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Sir John Cheney

Sir Cheney is a Knight in the L'Estrange company. He is equipped as a mid 15C knight , in full plate armour. His armour is blued, which gives it the dark colour you can see in the pictures below.

There is some historical information on the character after the pictures.

Sir Cheney with 2 handed  sword

John Cheney
John Cheney

Sir Cheney With long sword

John Cheney

About Sir John Cheney

The family of Cheney can be traced back to Ralph de Caineto who died in 1086. Ralph came over with William the conqueror. The family name came from either de Caineto and possibly through du Chene (of the oak) the spellings change through generations and branches of the family to finally settle on the spelling we are familiar with. Whether the name is de Caineto, du Chene, Chene, Cheyne, Cheney or Cheyney, the family descent is the same.

In the intervening generations the Cheney family served as sheriffs and other offices. The family had a tradition of service as royal retainers, so it was only to be expected that the eldest son of this generation would continue in royal service

Through patronage and marriage the Cheney family grew in prominence and their subsequent positions within the great houses gained influence and connections.

(Roger du Cheyne was a squire in the household of John, duke of Lancaster, eventually making knight.) John’s father, also called John Cheney was noted as being in the retinue of Henry VI as knight of the body in 1460.

John was the eldest son of John Cheney and Eleanor Shottesbroke. He was born at the family manor of Shurland, Eastchurch, Kent.

John Cheney was born about 1447 in the reign of Henry VI at Shurland in Kent

23 May 1465 John was one of the men created knight of the bath in honour of Elizabeth Woodville’s coronation.

In 1465 he was sent with Dr Goldwell, dean of Salisbury to the King of Denmark. Here, apparently, he got his nickname of ‘strenuus miles’

In 1467 his father died

1471 finds John in the royal household as an esquire of the body to Edward IV. He also is Master of the Henchmen and Master of Horse for Edward IV. These offices were consistently held by the king’s closest servants. Edward’s interest in the hunt meant that John was frequently with the king.

1475, John, with a retinue of six men at arms, is with Edward and the army in France, in the campaign to secure English territory in France. Louis XI, brokers a deal with Edward, to leave France in exchange for a payment and further payments yearly in exchange for a nine year truce, known as the Treaty of Picquigny. To ensure that Edward complied with the terms of the treaty, John Cheney, master of the horse and Lord Howard were left with Louis XI as hostages. Both were treated well and received gifts of pensions from Louis when Edward and his army had left France. The general soldiers were not happy with this arrangement as part of the spoils of war was plunder, and to be denied this personal fundraising spread discontent.

1478-9 John was master of the bodyguard for Edward IV

1479 John married the widow of Baron Stourton, who was the heiress of the title. On his marriage John became Lord Stourton of Stourton in right of his wife. Margaret Chidiock was 53 at the time she married John, who was 32. The concept of marrying an heiress was a popular way of increasing lands and prestige, and younger men marrying older heiresses or widows was fairly commonplace. One marriage which did raise eyebrows for the age differential was the marriage, in 1465/6 of John Woodville to Katherine Neville, dowager duchess of Norfolk. He was aged 20 and the dowager duchess was 65 to 66 years old.

After the death of Edward IV, John was officiating at the funeral on 16 April 1483. At the coronation of Richard III, the majority of Edward’s knights, one of whom was John Cheney, now made knight of the body, attended the celebrations, and led the courser of state, trapped in cloth of gold and arms, and John received a gift of cloth of silver.

With the sons of Edward IV, in the Tower, and effectively out of the succession, after Richard’s usurpation, John Cheney was involved in a plot to release the princes in late July. The plot involved John Cheney and Margaret Beaufort at its head. Their plans to fire parts of London, as a distraction, storm the tower and rescue the princes; and thereby restore Edward V to the throne supported by an invasion by Jasper and Henry Tudor from France, failed. Over 50 conspirators were arrested and included men who had worked under Cheney in the royal household. It was about this time that John Cheney fell from grace with Richard, not unsurprisingly, and left Richard’s Household.

In Buckingham’s rebellion of 1483, one of the centres of revolt was Salisbury, and John Cheney was one of the leaders in the Salisbury rising. This was a huge rising that began shortly after the failure of the rescue plan. The culmination in October 1483 in the risings in Kent, Central South and the West, with the Duke of Buckingham at its head, presented a challenge to Richard III’s reign. Richard was aware of the rising by 11 October and managed through the mistiming of groups of the plotters to quell the rising. Richard had the duke of Buckingham, who was his, (the king’s) cousin, executed on the 2nd of November 1483 at Salisbury.

John Cheney, with others had sensibly fled before Richard arrived in Salisbury, making their way across the channel to Brittany to join Henry Tudor in exile. In January 1484, John Cheney is named on the four-part attainder issued by Richard’s parliament.

