Cast of Characters

Dramatis Personae

In order of appearance


Real People

Catherine (Catalina) of Aragon daughter of Isabella and Ferdinandeventually Queen of England as Henry Vlll’s first wife.

Arthur, Prince of Wales – Son of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York

Maria de Salinasfaithful companion and friend of Catherine. Later married to Lord Willoughby from Lincolnshire and as such was Great(x16) Grandmother of Princess Diana –  Princess of Wales in more recent times.

Donna Elvira Manuel Catherine’s “governess” and then guardian/companion when she left for England

Brother Alessandro Geraldini Catherine’s tutor, then priest for her journey to England)

Isabella – Queen of Castile (Catherine’s mother)

Ferdinand of AragonIsabella’s cousin and husband and Catherine’s father King of Aragon and joint ruler of all Spain with Isabella

King Richard lll – Last of the Plantagenet dynasty, (slain in battle with Henry Tudor, see below. Body was dug up recently from under a Leicester car park and confirmed as Richard)

Edward lVolder brother of Richard lll

Richard, Prince of Wales and William, Earl of Richmond – sons of Edward lV, who mysteriously vanished from the Tower of London, presumed murdered, just after Richard lll, their uncle, deviously took the throne by having their parents’ marriage declared illegal

Elizabeth of Yorkdaughter of Edward lV promised in marriage to Henry Tudor by her mother Elizabeth Woodville (Edward lV’s wife and Queen) to Margaret, Lady Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor.

Henry Vll – father to Arthur and Henry Vlll. Plain Henry Tudor until he usurped the crown of England in battle.

Sir John de Vere, Earl of Oxfordwas Henry Tudor’s ‘general’ and military strategist

Sir William Brandon was standard bearer for Henry Tudor and did save his life. His son Charles Brandon became Duke of Suffolk under Henry Vlll

Baron Stanley and Sir William Stanleybrothers, the baron was Henry Tudor’s stepfather and they did dither and equivocate, joining the battle at the last minute

George, Lord Strange – son of Sir William Stanley and hostage to King Richard lll, did survive because no-one got round to executing him before the battle began

Nicholas Melton* – Captain Cobbler (We know he had a horse and two servants and that he wore a ‘coat of motley’)

Thomas Foster*real person, ’singing man’ in Louth, and although I do not know that he was a childhood friend of Nicholas, but there is no reason he might NOT have been!

Thomas Kendall* – Louth Parish Priest, well educated, had earlier in his career been involved in heresy trials for the Bishop of Lincoln, did not like the ‘new learning’ that was being required of priests and was known to object to the ‘erroneous books’ in English as misleading the common people. He did go to Bolingbroke to watch the examination of priests from that sub-deanery area by Dr Raynes the Bishop’s chancellor (see below).

Ma and Pa Melton – they must have been real otherwise Nicholas would not have existed but we do not know anything historical about them!

Jane Mussenden* (Sister Maria?) – Jane Mussenden was mother superior at Legbourne Abbey at the time of the rebellion. I have introduced her at the time of Eleanor joining the Abbey (see Eleanor below in Fictional People) but do not know how old she was at the time. Also I do not know what she may have called herself so “Sister Maria” is author’s  licence!

Ann Boleyn – her championing of Reformation and her execution may have contributed considerably to the instability at the time amongst ordinary folk

Lord Kingston – Constable of the Tower of London

Lord Hussey* tried to stay aloof from the Lincolnshire rebellion, but there was a strong attempt by the Commonwealth to involve him. The most senior aristocrat in Lincolnshire at the time. The county had had no major players, Dukes and so on (or, rather, the arrival of the Duke of Suffolk to Lincolnshire was so very recent, so it had not become the “norm”), so the noble Lord who had served Queen Catherine (as Sir Robert Hussey) in the way described was probably a man with torn loyalties. He dithered too much for Henry’s liking and paid the price with is life but in all probability was not involved in any plotting, although he apparently had close ties with Chapuys who WAS a schemer – see below

Perkin Warbeck a stunningly successful con artist or may really have been Richard Plantagenet, one of the nephews of Richard lll, (seems quite unlikely?) the second son of EDWARD IV, who was thought to have been murdered in the Tower with his brother prior to the reign of Henry VII

The Parson of Conisholme* Name unknown, but did say the things attributed to him

 John Wilson, Robert Norman and Richard Nethercotts*all real see below for more on two of them

Guy Kyme* he really did report this fact about Hull getting new paving but I have given him a wider role than is recorded as the uprising develops

Young Henry  – eventually Henry VIII of course….more follows!!

