HISTORY OF NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE.
The origin of this ancient town is a subject entirely open to
the conjectures of the inquisitive: and though no instruction
can be conveyed by creating fable where fact is wanting. yet
the gloom of our early annals may be illumined, and the deficiency of legitimate information in some degree supplied, by
local inspection and probable deductions.
At the date of the Roman invasion, Great Britain was inhabited by the Celtæ, the aboriginal people of western Europe;
but the southern districts of the island were occupied by the
Belgæ, who were evidently Gaelic Celts. (fn. 1) The whole country
was divided into numerous small states, which produced continual struggles, and rendered a skill in the science of attack and defence indispensibly necessary. The country extending from the north side of the Tyne to the
extremity of Lothian belonged to the Ottadini, whose principal town, named Bremenium, afterwards Reichester, was seated on the Reed water. The district south of
the Tyne was occupied by the populous and warlike tribe of the Brigantes. Now,
as the Ottadini would necessarily be obliged to fortify and guard their southern
frontíer against the incursions of such powerful neighbours, the scite of this town
would very probably be selected as one of their military stations. The ancient Britons generally constructed their fastnesses or towns on tall precipitate hill tops; and
the summit of the lofty elevation which rises abruptly from the north end of the
Tyne bridge, seems to have offered many desirable advantages to the military engineers of ancient times. The conjecture that this was a British place of defence, is
strengthened by the circumstance of the Romans having afterwards formed a station
on this very spot; for that judicious people, it is well known, seldom neglected to
occupy the fortresses of the natives.
Julius Cæsar made a hostile landing in Britain in the 55th and 54th years before
the Christian era, and many of the southern tribes continued nominally tributary to
Rome during the term of ninety-seven years; but in A. D. 43, the Roman armies
again landed, in order to complete the subjugation of the island. The Britons made
a brave and obstinate, though ineffectual resistance; and in the year 80, Agricola
marched from Manchester along the west coast, penetrated into the recesses of Caledonia, and defeated Galgacus at the foot of the Grampian mountains. On his return
in 84, he traversed the territories of the Ottadini, and of their neighbours the Gadeni,
and, it is supposed, took winter quarters on the banks of the Tyne. It is also generally admitted, that this active and politic general, in order to secure his conquests,
built a chain of forts from near the mouth of the Tyne to Solway Firth.
In 120, the Emperor Hadrian visited Britain in person, and caused a rampart of
earth to be raised, in order to join Agricola's forts, which evidently constituted the
real defences of the frontier. That Newcastle had been chosen as the scite of a
Roman fort by Agricola is highly probable, because the Roman emperor commenced
his grand barrier here, which he clearly considered to be a post of importance. Here
commenced one of the great military roads of the Romans, which, passing Gateshead
Fell, proceeded to Chester in the Street, and joined the Watling Street near Binchester. Here also it appears the emperor built a bridge, from which circumstance
the station was called Pons Ælii, after the emperor, who was of the Ælian family.
During his reign, two medals were struck, one bearing a bridge with five arches, and
the other one with seven. As the Ælian bridge at Rome has five arches, it has been
properly inferred that the other medal was intended to commemorate the building of
the bridge over the Tyne. It is certain that the bridge of Newcastle was of Roman
origin, for in clearing away the piers of the old bridge, after the great flood in 1771,
one of Hadrian's coins was found, as well as the coins of anterior emperors. Those
of a subsequent date were probably deposited there in some later repairs. In digging
the foundations of the new county courts, the Roman antiquities that were discovered
prove, beyond a doubt, that this is the real scite of the station. These circumstances
attest the high antiquity of Newcastle, and point it out as one of the chosen spots
where, in England, those arts were first taught which civilize and dignify human
The Roman stations were large, strong, and magnificent fortresses; the smallest
being capable of containing a cohort, or six hundred men. Eighteen stations, exclusive of eighty-one castles, and three hundred and twenty-four turrets, and connected
by a wall twelve feet high and eight feet broad, strengthened by a ditch twenty-one
feet wide and fifteen feet deep, formed this stupendous military barrier. (fn. 2) Ten
thousand troops were required for its defence; and the strongest division of the Roman army in England was constantly in garrison here, to oppose the bold and daring
attacks of the brave and independent Britons. The east flank of this grand barrier,
and which commanded the communication by sea, seems to have been defended
with peculiar care, the stations being placed near to each other. From this we may
infer, that Pons Ælii, from its felicitous situation, very early became the theatre of
polished life. Wherever the Romans conquered, they inhabited; and the obedience
of the tributary tribes in this district was secured, even in the days of Agricola, by a
sympathy of taste and an unity of interests. The learning, customs, and fashions of
the Romans, were first exhibited in their stations; and the curious Briton, leaving
his sylvan retreat, soon entered into the joys and confidence of an active community.
The degrading sense of subjugation was lost in admiration of the attainments and
generosity of the conquerors; and the inhabitants of our rugged mountains, trained
to endure the severest privations, readily acquired a relish for the elegant indolence
of the portico and the bath. (fn. 3) In short, the Romanized Britons, without undergoing
the tedious process of gradual stages, appear to have passed at once from the gloom
of barbarous life to a familiarity with the arts and philosophy of Italy.
The eastern part of the celebrated northern barrier was garrisoned by the Legio
Secunda Augusta, one of the four legions that entered Britain in the reign of Clau
dius. According to the Notitia Imperii, which was written after the reign of Theodosius the First, Pons Ælii was occupied by the Cohors Cornoviorum. The troops
which defended this important frontier occupied their several stations from their first
arrival until their final abandonment of the island, and were therefore nearly in a
state of colonization. This rendered them peculiarly averse from projects of ambition, turbulence, and bloodshed; while the Romanized Britons steadily retained their
allegiance to imperial Rome, which they viewed as the golden spot of promise and
delight. At length, when the Roman power was sinking to decay, the armies grew
impatient of controul, adventurers in quick succession assumed the purple, and the
flower and strength of the British youth perished on the Continent in the idle contests which they excited.
