The tomb pictured above is located in St John the Baptist church, Healaugh, North Yorkshire. However, Lord Wharton had two tombs erected to his memory – the second is located in St Stephen’s church, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.
Who was Thomas Wharton?
Thomas Wharton was a member of longstanding gentry family based in the Westmorland/Cumberland area. He rose to prominence during Henry VIII’s reign – first through service to the Clifford and Percy familes, and then through royal service. Although he was an MP and administrator, his greatest claim to fame was as a military leader. In November 1542, he defeated a Scottish army at Solway Moss – he had just 3,000 men to 18,000 Scots. As a result of this victory he was created Lord Wharton in 1544. He had an extensive spy network in Scotland, led frequent raids across the border in the 1540s, and was responsible for keeping garrisons supplied during the English campaigns against Scotland in 1547-1550.
Although a successful soldier, Wharton seems to have been widely hated by contemporaries. The list of people he quarreled/feuded with included the Cliffords (his former patrons); William Grey, Lord Wilton; Robert, Lord Maxwell; his subordinate officials; and his tenants!
Recently, I rediscovered photos of the tomb of Henry Neville, 5th earl of Westmorland (and his first two wives) taken while I was researching my PhD. Of all the tombs I visited during my research, this one stood out as the only one made of wood. I posted a couple of the photos on Twitter but I wanted to write a bit more about the tomb!
Starting with… Who was Henry Neville?
Henry was the eldest of the 18(!) children on Ralph Neville, 4th earl of Westmorland and Katherine Stafford, daughter of the duke of Buckingham. His career could perhaps be described as chequered… Married for the first time at the age of 11 or 12, he would go on to remarry twice – controversially, his 3rd side was the sister of his 2nd wife. In 1546, he was arrested for gambling debts and for planning to kill his first wife and his father. He admitted neglecting his wife and ‘naughty living’. He was arrested again in 1552 for plotting to rob his mother and seize treasure from Middleham Castle. His political career, in contrast, was of little note, though he was a relatively early supporter of Mary Tudor’s claim to the throne in 1553. He died in February 1564 at approximately 40 years of age.
Where is his tomb?
His tomb was erected in the church of St Mary in Staindrop, near to Raby Castle, the ancestral home of his family. His father and other relatives were also buried in the same church (although not all have surviving tombs).