Count de Cabra, the chief aristocrat of Catherine’s sizeable retinue.

Duke of BuckinghamHigh Steward for Henry Vlll’s Coronation, cousin to Elizabeth of York.

John Walshe – King’s Champion for Henry Vlll’s Coronation – should, by right have been Sir Robert Dymocke, according to tradition

Duke of Suffolk – Charles Brandon, son of Sir William Brandon (see above) and great friend of Henry, said to look a lot like him, married Henry’s sister Mary after she had been widowed from her marriage to French King Louis lV. Then when Mary died he married his ward, Catherine, daughter of Maria de Salinas and Lord Willoughby (which brought him lands in Lincolnshire).

Master Carpenter George Buckemer          ) all these people and the story of the

Lord Essex and Sir Rees ap Thomas          } lost gun “St John the Evangelist” is

Lord Berners, the ‘Master of Ordnance’      ) a true tale (embellished of course!)

Bishop Longland of Lincoln – one of five senior clerics who were deemed “heretics” by the protesters during the Lincolnshire uprising and the Pilgrimage of  Grace which immediately followed it. Bishop Longland had taken over in Lincoln from Wolsey (later cardinal Wolsey) when the latter was elevated by Henry Vlll to Archbishop. Longland had supported Henry in his divorce attempts.

Thomas Cromwell King Henry Vlll’s Chancellor at this time and (since earlier in 1536) had become the Vicar General of the Church in England, the architect of the Dissolution of the Monasteries which was providing a rich source of cash for the Crown.

Charles, King of the Burgundian Netherlandslived in Ghent, where he inherited the title from his father, Philip the Handsome who was married to Joanna the Mad, sister to Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England ­adding colour to Nicholas’s Coat of Motley

Mr Goldsmith, Mr Elwood* – were the churchwardens who had to hand over the keys of the church to Nicholas Melton and his friends.

Parson of Conisholme – did say those words

Thomas Youllpriest, did say those words.

Sir Simon Maltby priest, did say those words.

Richard Nethercotts*, John Wilson* and Robert Norman*All names known to have been involved in the Louth uprising, saying or doing at least some of the things I have them saying or doing…Robert Norman* was a ropemaker in Louth and he was known to have paid….. John Wilson* who was a sawyer, the princely sum of one penny to spread the words of Thomas Foster (see above) who believed it may have been the last time the congregation could have “followed the crosses” in Louth. Thomas’s father, (also here called Thomas?) Foster* was also known to be a chorister. Richard Nethercotts* is known to have rung the common bell with John Wilson on the Monday morning;

William Morland* – Monk from the nearby, dissolved, Louth Park Abbey – got involved in the uprising early on the Monday morning and played a key role in stirring things up as the week went by.

William Hert* – Town butcher and brother of Sir Robert Hert*, another ex-monk from Louth Abbey

Nicholas Weeks* – as indicated, a servant of Lord Gainsborough.

Robert Bailey* – was a mercer and a friend of William Morland’s and had been a Churchwarden the previous year. One of Louth’s well-to-do class.

Walter & Robert Fishwyke* – Brothers and amongst the town’s elite. They claimed that, together with William Ashby, below, they wanted to stop the rebels going any further than they already had by taking the keys from the Churchwardens

William Ashby*Chief Constable of the town of Louth

Henry Plummer and Great James (Long?)* – they really did block the way for the monk William Morland from getting into the church on the Monday morning but all I know are their names – I don’t know that Great James was a wrestler, but he just sounds like he probably was one or, if not, he should have been!! He was actually a tailor by profession – we don’t know his surname.

John Heneage* – was one of three brothers (one was Dean of Lincoln, the other, Thomas, was an associate of Thomas Cromwell, as stated) and John acted for the Bishop of Lincoln as administrator for Louth. He was there for the Town meeting as indicated. Whether the meeting had been brought forward we do not know and I may have done him an injustice by painting him as a rather dotty gentleman?

Robert Proctor* – was the unfortunate former churchwarden whose house was damaged by the mob on that Monday morning

Dr Raynes* – chancellor to the Bishop of Lincoln, was at Bolingbroke to examine the priests from that area and was obviously not well during and after that day for he was still there and unwell on the Tuesday following when a crowd from Horncastle including Phillip Trotter,(see below) threatened him. He managed to pay his way out of trouble on the Tuesday but was dragged out of bed and killed by a different group from Horncastle the following day!