On the death of Constantine, the last usurper, in 411, the barbarous tribes of the
north recommenced their incursive ravages with fresh vigour and audacity. Knowing that the Roman troops were withdrawn from the garrisons of the Wall, and that
the native tributaries had been mostly destroyed abroad, they expected to meet an
easy prey. But the Romanized Britons, assisted by the domiciliated Romans, bravely
repulsed the invaders, in which war they were assisted by the South Britons,
However, the hardy and necessitous hordes of Picts and Scots (fn. 4) renewed their hostile
incursions; and, in consequence of solicitations, the Emperor Honorius twice sent a
legion to assist in driving them back to their woods and mountainous fastnesses.
The legion that came last, under Gallio, remained here two years, in assisting the
Britons to build a firm stone wall parallel to Severus' Vallum, and in giving them
useful instructions. The final departure of the Romans from Britain was about the
On the secession of the Romans, England was divided into numerous republics
and petty kingdoms, amongst which the most inveterate hostility existed. Amid
this civil warfare, the Picts and Scots penetrated into the remotest and richest parts
of the country, until driven back in 449 by Hengist and Horsa, two Saxon pirates,
who became auxiliaries to Vortigern, a British prince. About this time, the public
edifices of Pons Ælii probably fell before the battle-axe and firebrands of the barbarous and ferocious Saxons; for in 454, Octa, the brother of Hengist, settled on the
north side of the Tyne, and expelled the Britons from the eastern sea-coast as far as
the Humber. The enlightened and indignant natives of Northumbria made a gallant,
but ineffectual resistance; and a melancholy series of conflicts was carried on during
nearly a hundred years. In 547, Ida landed with a strong body of Angles, and
erected the fortress of Bambrough. (fn. 5) This event seemed to arouse and unite the
jealous Britons of the north, who fought nobly for their country, and, when finally
vanquished, retired westward, where they maintained their independence. With
them the arts of civilized life disappeared for a time from the banks of the Tyne. (fn. 6)
After the Anglo-Saxons had secured their conquests, and were exhausted by internal warfare, their character underwent great modifications. Their barbarous fierceness
was mellowed into firm courage, and their predatory habits were succeeded by those
of patient industry. This mental revolution was accelerated and completed in Northumberland by the introduction of Christianity, under the auspices of the celebrated
king Edwin. (fn. 7) During the period of two hundred years, the history of Pons Ælii is
enveloped in a deep mist. But the strength of its fortifications, its vicinity to the
coast, where piratical depredations might be apprehended, its secure harbour, and its
bridge, which afforded an easy communication with the south, were circumstances
that would probably render it a favourite place of arms for the warlike Saxons. This
indeed appears to have been the case, for it is first mentioned as a royal residence,
under the new appellation Ad Murum (the Wall). Grey says, "After the departure
of the Romans, the kings of Northumberland kept their residence, and had their
house, now called Pandon Hall. It was a safe bulwark, having the Picts' Wall on
the north side, and the river of Tyne on the south." (fn. 8)
In the year 653, Ad Murum (fn. 9) was the scene of occurrences of the highest importance. Peada, king of the Mercians, being here on a visit to the Northumbrian court,
was baptized with his retinue by Finan, bishop of Lindisfarn. In consequence of
his conversion to the Christian faith, his generous conqueror, king Oswy, gave him
in marriage his daughter Alcfleda. The royal convert was accompanied into his own
kingdom by four priests, who undertook to teach and baptize the Mercians. About
the same time, the zealous Oswy recovered to the faith of Christ the apostate Sigebert, king of the East Angles, who, after being baptized with his attendants, returned
to his own kingdom, with two priests, who were deputed to preach the Gospel to his
subjects. Sigebert caused proper places of instruction to be erected, and Christianity
soon flourished in his kingdom. (fn. 10)
This ancient place, after being for some time called Ad Murum, acquired the appellation of Monkchester, which is usually interpreted "the fortified residence of the
monks." It is uncertain at what period this new title was adopted. It probably
arose from the neighbouring monks retiring to it for occasional protection in times of
danger and devastation. It may also, from having been the scene of great religious
events, have been considered a place of extraordinary sanctity. Certainly it was the
favourite residence of ancient devotees. But neither its sanctity nor its military
works could preserve it from the destructive ravages of the terrific sea-kings. In
876, Halfden, a Danish chief, entered the Tyne, and destroyed the sacred edifices of
Tynemouth, Jarrow, Lindisfarn, and Wearmouth. The monastries and churches of
Monkchester were also levelled with the ground, the monks and nuns slain without
mercy, and all the eastern district of Northumberland was utterly desolated.
After the monastries and religionists of Monkchester were destroyed by the ferocious Danes, it remained unnoticed until about the middle of the eleventh century.
At this time, Aldwine, monk and prior of the monastry of Winchelsea, having
learned, from the study of ancient monuments, that Northumberland had been preeminently distinguished for its sacred edifices, formed a resolution of visiting their
remains. Accompanied by two monks of Evesham, he came to York in 1074, and
desired of Hugh, the son of Baldric, who was then sheriff, a guide to Monkchester.
The holy travellers proceeded on their perilous journey on foot, leading a little ass,
carrying some books and sacred vestments. Arriving at this place, they found no
vestige of the ancient congregation of Christ. After remaining a short time, they
removed to Jarrow, under the protection of Walcher, then bishop of Durham. Here,
amidst the ashes of that celebrated monastry, they rekindled that zeal for the monastic life which had been two hundred years extinct in these parts. (fn. 11)
From the year 826, when Northumberland ceased to be an independent kingdom,
till the reign of William the Conqueror, Monkchester remained in possession of the
Earls of Northumberland, and was probably one of their principal places of residence.
