Alnwick, Family History Society

Amazing Percys

Thursday, 31st March 2016, 8:28 am
Updated Thursday, 31st March 2016, 8:31 am
The beautiful display of spring flowers at Bowburn Park beside Alnwick Castle. Picture Jane Coltman

Alnwick Family History group welcomed Daniel Watkins, from Alnwick Castle.

His talk, The Amazing Percy Family, captured as much of this exceptional family history as was possible in just one evening.

From William de Percy’s arrival in Britain during the reign of William the Conqueror, the Percys have been elevated to Lords, Earls and then Dukes

They purchased Alnwick Castle in 1309 and fought the Scots at Falkirk, Flodden and beyond.

The Percys were prominent in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War.

Harry Hotspur was perhaps the most famous Percy knight, being immortalised by Shakespeare.

Several members of the family were to die on the battlefields, and although the Percys were often aligned to the monarchy, they helped bring down Richard II and attempted to destroy Henry IV.

The family rebelled against Queen Elizabeth I and were involved in the Gunpowder Plot. They moved their support from Royalist to Parliamentarian in the Civil War.

One Percy was killed by a mob and the seventh Earl was beheaded for treason.

The ninth Earl, known as “the Wizard”, spent his time in the Tower of London studying astronomy and science.

One Percy was beatified as a martyr by Rome.

Percys were early settlers in the Americas, and one fought in the American War of Independence.

A Percy was an Admiral in the Napoleonic Wars, and another brought the news of victory at Waterloo to London.

When it comes to lifestyle, Henry the Magnificent, the fifth Earl, born in 1478, takes some beating. He surrounded himself with dozens of servants, ate the most lavish foods imaginable and even accompanied Henry VIII to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in France.

The sixth Earl became involved with Anne Boleyn, but his father and Cardinal Wolsey forced him to abandon the courtship, and he was ruined.

Percy blood has twice passed down through the female line. On both occasions the husband has taken the Percy name.

Major renovations took place in the mid 1800s when the best Italian craftsmen were employed.

Under the fourth Duke, Algernon, an admiral of the fleet and seasoned traveller, restoration of the castle continued.

The castle and grounds played a role in the First World War as an Army Camp and convalescent home.

The 10th Duke, who was duke for nearly half a century, left the legacy of Alnwick Castle being opened to the public.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, April 5. See