(Jack?) Bawnus*  – Although we do not know his first name for sure, nor if Bawnus was his family name or a nickname, it was the case that a “Bawnus” did “pour his heart out” to Mr Heneage and Heneage did offer to go to King Henry personally to ask whether the threats of confiscation of church treasures was likely. And the location for all this was the Choir of St James church. No idea whether he was a schoolteacher but there had to be some reason he ended up as spokesman.

John Frankish* – John Frankish was the registrar to the Bishop of Lincoln and was in Louth to conduct the Visitation of the local priests.

Arthur Graye*is known to have had the heretical book by Frith which was written as a reply to Sir Thomas More which contained a denial of the doctrine of transubstantiation – where bread and wine are taken to turn into the body and blood of Jesus whilst appearing to remain the same. And this book along with others were burnt on the Bonfire by the Cross. We know he was a “singing man” but not necessarily that he was a ‘booming bass’.

(Robert?) Collingwood* we know that Morland disappeared into the house of one Collingwood nearby, the assumption being that it was Robert Collingwood, who had been a churchwarden in 1531-32.

(Jack?) Page* We don’t know if his Christian name was Jack (Author’s licence….!) but a man by the name of Page did take the book of reckonings from Monk Morland after he came out of Mr Collingwood’s house. After the Uprising was over the book was found in the possession of Nicholas Melton, presumably passed to him by this Mr Page.

John Bellow and (Roger?) Millisent* – were servants of Thomas Cromwell and Commissioners whose task was to oversee the dissolution of Legbourne Abbey.

Robert Brown* – did imprison them for the duration of the Rising (or at least kept them under some form of house “arrest”)

Thomas and (Jack) Spencer; Robert Bailey; William King* – all as described, were the instigators of the idea of “bringing in” the Commissioners going to Caistor

Lord Burgh, Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, Sir William Ayscough, Thomas Moigne, Thomas Partington, Thomas Dalyson, John Booth, Thomas Mussenden* – were all Commissioners going to Caistor on Tuesday, 3rd October 1536 to assess the subsidy – i.e. the local taxes due. Do not know if Thomas Mussenden was related to Jane Mussenden, Abbess of Legbourne, but have taken author’s licence to assume he was, since it is not a particularly common name!

Richard Nethercotts and John Wilson*  – did ring the common bell at least once, so I have taken the liberty of making them official campanologists.

Prioress of Orford*really did provide Monk Morland with a horse after his walk from Louth to Orford near Binbrook. Made me wonder what sort of relationship  they may have had!

Nicholas, servant to Lord Burgh*clearly a man of caution, not wanting the action to upset the status quo but eventually too loyal to Lord Burgh for his own good (I have given him the surname Weeks – author’s licence)

Eustace Chapuys – Austrian Ambassador, notorious schemer and letter writer, but the degree to which this may have been known to Henry at the time is not clear?

Leach brothers and cousin, William, Nicholas, Robert and Parson Robert* – All active in setting the rebellion going in nearby Horncastle. William seems to have been the key instigator

Thomas Dixon* – A labourer called upon by William Leach to round up other “poor men” to come and listen to what he had t say about the happenings in Louth

John Taylor* – It is known that when the people assembled on the Tuesday morning they were addressed near the Church by Nicholas Melton and John Taylor, so he must have had a significant involvement, but beyond that little is known of him.

Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount#– well known to be the “lover” of the King, who produced a healthy bastard son in June 1519, when she may have been as young as 16 or 17. She was a lady in waiting of the Queen, but was she placed there after the King had taken a fancy to her or was she there before. Certainly it seems Henry’s interest in her began when she was a very young teenager and I have seen it suggested that Henry was very ‘interested’ in the younger girl generally, albeit without serious historic proof – other than the age of Blount when they first became lovers – she may have been as young as 12. If Henry and Suffolk were ‘paedophiles’ in modern terms, they would not have been thought of as such in the early C16th when arranged marriages were often made in the early teen years anyway, particularly for girls and sometimes for boys too.

She went on to be married off to Lord Tailboys of Lincolnshire when he turned 21 and then when he died she married the younger Lord Clinton in Lincoln, to whom she was married in 1536. Her son Henry Fitzroy died, aged 17 in 1536 the same year as her first Clinton daughter was probably born. As well as Fitzroy she had a daughter and two sons with Lord Tailboys and three daughters with Lord Clinton, the last in 1539 – acknowledgement to Wikipedia for these details and many others!

Lord Willoughby, Baron of Eresby – He had served the Royal family in various roles for a long time by the time of the activities of 1536 but he appears in the story in a flashback to when he married Maria de Salinas, Catherine’s lifelong friend.