In 1068, Edgar Ethling, Malcom king of Scotland, and numerous bands of foreign
auxiliaries, marched out of Monkchester, and joined battle with king William on
Gateshead Fell. The fierce Norman was victorious, and, entering the town, laid it
almost level with the ground, to prevent it from becoming in future an asylum to his
enemies. In his fury he almost exterminated the inhabitants of the country between
this town and York; and this vast tract became, during nearly a century, the refuge
of robbers and wild beasts. In 1070, the Norman Conqueror again visited Monkchester, on his route to Scotland. Two years afterwards, he passed the third time
through this town, on his way to meet his humbled enemy, king Malcom, at Berwick
upon Tweed. It was at this frightful period of bloodshed, devastation, and famine,
that the pious monks of Mercia visited this desolated town.
When Robert Curthose, the Conqueror's eldest son, returned in 1080 from an unsuccessful enterprize against Malcom king of Scotland, he erected a fortress, which
was called The New Castle upon Tyne. The old castle is supposed to have been
the Roman fortress, Pons Ælii, whose venerable walls had braved the assaults and
storms of eight hundred years. From this New Castle the adjoining town derived
the appellation which it still retains.
The castle was scarcely completed, when it was secured to protect the rebellion of
Earl Mowbray against William Rufus, the Conqueror's successor. The king
marched against it in 1095, and, after a short resistance, took it by storm, with several of the noble traitor's partizans. During the reign of this king, according to
Hardyng, the town of Newcastle was enclosed by a wall.
Immediately after the death of king Henry, in 1135, Newcastle was occupied by
David king of Scots, who made war on king Stephen, in support of the Empress
Maud's right to the English throne. In 1139, a negotiation took place, at the entreaty of Matilda, king Stephen's queen, and niece to David. The archbishops of
St. Andrews and Glasgow were sent by king David from Newcastle, where he commonly resided, to meet, at Chester-le-Street, those of Canterbury and York, whom
king Stephen had appointed as arbitrators. The terms of the peace were, that
Northumberland and Huntingdon should be ceded, by heirship of his mother, to
Henry, David's son; and that Cumberland, as of ancient right, should remain in
David's possession. (fn. 12) In consequence of this arrangement, Newcastle continued in
the hands of the Scots until the year 1157, when it was restored, with other towns
and castles, to king Henry II.
In the year 1173, William the Lion, king of Scotland, joined the unprincipled and
unnatural confederacy against Henry II. and entered England at the head of an undisciplined and disorderly army of 80,000 men. The invaders penetrated to the
Tyne, marking their route by the most horrid devastation; but being gallantly repulsed at Prudhoe Castle, they returned northward, and laid siege to Alnwick Castle.
On the 11th of July, Ralph de Glanville, sheriff of Yorkshire, accompanied by Baliol, Stuteville, Umfreville, Vesci, and other patriotic northern barons, with about 400
knights, entered Newcastle. After a short interval for refreshment, this chosen band,
by a rapid march, arrived in the morning, under cover of a mist, near the Scottish
camp, where the king, with a troop of horsemen, were exercising in feats of chivalry.
On the first shock, William was dismounted and taken prisoner; and Glanville, with
his royal captive, returned to Newcastle the same evening. The ravagers fled with
precipitation into their own country. After being confined for some time in the
castle of Richmond, and at Rouen in Normandy, the Scottish king, by resigning the
ancient independency of his crown, was set at liberty. All his barons, prelates, and
abbots, did homage to Henry, in the cathedral of York, as their superior lord, and
were then dismissed. But when William and his guards reached the Tyne bridge,
they were vigorously attacked by the townsmen of Newcastle, and a dreadful rencounter took place. Sir John Perth, and other esquires belonging to the royal escort,
were slain. This illegal and inhospitable act (fn. 13) evidently arose from the exasperation
felt by the inhabitants at witnessing the liberation of an enemy whom they had good
reason both to hate and fear. Such was the termination of William's invidious and
unjust enterprize, and which first gave England a decided ascendant over Scotland.
In 1209, the feeble, cowardly, and violent king John, affected to lead a military
expedition against Scotland; but William, king of Scots, met him at Newcastle.
The conference that ensued was suspended, in consequence of the illness of the Scottish king, who was confined here for a considerable time. (fn. 14) Four years afterwards,
king John marched through Newcastle, on his route against Scotland; but his nobles,
disgusted with his tyranny and incapacity, interposed their mediation, and the quarrel was made up on the Borders. This monarch, who carried the flaming torch into
many of the adjoining parts, had a great predilection for this town, where he lived
during a considerable part of his reign. He strengthened its fortifications, and conferred upon it other marks of his favour.
The successful revolt of the barons against John rendered them insolent and turbulent during the long minority that followed his death; nor was the gentle and
irresolute Henry III. when crowned, capable of maintaining a proper sway over his
fierce and refractory lords. The restraints of law were despised, and even knights
and esquires acted as common robbers. It is not, therefore, surprising, that the
country at this period was dreadfully afflicted by famine and pestilence. In 1234, a
grievous plague broke out in Newcastle, where it continued for three years. The
town also experienced a great dearth and mortality in 1240, and which was attributed
to three months of drought being succeeded by three months of continual rain in the
preceding year. (fn. 15)
In 1236, Henry had a conference at Newcastle with Alexander, king of Scotland,
who had ventured to demand the restitution of Northumberland, Westmoreland, and
Cumberland. (fn. 16) The dispute being not finally settled, king Henry, in 1244, collected
his army at Newcastle, consisting of 5000 cavalry, elegantly equipped, and a numerous and powerful infantry. The king of Scots was encamped at Ponteland; but a
peace was effected by the mediation of the archbishop of York and some of the nobility. So perfect was the reconciliation between the monarchs, who had met in
hostile array, that a marriage was agreed upon between Alexander, the eldest son of
the Scottish king, and Margaret, the eldest daughter of the king of England. (fn. 17)
In 1248, a considerable part of Newcastle was destroyed by fire. The king, in the
following year, commanded the bailiffs of that town to elect four persons to be
moneyers, and four others to have the custody of the royal mint there. (fn. 18)
In 1255, king Henry III. accompanied by his queen, visited Newcastle, from
whence they proceeded to Werk Castle, where they had an interview with their
daughter, the queen of Scotland, and her husband.
