Ancestral Family Topic 225280

 225280   Thomas Lygon (c.1425-1507)
Pedigree Chart 10

Thomas Lygon, in his own words
If he could speak to us today, Thomas Lygon might describe his life as follows.

I was born not many years after England crowned a child King Henry VI. We were youths when England sought to expand her influence in France south of the Loire. Although English archers were superior to the French, our armies fell to the maiden of Domrémy, Joan of Arc. I was not yet 10 when flames consumed her earthly body.
By my 20s I was married to Anne Gifford and we became the parents of Richard and Jane. When my older brother and heir to the Lygon estates, William Lygon, died about 1484, Madresfield fell to me. It would later belong to my son Richard. 
During the War of the Roses, I sided with the House of York. In recognition of my service during the terrible 20-year conflict, Edward IV granted me estates that he confiscated from our enemies.
In 1477 I was a Member of Parliament. After Henry Tudor’s marriage to the daughter of Edward IV united the houses of York and Lancaster, I continued to muster our Worcestershire troops in service to our king.
Outliving Henry VI by 35 years, I died 10 April 1507 at a bit more than 80 years of age. 


Historical background
Aug. 1422 marked the end of the reign of Henry V. Disease, probably dysentery he contracted in the field, felled the monarch who united England against France. He left behind a brilliant empire that soon faded into a century of darkness. To the throne ascended a baby who, at the death of Charles VI two months later, they proclaimed King of France. Thomas Lygon, the second son of Thomas Lygon and Joan Bracy, was born about the same time as Henry VI and their lives would be intertwined.
Henry VI, both physically and mentally limited, was influenced by his protectors, the princes of the House of Lancaster. Political intrigue, seemingly the perpetual state of English affairs, was no less apparent during Henry’s reign. Tempers among the factions ran hot and treachery, malice, and vengeance were all about.
While both Henry VI and Thomas were young boys, England attempted to expand her influence in France south of the Loire. English archers could prevail against armies 6 times their number and Charles VII, who many considered the true French king, could find no way to defeat the Islanders. That is until St. Michael appointed a liberator. Undoubtedly both Henry and Thomas heard the reports of a supernatural maiden of the remote French hamlet of Domrémy, Joan of Arc. Joan’s valor, compassion, and purity have not since been equaled. Henry and Thomas would have been about 10 on 29 May 1431 when Joan of Arc, bound upon a pyramid of firewood, called out her last word, “Jesus.” An English soldier standing nearby said “We are lost. We have burned a saint.” Indeed, they were. Joan’s influence and inspiration survived her and the French drove the English from the Continent.
At age 23, it was time for Henry to marry. His Lancastrian allies matched him with Margaret, the daughter of René of Anjou. It was perhaps about this time that Thomas married Anne Gifford, the likely daughter of Nicholas Gifford, and she apparently brought the manor of “Bradwell” to her husband.
Their pride wounded by the loss of France, England settled into a period of grief and social upheaval. Roads were unsafe, the people were unrestful, and the country government lapsed into disorder and confusion. The House of Lancaster fell from favor and the House of York increasingly became a rival party. Richard, Duke of York, had a right to the crown, perhaps greater than that of Henry VI, whose grandfather Henry IV, had seized power in 1399. The “Yorkists,” as some called them, predominated in the South and the Lancastrians, in the North. Elsewhere was a patchwork of sentiments. Records show that Thomas Ligon, living then in Worcester in the West of England, was a Yorkist. Historians call the thirty-year clash between the houses of York and Lancaster the Wars of the Roses.
In the spring of 1455, York and his nobles took to arms and marched to Saint Albans. Among them was Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, later the leader of the Yorkists. Neville’s wife was Ann Beauchamp, sole heiress of Henry Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who they killed at Barnet Field fighting against the King Edward IV. The title, “Earl of Warwick,” descended to Nevill. At Saint Albans, they defeated the Lancastrians and captured the King.