Sir Robert Dymocke* – elderly, still carried the title of King’s Champion, now an honorary position held by the family. Formerly a servant of Catherine of Aragon too.

Edward Dymocke* – Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1536.

Arthur Dymocke* – second son of Sir Robert.

Nicholas Sanderson* – a Commissioner staying with the Dymockes and Sir William Sandon*, his father in law, also staying with the Dymockes

Robert Sutton* – Mayor of Lincoln.

Phillip Trotter* – was actively engaged in the Horncastle events. A ‘mercer’, he saved Dr Raynes (see above) on the Tuesday by accepting a bribe to keep him from harm. Was known to bring information to Louth during that week. It is also thought he may have “borrowed”, and used, the suit of armour which the Dymocke family had left in Horncastle church to ‘stand guard’ over their family memorial.

Sir Richard Rich# at the time of this action Rich was Solicitor General and the historian Lord Dacre has said of him that he was a man “of whom nobody has ever said a good word”. Under Cromwell he was Chancellor of Augmentations and, therefore the “lesser hammer” in the destruction of the monasteries.

Bishop Mackrell – Abbot of Barlings Abbey, known to be a fine speaker and widely known outside Lincolnshire and associated with Captain Cobbler as  leader of the rebellion – but the official inquiry was told he was ‘dragged into it unwillingly’..

Tom Bailey The name is a false one (and perhaps the role of bailiff is misplaced too!), but a ‘servant of Maddison’s’ was the person who brought the King’s reply into the Cathedral accompanied by a very large group of rebels.

Parson of Snelland (Robert Albright?) – the Parson of Snelland was the man who told the rebels in the chapter House that Moigne was giving a “false read” but his name here is a fiction since it is not known.

Sir John Thimbleby – did bring a group of men up from Irnham near Stamford, a long walk from Lincoln



[* For much of the detail of the key local players in the uprising I am indebted to the details in the booklet about “The Lincolnshire Rising 1536” written by Anne Ward, whose well researched work, published by the Workers Educational Association, East Midlands District, contains a very detailed description of the events of that fateful week, precursor to the much better known Pilgrimage of Grace, which followed after the events in Lincolnshire had been brought to an abrupt end by the deviousness of the King’s representatives. The booklet referred to was published in 1986, Anne Ward dying, before her time, only a couple of years later in July 1988 ]

[# For the information on Elizabeth Blount, Sir Richard Rich and on several other real life characters Wikipedia has been a very useful source of information

Fictional People

Bennett Waterland recently buried member of the PloughLight. (As with several players of small parts in the story I have used what I know to have been an old Lincolnshire name. The reason I know they are old Lincolnshire names is that our family tree is littered with them – so I have ancestors with the name ‘Waterland’ and ancestors called ‘Bennett’ but, as far as I know none that would have been related to Nicholas at that time and none that I know were called Bennett Waterland, either.)

Joseph Waterland ‘cousin and friend’, same comment applies as above! (p12) The description of him getting the ‘giggles’ is, I fear, a family trait although one inherited, I think, more from my maternal ancestors. My mother’s brother Joe was a fellow sufferer and my own family know I am helpless once I get started!

Eleanor (Nicholas’ cousin – I needed a religious relative who could explain some of the background religious turmoil as Henry VIII addressed his “Great Matter” in a way that led, in practice, to the Reformation and the closure of monasteries and religious houses)

Robert Melton (Nicholas’s older brother – Not sure if he had an older brother although we do believe he had a real brother, name not known, who survived after the Lincolnshire uprising and who also got into trouble for “striking” from his role as a jobbing shoemaker for higher wages with a group of other cobblers in south Lincolnshire a few years after 1536, sometime in the 1540s. My best guess is that the real brother would probably, therefore, have been younger)

Richard Foster (Fictional son of William Foster and brother of Tom Foster both of whom were real people – see above)

Eliza Jane Foster (also fictional – introduced as Nicholas’s life-long love interest and wife to be. Nicholas is understood to have been married but we do not know that it was to the “girl next door”!)

Widow Foster (But the masons constructing Louth Church tower must’ve got their eggs from someone – so why not Nicholas’s neighbour) – really should be in the Real People list since Tom foster must have had a mother! But we don’t know whether she was widowed or kept chickens!