In 1276, great earthquakes were felt in Newcastle, accompanied with dreadful
lightning and thunderings.
In 1291, Edward I. who was now engaged in his iniquitous scheme for the subjugation of Scotland, appears to have been in Newcastle. In the following year he was
also in that town, for, at the feast of St. Stephen, John Baliol, king of Scotland, did
homage for his crown to the king of England, in the hall of his palace within the
castle. The ceremony was conducted with much pomp and solemnity, in the presence of a great number of illustrious personages of both nations.
Edward heaped indignities on his vassal king, Baliol, evidently with an intention
to engage him in rebellion, which would justify the conquest of Scotland. The plan
succeeded, and the gentle Baliol determined on war, in which he was encouraged by
Philip king of France. Edward, who was fully prepared for the anticipated event,
summoned the Scottish king to meet him at Newcastle on the 1st day of March, 1296.
Here the ambitious monarch waited in vain for obedience to his mandate, and then
marched northwards, to chastise his rebellious vassal, at the head of 30,000 foot and
4000 horse. This formidable army almost annihilated the irregular Scots troops,
marched to Aberdeen and Elgin in triumph, and returned to England, carrying with
them the timid Baliol, and the inauguration stone of Scone, which was considered the
palladium of the Scottish monarchy.
The heroic and patriotic William Wallace, having freed his country from the
English yoke, in 1297 led his exasperated followers into Northumberland, and who, in
their progress, burned and laid waste the country. The affrighted inhabitants, with
their wives, children, furniture, and cattle, fled to Newcastle. As the marauders
were proceeding down the Tyne towards Newcastle, the townsmen marched out to
give them battle, upon which the Scots retreated homewards, laden with spoils. (fn. 19)
When Edward heard of the successful resistance of the Scots, he returned from
Flanders; and, in 1298, the parliament assembled at York issued a general summons
to appear in arms at Newcastle in eight days. (fn. 20) The whole military force of England,
Wales, and Ireland, amounting to 100,000 men, obeyed the mandate, and were
marched into Scotland. At Falkirk the Scotch army were defeated, and pursued
with the most destructive slaughter. But Wallace still maintained the contest for
liberty, and again in the following year led his chosen band to the walls of Newcastle,
which he assailed in vain, being always repulsed by the valour of the inhabitants. (fn. 21)
The Scots, being now inured to war, began to appear a formidable enemy, even to
the military and ambitious Edward, who, it appears, was in Newcastle in the beginning of 1302, on business relating to Scotland. But in the following year, the Scots
gained three victories in one day, and the king had to begin anew the conquest of
that country. He prepared for this enterprize with his usual vigour and abilities.
His army was irresistible; and as Northumberland and most parts of Scotland had
been ravaged and impoverished, a large fleet sailed along the coast, and secured the
English army from famine. The Scots submitted; and the intrepid Wallace was
betrayed into the hands of Edward, who, in an unworthy spirit of revenge, ordered
him to be executed on Tower Hill. The same barbarous policy caused the death of
John de Seton, one of Robert Bruce's esquires, who was, in 1306, taken prisoner and
hanged at Newcastle.
When death arrested the march of the enraged Edward into Scotland, his weak
successor disbanded his army, and entered into a truce with Robert Bruce; but the
Scots, despising their new enemy, made several successful inroads into England. In
July, 1309, the archbishop of York, Henry de Percy, and many others, were ordered
to assemble in arms at Newcastle on Michaelmas-day; but no military operations
Edward II. having received a petition at York, on Christmas-day, 1311, from the
confederated barons, requesting him to deliver up his minion, Gaveston, or to expel
him the kingdom, refused to do either, and retired for security to Newcastle, where
he continued till Ascension-day, 1312. (fn. 22) The incensed barons, headed by the Earl of
Lancaster, pursued him northwards; and when the king heard of their approach, he
fled to Tinmouth, where his pregnant queen resided, and, notwithstanding her tears
and entreaties, he sailed with Gaveston to Scarborough. The barons entered Newcastle the same day it was deserted by the king and his favourite, and seized the
effects which their haste had prevented them from removing. Gaveston's jewels,
which were of great value, were, after his death, restored to the king. The death of
Gaveston, who was taken at Scarborough, seemed to unite all parties in opposing the
Scots, whose progress had excited general resentment and indignation. Edward also
appeared to enter with spirit into the war, and summoned his most warlike vassals
from Gascony, Flanders, Ireland, and Wales. The king came again to Newcastle in
1314, on his route to Berwick, where his army, consisting of 60,000 horse and 52,000
foot, was rendezvoused. The decisive battle of Bannockburn followed, which secured
the independence of Scotland.
In 1315, the whole militia of England was ordered to rendezvous at Newcastle;
and in the following year, another rendezvous was ordered to be held at the same
place, on another expedition against Scotland; but Lancaster and the factious nobles
took care that every enterprize should terminate in defeat and disgrace.
In 1317, there was a grievous famine and mortality at Newcastle, insomuch that
the quick could hardly bury the dead, and a great corruption of cattle and grass.
Some eat the flesh of their own children; and thieves in prison devoured those that
were newly brought in, and greedily eat them half alive. (fn. 23)
The king, in 1318, charged the receiver of his victuals at Newcastle with the delivery of forty casks of wine to the inhabitants of Northumberland. This was in
compensation for their losses by the incursions of the Scots! A rendezvous of the
army was ordered at Newcastle, on the Nativity of John the Baptist, the following
year. Five hundred quarters of wheat (in flour) were ordered to be sent by the
sheriff of Hampshire to Newcastle, for the use of the army.
