Castle iconLords of the Manor at Conisbrough Castle

The following is a list of those who throughout history have been regarded as those responsible for Conisbrough Castle or the Lands of Conisbrough.

From: “An Illustrated Account of Conisbrough” by Robert Allen Marsh

1000 : Elfhelm, a Saxon nobleman, was granted the lands around Kyningesburg by Wulfric Spott, one of King Ethelred's ministers.

1052 Earl Harold, son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex held the Manor.

1066 William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey. William was the son-in-law of William the Conqueror and had been one of his chief knights at the Battle of Hastings. The Honour of Conisbrough was his reward for those services. He also received other estates based on Castle Acre in Norfolk and Lewes in Sussex. He founded the Priory of St. Pancras at Lewes. The first Earl died in 1088. 

1088 William de Warenne, 2nd Earl, son of the 1st Earl. To the Priory at Lewes, founded by his parents, he gave the 'living' and income from the Church at Conisbrough together with the Churches at Braithwell, Dinnington, Harthill, Fishlake and Hatfield and the Chapels of Thorne and Armthorpe. He gave the tithe of eels from his fisheries at Hatfield to the Abbey of Roche.

1138 William de Warenne, 3rd Earl, son of the 2nd Earl, confirmed the acts of benevolence of his father and grandfather. He died on Crusade in 1147 leaving a daughter, Isabel.

1147 Isabel, daughter of the 3rd Earl married William de Blois, son of King Stephen who thus became the 4th Earl of Warenne (and Surrey). This Earl was granted other titles. To those of Warenne and Surrey were added Moreton, Boulogne and Lancaster. He was further granted the Honours of Eagle and Pevensey. He died without issue in 1159.

1163 Hamelin Plantagenet, son of Geoffrey, Earl of Anjou, and half brother of King Henry 2nd became the 5th Earl on his marriage to the widowed Isabel. It is accepted that he built the Castle Keep on the site of an earlier wooden stronghold c.1180-90, and probably the curtain wall soon afterwards. Isabel and Hamelin made an endowment of 50/- a year for a priest and a chapel within the castle 1189. Hamelin's nephew, King John, issued a charter at Conisbrough in 1201 and may have lodged in the Keep. Hamelin was one of a number of treasurers responsible for raising 70,000 marks of silver to affect the release of King Richard who had been imprisoned in Austria on his return from the Holy Land. Hamelin himself contributed £40.8.7d. He died in 1201 and was buried at Lewes.

1202 William, son of Hamelin assumed the name de Warenne and became the 6th Earl, William married Maud, daughter of the Earl of Arundel and on her death in 1215, married Maud, daughter of the Earl of Pembroke and widow of Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. This William is thought to have been responsible for the buildings within the castle bailey. He died in 1239.

1239 John the 7th Earl, son of William by his second wife was only 5 on his father's death and was made a ward of the King. He married in 1247, aged 12, Alice, the sister of Henry III, cohabiting with her when he was 17. The 7th Earl held the castle and manor until 1304.  During this time the Hundred Rolls (records of court assizes) listed wrongful imprisonments in the castle and unlawful dealings of the seneschal~ and constables, one of whom, Richard de Heydon, being charged with: "devilish and innumerable oppressions". John was also involved in several disagreements between the King and Barons and for a time, lost most of his possessions. However, he was on the winning side at the Battle of Evesham (1265) after which the King restored his estates. In 1270 he was in deep disgrace after he attacked Allan, Lord Zouche of Ash by, during an enquiry held in Westminster Hall and in 1281 Edward I called on John to show by what warrant he, " . . . claimed gallows, assize of bread and bee, measures and rights of shedding blood, free warren on his estates and refusing to permit the Kings Bailiff to enter his lands to perform their offices, except his own bailiffs were present."  At the trial John defended his rights very strenuously and apparently won his case since, by the King's Mandate, " . . . the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of Chichester, Durham, Carlisle, Lincoln, Coventry and Lichfield were directed to offer prayers to the Throne of Grace for the health of the soul of John de Warenne and granted that all that shall perform this acceptable service, forty days of indulgence." After an eventful life the 7th Earl died in 1304.

