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Sir Robert Whittingham

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Sir Robert Whittingham - original painting by Graham Turner Sir Robert Whittingham Ref: GT-RW

Sir Robert Whittingham as he is commemorated on his tomb at Aldbury, Hertfordshire, wearing a Milanese armour under his heraldic tabard.

See below for a summary of Sir Robert's life and career.

Original gouache painting by Graham Turner - image size approximately 9"x 14" (23cm x 35cm) on watercolour board with an overall size of 15"x 22". Note: When framed with a mount, the overall picture size will be larger. Painting is priced unframed.

Click on image to enlarge


Please read the paragraphs below about purchasing an original painting.
Price: 845.00


Born around 1420, Robert Whittingham followed his father (Sir Robert Whittingham, M.P., Treasurer of Calais, 1390-1452) into public life as would be expected of a man of his class, holding many local positions including Justice of the Peace, Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and M.P. for Buckinghamshire in 1453-4. In 1448 he married Katherine Gatewyne, who had travelled from France with Queen Margaret, and from 1448-1460 he was an Usher of the Chamber. On 26 September 1456 Whittingham was appointed Receiver-General of the rents of Edward, Prince of Wales, and a surviving record shows him holding another prestigious post: 'Commission to Robert Whityngham, esquire, keeper of the great wardrobe of queen Margaret, appointing him and his deputies to purvey linen and woollen cloths, silk, cloth of gold, peluries and furs and all the other necessary stuffs concerning the said wardrobe and the queen's use in London...' (24 April 1458, Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry VI 1452-61, p.429)

He was appointed a joint Commissioner of Array in September 1457, raising troops in Buckinghamshire (and again in 1459 in Hertfordshire), and in December was among those named to 'assign how many archers each hundred... town, township, village, hamlet and all other places in the county of Buckingham [shall supply]'. (CPR 1452-61, p.406)

In December 1460 Whittingham fought at the Battle of Wakefield, then two months later he was knighted by the young Prince Edward after their victory at the Second Battle of St Albans (Gregory's Chronicle p.214), but his service to the Lancastrian royal family earned him the enmity of the new Yorkist Edward IV, who put a bounty of £100 on his head.

Following their catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Towton on 22 March 1461, Sir Robert fled north to Scotland with the queen. At King Edward's first parliament he was one of many 'convicted and attainted of high Treason'; his loyalty had cost him everything. He was also named as being involved in besieging Carlisle in June of that year:

'And where also the same Margarete, and Edward her son, and also the seid Henry Duk of Excestr', Thomas Grey, Lord Rugemonde Grey, Humfrey Dacre Knyght, Edmund Hampden Knyght, Robert Whityngham Knyght, Henry Bellyngeham Knyght, and Richard Tunstall Knyght, adheryng to the Scotts, Enemyes of oure seid Soverayne Lord Kyng Edward the fourth, covened with the same Scotts, procuring, desiring and wagyng theym to enter into his seid Reame, to make there were agenst his Roiall Mageste, bringing the same Scotts and Ennemyes to his Cite of Carlile, besegyng and envirounyng it, brennyng the Subarbs therof, distroiyng the Howses, Habitacions and Landes of his Subgetts nygh thereunto, in manere of Conquest;' (Rotuli Parliamentorum vol. V, p.478)

July 1461 saw Whittingham join the duke of Somerset and Lord Hungerford on a mission to seek aid in France, but when King Charles VII - Queen Margaret's uncle - died, they found themselves arrested and imprisoned while the new king, Louis XI, decided how best to deal with the situation with his neighbours across the Channel and closer to home in the Duchy of Burgundy. On 30 August Whittingham and Hungerford wrote to the queen from Dieppe, 'puttyng you in knolege of the Kyng your uncles deth' and 'how we sta(n)de arest(ed)... But on Tyysday next we understand, that it pleaseth the said Kyngs Highnes that we shall come to hys presence...'. While they tried to reassure the queen to 'be of gode comfort' they warned her to 'beware that ye adventure not your person, ne my Lord the Prynce, by the See, till ye have oder word from us... and for God sake the Kyngs Highnes be advysed the same.' (Gairdner, The Paston Letters vol. 3, p.307). They finally left France for Scotland in March 1462, but almost immediately returned as part of Queen Margaret's entourage for negotiations that would result in the signing of the Treaty of Tours, providing her with some French money and men to attempt to retake the English throne.

The French sponsored invasion force landed at Bamburgh on 25 October 1462, taking Alnwick Castle in November. Whittingham was left as part of the garrison, but amidst the constant reversals that would characterise the struggle for control of the Northumberland fortresses, Alnwick was soon lost and in August 1463 he returned to Flanders and then France with Queen Margaret. Here they would remain in exile until the surprise reconciliation with her erstwhile implacable enemy Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, rekindled Lancastrian hopes in 1471.

Queen Margaret and her son landed in Weymouth on 14th April 1471 after an arduous Channel crossing, and amongst the 'many othere knyghts, squiers, and other of theyr party' was Sir Robert Whittingham. The following day they received the disastrous news that Warwick had been defeated and killed at the Battle of Barnet on the day of their arrival. Attempting to get to Wales, their army was forced to face the pursuing Yorkists at Tewkesbury on 4 May, and Sir Robert was amongst those killed, along with his son Sir William, who had shared many of his father's adventures. Buried in Tewkesbury Abbey, his remains were later re-interred close to home in Ashridge Priory, his magnificent tomb being moved in 1575 by his descendent Edmund Verney to the church of St John the Baptist, Aldbury, Hertfordshire, where it can still be seen.

Lying next to his wife Katherine, Sir Robert's stone memorial effigy depicts him wearing a perfectly replicated Milanese armour under his heraldic tabard, with a Lancastrian collar of esses round his neck.
Whittingham photo
Graham Turner's Original Paintings are offered for sale by the artist himself, rather than through Studio 88, which is our print publishing business. Consequently, payment directly to him is preferred. If you are interested in purchasing an original painting, please email Graham Turner at to discuss the purchase or to arrange to visit.

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Painting is priced unframed.

Copyright is retained by the artist.
Similar Milanese harnesses are depicted on the tombs at Herstmonceux in Sussex, interpreted by Graham Turner in a pencil drawing which is available as a print -

Herstmonceux link
Browning drawing linkYou might also be interested in this original drawing...

bringing to life the memorial tomb effigy of William Browning, in the church of St Mary, Melbury Sampford, Dorset.


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