In 1321, the king's partiality for the Spencers induced many of the haughty barons
to oppose his authority by arms. At this time, the harassed monarch sent commissioners to Newcastle, to treat with those from Scotland on a final peace. They separated without coming to an agreement. The next year, a rendezvous of the king's
forces was ordered to be held at Newcastle on the feast of the Holy Trinity, when a
dangerous quarrel took place between the English and Welch infantry. Another
rendezvous, ordered to be at the same place on the Eve of St. Luke that year, was
prevented by an incursion of the Scots, who penetrated into Yorkshire, and nearly
took the king of England prisoner. It is said they besieged Newcastle on this occasion, but met with a vigorous repulse.
The English army, in 1323, was ordered to be at Newcastle on the Octaves of St.
John the Baptist; but this was happily prevented by the signing of a peace between
the two nations. The king, by an order, dated September 3, 1326, for providing
against the attacks of the French, commissioned Ralph de Nevill, Thomas de Grey,
John de Fenwick, and John de Lilleburn, to superintend that business in the ports
of Newcastle upon Tyne, Tynemouth, Donstanburgh, Whiteby, Alemuth, Hertilpool, Werkworth, Newbigging, and Holy Island.
In 1327, the first of Edward III. (fn. 24) the king's military vassals were summoned to
attend him at Newcastle, on the Monday before Ascension-day. The king did not
attend in person, but deputed his uncle, the Earl of Norfolk, marshal of England.
In the June following, a body of Scots made an inroad into England, and passed the
Tyne with such celerity as not to be perceived by the garrison of Newcastle. (fn. 25) Com
although he missioners from both nations met at Newcastle in December, and concluded a truce
until Sunday in Midlent.
The magistrates of Newcastle were ordered, in 1328, to give an honourable reception to a hundred great men and noblemen of Scotland, who were coming to York,
where the parliament were assembling to deliberate on the terms of a peace. The
king of England, by one of the articles, renounced all title to sovereignty over Scotland; and his sister, by another article, was contracted to David, the son and heir of
king Robert Bruce. (fn. 26)
In 1332, the king deputed John Darcy and William Denum to treat with the ambassadors from the guardian of Scotland at Newcastle. On St. George's day, in the
following year, the king entered Newcastle at the head of his army, from whence he
sent letters to his prelates, requiring their prayers for the success of his expedition.
After the battle of Halidon Hill, the young conqueror returned to Newcastle, where
he issued the royal pardon to such outlaws as had served him faithfully in the late war.
King Edward kept his Whitsuntide at Newcastle in 1334; soon after which, Edward Baliol, king of Scotland, did him homage in the church of the Black Friars, in
that town, as his superior and chief lord of the realm of Scotland. This was performed on the 19th of June, in a public and solemn manner, in the presence of a
great number of nobles and gentlemen there assembled. He alienated, at the same
time, to the English king, the five Scottish counties next adjoining to the borders of
England, to be annexed to that crown for ever.
The king was at Newcastle 3d February, 1335, and again at Midsummer, with his
army, attended by Baliol, king of Scots. This year, the mariners of Newcastle, with
a division of the king's fleet, entered the river Tay, and burnt part of Dundee. Edward dates from Newcastle, 16th November this year, when he signed a short truce
with the Scots. He appears to have continued there till the 31st of December.
The king, in June, 1336, was at Newcastle, on his way to Perth, to support his
tool, Baliol. The warlike preparations in France induced Edward to attend his parliament at Nottingham; but he was at Newcastle again in the beginning of November, on his return to Scotland.
In 1337, the king commanded an assembly of the northern barons to be held in
Newcastle, to confer on the means of carrying on the war in Scotland. In March
the following year, the king appears to have been at Newcastle, though then deeply
occupied by his projects against France.
The English army was appointed to rendezvous at Newcastle in the middle of
Lent, 1340. In September this year, the Scots were included in the truce made at
Tournay between the kings of England and France.
At the end of autumn, 1341, king Edward III. was at Newcastle, and marched
against the Scots at the head of 40,000 foot and 6000 horse; but want of provisions
obliged him to return to Newcastle, where he granted a truce to the Scots, which was
renewed the following year.
In June, 1342, David, king of Scots, arrived in his own kingdom, and invaded
England with a numerous army. On his march he burned and destroyed the
surrounding country to Newcastle, which he invested all night. In the morning,
two hundred gentlemen sallied out, dashed into the Scottish camp, and, taking the
Earl of Murray, general of the army, prisoner in his tent, returned with little loss
into the town. The enraged Scots assaulted the town with great fury, but were ably
repulsed by the garrison, under Sir John Nevil, then captain of the castle. (fn. 27)
In 1345, there was a pestilence at Newcastle, which lasted two years. The king,
in a letter dated September 6, 1346, informed the mayor and bailiffs of the town of
the victory of Cressy, and requested the merchants to send provisions, bows, arrows,
strings, &c. to his army before Calais. King David, taking advantage of the absence
of the English army, made a sudden inroad into England; but queen Philippa soon
collected a resolute body of troops at Newcastle, consisting of 1200 men at arms,
3000 archers, and 7000 others, with the Welchmen, amounting altogether to 16,000
men. This gallant army marched out of the town to give battle to the Scots at Neville's Cross. The queen, riding along the ranks, exhorted every man to do his
duty, and, recommending them to God and St. George, returned to Newcastle during
the fight. This memorable battle was fought on the 17th of October. The Scots, it
is said, lost 15,000 men, and their king was taken prisoner. (fn. 28)
In September, 1351, king Edward granted letters of safe conduct to the hostages
for king David, who was permitted to go to Scotland from Newcastle when his hostages arrived.
