis or transfiguration little prevayled, for after a proclamation made, that whoesoeuer could apprehend the saved lack Cade should haue for his paine a thousande markes, many sought for hym, but fewe espied hym, till one Alexander Iden, Esquire, of Kent, founde hym in a garden, and there in his defence, manfully slue the caytife Cade, and brought his dead bodie to London, whose head was set on London bridge."


42. Biographical Dictionary: Rev. Hugh J. Rose. 12 vols. London, 1850.

126. England, Popular History. Charles Knight. 8 vols. 1856-'62.

152. Grafton, Richard: Chronicle of the History England. 2 vols. London, 1809.

335. Viceroys of Ireland, History: John T. Gilbert. Dublin, 1865.