1304 John the 8th and last Earl de Warenne was the previous Earl's grandson and succeeded because his father had been killed in a tournament at Guildford in 1286. John, aged 18 when he succeeded to the Earldom, made an unhappy marriage to Joan de Barr, granddaughter of Edward I. There were no children to this marriage and in c.1316 John had an affair with Maud de Nerford, which incurred the displeasure of the Bishop of Chichester who excommunicated him. Stow reported that, "the sayd Earl came to the Byshoppe with armed men, and foure more hasty than the reste, threatened the Byshoppe, whereupon the Byshoppes men fell on them and tooke the Earl and the reste and imprisoned them".  Soon after this occurrence, John abducted the wife of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, as a result of which, he lost his castles of Conisbrough and Pontefract to Thomas. During the time that the Earl of Lancaster held Conisbrough he ordered that timber from the wood there be felled to repair the chapel roof. This must have referred to a chapel within the inner ward in addition to that in the keep. On the death of the Earl of Lancaster, Conisbrough was held by the King.

1322 King Edward II held Conisbrough and stayed here for a short time. In 1324, the constable was ordered to spend up to 20 marks to make repairs to the walls and towers of the castles at Conisbrough and Pontefract.

1326 Conisbrough Castle was returned to John the 8th Earl. Although John had been unable to divorce his wife he had had two sons by Maud de Nerford who was by law the wife of Simon de Derby. By a conveyance ratified by the King, John attempted to leave the manor to Maud and his sons but he outlived them all and died without an heir in 1347.

1347 Edmund Langley, Edward III's 5th and youngest son succeeded to the castle and estate of Conisbrough. He was 6 years old and during his minority the estate was administered by his mother, Queen Philippa. During the 36th year of the reign of Edward III (1363) he was created Earl of Cambridge and in the 9th year of the reign of Richard II (1386) Duke of York. Edmund's first wife was Isabel, daughter of Pedro, King of Castille by whom he had two sons, Edward later to become 2nd Duke of York and in 1399, Duke of Albemarle, and Richard, Earl of Cambridge. Richard was born at Conisbrough and was usually referred to as Richard of Conisbrough. Edmund died in 1402.

1402 Edward Duke of Albemarle and 2nd Duke of York succeeded his father. He married Philippa, daughter of Lord Mohun but died without issue at Agincourt in 1415. His brother, Richard of Conisbrough, had married Ann Mortimer by whom he had a son, also called Richard. Richard of Conisbrough was beheaded for treason against Henry V earlier in the same year that his brother fell at Agincourt.

1415 The castle and honour were held in dower by Richard of Conisbrough's widow, who lived at the castle until her death in 1446.

1446 Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, son of Richard of Conisbrough now inherited the honour. Richard married Cicely, sister of the Earl of Salisbury by whom he had a son, Edward, Earl of March. Richard was one of the most ambitious men in the kingdom and a fine soldier. He contended for the crown but was killed at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460.

1460 Edward Earl of March, grandson of Richard of Conisbrough, inherited the manor. He was acclaimed Edward IV at St. Albans in 1461 when Conisbrough Castle and Estates once again passed to the crown. This was confirmed in perpetuity by a settlement dated 1495. A survey conducted in 1538 for Henry VIII, recorded that, ". . . the gates of the castle, timber and stonework, the bridge and some of the curtain wall have fallen and one floor of the keep has collapsed". It seemed that by this time the castle had fallen into the state of ruin that was to save it from further destruction during the Civil War.

