Lambert Simnel

Simnel, Lambert, the son of an Oxford tradesman, was, in 1486, brought to Ireland by Richard Simond, a clergyman, and presented to the chief personages of the Anglo-Irish colony as Richard, Earl of Warwick, son of the Duke of Clarence, and heir to the English throne. Of noble appearance and demeanour, he acted his part to perfection. Simond alleged, that having rescued the child from death, he had brought him to a land known to be specially attached to the cause of the White Rose, and relied that the Yorkists of Ireland would vindicate the rights of a boy whose deceased father, the Duke of Clarence, had been born amongst them in Dublin Castle. Kildare and other Anglo-Irish lords, personally acquainted with Clarence and his family, subjected the lad to a searching examination, and satisfied themselves that he was the rightful heir to the crown. He was lodged in the Castle, every deference was paid to him, and messengers were despatched to the friends of the House of York in England, and to the Dowager Duchess of Burgundy, his supposed aunt. The citizens of Waterford boldly opposed his pretensions; and in the name of Henry VII. enlisted soldiery from the Munster towns and the Ormond district, where the people were most inimical to the Leinster Geraldines. The Duchess sent a force of about 2.000 men, under the command of Martin Swart, a soldier of great experience, who landed at Dublin in May 1487, accompanied by the Earl of Lincoln, Lord Lovel, and other Yorkist refugees from Flanders.

On Whit-Sunday, the 24th May, Simnel was solemnly anointed and crowned King of England, under the name of Edward VI., in Christ Church, Dublin, in presence of the chief dignitaries of the Pale, who renounced their allegiance to Henry VII., and swore fealty to him. He was then borne in state to the Castle on the shoulders of tall men, that he might be seen by the enthusiastic populace. A parliament was convened, coins were struck, and proclamations issued in his name, and an expedition was organized for the invasion of England, which landed on the coast of Lancashire, 4th June 1487, and advanced into Yorkshire. Sir Thomas FitzGerald commanded the Irish contingent. Henry collected a large force, and the armies met on 16th June at Stoke, near Newark-on-Trent, where an engagement was fought. The Irish, according to the chronicles, "fought boldly and stuck to it valiantly," and it was not until 4,000 had fallen that the Yorkists gave way. Simnel and Simond were captured by Robert Bellingham, a squire of Henry's house. The priest was immured for life, in fetters, in a dark dungeon. Simnel, according to one account, was incarcerated in the Tower of London; according to another, Henry employed him as a turnspit in the royal kitchen, and afterwards made him master of the falcons. Many Irish lords and their followers fell at Stoke. The subsequent expedition of Sir Richard Edgecomb to Ireland was for the purpose of bringing back to their allegiance the lords of the Pale, who for many months after the fall of Simnel cherished plans of revolt.


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