David de Bruce, in 1353, was permitted to meet certain English commissioners
and the nobles of Scotland at Newcastle, to treat concerning his delivery from imprisonment, and the conclusion of a peace.
In 1355, the king, hearing that the Scots had taken Berwick, hastily returned to
England, made a rapid march to Newcastle, where he kept his Christmas, and from
whence he issued his summons to all his fighting men to attend him there on the 1st
By an order dated May 20, 1362, it appears that the hostages for king David were
kept by the sheriff of Northumberland in the castle of Newcastle upon Tyne. In
1369, king Edward, apprehending a war with Scotland, reinforced the garrison of
Newcastle, and other fortresses on the Border.
The English army was ordered by king Richard II. to rendezvous at Newcastle on
the 14th of July, 1385, to proceed against Scotland. The Scots with great address
avoided a battle, and plundered and wasted the country as far as Newcastle; after
which they escaped with their booty into Scotland.
In 1388, all the military persons of the country were ordered to assemble at Newcastle, which was so full of people, that, according to Froissart, "they wist not where
to lodge." The Scots, who had as usual commenced the campaign by repine and de
struction, penetrated as far as Durham. On their return, they sat down two days
before Newcastle, during which they skirmished with the garrison. Sir Henry Percy,
the Hotspur of Shakespeare, and his gallant brother, Sir Ralph, were always foremost
in these rencounters, in one of which, near the barriers, the Earl of Douglas unhorsed
the brave Sir Henry Percy, and threatened to carry the spear by which he had effected
this victory into Scotland; in these days of chivalry the highest honour to the conqueror, and disgrace to the vanquished. The fiery Hotspur was pulled into the gates
by the spectators; but he vowed revenge, and, pursuing the Scots to Otterburn, a
bloody battle was fought between two brave and gallant armies, in which the English "were rather unfortunately, and then dishonourably defeated."
Alexander, archbishop of York, was this year arrested at Shields, near Tynemouth,
for high treason, just as he was taking ship to go over sea. Two searchers in the
port of Newcastle, John de Refham and Robert de Rypon, discovered him, and delivered him into the custody of the mayor and bailiffs of that town. Thirty pounds in
money were found upon him, which, by an order of the king, were granted to the
two persons that seized him.
In 1400, Newcastle was made a town and county of itself. In July this year, king
Henry IV. was at this town, preparing for an expedition against Scotland. The
Scots, in 1402, plundered the country to the gates of Newcastle, but were severely
punished at the battle of Homilden Hill. In November this year, nightly watches
of one hundred persons were established, for the defence of the walls and parts adjacent; the expense of which was defrayed by the inhabitants. (fn. 29)
The king was at Newcastle June 25, 1405, where his troops, consisting of 37,000
men, had assembled, to proceed against the Duke of Northumberland and other insurgents who were in arms. At the siege of Berwick, which followed, cannon were
employed by king Henry, and the effect of which was so terrible as to frighten the
garrison into a surrender.
On the 18th of February, 1408, Henry Earl of Northumberland was slain at
Bramham Moor, (fn. 30) and one quarter of his body was put up at Newcastle; but in May
following, his limbs were collected, and given to his friends to be interred.
In 1410, there was a great plague at Newcastle. (fn. 31)
The able and enterprising king Henry V. in order to forward his projects against
France, was extremely anxious to conciliate the Scots, and secure the attachment of
the Northumbrians. But in 1415, while preparing to lead his troops into France, he
discovered a conspiracy against his life amongst his own privy councillors. The head
of one of them, Sir Thomas Grey, of Werk, was sent to Newcastle, and placed upon
one of the town-gates.
September 18, 1417, an order was sent by the bishop's official, to the parochial
chaplains of St. Nicholas' and All Saints' in Newcastle upon Tyne, to inflict certain
penances, which had been enjoined Matilda Burgh and Margaret Usher, servants of
Peter Baxter, of that town, for having put on the habits of men, and impiously approached the shrine of St. Cuthbert at Durham. (fn. 32)
The regency of England, during the minority of king Henry VI. in order to secure king James I. of Scotland in their interests, gave him to wife the beautiful Jane
of Somerset, their king's own cousin, and whom James passionately loved. After
stipulating for the sum of £40,000, as an equivalent for his education and maintenance, he received liberty to depart to his own kingdom. In the beginning of April,
1424, he passed through Newcastle, attended by a numerous train of his own nobility, as well as of the gentlemen of Northumberland, who were ordered to accompany
him as far as Scotland in the most honourable manner they were able.
On April 7, 1425, a sentence was fulminated by Thomas Langley, bishop of Durham, against certain persons unknown, who had robbed the house of Robert Clytherow, Esq. of Newcastle upon Tyne, of plate and jewels of considerable value.
King Henry VI. issued an order, dated December 1, 1428, for the safe conduct of
the king of Scots, to be escorted as far as Newcastle upon Tyne or Durham by one
thousand of his own horse, to a personal conference with Cardinal Beaufort, uncle to
the queen of Scotland, in order to prevent hostilities between the two kingdoms.
The Borderers had long been in an agitated state; but the dissensions in England
between the Lancasterians and Yorkists, and the rebellions of the Douglas family in
Scotland, inclined both kingdoms to peace. Plenipotentiaries from the two kings
therefore met in the vestry of St. Nicholas' church, in Newcastle, on August 14,
1451, and signed a treaty of peace.
After the battle of Towton, which happened on March 29, 1461, and in which the
Duke of Northumberland and most of his warlike followers were killed, king Henry
VI. with his queen and the prince, the Dukes of Somerset and Exeter, Lord Roos,
Sir John Fortescue, and Tailboys, Earl of Kent, fled from York to Newcastle. On
the approach of king Edward IV. they removed to Berwick upon Tweed. The Earl
of Wiltshire and Ormond was brought a prisoner to Newcastle by the Yorkists, and
In 1462, the active and heroic queen of king Henry VI. landed at Tynemouth, at
the head of 500 French soldiers, with an intention of going to Newcastle; but probably being denied admission there, she re-embarked, and reached Berwick upon
Tweed in a small vessel. Her followers, having been driven ashore at Bambrough
by a storm, burnt their ships, and fled to Holy Island, where near 400 of them were
afterwards taken prisoners by the bastard Ogle, John Manners, and other partizans
of the house of York.
