The Harringtons of Hornby Castle and the Stanleys

Most people are aware of the story of the original Hornby Castle. Sir Thomas Harrington and John, his elder son, were killed fighting at Wakefield in the Yorkist cause. John Harrington left two daughters – Anne was five and Elizabeth four at the time – and the Stanleys, assuming them to be their grandfather’s heirs, married them off to Edward (Thomas Lord Stanley’s son, later Baron Monteagle and ancestor of the Gunpowder Plot letter recipient) and John Stanley of Melling (Thomas and Sir William‘s nephew, who was later knighted). However, Sir Thomas Harrington’s younger sons, Sir James and Robert, claimed to be their father’s heirs on the basis that their brother had died first. Edward IV made the sisters Stanley wards, giving those acquisitive turncoats custody of the castle. The Duke of Gloucester didn’t approve of this and sought to make amends, only for Sir James to die at Bosworth beside his King before this could happen.

A little genealogical research has revealed that the Harringtons of Hornby were descended from John, the 14th century first Baron Harrington of Aldingham. Genealogics, which is my preferred cyber-source, has a broken link between John Harrington and his family, but some things are clear:
1) The back-stabbing brothers Stanley are both descended from the Baron, their grandfather having married his great-granddaughter, another Elizabeth.
2) Catherine Parr was among his descendants.
3) Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, was also among his descendants.
4) Richard Baron Lumley, whose revised marriage dispensation (i) to Anne Conyers was issued today in 1489, giving evidence that he was probably Edward IV’s grandson, was among his descendants as well.
5) Sir Richard Ratcliffe was also descended from the Baron.

Sadly, it is impossible to visit the disputed Hornby Castle near Lancaster, because the Stanleys rebuilt it from scratch over two centuries later (left).

(i) The Paternity of Lady Lumley (Ricardian, vol.XXVI, pp.113-120, Barnfield and Lark)

By super blue

Grandson of a Town player.


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