After the Lancastrians rebounded, a tense reconciliation was arranged. In 1459 fighting broke out again when the royal army dispersed some armed Yorkists near Worcester, the seat of the Ligon’s. War began in earnest in July 1460. We do not know what role Thomas Ligon played in these early conflicts. Patent Rolls of 1461 show that Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, John Beauchamp of Powyck, and Thomas Lygon gathered the men of Worcester to fight against the King’s enemies. Yet by 1461, Warwick held the king captive and claimed to be acting in his name. That they listed Thomas with the Earl of Warwick shows he was probably a prominent figure in the war.
The Lancastrians killed Richard, Duke of York, at the Battle of Wakefield 30 Dec. 1460. His son Edward led York forces against the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton on 2 Feb. 1461. Thomas Ligon’s companion-in-arms, the Earl of Warwick, took decisive action to motivate his men when the tide turned against them. He ordered his horse, his means of escape, brought forward. Before the entire army he ran it through, kissed the hilt of his sword, and declared that he would share the fate of the soldiers of the lowest rank.
Yorkists broke the Lancastrians and Edward became King Edward IV. It would be 7 more years until all the Lancaster fortresses fell to Edward. The last succumbed in 1468 when Harlech, on the western sea, surrendered. A child of 12 survived the rigors of the seven-year siege. He was Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, and the grandson of Margaret de Beauchamp, later to be crowned King Henry VII.
Edward reigned until 1470 when Lancastrians drove him from England and returned Henry VI to the throne. When Edward came back 7 months later, records show he called upon Thomas Ligon and his Worcester forces to aid him, and they defeated the Lancastrians at Barnet and Tewkesbury, regaining the crown for Edward. In 1472 perhaps in recognition of Thomas’ service during these battles, Edward IV granted him lands that had belonged to the king’s enemies. In 1477 Thomas Ligon was a Member of Parliament from Worcester.
Thomas Ligon continued to serve Edward IV and, later, accepted several commissions during the unsatisfactory reign of Richard III. In April 1484 when Richard’s only son died, Henry Tudor, a descendant of Edward III and French royalty, became the obvious rival for the throne. When he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV, he united the houses of York and Lancaster. Richard, anticipating rebellion at every turn, ordered commissions of muster and array in all the counties. Records of 1484 show orders to Thomas Ligon to muster the men of Worcester.
England, tired of the dynastic struggles of 30 years, looked to Henry Tudor for relief. Men of both York and Lancaster withdrew from the king and joined Henry in Brittany. Henry’s kingship was inevitable. At the Battle of Bosworth Field in Aug. 1484, Richard fought to the end. His dead body was bound across a horse and his crown, worn to the last, was placed on the head of Henry Tudor.
The fall of the House of York did not seem to diminish the fortunes of Thomas Ligon. King Henry VII sought his services in 1488 when Thomas was a commissioner of array in Worcester to oppose the rebellion in the North. Commissioner of array probably meant he called the troops to muster. Records of 1491 identify Thomas as custodian, probably sheriff, of the Castle of Gloucester. About 1496, when Henry was gathering men at Berwick Castle as defense against the Scots, he called on Ligon to array again the men of Worcester. Thomas remained a loyal supporter of the House of Lancaster until his death in 1507.

Descendants of Thomas Lygon
Information about the children of Thomas Lygon, their descendants, and allied families previously found at Virginians.com is now available as Southside Virginia Genealogies. Learn more 
Names found in this topic include the following.
 Richard Lygon (-1512),  
 Jane (Lygon) Salwey,  
Thomas Salwey,  Humphrey Salwey,  Thomas Salwey,  Arthur Salwey,  


Notables
This family topic includes the following notable individuals.
 
European Notables
Thomas Ligon Member of Parliament  

Notes
This topic, which represents .07% of all the family history material at Virginians.com, includes 3 citations and the names of 14 individuals.
 
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