In 1463, the indefatigable queen Margaret again entered Northumberland, with
2000 men at arms she had procured from France, a numerous train of Scotch adventurers, and a body of resolute Borderers. But this army suffered a total defeat at the
Levels near Hexham. Lord Montacute, the general of Edward IV. sent the Earl of
Kent, Lord Roos, Lord Molyns, Lord Hungerford, Sir Thomas Wentworth, Sir
Thomas Hase, Sir John Finderne, and other persons of distinction, prisoners to Newcastle, where, after a little respite, they were executed. (fn. 33)
On December 12, 1465, the English and Scots plenipotentiaries held a congress at
Newcastle. The English now directed their views of conquest to France, and the
angry and resentful feelings of the Scots against them had in a great degree subsided.
The illustrious negotiators therefore agreed to prolong the existing truce for the long
period of forty years.
On April 25, 1472, another great meeting of plenipotentiaries was held at Newcastle, who agreed, that notwithstanding the complaints and infractions on both sides,
the long truce between the nations should continue in force.
In 1478, Newcastle seems to have been visited by the plague, of which great numbers died.
In 1482, the Duke of Gloucester, brother to king Edward IV. and afterwards
Richard III. was appointed lieutenant-general against the Scots, and warden of the
north Marches, together with the castles, towns, lordships, customs, and fee-farms of
Carlisle and Newcastle upon Tyne. By an order dated the 30th of June, one hundred pounds was assigned for buying 120 draught horses for conveying the king's
ordinance from Newcastle into Scotland, and 200 marks for "beying 2 mill-sheves of
arrows." The Duke of Gloucester marched northwards, and, taking advantage of
the internal broils that agitated Scotland, obtained a restitution of Berwick, which
had been surrendered to the Scots by the weak Henry VI. when flying before the
Yorkists. (fn. 34)
At a congress of plenipotentiaries for composing the dissensions between England
and Scotland, held at Nottingham in September, 1484, it was agreed that a convention for a marriage between James, Duke of Rothsay, heir-apparent of the king of
Scotland, and Ann de la Pole, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk, and niece to the
English king, should be ratified in December this year, in the church of St. Nicholas,
Newcastle. But before this laudable scheme for effecting an union between the two
kingdoms could be effected, the life and reign of the guilty Richard were terminated
in the field of Bosworth.
In August, 1487, king Henry VII. arrived at Newcastle, where he resided for
some time, carrying on a severe inquisition against the persons who had been concerned in Simnel's rebellion. While at this town, he sent Richard Fox, bishop of
Exeter, and Sir Richard Edgecombe, comptroller of the household, into Scotland, to
treat with king James III. about arranging all differences between the kingdoms.
After a series of strife and animosity, which lasted, with small intervals of breathing, above two hundred years, the basis of an union between the two kingdoms was
laid, by affiancing Margaret, eldest daughter of king Henry VII. to James IV. king
of Scotland. The princess had not completed her fourteenth year when she was sent
to the Scottish court. She was accompanied in her journey by the Earl of Surrey
and a splendid retinue of English nobility and gentry. She arrived at Newcastle on
the 24th of July, 1503, where she rested till the 26th, and was entertained with great
state. (fn. 35)
On the 30th of August, 1513, the king's lieutenant, the Earl of Surrey, entered
Newcastle, at the head of a well-appointed army of 26,000 men. He immediately
marched forward to Alnwick, with the banner of St. Cuthbert, which he had procured at Durham: and, on the 4th of September, was joined by his son, Thomas
Howard, lord admiral, with 5000 excellent troops, which he had brought by sea to
Newcastle. The battle of Flodden Field ensued, in which fell the gallant king
James IV. and the flower of the Scottish nobility. The royal body, being embalmed
at Berwick, was sent to Newcastle, and from thence to Richmond in Surrey.
King Henry VIII. being seriously involved in disputes with the emperor Charles,
and the court of Rome felt anxious to conciliate the friendship of king James V. of
Scotland. Accepting the mediation of the French king, Henry sent commissioners
to Newcastle in the summer of 1533, to meet those appointed by the Scottish court.
The negotiations were procrastinated till the 1st of October, when a truce was concluded for one year.
The dissolution of the smaller monastries by the rapacious Henry had excited the
deepest indignation in the north of England. This rendered him extremely desirous
of securing the friendship of his royal neighbour and nephew, to whom he sent the
Order of the Garter. For this purpose, also, the English king proposed a personal
interview at York in 1535; but James and his council thought Newcastle a more
proper place. The intended meeting did not take place.
In 1541, an interview between the two kings at York was again proposed and
agreed upon; and while Henry VIII. was waiting at that city for the king of Scotland, who broke the appointment, the mayor of Newcastle attended his majesty with
a present of £100.
Hostilities between the two kingdoms having recommenced in 1542, the Earl
Fitzwilliam, who led the van of the English army, died in Newcastle; and his standard, in honour of his memory, was borne in advance throughout the expedition.
The Duke of Norfolk, who was general, was instructed by the king's council to leave
at Newcastle a reserve of 6000 men, under the Duke of Suffolk, while the main army
penetrated into Scotland. (fn. 36)
On the death of James V. of Scotland, king Henry projected a marriage between
his son Edward, then but five years old, and Mary, the infant queen of that kingdom.
The Earls of Cassils and Glencairn, the Lords Somerville, Maxwell, Gray, Oliphant,
Fleming, and Home, Lord of Ayton, with the sons of many noble families, all prisoners of war in England, were deputed into Scotland for effecting this purpose.