In Brittany, John was with Henry Tudor, this is particularly interesting in view of his connection with Margaret Beaufort. Jones & Underwood (authors of The King’s Mother) gently infers that there was kinship between the Cheney and Beaufort families.

On arrival at Milford Haven, with Henry Tudor’s invasion force, 7 Aug 1485, John is one of the group of companions who are knighted. Henry Tudor’s growing forces cross Wales heading for England. Richard was aware of the invasion force and the two armies arrived near Bosworth on 21 August 1485. The next morning in the battle John is one of Henry Tudor’s bodyguards. During the battle Richard III sees the opportunity to eliminate his rival, charging towards Henry’s and killing William Brandon, Henry’s standard bearer, and unhorsing John Cheney with a blow to the head from his broken lance, Richard is soon fighting bravely but is cut down, the last English King to die on the field of battle on English soil.

On November 7 1485 the attainders on the rebels were reversed. The rewards for support came quickly from Henry VII: John was made a knight of the body. On the field at Stoke, before the battle John was created a knight-banneret. John Cheney with three others were ennobled after the battle of Stoke 1487, becoming Lord Cheney of Falstone Cheney, and also became a knight of the Garter in 1486, (number 229 in succession). John also held the post of royal standard bearer to Henry VII

John’s military campaigns won high praise, he was sent to Brittany with Willoughby as the Franco-Breton crisis escalated.

In his parliamentary capacity he sat for his county, summoned to parliament in 1487 and continued to be called until 14 October 1495 and also was speaker of the House of Commons.

John died in 1499 as is quoted on the plaque on his effigy in Salisbury Cathedral. However it is possible that he died in 1496 when several sources quote inheritance of his estates in that year.

He was interred in the beautiful chantry of his friend Bishop Richard Beauchamp, which was situated on the north side of the Lady Chapel. The Chantry was demolished by Wyatt in the 18th century and the effigies moved to the central aisle. The base that John’s effigy now rests was made up of pieces of the Beauchamp chapel.

The effigy itself is of marble, now heavily scored by graffiti dating back centuries. The head of the heraldic beast at the effigies feet no longer has its head, but is possibly a lion, or dragon as it has a three-pronged tail overlying its body. On the soles of the feet are two differing carvings, which do not appear to make sense; are they also of heraldic meaning? – Hamilton Rogers claims an oak leaf and a scroll

The effigy is wearing German Gothic style plate, double layer breast and possibly back-plate (hidden by the cloak), mail collar and the fixings for a bevoir on the breastplate. The breastplate is waisted and has sets of 3 buckled lames and tassets, two front, two sides and a mail skirt under. The leg armour is also German Gothic style with a knee cop with spade poleyns. There are three lames either side of the knee cop, the lowest of the three pointed and scalloped over the grieve. He is wearing sabatons and appears to have a size five or six shoe size.

It is difficult to describe the arm armour, apart from the large shaped couters and plain vambrace, as the effigy is wearing a cloak with Garter insignia on the left Shoulder. It is cord tied, the tassels of which fall onto the tassets. A garter is shown below the left knee cop, which also supplements the insignia. Under the cloak, but over the breastplate the effigy wears a Lancaster ‘SS’ chain with the Beaufort portcullis and Tudor Rose pendant. Encompassing the tassets is the leather sword belt showing a widening vee, frog style sword housing, holding the bare sword to his left side. The sword has been broken so only part of the hilt and blade now remains. On his right side about waist height is a dagger, but this looks added in, or replaced in restoration. The hands are bare in prayer although there are many rings showing, not always worn at the base of the fingers. The figure also has flowing hair of a wavy nature and is supported by a pillow and two angels or family members with wings.

The accompanying inscription provided for tourists in the cathedral states:

John Lord Cheney

Bailiff to Bishops Beauchamp and Woodville
He fought alongside Henry Tudor against King Richard III
at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 and rescued Henry’s standard
when its bearer was killed. He was later appointed
Master of the Horse, Knight of the Garter and
Privy Councilor. He died in 1499

John Cheney’s heraldry has several references –

“among the “knightes made at the landinge of Kinge Henry the Seventh at Mylforde Haven,” fourth on the list occurs Sir John Cheney. His arms are thus given – Quarterly 1 and 4 Azure, six lioncels rampant argent, a canton ermine; 2 and 3, ermine, a chief per pale indented or and gules, in the dexter side a rose of the last (Shottesbroke) Crest, two bulls horns argent, separated from the scalp roots or “fixed to the mantle without toree” (Metcalfe’s Book of Knights) (Strife of the Roses)

John Cheney of Shurland

The arms of Cheney (of Shurland) are recorded as Argent, on a bend sable, three martlets or, quartering, azure, five lioncels argent, a canton ermine – or according to another authority azure, six lioncels three, two, one argent (Shurland) (no arms are visible at Salisbury)”