Raid on Sandwich, 15 January 1460

The raid on Sandwich of 15 January 1460 saw a Yorkist force based at Calais attack Sandwich, capturing both a Lancastrian fleet being built in the port and the commander of the garrison (Wars of the Roses).

In 1459 the Yorkists had suffered a humiliating defeat at Ludford Bridge (12-13 October 1459). The Yorkist leaders had fled into exile, with the Neville earls of Salisbury and Warwick and Edward, earl of March, all escaping to Calais (where Warwick was Captain). The Lancastrians made a series of efforts to retake Calais. Henry Beaufort, duke of Somerset (son of the duke of Somerset killed at the first battle of St. Albans) crossed the channel and captured the outlying fort at Guinnes, but was unable to make any further progress. On the Kentish side of the channel work began on constructing a Lancastrian fleet at Sandwich, and Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers, was placed in command of the defence of the town.

Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, had already established an impressive military reputation and his earlier exploits in the channel meant he was popular in Kent. He thus received intelligence about the Lancastrian plans and late in 1459 decided to send a force to capture their fleet.

The Yorkist raiding force was commanded by John Dinham, Lord Dinham, the Yorkist supporter who had helped Warwick, Salisbury and March escape from Ludford Bridge. According to the Paston Letters he had a force of 800 men.

The Yorkist raiding party hit Sandwich early on 15 January 1460, Rivers was surprised in his bed. He, his son Anthony and his wife Jacquetta of Luxembourg were all captured and taken across to Calais. The Lancastrian fleet was destroyed before it could be used. Jacquetta was quickly released. Earl Rivers was publicly attacked by Warwick and March as being a jumped-up squire, not fit to call himself a lord. Despite this rough treatment he was also soon released, for he was fighting on the Lancastrian side at Towton in 1461. Rather ironically four years later the young earl of March, by then Edward IV, married Jacquetta and Rivers's daughter Elizabeth Woodville, a move that helped cause the later rift between Edward and Warwick.

This raid on Sandwich was followed by a more serious attack in June 1460. This time Dinham, William Neville Lord Fauconberg and John Wenlock all took part and the port was captured. On 26 June Warwick and March crossed the channel to Sandwich at the start of the invasion that ended with the capture of Henry VI at the battle of Northampton (10 July 1460).

Books on the Middle Ages - Subject Index: Wars of the Roses

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 November 2013), Raid on Sandwich, 15 January 1460 ,

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