“old Uncle Tom Glenn” (I had to get Nicholas down to London for the coronation somehow – Glenn is another old family name)

Tommy Musgrove (not named from my family tree, and his dog…

Sir Lancelot (Wolfhound – not real then; but a real wolfhound with these characteristics lived near us in my home village and was just like this, soft as a brush – he just wasn’t called Sir Lancelot)

John Partington (I dare say Lord Kingston as the real Constable of the Tower will have had assistance but I wanted someone who could provide a view of the broad sweep of the rebellion from an impartial point of view to give context to the activities of Captain Cobbler and the rest).

Bobby Medwell The name is fictional but someone did say the words I put in his mouth about making the King a “breakfast he never had”, a strange phrase open to all sorts of interpretation!

Mr Ellwood and Mr Goldsmith (Churchwardens. We do not know for sure the names of the then churchwardens. But there really were churchwardens whose keys were taken on the Sunday after Mass. Also, there really WAS a Robert Goldsmith who was actually a goldsmith by trade, so he should probably be in Real People list, I just do not know if he was a churchwarden?)

Edward Smithill (Just a man in Church, but there must have been pompous people then as now!? Not a family name. )

John and Jane (‘Mother’) Baker (There must also have been nice, well-organised people then as well as now who would know how to plan and organise the feeding of a disparate group of people whose number changed from day to day!?)

Willum van Planck and family [including Gypsy the dog] (We know that there was a significant Dutch commercial colony in England involved in both the cloth trade and possibly leather which would therefore have links to cobbling – so it may have been such a connection which would lead to Nicholas wearing a ‘coat of motley’ – so Willum here fictionally provides that connection)

Jonno, Jezza and TommoLondon urchins

Bill Cole (accompanies Nicholas on his journey down towards London and provides perspective on Henry’s early French excursions by way of “story-telling”)

John Fuller (Butt of the tale “Falling from Grace” he is fictional – although the punishment was real enough in Calais at the time!)

Jake Hoskyns (Just a man in the pub – or should I say hostelry – The hostelry is, however real and now houses the Newark branch of the Nottingham Building Society – it is a delightful building. The walls were, around the time of the story, painted with murals and the renovation of this building revealed faint traces of the wall paintings which can still be seen near the new plate-glass entrance door. It would have been a very modern building at the time when our hero might have stayed in it)

William Bonner (fictional neighbour of William Morland – see Real People above – with names from the family tree)

Brothers Luke, Mark, Peter and Ignatius and helper “Madge” – (trying to give a view of the sort of role monks and monasteries might have played in a local community.)

Eleazor Swain (again, just another man carrying names from my family tree that were never used together as far as I know)

Alan Barham and Johann Kirkkgarde (More fictional people to get Nicholas down to London again and get his Coat of Motley – he really did wear a multi-coloured coat!)

Marieke Molenaar – a means of getting Nicholas to the Netherlands to pick up his Coat.

Hans de Groot – Tailor cousin who produced said “coat of Motley”

Tom Butcher (an apprentice acquaintance at the moment he is introduced but will play a significant role later as a fictionalised persona for a real person…..just wait and see!)

George Smith – (just a man in the Louth host and not a family name this time)

Sister Mary, Emiline, the Prioress and girls of the unnamed Priory – A company of bit part players to accompany the introduction of Bessie Blount, not known whether Henry ever attended such a place of ill repute but it might explain his apparent disgust later at the “goings on” of some smaller religious houses – ‘methinks he protesteth too much’…?!)

Robert Applewhite We know the Commissioners sent a servant in to reconnoitre Caistor town before the group moved in….but we do not know his name or whose servant he was…?)

William Corbett and Jack Bligh Introduced to account for the beating up and murder of Lord Burgh’s servant Nicholas (Weeks). There must have been hot-blooded bullies present to account for the violence and, for me, that did not seem to fit the profiles of any of the main players as I have envisaged them.

John Chapman Again a family name used for the fiction – but I really did have an ancestor, John Chapman who was a butcher in Langworth…except that was in the 19th century rather than the 16th

Davy Bennett – Just a name.

George Tuxworth and daughter Rebecca – help to fill the ‘back-story’ of Guy Kyme (see Real People above) – Tuxworth is an ancestral name for me but as far as I know was not closely involved in these events!

Mrs Hempsall and husband – I enjoy food and I am sure that there were ALWAYS people who could cook better than average and would be assets to a good household! Again, the name is from my family tree, although only related by marriage.

Robert Sleight and his cousin Jack (and jack’s wife Jane) – There possibly were Sleights living in Normanby by Spital because I have ancestors by that name (including a Jane Sleight) who lived there in the 19th Century but Robert and Jack are fictional.



About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
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