They arrived at Newcastle early in January, 1543, where they delivered hostages to
the Duke of Suffolk, lieutenant of the north, for their return. Faction, however,
prevented the execution of this pacific project.
A rendezvous of military forces was ordered at Newcastle on the last day of March,
1544. About the 21st of that month, a fleet of 200 ships and 5000 soldiers and mariners arrived at Tynemouth Haven. The army mustered at a place called "the
Shellfelde." About the end of April following, this fleet sailed, with an army of
10,000 men, to chastise the Scots for their perfidy and ingratitude. The land-forces
were commanded by the Earl of Hertford, lieutenant-general of the north; and the
fleet by Dudley Lord Lisle, admiral of England. About this time, the plague raged
at Newcastle. (fn. 37)
On May 2, 1545, there was another array of military forces in the north, under the
Earl of Hertford, consisting of 12,000 men, a considerable number of whom were
foreign mercenaries. (fn. 38)
In 1547, the Earl of Hertford, now Duke of Somerset, and protector of the kingdom during the minority of Edward VI. assembled a great army against Scotland at
Newcastle: (fn. 39) they were mustered at that town by John Dudley, then Earl of Warwick; and waiting three days until the royal fleet arrived, reached Berwick upon
Tweed at the end of August. (fn. 40) After this expedition, the protector returned to New
castle, where he conferred the honour of knighthood upon Robert Brandling, the
In July and August, 1552, the Duke of Northumberland (late Earl of Warwick),
as Lord Warden of the Marches, carefully surveyed them in person. He held his
Warden's Court at Newcastle, on the 12th of August, when Lord Wharton was appointed his deputy. His lordship, in September, held a consultation in this town
with his deputy wardens, the captains of the Border fortresses, the sheriff of Northumberland, and about thirty gentlemen of the Marches, reputed for wisdom and experience. At this meeting several articles of discipline were established or revived. (fn. 41)
In 1553, Gateshead was annexed by act of parliament to Newcastle upon Tyne.
The next year it was restored to the county of Durham.
Apprehensions were entertained, in 1558, that the French, in the service of Mary
queen of Scotland, intended to surprise the town of Newcastle; but immediately
after queen Elizabeth mounted the throne, she adopted the most spirited and vigorous measures for securing her northern frontier: and a rendezvous of military forces
was appointed to be at Newcastle on the 25th of January the following year.
A treaty of peace was signed between the queens of England and Scotland on the
last day of May, 1559; but about the end of the same year, the Duke of Norfolk
came to Newcastle, as lord lieutenant-general of the north, to muster an army, which,
in conjunction with a fleet of ships of war, were intended to support the new Protestant party in Scotland, under the lords of the congregation. (fn. 42) The English queen,
by this step, intended to strengthen the Reformation in her own kingdom, to prevent
the establishment of the French power in Scotland, and to punish that court for disputing her title to the crown.
Queen Elizabeth, in a letter to the Duke of Norfolk, dated 30th December that
year, desired him to borrow seven or eight hundred pounds of some of the Newcastle
merchants, till her own money should arrive, the carriage of which in winter was
troublesome and tedious.
By letters from his grace at Newcastle to the privy-council, dated February 16th
and 20th, 1560, it appears that six ships of that town were to be well furnished, and
set to sea within ten days, carrying four hundred soldiers, besides a sufficient quantity of mariners, for the reinforcement of the royal fleet then lying in Edinburgh
Frith. Lord John Grey, in a communication to Secretary Cecil, advised the undermining of Leith, which was garrisoned by the French. He observes, "The coal
myners of Newcastell wyll serve to doo this well inoch; therefore I pray you set yt
at work." (fn. 43)
In the instructions given by queen Elizabeth to Sir William Cecil, Knight, her
principal secretary, and Doctor Wooton, dean of Canterbury and York, her commissioners appointed to meet and treat with those of the French king, dated May 26,
1560, they are ordered to be at Newcastle upon Tyne by the 5th of June following.
In 1561, queen Elizabeth appointed Lord Hunsdon, governor of Berwick upon
Tweed, to take the charge and government of the town of Newcastle upon Tyne,
and county of Northumberland, under the Earl of Essex.
When Rizzio was slain in the presence of Mary queen of Scots, March 9, 1566,
Murray, and the other exiled lords who were lurking at Newcastle, and were in concert with the king and his associates in this enterprize, returned in the evening of the
following day to Edinburgh. The principal actors in it, the Earl of Morton, the
Lords Ruthven and Lindsay, and Secretary Maitland, fled to Newcastle. Old Ruthven died there in June following; and the Earl of Morton and his son continued
lurking near Alnwick, and other places on the Borders, till they obtained their pardon, and were restored. (fn. 44)
In 1569, the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland rebelled against queen
Elizabeth; but her lieutenant in the north, the Earl of Sussex, acted with uncommon
energy and spirit. Lord Hunsdon, by order of her majesty, repaired to Newcastle,
from which several excursions were made against the rebels. At length, the royal
army, under Sir John Forster and Sir Henry Percy, marched against the rebel army
to Chester Dean. Some skirmishing took place, when the earls returned to Durham.
They next marched by Hexham into Cumberland, where their troops dispersed. (fn. 45)
In 1575, it was in agitation to unite Gateshead a second time by act of parliament
to Newcastle upon Tyne. In the following year, Mr. Thomas Sutton, the founder
of the Charter House, London, occurs as master of the queen's ordnance at this town.
The mayor, aldermen, and sheriff of Newcastle, wrote, in 1579, to the bailiffs of
Yarmouth, where a grievous plague raged, to forbid their ships to come to this port
as usual for coals.
In 1584, the ejected nobles of Scotland were entertained at Newcastle by the politic
Elizabeth. They were afterwards removed to Norwich. (fn. 46)