1558 Sir Henry Carey, 1st Lord Hunsdon was granted, among other honours and lands, the castle and manor of Conisbrough, to be held in capite (held as tenant-in-chief) of the Queen (Elizabeth) and her successors, by the 40th part of a Knight's Fee. Sir Henry accompanied Elizabeth to Tilbury at the time of the Armada. He was created a baron but his ambition to become Earl of Wiltshire was never realised.  The Queen visited him on his deathbed to grant him this earldom when Henry was reported as saying, "Madam, seeing you counted me not worthy of this honour whilst I was living, I count myself unworthy of it now I am dying". Henry died in 1596.

1596 George Carey, 2nd Lord Hunsdon succeeded his father. His marriage produced a daughter but as the castle and manor were confined to male heirs, on his death, he was succeeded by his brother.

1603 John Carey, 3rd Lord Hunsdon inherited his brother's estates and was, in turn, succeeded by his son. 

1617 Henry Carey, 4th Lord Hunsdon. Henry was created Earl of Dover in May 1627. On the occasion of the marriage of his son, John, in 1638, a fine was levied on Henry's manor at Conisbrough and all other of his lands in Yorkshire for the use of the married couple. (The amount raised is not known). On Henry's death he was succeeded by his son.

1668 John Carey, Viscount and 5th Lord Hunsdon, 2nd Earl of Dover. John and his second wife, Abigail, had a daughter, Dame Mary. Dame Mary married William Heveningham and by a will dated October 1685, Dame Mary Heveningham and her heirs were to succeed to the Conisbrough and other estates.

1668 Dame Mary Heveningham, by her will dated July 1691, left her Conisbrough estates to her granddaughter, Carey Newton. Dame Mary died in 1696.

1696 Carey Newton, directly descended from Sir Henry Carey, Commander of Elizabeth's army at the time of the threat of a Spanish invasion, inherited the castle and manor from her grandmother, Dame Mary. Carey Newton married Edward Coke and made over the manor to him. On the death of her husband in 1707, she left it to her second son, another Edward, with provisions to raise cash to pay off her debts and provide allowances for her other children.

1707 Edward Coke Esq. of Longford. During the ownership of this Edward it seemed that part of the estate was mortgaged in order to provide for other bequests in his mother's will. In July 1728, Edward Coke, in consideration of £3,000 did demise to Matthew Lamb, the castle and manor for 2,800 years, subject to redemption on payment of £3,000, with interest by Edward or his heirs. During the next few years the estate was further mortgaged for relatively large sums of money and was much encumbered at the time of Edward's death in 1733.

1737 In accordance with directions contained in the will of Edward Coke, the castle and manor were sold for £2,500 to Thomas Osborne, 4th Duke of Leeds from whom it descended to his grandson, George William Frederick, 6th Duke of Leeds.

???? Sackville Lane Fox, 12th Baron Conyers, son-in-law of the 6th Duke of Leeds became the next owner until his death in 1888 when the castle and manor were carried by Marcia, his eldest daughter, to the Pelham family.

1888 Charles Alfred Worsley Anderson Pelharn 4th Earl of Yarborough of Brocklesby Park, Lincolnshire, became the last private owner of Conisbrough's ruined castle through his marriage in 1886 to Marcia, eldest daughter of Lord Conyers.

1946 Conisbrough Urban District Council acquired the castle for a nominal sum from Lady Yarborough.  Since this time much effort and money has gone into the preservation of the keep and curtain walls and the layout of the inner bailey made more obvious by careful landscaping.  The castle is now in the care of English Heritage whose representatives, The Ivanhoe Trust, manage it and a visitors' centre contains items of interest about the castle and locality. The Trust frequently organise events designed to attract the attention of the public to this splendid monument and it is hoped to roof and floor the keep.  During the early 1940s the Duchess of Yarborough graciously gave permission for the l0th Doncaster, 2nd Conisbrough Scout Troop to hold a garden party in the inner ward.  Over £20 was raised by charging one old penny admission and another at the various booths and sideshows.