Dacre's Raid Background Greystoke Naworth

In 1569, Cumbrians, led by the Earl of Westmorland and Leonard, son of Lord Dacre, tried to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots

In 1568, Mary Queen of Scots fled to England, landing at Workington. She was imprisoned briefly at Carlisle before being moved to Bolton, Yorkshire. The following year, 1569, Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland, began a rebellion from his headquarters at Raby Castle (nr Staindrop, Co. Durham) with the aim of replacing Elizabeth with Mary. He was joined by the Earl of Northumberland, and in November the two forces occupied Durham, before heading south to Barnard Castle. Faced with superior numbers (perhaps 6000 rebels but 12000 government troops), the rebels retreated north into Scotland and dispersed. Northumberland was captured, and eventually executed in 1572. Westmorland fled to Flanders and lived out the rest of his life in poverty. More than 600 rebels were executed in the reprisals that followed.

Meanwhile, Leonard Dacre, second son of the fifth Lord Dacre, played a role that had both sides confused. Initially a supporter of Mary, he turned his coat to support Elizabeth, then turned again to lead what became known as ‘Dacre’s Raid’, seizing Greystoke Castle and fortifying Naworth Castle. Elizabeth called him ‘a canckred subtell traitor’ (Ferguson, p.250), and ordered his apprehension by Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon. Backed by a force of 3000 men, Dacre held out against a siege, but then attacked, and was defeated by, the smaller retreating government forces, at Gelt Bridge near Brampton (20 February 1570). Dacre escaped to Scotland, and thence to Flanders, but 3-400 of his men were killed and 2-300 captured.

See account in Richard S Ferguson History of Cumberland, London, 1890, pp249-50

The illustration of Naworth Castle is from Hutchinson’s History of the County of Cumberland, Carlisle, 1794

Posted by Bill Shannon